USJ Pavilion

Partner in charge: Youssef Mallat
Team: Richard Kassab
Project Description:
A botanical garden is the centerpiece of Beirut’s USJ campus, home to trees and plants that have witnessed centuries of local history. To create a respite from the urban campus’s density, the architects devised a covered pavilion over 400m2, thoughtfully integrated into the historic site.

Constructed of lightweight steel that fades into its setting, the multipurpose pavilion includes meeting grounds, an event space and a service area for refreshments; an annex is reserved for a kitchen and bathroom, invisible from the garden. 

The pavilion’s cover mimics a leaf in silhouette, offering shade and protection from the elements the way a tree’s lush branches do. A polycarbonate treatment gives a sense that the cover is an illusion among the greenery; constructed in glass and steel, the cover’s transparent glass edges filter light while allowing a clear view to the garden. Indentations in the irregular outline accommodate existing trees, which appear to grow through the building. 

When the weather allows, the glass cover retracts to blur the lines between the manmade structure and nature. In the midst of a garden and surrounded by a concrete jungle, the pavilion breathes life into the campus.
Renders: 109 Architectes
Location: Beirut
Client:  Université Saint-Joseph (USJ)
Project area:  400 m2
Year:  2009
Project status:  Schematic design