Al Azhar Park
Sasaki’s entry for the 2010 Beirut Waterfront Competition – dubbed seaSCAPE – created a new landscape of community and event to the city’s shore – its forms and narrative inspired by Beirut’s historic relationship with the sea. Through myriad cultures and clashes, its constant ebb and flow brought gifts to the people of Beirut in the forms of trade, fishing, and shells. The eastward currents of the Mediterranean swept diverse people from its shores toward Beirut, creating a cultural siltation and cosmopolitan mix like no other City in the world. The sea, by its sheer and constant force, also took from the people, eroding fortifications and swallowing various attempts to fight its tides.
From the earliest of City mythology to the recent construction of the corniche sea defense, this productive and intricate relationship with the Sea was the inspiration for the new Waterfront Park—a seaSCAPE to reconnect the diverse people of the City to each other and the water. SeaSCAPE represented an unprecedented opportunity for the future of Beirut. As a city well into a process of regeneration after a tumultuous recent history, Beirut has emerged again as the great cosmopolitan center of the Near East. The Waterfront District provides a major platform for the creation of a great new mixed-use destination in the City.
Perhaps most importantly, however, it offers a precious gift to the entire City—a significant new public landscape that will both catalyze the district and begin to fill the void of active, green spaces in the City. SeaSCAPE creates a green oasis for the whole community within the dense city fabric, a distinctive and iconic destination in an emerging district, and place for individual delight, respite and community within the context of urban living.