By Maie El-Hage
It is not unusual, in this contemporary moment, for an architect to have chosen for her long-term client which apartment to buy. The process of selection, adaptation and design ultimately became an exercise in finding and transforming an unlikely Achrafieh duplex apartment space into a personalized niche, suitable for the private life and public engagements of the client. Architect Roula Khoury Fayad adopts a contemporary design approach, inviting a platform for collaboration, in order to create a personalized niche in an unexpected setting for her long-term client.
Quartier 6/7, is a duplex apartment designed by architects Roula Khoury Fayad and Naji Assi in the Achrafieh district of Beirut. The project is located just across the street from the Nazareth School and overlooking its garden park – a major green area, and void, in the dense urban fabric around it. The project evolved along the lines of an ambitious spatial and sensorial interior design endeavor extending a visual connection to the landscape and urban context.
Quartier 6/7, occupies the eponymous 6th and 7th floor with the upper floor as mezzanine. The floor plans presented challenges, dictating the organization and allocation of spaces. The view to the garden-park is dominant during the day while the night skyline of the city is more visible at night. The apartment floor area facing the view is very generous. The architects kept and maintained the openness, designing the main entrance, living and dining spaces as a free plan. Along with the mezzanine area, the public spaces read as a unified whole. Fixed and movable furniture allow for the activities occupying this large, open space, which is flooded by natural light at daytime, and which becomes defined by lighting design during the evenings.
The architects chose materials that define the ambience of the different spaces. Opaqueness and transparency tend to alternate. On the 6th floor, the main wall separating the living and dining area from the entrance, staircase and kitchen is clad in opaque metal-sheet which is black brushed. The effect is very industrial; this is coupled with natural oak-wood veneer for the entrance doors and staircase finish, inviting warmth. The panels separating the kitchen from the dining, flush with the boundary wall, are glazed with metal frames painted black, continuing the industrial feel.
On the 7th floor mezzanine level, a balcony-like space projects into the double-height living area; the architects placed there a desk and a sleek balustrade. On the opposite side, a painted brick wall borders a smaller living area, adjacent to which is a charming bar and a selection of modern art pieces.
The selection of the furniture and artwork pieces includes a medley of recycled, refurbished furniture pieces, in addition to a selection of contemporary pieces as well. Some items were purchased at the local flea market and then stylishly upcycled. Quartier 6/7 is the outcome of an effervescent, participatory design approach, involving the client directly and creating a platform of collaboration between architects, industries and designers.