|Prior to their destruction, the souks
of Beirut were a meeting place for all Lebanese, and their reconstruction must safeguard
that traditional attraction. The reconstruction of the souks is one of the priorities of
Phase I, and will take place concurrently with the works on infrastructure and
restoration. Attractive and active souk areas are sure to help revitalize the Central
Launched in the beginning of 1994, the International Ideas
Competition for the Reconstruction of the Souks, covering an area of 60,000 square meters,
addressed this and other objectives.
Among the aims of the architectural competition was the promotion of ideas for
the creation of an active, attractive, and successful market place; but there were other
purposes, too. By launching the competition, SOLIDERE wanted to open up the reconstruction
process to the public at large and to encourage national and international professional
The Company also hoped to encourage debate and interest in architectural
concepts that could create a link between the city's past and its present, and develop
means to handle the social and historical issues involved in the creation of a new
identity for the Souks.
Among other objectives of the competition was the development of architectural
concepts that recapture a lifestyle formerly identified with the city center and recreate
a market-place where merchants prosper and all enjoy spending long hours.
The total number of registered entries was 357, from 51 countries, a clear
indication of the international interest in the competition.
On July 16, 1994, the Lebanese and international jury named three winners: the
offices of Drisin, McFarlane; Annabel Karim & Valode & Pistre; and Mark Saade
& Associates. Nine other participants received honorable mentions.