A Modern-Day Riviera

“Riviera,” an Italian word which means “coastline” often refers to a coastal region frequented as a resort area and usually marked by a mild climate. We start this project by looking at the characteristics that define some of the most celebrated and memorable rivieras around the world. Through an understanding of these characteristics, we can formulate a premise through which an architectural solution can emerge. The criteria that make some of these settings memorable to their visitors are often universal but are also driven by local idiosyncrasies that make them unique from each other.

Our approach to the design of the buildings draws inspiration from vernacular urban forms of historic coastal and desert towns. The design strategy starts with a question about scale, density, and order prior to engaging with architectural issues and architectonic elements. We wanted to create the perception of a town and not of a cluster of residential buildings. This town would then carry the spatial DNA of the urban environments that are referenced.

The massing strategy relies on breaking the scale of the residential block down into a series of “mini-blocks” creating a village reading. The residential block is read vertically (as opposed to horizontally). The articulation of these mini-blocks with a distinct reading of the base and the upper floors in addition to varying heights strengthens further this strategy. Lighter ephemeral elements that define spill out zones in front of shops on the ground level help clarify the way buildings meet the ground and provide a highlighted coastal character.

Another primary premise of the design approach is to devise a strategy that would create a harmonious sense of variety – one that is derived in response to various contextual conditions. Color and texture of the pigmented concrete panels is manipulated to provide unique readings for each of the areas within the master plan – a way to promote wayfinding and grant identity to each of the master plan zones.

A system of pre-cast/prefinished modular pigmented concrete panels and aluminum screens makes up an assembly of elevation treatments that allow for variety while maintaining efficiency and cost effectiveness. A language of terraces and loggias that have a strong impact on the spatial quality of the interior spaces while the treatment from the outside responds to different contextual conditions and frontages. For example, a Souq frontage would get one set of treatments while a beach frontage would have a different set.

A palette of facade elements is created to limit the number of molds (formwork). The same molds can be used to create a multitude of colors through pigmentation. Textures can be manipulated through sand blasting or honing. Light beige precast frames with plain and engraved textures form a neutral base upon which a family of screens act as pronunciations through darker shades of browns and blues as accent colors. The color palette is a response to the shades and colors of the site.

Team: Nihal Halimeh, Jafar Abbas, Fayez Najeeb, Shereen Raslan, Rasha Safarini, Ahmad Beydoun, Bindya Menon

Client: Confidential

Collaborators: Vizualization by Pictown & Dimatz, Physical Model by Monalyn Gelera, Devika Kumar, Sneha Joseph, Shalomi Ninan, Akhil Sathyan

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