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community center

Karantina, Beirut, Lebanon


Research & Design
Di-lab, D4C & BUL
Karim Najjar & Sarah Rita Kattan
Alaa Atwi, Batoul Chahine, Haya Safadi, Abd Al-Hafiz El-Hajj, Israa Alameh, Hadi Harb
Mira Al-Hajj, Jenny Merheb, Cynthia Deeb
Beirut Municipality
Fondation de France,  Cités Unies france, La Guilde, Toufic Mouawad Initiative

D4C and Beirut Urban Lab (BUL) at the AUB have been working with the affected communities since 2020 after the Beirut Blast to improve their living conditions, especially in Karantina. Based on the needs assessment conducted by BUL for the Karantina community that identified the lack of public space, high unemployment rates and the inequality and poverty present in the area, D4C is establishing a community center at the heart of Karantina on municipal land that operates as a safe and empowering space for the local communities.

Nafas serves the entire family members and various generations, providing basic relief as well as long-term assistance like income generating activities. The core operating principles of the center are to: build bridges between the different communities of Karantina, employ neighbors in provided programs, adapt the latter to meet emerging needs and remain grounded in the population of which we are part of and which we strive to serve.

The Community Center opens the municipal land fenced by a wall towards the Karantina neighborhood. It consists of an open courtyard, where multi-purpose functions can take place, connecting different spaces, each containing their own private functions. The courtyard, which acts as a welcoming hub for the community is shaded with an elevated roof, giving the center its own identity. The center will provide a multipurpose room, training spaces, a therapy room, a kitchen and outdoor spaces.

A versatile program will be offered by different NGOs so that the center becomes the prime destination for the local community. It will provide programs and activities based on their needs. An operating NGO will coordinate the activities implemented in the center by the different NGOs and partners, while a community advisory committee is formed to support the operation of the center and ensure its relevance in the coming years.

While reclaiming the public space to the inhabitants of Karantina, creating a meeting point for the diverse neighborhoods, the abandoned structure will be turned into a breathing space for the community.

Nafas Sustainable Strategies

The design of the communal center in Beirut, “Nafas”, incorporates a range of sustainability passive strategies to ensure a minimal impact on the environment. Firstly, rainwater collection is implemented, allowing the center to collect and store rainwater for future use, reducing water waste. Additionally, a green courtyard is designed to create a microclimate that provides shade, cools the air and filters pollution.

The interior of the center is designed for visual comfort and glare avoidance, with ample natural light and shading to reduce energy consumption. The center’s thermal mass, which is the ability of a building material to absorb and release heat, is utilized to regulate the temperature inside the building. 

Cross and stack ventilation is installed to maintain a comfortable indoor environment by allowing for natural air flow. Roof shading is incorporated to prevent overheating and reduce energy use, and finally, geothermal air tubes are included to take advantage of the stable temperature of the ground to regulate indoor temperatures.

These passive strategies are integrated into the design of the communal center to ensure a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to the project.

Design for Communities (D4C Beirut)

Sadat Street, Aramouny Building, Floor 2
Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon


Organizer: Karim Najjar (Founder/President)
Ministry of Interior Affairs, Lebanon Reg. Nr. 2062