Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
 

The Cube, Beirut
Featured March 2017
The Cube was recognized as a the Winner of "Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa" in the 2016 CTBUH Awards Program.
Other Featured Tall Buildings
“The Cube is a clear alternative to the extruded box typology that defines the majority of residential high-rises around the world, instead comprising a stack of unique villas in the sky.”
Hashimah Hashim, Juror, KLCC Property Holdings
Location
Beirut, Lebanon
Completion
2015
Area
5,600 sq m (60,278 sq ft)
Height
57 m (186 ft)
Stories
15
Primary Use
Residential
Owner/Developer
Marsharii
Architect
Orange Architects (design); CBA Group (architect of record)
Structural Engineer
Bureau d'Études Rodolphe Mattar
MEP Engineer
Ussama Mogharbel
Main Contractor
K.Abboud
Other Consultants
OMP Design; Wadih Jreissati & Fils (Interiors)
A new iconic structure for a growing Beirut suburban neighborhood, The Cube employs thoughtful engineering to maximize the spatial needs of its inhabitants. While the internal service core ensures flexibility in apartment design and gives primacy to living and relaxation spaces, the inclusion of wrap-around balconies enhances the overall apartment mix by facilitating non-repeating arrangements. With balconies and panoramic windows, all occupants are afforded exclusive views of Beirut from above.

Perhaps most deserving of recognition is the fact that all of this is accomplished on a complex site that must rectify the difficulties of a 20-meter (66-foot) incline, a seismically active area, and a dusty and dirty environment. The design gracefully accommodates these factors through the inclusion of an artful retaining wall, large crossing girders, and dirt-resistant paint, respectively.  As a predecessor for further development in the immediate area, The Cube’s combination of site-specific structural considerations and user-friendly living spaces sets a high precedent for the neighborhood, with a visually appealing design that also benefits the greater community by introducing world-class architecture.

The Cube stands conspicuously on the hills of Sin el Fil, an eastern suburb of Beirut directly abutting the Emile Lahoud highway. The tower’s parcel, measuring 30 by 40 meters (98 by 131 feet), is particularly steep compared to the surrounding topography, with a height difference of 20 meters (66 feet) along an incline that runs northeast to southwest. Thus, the unique site provides a dramatic backdrop, one that frames the tower’s signature white appearance against a backdrop of earth, shrubs, and native wildflowers. With some of the surrounding area awaiting development, The Cube sets a sizeable precedent for the future residential makeup of the area.

The design concept for the tower revolves around a series of stacked, displaced, and rotated boxes. Each floor is offset significantly from the next, an intentional strategy to create one-of-a-kind outdoor areas on all sides of the tower, some wrapping around two complete elevations. Panoramic windows, measuring up to 12 meters (39 feet) wide and featuring steel mullions at regular intervals, achieve a high level of transparency when coupled with the building’s titanium white finish. This composition results in 21 apartments over 15 floors, each with plentiful sunlight and non-repeating floor plans.
Building Entry
The structural design, featuring white-coated perforated girder walls, has a strong impact on both the interior and exterior of the building. Along the exterior, the crisscrossing girders are placed beyond the glazing, preserving precious interior space and leaving punctured openings for overall transparency. The structural system makes use of a new generation of concrete called Self-Consolidating Concrete (SCC), allowing the loads to concentrate in the four overlapping areas of the rotated girders on every floor, each with a surface area of approximately 35 by 35 centimeters (14 by 14 inches). By using this material, no additional structural slabs were required along the façades.

Thanks to the fixed core, with elevators and staircases located at the heart of the building, there are no constraints to the layout of apartments. The floors run straight from the core to the façades, which themselves are composed of two supporting concrete girder walls and two panoramic window walls, a composition that is rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise per level. Both the crossing girders and the core serve to stabilize the tower, an added challenge in a seismically active area.

Every floor consists of only one or two residential units, ranging in size from 117 to 234 square meters (1,259 to 2,519 square feet). A conceptual interior design is present throughout both double- and single-unit floors. The interiors of the single-floor apartments are donut-shaped, fluid, and continuous as they circle around the central core of the building. To achieve this, all service elements of the apartments – kitchens, bathrooms, storage areas, wardrobes, and cupboards – are located nearest to the central core of the tower.
Typical section
View from an upper balcony
Adjacent to the service column, which materializes in high-gloss white paint, all living spaces are positioned and separated from each other with two movable wall elements. With this arrangement, the expansive panorama of the city is fully optimized and emphasized within each unit, maximizing the daylighting effects from the curtain wall façades and the weighty expression of the concrete girder walls. The concrete walls, wooden flooring, and sophisticated lighting scheme, together with the centralized service column, give the apartments a refined appearance.

On the ground floor, the lobby is covered by a massive cantilevering volume, creating a sheltered space denoting the entrance of the building. The lobby contains an entrance to an underground parking structure with space for 42 vehicles and access to the standard facilities areas.

The tower’s smooth and dirt-resistant finish was achieved by installing double-glazed low-E glass and a protective nano-particle paint. At night, it retains its sheen through an external LED lighting system, with strips of light tucked away in the ceilings of each balcony. This lighting scheme, coupled with a number of upward-facing floodlights, creates highly readable silhouettes in conjunction with the tower’s jutted floors and perforated walls.
Interior living space
Entrance of the building

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
The Cube

The Cube wasthe Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa Winner in the 2016 CTBUH Awards Program.

CTBUH 2016 Awards Book