The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter - May 2014
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Green material

The green colour in contemporary architecture? It is the basis of many designers’ works.
For the Brussels architect Luc Schuiten, « we have perhaps forgotten too fast that we are before all biological human beings installed on a planet, itself also living ». Since many decades, his original and positive views on the future of the relation between Man and his natural environment are lyrical and free of all constraints. He even suggests « archiborescent » living forms, word he has invented to point out the architecture using mainly all living organism forms as building materials.
More concretely, in the absence of extensive parks, to cover the city in plants can be done differently. This is shown by the botanist Patrick Blanc’s monumental works building his gardens vertically. Continuing his research on how to adapt plants to an urban environment, he develops his green walls everywhere in the world. Plants have an antipollution effect by absorbing certain toxic particles of the ambient air. This effect has been underlined in especially polluted places, like Lyon e.g., with an « antipollution » green wall with a mixture of earth, perlite, coco fiber, pozzolana and pine barks. Tests made by the Savoie University have demonstrated that earth, roots and micro organisms absorb and degrade up to 80% of the COV (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene). Other projects on blind walls notably, enable to give a new beauty and landscape identity to places which were forgotten.
Much was written about Milan on the subject. In 2010, the huge green wall (1263 sqm and 44000 plants) of the Fiordalisio commercial center designed by the architect Alfredo Bollani surpasses the previous record held by the vertical garden of the Hotel Santo Domingo in Madrid. (Lumiartecnia Internacional). Almost completed, the two residential buildings Bosco Verticale (see this month’s project) will now enable to answer the question: how to get people to accept these inhabited towers which are becoming taller and taller? By giving them a significant role in the biodiversity, the climatic regulation, the energy savings, and the inhabitants’ wellbeing. Certain projects had already been designed in the past but were never undertaken. Today, the look has changed.

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month
Frederic Francis
1) Frederic Francis

2) Aley

3) Faqra

4) Bsalim

5) Awkar

6) Doha

7) Harbour

8) Coastal Retreat

Al sumaria
9) Al sumaria

Francis Landscapes

The international office specialized in city-planning and landscape architecture, Francis Landscapes reinvents the urban landscapes, the exterior spaces and the gardens. An innovating work centered on the integration with architecture, tradition knowledge, balance between mineral and living materials.

Founded in 1987, the office provides full planning design and supervision services when executing the projects. On the whole, hundreds of projects spread out in the Middle East, Africa and Europe have been executed. They include mountain and beach resorts, public parks, hotels, private residences, university campuses, office or governmental buildings showing a great variety of climates, geographical locations, objectives and social conditions.
Frederic Francis is a landscape architect who has chosen this very particular profession out of deep passion and respect for nature, feelings that extend back to early childhood, thanks to his mother who created the company in 1987. His creative landscapes express harmony and serenity that can provide a real enchantment for the soul. After earning a Landscape Design degree in France in 1988, Francis graduated in Belgium as a landscape architect in 1992. Since his return to Lebanon in 1993, he has been managing Francis Landscapes.
Perfectionist and engaged, Frederic Francis challenges the invasion of charmless constructions which have transformed the city in an asphyxiating magma. “Everything is there, he adds, in this absence of oxygen which is destroying our living space. To counter this disaster, we are now bound to recreate, with the help of studies and finance, the legacy wasted by mankind.”

Citing some of their works, in Aley, located on the crest of a hill, this villa culminates with an infinity pool that seems to blend earth and sky. With a dominating view on Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea, (photo 2) the garden spirals down a hill rendered magical by 50-year-old pine trees and the breathtaking 360-degree view. Francis Landscapes underlines here that the setting itself remains the focus, with a landscape that respects the magnificence of the site. The wonderful thing about this house from the late forties is its spiraling garden, gently uncovering new patches of pleasures: a bar, an infinity pool, a rose garden, a pond, a shaded sitting garden, and of course, the larger than life panorama. The major asset to designing this project was the steep nature of the terrain, with its impressive trees towering throughout, allowing for the creation of a young garden with an old soul. It is from the fabulous heights of the infinity pool that the view is best enjoyed, as it seems to vanish endlessly beyond the city and into the immense horizon.
Another residential private project in Faqra (Lebanon) (photo 3) is a real discovery. It is a submission to nature’s greatness. The primary axis starts at the house and bisects a natural amphitheatre formed by protected rock formations to guide the line of vision in a gentle flow of terraces that lead to the serene horizon. Designing the garden took great discipline. The priority was to make the setting the star player. To preserve the organic feel and reflect the splendid natural surroundings, the designers had to decide when to let the nature take over and when to tame it.
Dream locations seem to be quite numerous in Lebanon. The challenge is to preserve the natural landscape whilst incorporating the project’s elements. In Bsalim, the garden is integrated into the natural hilly landscape, mixing a modern terrace with an infinity pool leading to a variety of themed gardens, all set within an existing pine forest (photo 4). From the patio, a gated walkway lures wanderers into a moment of pure serenity. Below lies an exciting combination of gardens, including a Japanese garden, a bamboo garden, a rock garden, and a modern garden.

Designing a plot, which is narrow and surrounded by walls, seems to be a challenge for the Firm for whom each achievement is unique. No room is left to chance and no detail can be neglected.
For this garden divided into four parts, in Awkar (photo 5) special attention was paid to the volume of the plants, the size and texture of the foliage as well as the colour gradient thus to reproduce a perfect harmony.
Francis Landscapes’ designs rely on a range of natural matters composing with nature where geometry applied to living elements increases the feeling of textures, light and movement.
Several projects with a completely different environment will confirm this approach. This was also the case back in the nineties where strict compositions define the Byblos Bank’s exterior (Lebanon 1998) with its dual straight water mirrors, its minimalist garden with gravel and shrub layouts. The resulting geometrical motives can be easily visible from the above floors.
More recently in Doha (Qatar), a series of themed gardens and natural stone courtyards have created living spaces, which thanks to their linearity and symmetry, blend well with the villa’s Moroccan style (photo 6). They achieve a fluid continuity which, amplified by the presence of water throughout the landscape, culminates in the glistening waters of the adjoining lagoon.
In the busy and congested Beirut center, on a small 1000 sq. space threatened to be demolished and with chaotic constructions (photo 7), the challenge was to create a breathing space at the entrance of the residential building, the Harbour Tower.
The design required the use of inventive materials. The choice of rectilinear forms, the juxtaposition of elements, the presence of water compose the urban garden « Throughout the years our experience shows our meticulous research, underlines Frederic Francis »
This garden has won in Belgium the 2013 “Blue Stone Award” in the Landscape category and is one of the numerous realizations which have been honored in international competitions.


On a different scale, extending along a kilometer of the Lebanese coastline, (photo 8) the exclusive beach resort is nestled among exotic guava groves. Gently slanting towards the sea, winding pathways invite visitors to a contemplative walk or a refreshing swim in the sea, creating a lush world of water and greenery that fuses to generate a sense of well-being. Overlooking the coast and the beach, a profusely landscaped swimming pool sinks into its waters creating natural inlets in the continuous motion emblematic of sandy shorelines.
Another unusual project was an old concrete building, which is home to a television station in Beirut’s suburbs. The relation between garden and building is to be central to the project. The entrance has a planted roof and is located behind two rectangular water surfaces to create a peaceful environment. (photo 9) The graphic repartition of plants integrates well with the architectural features.
From private terraces to beach resorts, and from parks to roofs, Frederic Francis has shown his great ability to master the design of green spaces. Insisting on the role of water, he clearly prefers mineral landscapes which adapt better to the climate conditions of the region. Modern, even minimalist by preference, he nevertheless conforms to the customers’ desires and also to nature’s demands. This is probably what explains his success with those who, like him, have understood the major role of the garden, big or small, wild or strictly laid out, in the emergence of a better society composed of sensitive human beings keen to respect their environment.

1. Frederic Francis

2. Residentie, Aley, Lebanon - 2005 (12 000 m2)
3. Residentie, Faqra, Lebanon - 2005 (4 000 m2)
4. Bsalim, Lebanon - 2000 (6 000 m2)
5. Residentie, Awkar, Lebanon - 1999 (1 500 m2)
6. Moroccan Touch Residentie, Doha, Qatar – 2009 (8 000 m²)
7. Harbour Tower, Beirut - 2011 (1 000 m²)
8. A coastal retreat, Rmeile, Lebanon – 2005 (20 000 m²)
9. Al Sumaria, Lebanon - 2006 (1 500 m2)

Project of the month

Bosco Verticale
Bosco Verticale - Stefano Boeri Architetti

Bosco VerticaleBosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale
Bosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale
Architect: Stefano Boeri Architetti

Spectacular project in the centre of Milan, initiated in 2007, two high residential towers completely covered with plants will create a real vertical forest.

Town polluted by its very developed urbanization and the lack of green spaces, the capital of Lombardy continues its urban renewal in preparation of the 2015 International Exhibition. The project BioMilano is part of the approach to make Milano ecological and easier to live in. Following this idea, the Italian architect Stefano Boeri has imagined two buildings of 80 and 110 m high with staggered terraces planted with trees.

The concept of vertical garden is not new in itself, but no other project has reached such a scale. Indeed, the particularity of Bosco Verticale*, presently almost completed, is the installation of 900 trees, 5000 shrubs and 11000 plants in its suspended gardens, representing for each building the equivalent of one hectare of forest. The plants should improve the inhabitants’ quality of life by helping the climatic regulation, according to the architect. The abundant vegetation on the façade will help to absorb the CO2 and the dust particles, as well as to produce oxygen. All the species of plants and trees have been carefully selected taking account of their characteristics and virtues. Their positioning on the building has also been chosen depending on the exposure. The windmills and the solar captors on the roof will contribute to the energy autonomy of the two towers, whilst grey water recycling will water the vegetation.

In terms of number of inhabitants, each Bosco Verticale is the equivalent of an area of 50000 sqm of single family dwellings. The smallest apartment (65 sqm) includes a small wooden terrace and the largest apartment (450 sqm) one of about 80 sqm.
Model of nature’s vertical densification, Bosco Verticale contributes to environment regeneration and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory. It is correlated to the reforestation policies in the metropolitan zones. (Metrobosco)
Is it a model for the environmental survival of contemporary European cities?

* Architectural Design: Boeri Studio (Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca, Giovanni La Varra).

Photos © Boeri Studio

Products of the month

Di Legno

Di Legno doors

A door does not have to be standard. Di Legno proves that. We have developed a product range that looks very modern, but at the same time radiates comfortable warmth. The door offer is fully tailored to the Di Legno parquet flooring. Also in combination with our flooring our unique designs come fully into their own right. We customize everything just the way you want it and adjust the width, height or framing to your needs.

Events in the spotlight

Fiabci 2014


FIABCI 20 - 22 May 2014

FIABCI 65th World Congress is an international summit of concern for all real estate professionals to be held in Luxembourg on 20, 21 and 22 May, 2014.

This World Congress is an intense three days of professional program composed of conferences led by internationally renowned speakers, experts’ debates, workshops and exhibition area as well as exclusive networking opportunities. 1500+ real estate decision makers from more than 60 countries are expected to take part to this event.

Business sectors from the real estate industry, including disciplines from building, architecture, design, project management, finance, expertise, funds will be represented.

The program will be split into half days, each dedicated to specific topics. The headline topic, BUILDING HUMANITY, will be a guideline and the first one to be addressed to launch this 65th edition of the FIABCI world congress. There will be something for everyone. Other topics will be: Real Estate Opportunities, Cities & Technology, Finance & Tax, Architecture & Urban Design.

Discover program, speakers, sponsors, media partners, tours and more on:

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Cityscape Qatar
Cityscape Qatar

Cityscape Qatar 2 - 4 June 2014

Cityscape Qatar will play host this year to the launch of many new projects, while providing the latest updates from existing developments.

In its third year, the event has firmly established itself as the only “must attend” real estate event focused on the bourgeoning Qatari market, and it is the perfect platform for attendees to see and experience how the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the government’s 2030 vision is changing Qatar’s skyline.

More about Cityscape Qatar:

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feicon batimat



Project Lebanon 3 - 6 June 2014

Your gateway to Lebanon’s unstoppable construction market

Almost two decades ago, Project Lebanon launched its first exhibition, becoming the second addition to the region’s fastest growing construction show brand. Its success led to the initiation of three more shows under the same trademark across the Middle East.
Running in Baghdad, Beirut, Doha, Erbil and Riyadh, Project Lebanon and its counterparts have become an undisputed commercial platform. It serves as a gateway to the region’s lucrative construction markets by providing effective solutions and profitable partnerships to industry leaders and experts, who are participating from all over the globe in search of new prospects and technologies for growth.

In 2013, Project Lebanon welcomed 20,641 professional visitors, 712 participating companies from 25 countries and 12 international pavilions across 25,000 square meters of exhibition space.
In 2014, the show will be even more groundbreaking as it provides a unique platform to view the latest equipment and services from the international construction, energy and environmental industries, develop international relationships by networking with decision makers, and generate new business opportunities.

Organized by IFP Lebanon (International Fairs & Promotions), Project Lebanon 2014, the 19th International Construction Trade Exhibition for Lebanon & the Middle East, will be taking place from 3 to 6 June at BIEL, Beirut.

You can register online on:

Competitions in the spotlight


We are happy to announce you that Piscine Global and Archi-Europe launch the second edition of the international award for Pool & Spa architecture: Pool Vision.

private pools
public/hotel pools

For this edition we are inviting also participants from Asia to participate actively as there will be a separate awarding ceremony for Asian projects on the Splash edition taking place in Singapore in May 2015.

Principle and aim:
Pool Vision 2014 will select and award prizes to outstanding swimming pool projects from around the world, judging them from the technical and aesthetic standpoints, water treatment, coverings, accessories, spas, etc...

Registration deadline Pool Vision Asia & Pool Vision global: 31/07/2014

More about Pool Vision 2014:
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Archi-World® Academy 2013-2015

After the extraordinary success of the first edition 2011/1013 (Archi-World® Academy registered 1287 entries coming from all parts of the world!) and the magnificent awarding ceremony in Munich on 16 January 2013 with top architects, Archi-World Academy Awards 2 is now on track!

This second edition of the Archi-World® Academy Awards will again involve students in architecture and architecture schools from all over the world that will have the opportunity to upload their project in a new topic: Architecture for tomorrow! It will give to 12 winning students the chance to win a prestigious traineeship in top architecture practices!

Archi-World® Academy is proud to announce you the new jury members of this second edition: Roger Duffy (United States) - Philippe Samyn (Belgium) - Ibrahim Jaidah (Qatar) - Yves Besançon (Chile) - Thomas Herzog (Germany) - Mario Cucinella (Italy) - Andrey Asadov (Russia) - Paul de Ruiter (Netherlands) - Madhav Raman (India) - Fernando Romero (Mexico) - Peter Stutchbury (Austria) - Juan Manuel Herranz (Spain)

Registration deadline: 30 September 2014.

Click here to register!
Click here for more information about this competition
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First InnoMatnet competition on the use of Sustainable Materials in building industry

The competition is open to practitioners, (architects, engineers, material designers) based in Europe.


Using Innovative Materials
Rediscovering Traditional Materials
Working with Recycled Materials

Deadline: 27 June 2014

Click here for more information about this competition:

100 jaar design door Belgische architecten
(>15/06/2014) – Brussels - Atomium (B)
Bernard Tschumi
(30/04 – 28/07/2014) - Paris Centre Pompidou (FR)
Think Global, Build Social! Architectures for a Better World
(15/03 – 30/06/2014) – Vienna (AT)
Design City Biennale
Into the process (23/04 – 15/06/2014) – (Lux)
(2 – 4/06/2014) - Munich (D)
Motor of Modernity. Grup R. Architecture, Art and Design
(> 24/06/2014) – Barcelona - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Es)
>> read more
Wynwood Gateway Park Competition
Date limite: 10/06/2014

PARIS River Champagne Bar
Deadline: 07/07/2014


Deadline: 31/07/2014

>> read more

Archi Europe books archi europe books archi-europe books

Drawing for Landscape Architects
Sabrina Wilk

DOM Publishers
€ 68.00
356 pages
English ISBN 978-3-86922-344-5
German ISBN 978-3-86922-346-9

>> read more

Succeed in building acoustics
Architectural Design – Acoustic insulation and correction
Loïc Hamayon

Editions du Moniteur
€ 60.00
286 pages
ISBN 9782281116366
>>read more

How to Make a Japanese House
Cathelijne Nuijsink

NAI Publishers
€ 39.50
328 pages
ISBN 978-90-5662-850-5
>> read more

© 2014 Archi-Europe
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard
Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

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