The architecture and vision of the K Galleria project are inspired by the infamous ancient khan or urban caravanserai, the equivalent of the public marketplace in the Middle East during the Ottoman era.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
As both client and architect wanted to avoid creating yet another clone of the traditional shopping mall or department store, capturing the vernacular and social essence of the traditional khans was a primary concern in the design of K Galleria. It was essential to transcend the mere commercial and retail functions, and rather create a space for recreation and socialization, acting as a funnel to collect social crowds from the surrounding neighborhoods. The project is located in the thriving coastal city of Kaslik (North of Beirut), a small city with a mixed residential and commercial purpose. The civil war has contributed to the growth of businesses in the neighborhood’s commercial strip that became known as one of Lebanon's most prestigious streets filled with boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, as well as a prominent university. Adjacent to the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), the new lifestyle center comes as an extension to the main commercial strip, aiming to serve to the social and commercial demands of the surrounding local community of students, residents of all ages, businessmen and tourists, as well as the larger area of Keserwan. Set to become the most distinguished urban attraction center in the area, K Galleria is intended as a place where people could gather, stroll and socialize in a community environment, a center for daily and social activities rather than just shopping.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
Conceived as a major entertainment destination, K Galleria offers a robust menu of lifestyle choices where the retail component becomes more or less supplemental, as 35% of the leased space is earmarked for leisure and dining activities. The program consists of a supermarket, a retail zone, a bookshop, coffee shops, an indoor and outdoor food court area housing various types of restaurants, a kids play area and an extensive car parking with a 264-car capacity over five underground floors.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project was launched in October 2015 and is expected to be completed by end of 2018. It is located in the mixed residential and commercial coastal city of Kaslik, LEBANON.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Architecture, Building and Structure Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
Architectural elements recalling the ancient khans, such as Khan El Franj which is one of the finest examples of the architecture of its time, serve as the basis for the design vocabulary of K Galleria. Volumetrically, the building presents itself as a solid monolithic cubic element evoking the typical square layout of the khans, with a shifted parallelepiped that breaks up the bulky look of the volume and generates the geometry of the main atrium or central courtyard. As a reference to the loopholes on the outer walls of Khan El Franj, the K Galleria elevations are partially traversed with vertical openings, creating an inviting and attractive building facade with strong visual relations with its contiguous exterior spaces, and allowing natural light and ventilation to enter the building, thus saving on energy. This contemporary interpretation of the vernacular is complemented with the sober choice of natural local white stone treated in a contemporary aspect, as the main building material.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Total plot area: 2700sqm. Total built-up area: 24983sqm. Number of floors: 4 floors and 7 basements.
Khan, Lifestyle, Socialization, Shopping, Entertainment, Neighborhood, Lebanon, Kaslik
During the heyday of overland travel, thousands of khans (called caravanserais in Iran and Central Asia, sarays in India and han, khan or kervansarai in Turkey and the Middle East) had popped up along the trade routes covering Asia, Middle East, North Africa, and southeastern Europe, especially along the Silk Road. Linked to the growth of the land trade between the Orient and the West, khans formed a major phenomenon in the history of this part of the world, from an economic, a social and a cultural point of view. They supported the flow of commerce, information, and people from different backgrounds, thus becoming a place for communication as well as cultural exchange and trade. In Lebanon, a number of khans survive up until today and, in a few, a handful of modern merchants keep the buildings and the institution alive. One of the most renowned and best preserved khans, is Khan El Franj, the most impressive architectural monument of the maritime façade of the city of Sidon, built in the 17th century. The majestic and massive Khan El Franj was the center of social and commercial activities down to the 19th century, and served not only as a place for exchange of goods but also for exchange of culture and ideas.
The scale of the project being very small compared to usual retail centers or department stores, the main challenge was to design a building that was structurally sound and aesthetically appealing with generous space allocated to leisure and entertainment, and at the same time, to fulfill the needs of the retailers, provide them with the space required and obey by the code requirements.