At Beirut Design Week 2017, Lebanese designer Nathalie Harb’s The Silent Room responded to the need for a unique space of tranquility in a noise-polluted city. Located in an empty parking lot by a busy highway bridge in an industrial neighborhood of Beirut, the bright pink, wooden-planked structure is open to the public, a concept that remains new to the city.
In an interview, the artist explained the challenges of welcoming underprivileged groups to foreign and ephemeral spaces such as hers, an obstacle most artists and designers face when designing accessible public spaces.
“[The Room] was an alien object, but I wanted to create a pilot to understand the technicalities. There has to be an understanding that the space is [the public’s]. Some people were reluctant because they didn’t feel it was,” Harb told ArchiExpo e-Magazine.
Harb worked with architecture studio BÜF and Squad Design to create the space. “The initial idea was supposed to have a rural shed in an urban space or a treehouse,” she explained. Ironically, The Silent Room is not silent. In fact, Harb worked with acoustic studio 21DB and sound designer Khaled Yassine to capture the city’s quietest hours on a soundtrack.
“The idea is not to escape sound or the city, but to be in the here and now. The sounds that were composed are there to remind you of that.”