The idea to decongest the highway in Lebanon by using high speed vessels was brought forward, some 10 years ago, by the collaboration between the Oslo architecture office STUDIOhp and New York based L.E.FT architects.

In 2007, during Studio Beirut, a Dutch/Lebanese workshop held in Beirut on the theme of public space in Lebanon, we got to meet Ole Møystad (STUDIOhp), who presented this idea of connecting the entire Lebanese coast in only 2 hours and a half by water. Creating this common interest could generate a common space, a deap issue in such a segregated country.

We proposed to push the idea further for our Master thesis at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPF-L / ETH-L), with Ole as an external expert. At that point we had to choose a “team” for the development of our project. Here came Dieter Dietz, our main teacher from whom we learned innumerable things through his conceptual approaches, his sensitivity to such topics and his ability to treat coherently every scale of a building. Also part of this project was the architect Christian Gilot. With his awareness of urbanity and perception, he was of great help when it came to work on relations between things and distances. Finally, Ralph Blattler who was the most present, a great assistant but mostly a devoted architect with a clear vision, helping us sort out between infinite options.

Conceptually, this is how ELHUB was born and developed.

On a more personal and general level, ELHUB embodies and tries to respond to two related frustrations.

The first one has to do with pragmatic urban realities of Lebanon. As planners, we feel this country is somehow a victim of private and commercial entrepreneurs who have seldom in mind the welfare of the country as whole and of the people in general. This division of interests yields anarchical specificities that anyone who has visited this country notices immediately. These specificities could be considered exotic or extremely interesting from an outsider point of view, but let’s face it, are enormously constraining when going by day-to-day routines.

The second reality, a direct consequence of the above, is that innovative and alternative ideas to urban issues are rarely taken into consideration by the governing sphere, and therefore only stay at the level of university projects or after parties’ discussions…

Thanks to all the people involved and several peculiar opportunities, we today have the chance to bring this project to another level. With this optimism and efforts from all behalves, we want to share this vision to reach a wider audience..

So maybe this project will also just end up on the shelves with all the others or only become a partial reality. But we thought it was worth setting the example for future and other projects, hoping to motivate young talents that live in the shade of the feudal decision-making system Lebanon is still in the grip of. Hopefully not for long.