Landezine
International
Landscape
Award
Francis Landscapes

FIRM PROFILE

Francis Landscapes is an international firm comprised of landscape architects, architects, interior architects and planners. Founded in 1987 by Ms. Irmtraut Schoeber Francis, the firm provides full planning, design and supervision services in landscape architecture, environmental planning and urban design. The firm’s national and international projects are spread out in the Middle East, Africa and Europe and are located in numerous countries including Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, Kuwait, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, France, Belgium, England and India. They include a wide range of urban design, mountain and beach resorts, public parks, hotels, university campuses, sports clubs and office buildings as well as state-of-the-art residences, palaces and government buildings. The firm has extensive experience in all facets of design, demonstrating competency regardless of the complexities of different climates, geographical locations, social situations and the variety of client expectations with the overriding goal being to provide excellence and timeless design. From defining the program to forming the space and exploring potential materials, Francis Landscapes employs a variety of design tools, from hand-drawing and model- making to computer graphics while the decision-making process reflects a continual exchange with clients, architects and consultants. In collaboration with high profile international architectural firms such as Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Arata Isozaki, OMA and SOM architects and major hotel operators such as Kempinski, Marriott, Ritz, Sheraton, Starwood, etc Francis Landscapes is currently working on large-scale projects with drive, commitment and continuous development.

PHILOSOPHY

The firm embodies a commitment to creative solutions that melds with cultural desires and functionality. The work is characterized by a philosophy of strong, simple design incorporating cultural and environmental forces that are unique to each site. This design philosophy is integrated with a clear understanding of costs, current construction techniques and scheduling and guided by the ever important emphasis on the client’s needs and goals. Exploring the relationship between art and culture, Francis Landscapes challenges traditional concepts of design. Their successful and innovative work results from balancing knowledge of history and tradition with sympathy for contemporary needs, while exploiting a clear understanding of both conceptual and material processes expressed through a mastery of construction and detail.

PRINCIPAL

Frederic Francis is a Lebanese-born Austrian landscape architect who has chosen his profession out of deep passion and respect for nature, feelings that extend back to early childhood. The practice, founded by his mother IrmTrauT Schoeber Francis in 1987, has consistently continued to grow. Frederic graduated as a landscape architect in Belgium in 1992 after earning a degree in Landscape Design in France. He returned to Lebanon in 1993 and has been managing Francis Landscapes since. Frederic Francis has won numerous competitions for projects in Lebanon and abroad during the years, earning him a wide reputation.

 

1 The Notorious Building

Positioned in an enviable location on the “corporate row” at the heart of Beirut’s Central District, rises a notorious building dividing its U-shaped layout into three main office blocks. Linear, pure, and minimalist, the garden is an inter-connection of three main spaces for maximum simplicity and to achieve the utmost effect all emphasized along with the intriguing focal points. The central refreshing water cascades visibly fuses with the cladded wall, as the water trickles mysteriously down the stone it seems to disappear below the glass walkway and reappear merging with the peaceful sheet of water mirroring the sky above. Punctuated on the water feature are disk-like structures carrying ornamental trees and sculptural elements that sit majestically in a throne of water. Playing on the contrast between the foreground and the backdrop, at both extremities of this linear space sit two intricately designed green carpets encompassing seating benches to create a subtle and enigmatic refuge where the visitor is embraced and enveloped by nature. On the extremity, a glass walkway shaded by a metallic structure anchored to monumental green walls transports the visitor from one block to the other. Sober, pure, and stripped of all that has no function, the concept here is the creation of a space resonating of giving the visitors a chance to draw on the emotions that this space renders alive in them.

Beirut, Lebanon

 

2 Bee’ah Headquarters

The landscape of the Bee’ah headquarters is an extension of the building outer layer, a series of dunes are imprinted, wrapped and spread throughout the landscape. The concept is inspired by the effect of wind on the desert fabric, resulting in dynamic above ground prints, forms, and patterns.

The visitor is greeted by grand reflective water features that reflect the façade and seem to connect the earth and sky. The tailored landscape consists of an organic grid of pathways that transport the visitor from the main gathering area onto an educational journey from the headquarters, and allows them to walk the landforms created through the reuse of demolition waste collected by the Bee’ah waste management facility. The function and make-up of these dunes is numerous including the solar dunes carrying photovoltaic canopies that store solar energy and illuminate the project during the evening hours. This process will help in creating a sustainable system or cycle that will reduce the environmental damage and energy consumption. Moreover, these dunes are a symbol of modern ecological methods and a reflection of sustainable living. The visitor will also be transported to an amphitheater area, described as a carved concrete dune which can be used for gatherings, events, and awareness campaigns held by the headquarters. The concrete dunes function as outdoor rooms/functional spaces. Other dunes found on site will demonstrate the use of different waste material and landfill mediums including metals, stone, rubber, demolition waste and other mediums collected by Bee’ah are utilized as building material. During the journey the user is transported along the pedestrian path in both above and below ground shaded spaces and discovers oasis niches distributed across the trail. The green dunes distributed on the outskirts of the main activity area act as a means of stabilizing the sand dunes; native grass species are planted in order to hinder the dunes from moving against the wind. These green dunes add color and life to the desert landscape.

Through intervention we aim to activate the site by greening, collecting energy, reusing recycled materials, connecting spaces, and creating vibrant spaces aiming to generate awareness on the importance of sustainability. The landscape language and treatment reflects the practices and principles sought after by Bee’ah headquarters aiming to transform thoughts, attitudes and behaviors resulting in positive sustainable growth. This unique landscape will be considered as a landmark for the community of Sharjah and will be used as a precedent and case study for similar future developments.

Sharjah, U.A.E.

 

3 Moroccan Touch

A series of theme gardens and natural stone courtyards create a choice of living spaces on the grounds of this Doha villa. Despite difference in character and mood, these areas come together as one. They achieve a fluid continuity which, amplified by the presence of water throughout the landscape, culminates in the glistening waters of the adjoining lagoon. Through their pronounced linearity and symmetry, the gardens also complement the Moroccan style of the villa. As a result, a rare balance is achieved between the interior and exterior architectures. This orderly, geometric composition is mirrored by the shapes given to various elements throughout the outdoors: a planter in the form of a square here, a star-shaped fountain there.

At the centre of it all, facing the lagoon, the main water feature unfolds over three levels. Sitting at the top, a large, circular Jacuzzi overflows into the swimming pool. From the pool, one can enjoy a unique vantage point of the lagoon, through the framed view offered by a wooden pergola. The impressive rectangle of blue that forms the no-edge pool ends in a cascade collected in a long, narrow channel beneath it. On the same level is a charming, partially shaded Andalusian water channel with an octagonal fountain at the end. Rows of palms stand majestic on either side, framing the scenery. Ahead of the steps which lead to the beach, a reflecting pool mirrors the blue of the swimming pool at one time of day and the clear waters of the lagoon at another.
Although the deep blue of the pool and green palette of the trees dominate the landscape, a closer look reveals defiant touches of colour in strategic spots. A delicate wreath of red flowers at the foot of an age-old olive tree, the pink blossoms of a chorisia at the end of a lane of palms, bougainvilleas in full bloom…

The property may owe its richness to the way the big picture fits together, but it also owes it to the smaller details. As you make your way through the gardens, you are sure to notice how impossible it is to take everything in at once. There is always something new to catch the eye: the delicate stone frame of a fountain spout, the mysteries of the secret garden or some other delight waiting to be discovered.

Doha, Qatar

 

4 The veiled village

Conveniently located 2kms away from Faqra’s ski slopes, lies the retreated gated community of RedRock. Conceived in a way that allows privacy from the street, but opens towards the mountain and the sea, this prime eco-friendly landmark in the touristic highlight of the Lebanese rural setting, occupies a privileged spot.

The project’s main goal is qualifying the residents’ well-being by introducing all the right components for a relaxed atmosphere and purifying environment. The arrival is rustic yet welcoming as it is inspired by a traditional feel, and it establishes the sense of discovery that’s present throughout the project. Upon accessing the entrance one may sense the rural feel it exhumes from the surrounding cluster of trees, the landscaped areas and the local used materials on the roads and walkways. This condominium complex comprises 26 units submerged in an idyllic vegetation of existing oak trees. Hence comes in play the man-made intervention in an agile attempt to challenge the boundaries between the built form and nature to heighten the experience of immersion in nature. The main focus being the preservation of the existing natural landscape, the softscape selection reflects the safeguarding intent and enhances it through the use of native plants mainly deciduous and evergreen ones adapted to the climate conditions with low water requirements. Four main recreation areas are introduced, each cluster having its own array of facilities including infinity pools, sunbathing decks, outdoor showers, jogging trails. Wellness will be high on the agenda with the outdoor design equally emphasizing a sensation of interaction, recreation, relaxation and physical activities.

The project expresses fluidity with its serpentine aspect. It creates links and potentialities, while opening up perspectives with discretion and taste. This is deliberately reproduced in the streetscape which has a rural character as the design of streetscapes in these areas augment the natural landscape. Designed to have a rural sense of feel along the streetscape, encourages connection, community spirit among residents where shared outdoor space is highly emphasized. Amidst this mountain plateau, emerges a new amenity that respects the property’s inherent natural beauty and promises an enchanting hideaway.

Faqra, Lebanon | 500,000 sqm | first phase 50,000 sqm

5 A Magical Setting

With one main visual axis commencing from the house, flowing through the pool, and trickling on to the breathtaking horizon, this project is a submission to nature’s greatness. Designed to complement impressive existing rock formations that shape a natural amphitheater, the project succumbs to nature’s legacy, with ever growing and evolving plant life and labyrinthine pathways that hide nature’s well-kept secrets. Designing this 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 nature take over and when to tame it. The primary axis starts at the house and bisects a natural amphitheater formed by protected rock formations to guide the line of vision in a gentle flow of terraces that lead to the serene horizon. Cradled in the arms of this natural amphitheater, the infinity pool blends into the distant horizon in such a way that it appears to have existed. Walking around the pool, one is taken away into mysterious walkways that tempt curiosity and guide the wanderer into groves of oak, cedar, and fruit bearing trees, making for a truly multi-sensorial, multi-seasonal experience.

This project focused on collaborating with nature, resulting in something that is less of a guided tour and more of discovery at its purest. The pathways, walkways and promenades hint at undiscovered little islands of pleasure. Even the pool house is hidden, allowing for an uncluttered field of vision, where nature and everything it has to offer can truly be enjoyed. Here, bliss can be found, as everything is enjoyed from the top of the world respecting nature and taking into consideration all the environmental friendly designs.

Faqra, Lebanon

friends and media partners
Info