karen madi

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architecture & design

portfolio of professional & academic work

interior: lana’s apartment

“she had a clear vision: her zen mood, extended in purity and simplicity, and her innate refined elegance.

through a series of conversations, we decide to preserve memorable items from the previous family house with its african references and ethnic texture. but in order to achieve the necessary lightness, we also had to tone down the atmosphere.

from the entrance, to frame the sea. there will still be a sofa looking towards you, but as low as possible, horizontally invisible. two big glass tables with floating trunks, a carefully embroidered piece of the migration series, two summerland chairs and a rocking chair for the baby to come. on the ceiling, lighting as garland, to celebrate.

in the second living, suspension and light tables to go with the swing chairs, the fireplace this time preserved on a white wall background.

in the dining room, suspending glass on sculpted trunks, the jungle again, but abstracted.

she wanted to extend her zen mood, her space this time as her motherly embrace.”

competition: guaja pedestrian bridge

“the bridge is only a fitting landmark and a welcoming station if it truly heralds the rich natural environment of the gauja natural park. it must therefore contain this promise within its design and become a peaceful promenade between the existing trees creating a sense of poetry and wonder as a prelude of a walk in the forest and transform into a pier over the lake as a signal of the gauja river running free. the information stand welcomes the pedestrian visitor onto a smoothly ascending platform offering different paths which hold in them a sense of discovery. the cut out form of the bridge takes a natural flowing shape that offers overlooks and rest areas as the visitor moves through.

the shape also helps the wind to freely circulate around its curves. the mesh balustrades create a visually blurred boundary letting the elements of nature pass through it seamlessly and yet it keeps the visitor protected and safe within its boundaries. from the street, the visitor in a car will soon encounter an unusual white cloud hovering between sky and earth and beckoning their proximity to the majestic park. finally, the light structure sits with a minimal footprint over the white columns replicating the tree trunks and morphs in with the nature around it defying the usual nonplaceness of a bridge as simply a transient path between two points and becoming a actual space and a landmark.”

student project: installation

two seesaw installations, ‘radio silence’ and ‘guard band’, test the limits of the two sites they are placed on in horsh beirut.

‘radio silence’ goes through a locked gate of the fence that separates the public and private part of the horsh. the public side is open every day while the private is selectively open for foreigners and for those who have municipal approval during the weekdays, and open for all on saturdays. it tests the horizontal extreme of the private side, the contrast between the two ends, and the negotiation that must occur between the people on opposite sides for the installation to work. they would then proceed to face each other, only to find out that the gate blocks their vision from seeing one another. when the communication is lacking, the installation remains in silence. the irony lies in the fact that the support of the seesaw locks around the gate, adding to the notion of political bias that we intended to highlight. the dormant state of the seesaw only strengthens our point.

‘guard band’ has been put on the vertical extreme of the horsh. the crowns of the trees form an interior belt around an open space. the urban landscape forms an exterior belt. the source of the urban sound, as in the streets and cars, remains unseen all the while unifying the three different sectors (qasqas, shiyeh, and badaro) that border the park through an unawareness of where each one is. the twist in this site positioning is that once placed in the middle of the wilderness, the urban noise only increases. the seesaw comes with a twist. the users are facing opposite one another. it rotates 360 degrees while going up and down transforming the urban background into a foreground highlighting the visual and sound difference between the two surrounding belts.

for both installations, our group played with the ironies and thresholds that each site posed, using sound in its abundance, difference and absence to inspire our architectural interventions. they are both invitations for people to interact and communicate, while creating an awareness of the surrounding environment.

commercial project: la montre

“yehya sells watches and jewelry. the move to a new location in verdun is the occasion to reflect on notions of time, spatial sequence and the cinematic.”

student project: installation

a design for the community, we wanted to create ‘micro-architecture in nature’ - something more sustainable than furniture yet smaller than a hut - will will serve as an object to experience in a more lively way the natural beauty of boisbuchet.

student project: beirut performing arts center

“the ‘beirut performing arts center’ is proposed to be a central project that will become a unifying platform encouraging local performing arts (theater, dance, music). this project aims to bring back a strong local theater, housed in a central location in beirut, with supporting functions that can support local initiatives and artists.

it is a pivotal landmark, attracting both international and local performances, and highlighting central dance and theater companies in the country. the center aims to attract as well a young crowd of enthusiasts by enabling public outdoor spaces, informal practice areas and shared working areas.”

student project: thesis - design for eco-activism

the unique location of palestine at the junction of three continents, has made it the focus of political strife for many years. on the other hand, it has made this region a ‘bottleneck’ and a crossroad for bird migration, second to almost no other site in the world. research over the past decade has shown that about 500 million migrating birds fly over palestine’s narrow airspace. these birds also migrate over lebanon, jordan, and through egypt to africa.
located in banias, in the occupied syrian golan, the hermon stream reserve has become very popular for israeli and foreign tourists for its natural elements and ruins. banias is the arabic and modern hebrew name of an ancient site that developed around a spring once associated with the greek god pan.

this site became the starting point for my thesis project, titled ‘edge effect: design for ecoactivism’. my year long exploration first questioned and later on answered how architecture can be used to create a methodology for researching, surveying, representing, and eventually designing for occupied territories that are inaccesible, beginning with google earth as my first tool. the end result was a bird sanctuary that caters for migratory and resident birds, protecting them from low flying military planes, the surge of tourists, and hunters, while maintaining the natural heritage of the site.

product design: mirror

“this series explores the relationships between the human body, space and the objects that occupy it. by way of introducing anthropomorphic landscapes in a domestic or familiar built environment, the viewer is invited to imagine an environment where bodies infuse in the tangible space as much as they affect the invisible one. anatomy started as an explorative and iterative casting process taken from different bodies. the collected shapes and parts become design instruments creating the opportunity to add, subtract or transform them into a novel, redefined body.”

concept: villa alma

several playful volumes are attached to each other without any doors to create a new housing typology where each function is given privacy and the minimum space required to be considered comfortable.

concept: pavilions

pavilion typologies exploring different dynamics between geomatry and nature.

student project: saga - a family affair

’saga’ is the architectural exploration of the spaces and lives of a fictive lebanese family that includes parents, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins of several degrees, but also maybe drivers, gardeners and nannies...the members of this extended fictive lebanese family have multifarious spatial requirements. elaborating on a ‘made-up’ geneological tree, every student will spatialize those desires, in past, present, and future tenses.

student project: table

a 3D object is designed from an extraction of a 2D square grid pattern.

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