Atelier Hamra was founded in 2008 by Maha Issa (architect DPLG) and Gamar Markarian (Landscape Architect). The two had just finished teaching a landscape design studio together and wanted to extend their successful collaboration beyond the academic experience. Multidisciplinary and open, Atelier Hamra allows for experiments in design, architecture and landscape architecture. Our projects are crafted with care using extensive research that cover all aspects of the site: history, cultural identity, topography, climate, and biodiversity. Convinced of the social role landscape architects have in improving the urban living environments, we divide our practice between private clients and collaborations with Municipalities to increase the open green areas within cities.
Philosophy and Approach
‘Genius Loci’ (The Spirit of the Place) is at the start of the design process. We believe that each site is unique and holds a large part of the design response in its characteristics and history. As landscape architects, we reveal it and model its physical character. Deeply inspired by the Mediterranean Landscape, our projects are developed with a constant concern for sustainability, ecology and water management. Every project is the occasion to develop a customized design that is both responsive and sensitive.
As part of our holistic approach, Atelier Hamra collaborates with a team of consultants, (botanists, ecologists, mechanical engineers, and hydrologists) in order to provide the most responsive and contextualized design. The team of botanists and ecologists has a cumulative experience of up to 20 years in the field conducting general biodiversity studies including, but not limited to, eco-botanical surveys, floristic studies, and developing conservation plans with national and international organizations and universities. Atelier Hamra also teams up with Mecanica Design, a mechanical engineering firm. Mecanica Design offers full MEP package with a concern for site sustainability while developing customized solutions such as: rain water collection, Canadian well, evaporative cooling, solar farms, and solar hot water systems. In addition to which, Mecanica Design offers consultancy in building shell selection and natural ventilation to achieve comfort conditions while limiting energy consumption (passive solutions). Additional draftsmen are available as part-timers when needed.
Scope of work and deliverables:
We cover all phases of a project: concept and preliminary design, design development, detailed design & tender documents, and site supervision. The deliverables consist of Design Drawings according to the different phases and include all necessary documents ranging from: Rendered Conceptual Layout to Detailed Planting Layout and Detailed Sections. BOQ and Specifications are included.
Maha received her diploma with honors from l’Ecole d’Architecture de Paris Villemin in 1998. Beyond architecture, the relationship between building and landscape is at the heart of her interest. After a short period working as an architect, she joined the landscape architecture firm “AgenceTer” in Paris in 2001 where she worked on projects of various scales. This experience allowed her to understand the social role and responsibility of a landscape architect. After returning to Beirut in 2005, Maha taught landscape design in the department of landscape design and eco-system management, LDEM, at the American University of Beirut. Maha is passionate about multidisciplinary research and the development of concepts as well as their communication to clients. The lack of green public spaces in Beirut and the absolute necessity of creating more of them is one of her concerns.
Gamar received her diploma from the American University of Beirut LDEM program in 2005. She worked as a freelance landscape architect on several projects locally and abroad. In 2006, Gamar returned to Lebanon and taught in the AUB LDEM Program. In parallel, she also taught and worked at EARTH University, Costa Rica for two consecutive years, where she was exposed to the recent applied technologies of sustainable agriculture and recycling. Gamar is currently mastering in Urban Design at the American University of Beirut, and Design and Urban Ecologies at Parsons / New York. Gamar has a strong interest in the environmental relevance of a project: preserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainability are essential to her. She is passionate about giving shape to ideas and following them from sketch to execution.