On September 15th 2020, a serious fire broke out at Beirut Souks, an under-construction building designed by world-renowned firm Zaha Hadid architects.
Footage shows smoke pouring from the perforated façade of the building, while bystanders look on. The fire occured just a month after a devastating explosion destroyed the nearby port area. Residents of the city have been left understandably shaken by yet another serious incident at the heart of their city.
“It’s terrible. It’s unbelievable,” said local Joe Sayegh, 48. “Every day we have a problem.”
According to @MTVLebanonNews, preliminary information shows that the fire was reportedly caused by a welding accident.
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Another architectural masterpiece is on fire today 💔 The Zaha Hadid building, a new commercial complex designed by a renowed British-Iraqi architect, has been under construction for years and was nearing completion when the fire broke out. The project is worth 40 million dollars.
— Luna Safwan – لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) September 15, 2020
— Beirut.com (@BeirutCityGuide) September 15, 2020
While the fire now appears to be under control, there will undoubtedly be inquiries into what caused the fire to start and spread so rapidly. A Facebook user who reportedly worked on the project states that the façade material is for the building is “aluminum, insulated on the inside with a foam material.”
According to The National, the late Zaha Hadid and her team began developing the concept for the building 12 years ago. The firm’s finished design for the 242,000 square-foot mixed-use complex responds to the structure’s site and surroundings, specifically the historic area of Khan Antoun Bey, a former caravanserai, or rest stop for traders, which was demolished in 1983.
There have been numerous recent fires involving insulated façade panels that have raised questions about the safety of certain building specifications. One such incident in Grenfell Tower, London — a building constructed in the 1970s — lead to a tragic loss of life.
Thankfully, no injuries have yet been reported as a result of the Beirut Souks fire. We’ll update this page with more information and footage as it becomes available.