We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Green prize winner of our “Archhive Books' Portable Reading Rooms” competition - Joanna Abi Nader and Ragheed Abi Hassan from Lebanon.

Green prize winners from Lebanon

Ragheed Abi Hassan and Joanna Abi Nader from Lebanon

We are Alter5, a Lebanese-based startup studio that gathers aspired, creative, and forward-driven architects. Our aim is to revolutionize Cargotecture; in other words, we transform and recreate shipping containers for cost-effective public innovations, housing and working spaces. Alter5 is accomplished by three individuals having a different culture, religion and mindset with the same vision; the vision to create through innovation and find solutions in our society by providing affordable housing and raising awareness towards smart living and sustainable architecture.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/ individuals have been involved?

Before we started Alter5, we focused on taking challenges in international competitions to reflect ourselves in the projects and to grow our understanding of the markets and their resources. We have submitted several container design proposals from homes to kiosks, to a mechanical services center. Currently, we are delivering two cabin containers as part of a forest cabins project in Chouf, Lebanon.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

As mentioned before, we are a couple of friends with the same vision and aspiration to grow from all standpoints in our areas of life. As all of us share an architect’s perspective and understanding, while keeping the environment and sustainability in mind, we respond and render the client’s vision accordingly. 
Since the 90s, the cost of construction in Lebanon is constantly rising, to the point where only 10% of society can afford to build their own houses. 
There are loads of neglected and public spaces in Lebanon where clients and governments would want to innovate throughout, though the economic crisis has left us unable to do so.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Architecture vision competitions give us an opportunity to test our creativity and come up with something that is close to pure fiction. It is an experience we enjoy returning to after a long, dull day of constraints. As a startup, we also find architecture competitions an efficient way to build up our experience while revamping our portfolio.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

As we are living in a fast-paced world, we are letting go of the intrinsic value of research and discovery. I would tell everyone that it is important to challenge yourself daily and for every architect to come up with new daily solutions that an architecture vision competitions endorses. Architecture vision competitions give us all the means to get out of our comfort zone and trigger us to grow into dreamers.

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