Strengthening Community Ties Through Design

On a sunny morning in Jbeil, the College de l’Ange Gardien is buzzing with activity. Students from LAU’s School of Architecture and Design foundation program are busy scraping and cleaning the school’s perimeter wall. Today they will be painting a large mural, the culmination of an extensive project in two dimensional studies that saw the students engaging with various principles of design, composition and colour theory.

The project follows on from last year’s successful mural painted on the wall of a bridge in Jbeil. The idea being to get students out of the classroom and applying their creative skills in a real world setting, the benefits of which can be felt both by the local community and the students undertaking the execution of the piece. “It’s really useful to be able to apply what we’ve learnt in class on a larger scale” noted one student, who aims to continue his studies in Architecture at LAU following the completion of his foundation year.

The decision to collaborate with the College de l’Ange Gardien strengthens the relationship between the school and LAU; last year students repainted the classrooms and interiors of the school. After the success of the previous year’s activity new students have returned to bring the exterior appearance of the school up to the standard of the new interiors.

“The final design was chosen by a panel of jurors including myself, Silia Abou Arbid [Director of the foundation program], a faculty teaching in the foundation program, the school principle and a teacher from the school,” said Melissa Plourde Khoury. Each student presented a hand painted 90 x 30 canvas which they had developed over the first half of the semester. One final design was selected based on “feasibility, quality and ease of repetition”.

The project, spanning over three days, saw the transformation of the wall outside the main gate into a vibrant geometric pattern designed by foundation student Jennifer Frangieh. Working on the courtyard floor, she had identified 30 different colours from her design to be reproduced onto the wall and was now painstakingly mixing each colour and organising them into labeled containers. She explained the process behind her winning design “I started off with points randomly placed on a canvas which I connected with lines and then I mirrored it to create repetition. I started with just the colour blue and then added orange to create a transition through the colour purple.”

The process of translating the piece from small to large is not without it’s difficulties and presented new design challenges for the students “I didn’t want the wall to be only blue and I wanted to have complimentary colours. It was actually quite difficult to create a smooth transition from the orange to the blue.”

“They get to see the project evolve which is important and also it’s a community project, in which we are working with another educational institution” Melissa enthused. It’s also an opportunity for students to work together as a group and collaborate within their community, a key skill in any creative industry.

After having scraped and primed the walls with white paint students were now reproducing the painting on a larger scale with Melissa’s guidance. “First we draw out guidelines using masking tape and then we can start layering the colours.” Aside from treating the wall next to the main gate, the students also re-painted the perimeter wall leading up to it, creating a lead up to the mural and a new dramatic entrance for the school.

The three day undertaking was punctuated with jovial chatter between students and teachers. This marks another instance of LAU’s long term commitment to instilling a sense of community in their students and encouraging them to work within their local context.

Student Participants
Yara Ayoub
Jean-Pierre El Hajj
Vanessa El Jammal
Chloe Maria El Khoueiri
Sacha El Saidi
Mussa El-Zein
Assaad Feghali
Jennifer Frangieh
Anthony Jabre
Myriam Kassouf
Jana Kiprianos
Rami Lazkani
Mia Maroun
Christina Matta
Elissa Imad Michael
Tia Tohme
Christina Aramouni
Jessica Atallah
Hammoud Choucair
Nour El Moundalek
Ghiwa El Rechmany
Michelle Fatrous
Ziad Haddad
Lynn Kfoury
Tatiana Khalil
Kimberly Kmeid
Kitina Matar
Melody Moufarej
Pamela Nassar
Christine Trantic
Maria Yaghi

Charbel Harb

Staff Assistance
Tatiana Bou Assi
Maria Hamalian

Silia Abou Arbid
Hayla Demelero
Rania Gharios
Elias Louis Mousa
Melissa Plourde Khoury

Director of Foundation
Silia Abou Arbid

Faculty Supervision
Melissa Plourde Khoury

Special thanks to Blat Municipality and College de l’Ange Gardien