Iris is part sculpture, part building, part electric infrastructure. These eerily elegant conceptual structures were designed by Najjar & Najjar Architects as way of reclaiming Beirut's shore for local residents, counterbalancing the sprawl of luxury residences by the sea.

Like the iris of an eye, each structure can open and close to provide shelter. A string of them by the sea could become elevated lookouts—for fishers or for anyone who simply wants to gaze out at the waters.

"Iris is an attempt at resisting the expropriation of Beirut's open coastline returning the sea back to the fishermen and the local habitants of the Ras Beirut district," write the architects. 5:1 scale models were tested all the shoreline, which then became the basis for these renderings.

In addition to their iris-like shelters, the structures are connected to a buoy in the ocean, which harnesses the power of the waves for electricity. It's unclear how much wave power Iris could actually generate. (Wave farms in the U.S., at least, have had a notoriously tough time getting online.) But what I find intriguing about Najjar & Najjar's design is that it imagines infrastructure as more than just purely utilitarian.


When was the last time you saw such an elegant electric generator? Or climbed over and into the structures of a power plant? Iris makes a piece of power infrastructure a striking and elegant focal point in the landscape—something to be seen and touched rather than quietly tucked away. [Najjar & Najjar Architects via Dezeen]

Images by Ieva Saudargaitė via Najjar and Najjar Architects