Volume 20 | issue nº 1 Spring 2018

Community By Design

By Jhila Prentis

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SArD students help beautify the country, one project at a time

On a sunny morning in Byblos, the courtyard of Collège de l’Ange Gardien is buzzing with activity. Students from the School of Architecture and Design’s Foundation Program are busy scraping and cleaning the school’s perimeter wall. Over three days, they will be painting a large mural, the culmination of an extensive project in two-dimensional studies that saw them engaging with various principles of design, composition and color theory.

This project follows two similar ones done last year: the first in which students created a mural on the wall of a bridge in Byblos, and the second in which they painted interiors in the Collège de l’Ange Gardien. The idea is 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 community and the rising artists doing the painting. “It’s really useful to be able to apply what we’ve learned in class on a larger scale,” notes one student, who aims to continue his studies in Architecture at LAU following the completion of his foundation year.

The final design for the exterior mural was chosen by a panel of jurors, including Department of Art and Design Associate Chair Melissa Plourde Khoury, Director of the Foundation Program Silia Abou Arbid, and the principal of Collège de l’Ange Gardien. Each student presented a hand-painted 90 x 30 cm canvas that they had developed over the first half of the fall semester. One final design was selected based on “feasibility, quality and ease of repetition,” Plourde Khoury says.

The project sees the transformation of the wall outside the school’s main gate into a vibrant geometric pattern designed by Foundation Program student Jennifer Frangieh. Working on the courtyard floor, she hand mixes 30 different colors to be used on the wall and pours them into labeled containers. She explains 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 color blue and then added orange to create a transition through the color purple.”

The process of translating the piece from a small to a large scale presented new design challenges for the students. “It was actually quite difficult to create a smooth transition,” Frangieh says.

“They get to see the project evolve, which is important,” says Plourde Khoury. “It’s also a community project, in which we are working with another educational institution.” This, she says, gives students the opportunity to work as a group and collaborate within their community, a key in any creative industry.

Once they have scraped and primed the walls with white paint, students begin painting under Plourde Khoury’s guidance. “First we draw out guidelines using masking tape, and then we can start layering the colors,” she notes.

Earlier, and aside from the wall next to the main gate, the students re-painted the perimeter wall connecting to it, creating a lead up to the mural and a new dramatic entrance for the school.

While working, the students engage in jovial chatter with each other and their instructors. The mural project represents another instance of LAU’s long-term commitment to instilling a sense of community in students and encouraging them to work within their local context.