Originally a small chapel that was expanded in 1907 to meet the requirements of the growing Maronite community, the St. Elias Church in Beirut was seriously damaged during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990). In 2001 the structure was restored under the supervision of Saïd Bitar, who sought to enhance the mystic character of the interiors by highlighting the building's volumes and the natural textures of its stonework. He achieved this by stripping away any interior plasterwork and adding paintings by Rana Raounda and stained glass windows by Jacques Guitton.
Almost twenty years after the restoration project was completed, a new lighting system was installed in the church by Cherine Saroufim from the IDEPCONSULT - Mounir Saroufim and Partners - studio. This project uses light to redesign the church's architectural features by enhancing their colours and earthiness. During the day, for example, the building's minimalist interiors - heralded by its austere main facade - are illuminated by the soft light from the mullioned windows and the oeil-de-boeuf
openings in the side facades that combine to create a mood of calm, religious contemplation. The new lighting system seeks to maintain this ascetic, spiritual atmosphere by redefining the rhythm of the interior architecture with lines, circles and beams of light. The first storey arches, for example, are highlighted by a combination of Trick Washer and 360° Trick light blade effects, and the same luminaire is used to emphasize the horizontal thrust of the second storey balustrade. The textures of the yellow sandstone walls are highlighted by the radial light created by other Trick luminaires, and the apse is beautifully illuminated by Front Light spotlights. All the luminaires have a colour rendering index of 90 and a 3000 K colour temperature has been used throughout the building to enhance the colours of the rough stone walls and the various sculptures and paintings.
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