EKU Systems help restore the beauty of St George’s Cathedral in Beirut

On 4 August 2020, the Maronite Cathedral of St. George in Beirut was severely damaged by the explosion which has caused severe damage to the port of the Lebanese capital. AluTek promptly initiated a renovation process which restored the beauty of this Church. The solutions used also include the EKU 66 TT HPS and EKU Perfektion Ferro HPS systems.

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St. George’s Cathedral is located in the center of Beirut: it is one of the most important religious buildings in the city. Next to it is the Sunni Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, while about eighty meters to the north there is the cathedral, also dedicated to St. George, of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.

The Maronite church is located about 600 meters from the site of the explosion that devastated the port and part of the Lebanese capital in August 2020.

The big explosion and the immense movement of air severely damaged the building: doors and windows were torn up, the stained-glass windows, along with the deformed frames, were scattered everywhere.

The layered roof was damaged, with broken bricks or out of place, while the cracks in the beams and marbled paint were clearly visible.

The ceiling was also hit: some panels were out of place, suspended in midair or completely fallen off. Electrical equipment, lighting and sound systems have been damaged or disconnected.

Prompt intervention

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Just after the explosion, teams of volunteers set out to clean up the area, move the furniture and damaged stuffs, and store the reusable ones.

Thanks to the funding of many donors from Lebanon and other countries, our client AluTeK was able to start a renovation process with a team of experienced engineers and qualified personnel, led by Eng. Tony Abboud, General manager of the company.

The intervention, which lasted about a year, ended in 2021, restoring this important testimony of the presence of the Maronites in Beirut and their expansion throughout the Lebanese territory to its initial splendor.

Historical building and a spiritual symbol

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St. George’s Cathedral was built by Monsignor Joseph Debs, Archbishop of Beirut, on the site of a previous church also dedicated to St. George.

Work began in 1884 using Roman columns from the Deir El Qalaa temple in Beit Mery. The building was completed and consecrated on Palm Sunday in 1894.

Built on the plan of a basilica with three aisles, separated by two rows of columns, the cathedral had a neoclassical facade designed by the Italian architect Giuseppe Maggiore. The interior had a general resemblance to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

The cathedral was heavily bombed, looted and defaced during the Lebanese civil war. Since then, numerous stolen works of art have been recovered, including the famous painting by Delacroix representing Saint George, patron saint of the cathedral and the archdiocese of Beirut.

The church was restored after the end of hostilities and inaugurated again by the Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir on April 24, 2000.

The advantages of EKU systems

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The main challenge of this latest renovation was to reproduce the shapes of the previous windows with the current aluminum systems: we are talking about decades-old steel and wood systems.

Furthermore, the openings are curved, and some can reach up to 15 meters in height, which requires reinforcement with steel profiles.

For the intervention, the EKU 66 TT HPS series was first chosen for its exceptional thermal insulation performance and resistance to atmospheric agents. The reduced section of the profiles (66 mm frame) allows a greater glazed surface, emphasizing natural light.

For the creation of large openings, the choice is the “Minimal” solution EKU Perfektion Ferro system which combines the slimness and refined aesthetics of the classic “iron-windows” with the robustness, non-deformability, safety, and thermo-acoustic insulation of modern aluminum systems.

Also in this case, the visual impact reduced to a minimum, provide the brightness of large glass surfaces.

The uniqueness of the Stained-glass windows

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One of the main construction features are the stained-glass windows of the cathedral. The openings, in fact, are equipped with two layers of glass, separated from each other.

The first external layer is composed of a 6.6.4 stratified tempered glass which has the function of protecting the internal layer from any type of damage, composed of a transparent colored tempered glass produced by the Croatian company Bokart Glass in partnership with the artist p. Marco Ivan Rupnik and the Centro Aletti in Rome.

The stained-glass windows showing Saints Peter and Paul next to the images of the merciful Father, the resurrection, the nativity, etc. The figurative style is the classic iconographic one, familiar to both Christian churches and the Maronite church in Lebanon.

“In this project we have faced great challenges from the very beginning” underlines Eng. Tony Abboud, “not only the cathedral, but all of Beirut was in chaos, but I am proud of our team because it was able to concentrate and make the right decisions at all times.”

Project at a glance

Building typeHistorical Neo-Classical
Type of interventionRenovation
LocationBeirut (Lebanon)
ClientMaroniteArcheparchy of Beirut
ProjectCathedral of Saint George
General contractorMeretisal
Executing companyAluTek (Dekwaneh, El Matn, Lebanon)
EKU Systems – EKU 66 TT HPS, thermal break casement windows
– EKU Perfektion Ferro HPS, high performance thermal break casement windows