House of Arts and Culture: Beirut, Lebanon


Our proposal for the Beirut House of Arts and Culture takes the transformation of the traditional Middle Eastern Iwan courtyard house to a space for collective cultural events at the scale of the city as its point of departure. The mass of the program is pushed to the perimeter of the site to create an oasis of public space that welcomes artists and visitors into its lush environs. A dynamic coiling form lifts key spaces of public creation, performance, and repose into the sky while sinking the main performance hall in order to avail the ground plane as an active, visible and available domain. This building mass, clad in a tiled system of stone screens over high performance glazed curtain walls provide both a compelling set of interior daylit spaces, and a forward looking symbol of the diverse, optimistic and ambitious forces that compel this vision of Beirut’s newest cultural landmark. A vision of sustainable futures that embraces environmental, economic, and social dimensions has been integrated into the planning and design of the project to ensure its long-term success as both a repository of collective imagination, and an active agent of positive change.

The project develops two key lines of thinking that reinforce the urban presence of the House of Arts and Culture in the daily lives of Beirut’s citizens. To the North of the site, and extending along the visual axis to Parliament Square (Place d’Etoile), the elevation of the project’s northeast corner physically connects the space of the oasis court with the space of the city, while simultaneously reinforcing the space of the street. This engaging urban experience invites public encounter without necessitating entry into the facility and generates a central character for the institution that is always active and highly animated.

Planting strategies combined with the presence of the waterfall tower generate a unique and refreshing aural environment that offers a memorable space of retreat from the intensity of the surrounding climate. The court is a 24-hour event space, a new place to meet in the city, and a curatorial opportunity that extends and connects the House of Art and Culture with its constituents. From the high speed experience of the General Fouad Chehab highway, the building form and its illuminated cladding present a compelling iconic image of this forward-looking institution that will maintain its intensity as the proposed district plan is developed.

Typology Space for Collective Cultural Events
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Team member role Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov, Farid Noufaily, Pooya Bakhtash, Rufina Wu