House of Arts and Culture

The House of Arts Culture is conceived to be an unprecedented civic space for creation and expression. At once intrinsically Lebanese yet internationally recognizable, we propose the House of Arts Culture take on a Lebanese cedar geometry, rigorously generated by the dynamic urban conditions of Beirut and the typological requirements for an arts cultural center. The envelope is a synergetic abstraction of the Lebanese Cedar, a powerful and meaningful symbol revered as a worldwide heritage, in which the citys energy is harnessed to achieve movement and space for creative expression and production.

In addition to being a machine for production and a place of gathering, this innovative structure, achieved with a two-directional grid, will be an incubator of brilliant imaginations, inspiring the discovery of new avenues. Through visual osmosis, the buildings didactic functions will extend well beyond its physical boundaries in which the gridded skin allows the activities of the building to spill into the city and vice-versa. The complex and dynamic form will also realize the Houses ambition to become a local and global vortex, perennially attracting and mixing a diverse and youthful public. The abstracted cedar form will restore Beirut to once again becoming a global center of arts and culture.

After many explorations, we discovered the most efficient way to achieve a cedar silhouette and meet the typological requirements for an arts and cultural center is to distinguish the spaces as boxes or voids serviced by horizontal and vertical circulations. The boxes and voids are strategically extruded and stacked vertically, and interconnected by continuous creative spaces. Boxes are fixed programssuch as the two performance halls and movie theaterthat, due to typological constraints, must be exempted from the sensuality of the dynamic skin. The rectangular shape for the performance hall, for example, is considered to be the most optimal geometry to generate the best acoustics. In addition, this geometry allows the performance halls the ability for quick transformative multiplicities of congresses: music concerts, theatre, dance performances, etc. The voids, on the other hand, are the interstitial spaces, with more programmatic fluidity, contained between the boxes and the skin. The voids contain programs with less typological restraintssuch as exhibition halls, lounge areas, eating spaces, etc.and are allowed to benefit from the idiosyncrasies of the skin. While the amorphous skin generates diverse atmospheres, the logic of distinguishing boxes and voids, alongside rigorous context analysis, begins generating multiple spatial dichotomies: private vs. public, personnel vs. visitors, etc.

Informed by the site, the building enjoys a public quality to the north, where it faces the Mediterranean Sea and the bustling Martyrs Square. The northern and eastern sides of the building are programmed with vertically continuous exhibition halls and foyers where not only a panoramic view of the city and sea are revealed, but also where a diverse public are given the opportunity to converse and interchange ideas. On the other hand, the more private side to the south facing the Ring, in which Beirut is still recovering from years of unrest and turmoil, the building holds more specific programs for the fixed user of the building. This is where spatial cocoons and nests are discovered, and where the House as a machine for production is conceived. Programs such as workshops and classrooms are placed on the southern side. Service areas, on the other hand, are organized to the western side, where the site is connected by a small service road.

Whether private or public, a space for conversation or a space for production, the building throughout will be unified by a dynamic and sensual skin that will continuously attract and inspire a diverse and young crowd.


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