“Rebuilding in Beirut” – L’ARCA International
Published in L’ARCA International, Issue 192, 2004
The project concerns the extension of the Atelier Hapsitus, the professional studio that the architect Nadim Karam shares with Ramona Abdo, Pierre Bu-Absi and Karim Moallem. The studio, which is committed to designing in the spheres of architecture, industrial design and urban planning, is located in a building near the National Museum of Beirut. This site underwent heavy bombing during the frequent battled which took place in Lebanon during the civil war that devastated the country between the seventies and the end of the eighties.
The way the extension of the studio (which is organized on two floors) was designed shows the signs of the destructive climate that is still present in the country’s historic memory. The configuration of the façade shows the lingering tragedy of the war, which has not yet totally disappeared from the atmosphere that hovers over the city. The façade is in fact, made of grates composed of drawn iron crops and paneling featuring drilled plate. Furthermore, the first postwar reconstruction of damaged buildings are clearly brought to mind with this work.
On the other hand, the marked polychromy of the interior suggest the need to forget a truly tragic past. It is thus through the symbology of the dichotomy between the past and the future that the planning behind the design has acquired value. In fact, although the architects have favored positive, reassuring industrialist imagery in this work, they did not relinquish an educational function that mirrors memory.