ALBA (Dekwaneh, Lebanon)
A project with Nada Habis Assi, Bachir Moujaes and Pierre Zakher
In 2002 the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA) launched a competition for the rehabilitation and extension of its campus in Sin El-Fil. Our proposal was awarded the first prize and was partially executed. It acknowledges the urban context and builds on its potential to transform the enclave into a lively cultural and educational hub where students recover the usage of the general ground level presently dominated by cars and ramps.
The proposed extension is based on three ideas:
- Reinstating and freeing the floor to students, focus on outdoor spaces, and treat the circulation and rest areas as places of conviviality and meeting. The informal quality of these spaces will enable various planned or improvised usages.
- Recognizing the urban context not as a fatality but as a potential. Absorb different situations that lie outside of the site in an architecture that feeds this diversity.
- The qualities of the existing building reside in what it offers as opportunity, rather than in its formal aspect or style. Its north-south orientation, its rigorous frame large spans with large functional slabs, the lateral position of the vertical circulation core are assets that are integrated in the extension project. Its anonymity and its timelessness enable it to survive at all "styles", and perhaps to mutate as well.