The House of Arts and Culture
2009 - Beirut, Lebanon
The site of this cultural centre is next to an urban motorway near the historic centre of Beirut. In it are two theatres, a cinema, a space for art and other activities. The design relates to its urban context by means of a well-defined volume and a façade like a transparent curtain, comprising several rows of columns in a rhythm that makes the building expressive and immediately recognizable in the urban fabric. Three rows of perimeter columns, with a variety of spacing and heights, are juxtaposed to produce a filigree of lines, creating compositions of light and shade that move across the façades during the day. In Beirut’s hot climate the terraces behind the columns are cooler and are protected from the rain by the large roof. These intermediate spaces have direct links to the interior of the building and its activities, and are generously sized on the city side. On the motorway side a denser composition of columns absorbs noise. Inside, a diagonal void connects the various programmes and lets light into the building, generating a range of spaces with different proportions, dimensions and lighting. The spatial experience becomes an animated tour through various atmospheres.