Competitions, Lebanon, Tripoli, Oscar Niemeyer, Architecture competitions, Modernist buildings, UIA

Oscar Niemeyer's abandoned site in Tripoli, Lebanon to be revived through international competition

A competition aiming to revive Oscar Niemeyer's abandoned Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli, Lebanon has recently been launched by the International Union of Architects (UIA), in collaboration with the Lebanese Federation of Engineers and Architects (on behalf of Tripoli Special Economic Zone/TSEZ), the union of Mediterranean Architects (UMAR) and the Lebanese Government.

The competition, which looks to create a Knowledge and Innovation Center, uses a site situated on an empty lot within the modernist exhibition complex, which was originally designed by the Brazilian architect in the 1960s, but halted due to Lebanon's Civil War in the mid-1970s. 

According to the competition's official website, its objective is to create a technology and business hub that will foster and promote start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, attracting students, young graduates, local and international companies to Tripoli and neighbouring areas. 

Consisting of one million square metres of landscape, fountains and Niemeyer's archetypal free-flowing concrete structures, the fairground withstood 15 years of war and was occupied by Lebanese and Syrian militia groups and army men.

While the complex is now severely weathered from time and neglect, it was recently reported that restoration of the total site would require upwards of $15 million. UIA's competition is the first hopeful prospect for the site since the end of the war in Lebanon. 

Architects, designers and urban planners who are interested in participating and learning more about the site, are able to register on the competition’s website until 18 March, and should submit their projects before 17 June.

The proposal must include a master plan of approximately 60,000m2 of built-up area, divided into two 30,000m2 plots, and an architectural design of one of them. The jury will be evaluating the proposed projects and will choose the winning selection on 28 June. The announcement of winners will be followed by an awards ceremony and an exhibition from 5 to 7 July, 2019.

First place will receive a $60,000 cash prize, while second place will receive $30,000 and third place will receive $15,000. Honourable mentions could also be awarded to "exceptional and innovative" proposals of high merit.