Museum will act as cultural beacon for Beirut

Lebanese French Architect Hala Wardé is to design a contemporary art museum in the heart of Beirut.

An international jury featuring Lord Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, Julia Peyton-Jones and chaired by Pritzker Prize chair Lord Peter Palumbo selected Wardé’s firm HW architecture from a shortlist of 13 design teams to create a home for BeMA: Beirut Museum of Art.

The new museum will be positioned on a symbolically charged site that once marked the dividing lines in the Lebanese civil war and is now to be transformed into a site of unification.

The winning design features a central campanile tower that will rise high above the base of the museum to act as a cultural beacon for the entire city. The campanile will include space for workshops and performances, as well as artist’s residences with expansive views of downtown Beirut.

The design also includes a public garden and landscaped promenade that will accommodate site-specific installations and artworks surrounded by lush vegetation, as well as an amphitheater for performing arts.

The jury praised the design for “the way it creates a succession of varied landscapes and spaces where art and society can come together.”

In their citation, they said: “The connections between garden, amphitheatre, exhibition spaces and roof garden have been well considered and offer a continuous visitor experience that lends itself to both exhibiting art and engaging with the community.”

Wardé said: “I’m delighted and honoured to realise my first major project in the city of Beirut where I was born, on such an exceptional site. This museum programme, in connection the local Saint Joseph University, will allow us to create a new cultural and social space and will single out this artistic territory with a strong and recognisable urban beacon, which through its multiple expressions, will belong to the new urban landscape of the city.”

Scheduled to open in 2020, the museum will be a multidisciplinary hub of art and design, and its collections and exhibitions are being developed “with the aim of bringing together diverse populations and narratives from the region and beyond.”