Lebanese GM Architects presents its Museum of Civilisations pavilion for Venice Biennale

Lebanon-based GM Architects revealed its project for the 2014 Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition called the “Museum of Civilisations” that chronicles Beirut’s succession of cultures and history.

The brainchild of Galal Mahmoud, the founder of GM Architects, the project responds to the theme of “Fundamentals” chosen by curator of this year’s Venice Biennale and dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas.

“‘The Museum of Civilisations’ project is sited on Martyr’s Square in the heart of Beirut, and built upon a site sunk deep into the successive strata of the civilisations that underline Beirut, a city which has been, in turn, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and French,” said Mahmoud.

“This astonishing museum will be an archaeological dig, exhibition space and a place for quiet reflection all in one- an expression of Lebanon’s rich history, showcasing the genetic make-up of a profoundly multicultural country.

“Our emphatically contemporary design is informed by an approach that is best defined as “contextual immersion”- possessing an awareness of the past and rooted in the culture of the location in question.”

From the architects: 

The project is to consist of an outer metal framework, 20 metres deep and 60 metres long, featuring a series of platforms at different levels. Each of these platforms will examine one of the civilizations that once made Lebanon their home, offering the opportunity for the visitor to engage in a dialogue with a society, a culture that is no more, but which remains suspended in time and in the ground beneath our feet.

An expanse of water, representing the Mediterranean, the cradle of all of Lebanon’s civilizations, stretches out at the lowest level; beneath a suspended model of Kubrick’s 2001 monolith. The face of the monolith is smooth and unmarked, whilst its back is in a process of gradual disintegration, evoking the inherent uncertainty of the future.

This project offers a chance to consider what lies at the very heart of the architect’s work, in other words, the ability to grasp the historical foundations and fundamentals of a people with a view to facilitating the creation of a harmonious, ordered and peaceful society through architectural discourse.

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