Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2014-2016 Cycle (Shortlisted Project # 10): Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, Beirut, Lebanon

Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2014-2016 Cycle (Shortlisted Project # 10): Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, Beirut, Lebanon“How do we protect the past and inspire the future? Put another way, how do we reshape and reposition knowledge and taste and appreciation in the public psyche, and among those who play a role in developing human habitat?
 
We broadened the definition of architecture from one that tended to look only at individual structures, to one that encompassed entire neighbourhoods, including informal settlements, village communities and open public spaces.
 
And finally, new initiatives outside the Award itself became necessary. In education, our Trust for Culture supports the Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture at Harvard and M.I.T. The Trust’s Historic Cities Support Programme helps create new examples and models for reviving historic buildings and spaces.”

 

Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, Beirut, Lebanon

The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) building by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) advances the university’s academic mission in the 21st century with facilities of the highest international standards.

A new radical building in composition, but respectful of its traditional context, “floats” above an exterior courtyard.

The American University of Beirut (AUB) held an invited competition for the design of a structure to accommodate a modern-day think tank on its lush middle campus, one that was in harmony with the rest of the university, especially mindful of the surrounding greenery, and to preserve, as far as possible, existing sightlines to the Mediterranean.

The building had to fit into another stage in the implementation of a master plan for AUB, whose upper campus overlooks the water, and whose lower campus is located on the seafront.

The architect responded to the project brief by producing a design that significantly reduces the building’s footprint by “floating” a reading room, a workshop conference room and research spaces above the entrance courtyard in the form of a 21-metre-long cantilever in order to preserve the existing landscape.

The 3,000 square metre building is defined by the routes and connections within the university; the building emerges from the geometries of intersecting routes as a series of interlocking platforms and spaces for research and discourse.

The massing and volume distribution fits very well with the topography, and the nearby Ficus and Cyprus trees are perfectly integrated with the project.

The building’s construction is a continuation of the 20th century Lebanese construction culture of working with fair-faced concrete.

Project Video

A new building, radical in composition but respectful of its traditional context, “floats” above an exterior courtyard.

 

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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali

 

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