Walk the line: Beirut’s wartime demarcation line is now a cultural pathway
Once a physical representation of Lebanon’s divisions, Beirut's wartime demarcation line was an overgrown wasteland of shredded buildings and shattered dreams. Now the line, which runs from the city centre to the National Museum, has become a place of encounter and exchange, where a string of museums is erasing old boundaries, knitting the city together.
Youssef Haidar Architects
Built in 1924, this neo-Ottoman building, once bullet-riddled to the point of instability, is in the process of reopening as a history museum. Youssef Haidar Architects has been working on the restoration and redesign since 2008 to create a contemporary experience within the historic building. Eventually Beit Beirut will encompass a museum, public meeting space, archive and research facilities, offices for the City of Beirut Planning department and an underground carpark. The City of Beirut have high hopes for the site to re-establish its public cultural role in the city.
Dagher Hanna & Partners
This glittering high-tech museum showcases the collection of rare minerals amassed by financial software magnate Salim Edde. Completed in 2013, the MIM museum was designed by architects Dagher Hanna & Partners. Digital interactive displays and careful lighting solutions contribute to the modern and smooth display for the rare minerals.
Due to begin construction soon, the Beirut Museum of Art, designed by Paris-based architect Hala Wardé, will be home to the national collection of modern and contemporary art. The huge new institution will feature space for the permanent collection, temporary exhibition galleries, a performaing arts centre, community arts centre, restaurant, library, shop, café as well as working spaces for employees and art storage. Hala Wardé worked in collaboration with Atelier Jean Nouvel on the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Image courtesy of HW architecture
Beirut National Museum
Antoine Nahas and Pierre Leprince Ringuet (original) with renovation designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte
Occupying a neo-Pharaonic building, designed in the 1920s, this cappucino-coloured gem is packed with showstoppers, including the world's largest collection of anthropoid sarcophagi. With around 1,300 artefacts on display, the museum collections hold approximately 100,000 objects from antiquities, medieval objects from excavations.
Photography: James Gallagher