View Full Version : #UNDER C-Beirut: "Beit Beirut (f. 'Barakat Building')" | Museum
May 2nd, 2007, 01:19 AM
(Formerly known as Barakat Building)
Sodeco - Beirut, Lebanon
September 15th, 2007, 03:32 PM
Is Beirut ready for a memory museum yet?
There are great plans for the Barakat Building in Sodeco, and a new scaffolding wrap suggests those plans are finally moving - but the site's future remains uncertain
By William Wheeler
Special to The Daily Star
Friday, September 14, 2007
BEIRUT: In 1934, Nicolas Barakat's home stood finished: a bright yellow, four-story building that dominated the corner at Damascus Road and Independence Avenue. With sandstone walls, colonnaded verandas, high ceilings and Art Deco floor patterns, it combined elements and materials of both East and West, old and new. It was an architectural reflection of the era's cosmopolitan sea changes.
When the Civil War erupted four decades later, the city divided along that very street, with Christians to the east and Muslims to the west. It was the Green Line, a no-man's land where bullets fell and only trees and shrubs were safe, growing unchecked into the streets along Beirut's new faultline.
Many of the bullets came from that bright-yellow building, which Christian militias occupied and fortified during the conflict. The cement walls and sandbags of what some say was Beirut's most fearsome sniper's nest still remain - an architectural reflection of a different age.
Today the war-scarred building stands as a monument to the beautiful and bloody turns of Lebanon's history. When its owners moved to demolish the building in 1997, local architects and heritage activists fought and won a campaign for its preservation. Five years ago, the city bought the property to be restored as a museum of Beirut's history. But political turmoil and renewed violence in Lebanon have since stalled the plans and the building's future once again stands on uncertain ground.
When Youssef Aftimos, a renowned Beiruti architect who designed the capital's Municipal Building, began the Barakat Building around 1924, he was known for his Mauresque style - an Islamic architecture of curves and arches that was popular in the later days of the Ottoman Empire.
When the project was finished 12 years later, after a second phase of construction by another architect, it retained Islamic architectural features in its sandstone walls and interior arches. But it also combined classical and Western features, including a geometric facade with colonnaded verandas and a taller, four-storey structure. The building's high ceilings, yellow color and the use of concrete are all elements of what came to be known as the Mandate period.
"The outside of this building is very classical," says May Davie, a professor of Beirut's urban history at the Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts. "It has nothing of an Islamic aspect at all. But the domestic life, the [interior], is very oriental, very Beiruti."
Instead of the pointed arches of traditional Eastern design, the Barakat Building's triple arches are concrete-sculpted, rounded and modern.
"This is why it's interesting. It's a transitional architecture. It's a transitional period," says Davie, an early advocate for the building's preservation. "Culture is not something you just create new. It's a reinvention of the old ... The Mandate period was very creative. These people were artists ... This is why we did all we could to keep it."
But in addition to blending archetypal influences, the building added something unique: a central bay behind the corner colonnade that stretches deep into the interior. Rather than showcasing an impressive parlor room on the corner - a typical architectural boast - this stylistic innovation opened the building up with a majestic transparency. Its effect gives every room inside a view of the street.
"It's a more democratic use of space," says local architect and heritage activist Mona Hallak. When Hallak first explored the building in 1996 - its corner treatment had impressed her as she drove by - she was moved by the quality of the sunlight, which filled the central bay and made the stone walls glow. She continued up the stairs to see the city stretch out beneath and beyond the corridor's void.
Inside she found remnants of Art Deco motifs around the marble floors and walls painted pink, yellow, green and blue. It was there, as well, that she found the sniper's perches - thick walls riddled on one side with bullet holes. From the opposite side, snipers had fired through three small rectangular holes aligned beneath the ceiling's triple arches. With a view of the street - and a line of fire - from every room of the building, the gunmen could nest in these dark recesses while commanding the street corner from virtual obscurity.
When the Barakat family prepared to tear down the building the next year, Hallak joined the chorus of architects and heritage activists calling for the city to stop them. Real-estate prices in the neighborhood of Sodeco Square had skyrocketed after the war and the owners wanted to sell the property. Hallak helped to mobilize the group's effort to preserve it, circulating petitions, running ads in newspapers and reaching out to politicians. Ultimately they succeeded, which left the question of what to do with it.
Like others, Hallak agreed that the museum should showcase Beirut's 7,000-year history. But unlike some, she didn't think that it should shirk from portraying the dark and violent cycles of that history.
Hallak grew up in Beirut during the Civil War and her father was wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel from an explosion. But having never lost anyone close to her, Hallak says she experienced the war from a distance.
But she remembers one episode clearly. As a girl, she watched on television news as bystanders tossed a rope to someone crumpled by sniper fire in the street. The sniper could have shot them again, as Hallak recalls. Instead he shot the rope.
"It was to show he was in control," she says, adding that she often imagines the scene might have taken place at the intersection of Damascus Road and Independence Avenue. These are the memories Hallak says she wants others to confront, from a time when the city lived in the grip of fear and those who wielded it as a weapon, so that it doesn't happen again.
Hallak has big plans for the museum, including a design competition and fundraising campaign for the restoration work, the construction of an adjacent office building to bring in rent and the establishment of an urban design unit to review development projects in the city.
But she also wants to keep the sniper den.
Preserving the sniper modifications as part of a "museum of memory," as she describes in a color pamphlet that outlines the project, would make the restored building "a place for meeting and reconciliation, a space for Memory so as not to be swept up by amnesia."
When a glossy banner with a life-size image of the restored Barakat Building was wrapped around it this spring, it announced the site would host a "Museum of Memory," the first indication, she says, that her vision could become a reality.
But first the restoration plan needs to be developed. A contingent of cultural advisers from France were due to visit last winter to help in the project's planning. But the outbreak of an opposition protest in the fall, then the battle at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp starting in May, has pushed the group's arrival back indefinitely, says Hallak.
For now the building sits in limbo. On one side is an illustration of its early splendor, a brilliant yellow to which it could again aspire. Behind the wrapping paper is its bullet-pocked reality - a reminder of another potential fate.
September 17th, 2007, 03:05 PM
September 17th, 2007, 05:20 PM
From NowLebanon.com :
The Barakat building was commissioned in 1924 by Nicholas and Victoria Barakat. Designed by Youssef Bey Aftinos, the same architect who created Beirut’s City Hall, the Barakat became the victim of an unlucky location. Sitting right on the Green Line, which divided East and West Beirut during the civil war, the building made an ideal location for snipers, who were able to view and target the street from every room – a fact exploited by militia fighters. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the building witnessed innumerable gunbattles, and suffered extensive damage in the process.
After the war ended, the Barakat’s owners wanted to tear it down. Then, in 1997, a group of architects active in the area of architectural heritage preservation started a campaign, in partnership with the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, to restore the Barakat building. In addition to its architectural and aesthetic values, the building’s iconic crumbling colonnade had become one of the most powerful symbols of the war years in Beirut.
Sociologists and historians have observed that many Lebanese have a tendency, at least on the surface, to try to leave the war behind them and simply move on with their lives. The fact that high school history textbooks still fail to address the civil war is just one example of how greater Lebanese society has tried to forget the past. A handful of intellectuals, however, including the architects behind the campaign to save the Barakat Building, have argued that Lebanon cannot move forward from the civil war until it creates a “collective memory” and then uses that unified account of civil war events to heal some of the divisions fracturing society today.
With this ambitious aim, the renovation proposal for the Barakat, which was officially adopted by the Beirut Municipality in 2003, detailed plans to restore the building as a museum to document 10,000 years of Beirut history. Beirut Mayor Abdel Mimem al-Ariss told NOW Lebanon that the museum will function through two units: (1) The Urban Planning Unit, a joint venture between the Municipalities of Beirut and Paris, and (2) Beirut’s Memory, a museum that will tell the history of the city. “Archeological excavations at the city center have revealed that human beings have lived here since the Stone Age, and the museum will show the entire city’s human history, including the civil war,” Ariss said.
Recently, the building has disappeared behind a plywood façade: The rehabilitation of the Barakat is on track, as the municipality prepares to accept bids for the museum’s design and construction contract.
The interior will obviously have to be completely gutted and revamped, and an annex will be built behind the existing structure. Though much of the exterior will be renovated, a section of the Barakat’s ruined façade will be preserved in disrepair, to serve as a stark reminder of the darker chapters of Beirut’s history for generations to come.
September 17th, 2007, 06:18 PM
I have a picture of Barakat building from 1957 that needs scanning. I will post it soon!
September 17th, 2007, 06:38 PM
Oooh!!i know this building!! I didn't know the first article was talking abou it!
Infact, the huge billboard was placed this summer
September 17th, 2007, 11:52 PM
"When Youssef Aftimos, a renowned Beiruti architect who designed the capital's Municipal Building, began the Barakat Building around 1924, he was known for his Mauresque style - an Islamic architecture of curves and arches that was popular in the later days of the Ottoman Empire.
When the project was finished 12 years later, after a second phase of construction by another architect, it retained Islamic architectural features in its sandstone walls and interior arches. But it also combined classical and Western features, including a geometric facade with colonnaded verandas and a taller, four-storey structure. The building's high ceilings, yellow color and the use of concrete are all elements of what came to be known as the Mandate period."
The other architect was Fouad Kozah. If I am not mistaken, he is responsible for the collonaded atrium joining the two wings.
The link to a short review of Youssef Aftimos on ALBA's website:
March 29th, 2008, 08:14 PM
March 15 2008
Courtesy of Luciana
Great!! Now they are using this bldg to put a Nescafé ad. on it!!
March 30th, 2008, 11:16 AM
no reconstruction is occurring on this building for now ...its just an empty ruin with a billboard stuck to its outside besides its too fragile and war-torn to hold anything ....
June 20th, 2008, 04:24 AM
June 20th, 2008, 05:24 AM
At least its not an eyesore covered...and maybe the cost of allowing the advertising is being saved for the renovation
October 17th, 2008, 06:54 AM
Beit al-Madina to Recall Horrors of Civil War
The sandbags, sniper slits and pockmarked facade of a Beirut house stand as a chilling reminder of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.
Now, over 15 years after the end of the fighting, the building is poised to become a museum aimed at ensuring no one ever forgets the horrors of those dark days.
"This is a monument produced by the war and it should stay as such," says Mona Hallak, an architect who for more than 11 years has been at the forefront of the battle to save the building from the developers' bulldozers.
"We have been going into public amnesia since the war and anything that prevents that has to be preserved," added Hallak.
Known as the "Yellow House" because of the color of its stone, the three-storey structure was built in the 1920s by renowned architect Youssef Bey Aftimos. It stands along what used to be known as the "Green Line," which separated Muslim and Christian districts during the war.
Middle class families lived in the building's eight spacious apartments until the outbreak of the war, when Christian militiamen moved in because of its strategic location.
From there, snipers could easily pick off their victims -- be they civilians or enemy fighters -- from slits carved in the walls of the second and third floors that afforded clear views of their targets.
Slogans left by the snipers cover the walls of the house.
"I want to speak the truth," reads one message left by Begin, a well-known sniper during the war whose nom de guerre referred to Menachem Begin, Israel's prime minister. "With Gilbert I shall die," reads another message signed Tarzan.
"This building was used as a war machine and speaks for itself," said Habib Debs, an architect involved in the museum project. "If we keep it as is, it will be an important testament of the war."
Under the plan to preserve the house, it will be turned into an interactive museum named "Beit al-Madina" (the home of the city).
Paris has offered to provide technical assistance for the project which should be completed within two years.
"The Yellow House has a very strong symbolic meaning because it shows a willingness toward reconciliation," said Mathilde Chaboche, a member of a French delegation that recently visited Beirut to discuss the plan with local officials.
"For us, it would be best to preserve the traces of the war because they carry a very strong message," she said.
"They also show that a people can go forward without forgetting the past because otherwise history repeats itself," she added.
Over recent years many have called for the story of the civil war to be taught in schools to prevent history repeating itself.
At present history lessons in school textbooks stop with the withdrawal of French troops from Lebanon in 1946 -- three years after the end of France's 23-year mandate over the country.
And a lack of consensus over a common version of the war -- and even previous events widely believed to have led to it, including civil strife in 1958 -- has ensured that this bloody chapter in the nation's history is omitted from text books.
Instead, the Lebanese prefer to use the euphemism "the events" when they mention the civil war that devastated the country, killed more than 150,000 people and left thousands still missing.
For Hallak, the museum will be an opportunity to make sure that future generations know what happened and that those who lived through it never forget.
"The Lebanese must learn to love their city and learn from their mistakes so that they don't destroy it again," Hallak said. "If they see firsthand what the war was like they would never repeat it."(AFP)
Beirut, 17 Oct 08, 07:32
October 28th, 2008, 05:23 PM
House of the city
A battle scarred, beautiful house in Beirut is saved from demolition. Will it be made into a museum of the city?
Abigail Fielding-Smith, Special to NOW Extra , October 28, 2008
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The Barakat building, or Yellow House, which housed first families, then snipers.
In Beirut's Sodeco district, there is a life-size painted mock-up of a building which, at first glance, looks like of one of the many plywood visions of a gleaming high-rise future that adorn construction sites across the city. But behind this one is a hidden architectural gem, whose history is fatally intertwined with Beirut's own.
The Barakat building, or the 'Yellow House' as it is more commonly known, was designed in the 1920s by one of Lebanon's most famous architects, Youssef Aftimos (who also designed the Grand Theatre and the Serail clock tower), and finished in 1936. "It has a unique relationship with the city", explains Mona Hallak, the architect whose passion for the building drove her to spearhead a successful campaign to save it from demolition. The design of the eight family apartments reflected the cosmopolitanism and diversity of pre-war Beirut, blending Ottoman and classical architectural influences. In the 1960s, the colonnaded balconies of a Phalangist dentist and a Palestinian family faced each other diagonally in the courtyard interior. The building's most innovative feature was the way that an empty space in its centre means that every room in every apartment has a view of the street outside.
When war came in 1975 however, the building found itself on the green line between Christian East and Muslim West Beirut, and its innovative design was exactly what made it attractive to snipers, who could shoot in to West Beirut from the relative protection of deep within the building's interior. The building was occupied by Christian militias, and was battered by counter-attacks from the other side of the line.
Battle-scarred buildings are a familiar sight in Beirut, and have become part of the city's background noise, like scooters. But walking in to the Barakat building today, somehow this constant historical backdrop becomes alive: there is a chilling disconnect between the gracefulness and warmth emitted by the architecture, which speaks of civilized family life, the life the building was intended to have, and the bullet holes and scorched walls - its actual fate. "I shiver every time I go past it" admits Hallak.
The building's organic relationship with the city did not end with the civil war. "Another layer of its connection to Beirut is how in the 1990s heritage, memory and identity meant nothing; only money", Hallak explains. As real estate prices in Sodeco area went up after the war, the building's owners sought to have it destroyed in order to sell the land to developers. "I thought 'if we can't keep this building, it seems there is nothing in this country worth keeping' ", recalls Hallak, who persuaded the Lebanese daily An-Nahar to take up the cause in 1997. In 2003, campaigners eventually succeeded in getting the building expropriated by the municipality.
The building then became the site of a new struggle: what to do with it? The French government offered the municipality technical assistance with developing it into some kind of museum, but the team of cultural experts who were supposed to come and advise on its development had to be put off in 2006 and again in 2007 because of the political situation. This autumn they finally came, and will be making recommendations to the municipality in the near future. The working title for the museum is Beit al-Medina - the house of the city.
According to Habib Debs, an architecture professor at the AUB who has been involved in the consulation process, the municipality originally wanted the site to be a conventional city history museum, going back to Roman times. In the consultation process however, different ideas emerged. "During the meetings and workshops the idea came about to have a living space, a space that is open to everybody in the city, and to help people to know better its different quarters."
Hallak echoes these thoughts. "I want a museum that tells you about Beirut….little details....That would make people feel closer to the city, because we don't know our own city, I want to know where what I see comes from."
Kamal Salibi, Lebanon's most famous historian, and an Emeritus Professor at AUB, supports the idea of a museum more focused on the recent past. "People have no time for unhappy memories, so to have a museum that forces you to face the facts of the past would be a good idea," he told NOW Extra. "It shouldn't be about the Romans, with whom we're just geographically connected, but about the last two to three hundred years."
Hallak is also keen for the civil war damage and sniper positions to be preserved in whatever the site ends up becoming. "I'd like it to be a museum of memory, not war, though war is part of our memory, we have proven in the last two to three years that we are ready for war if we don't look deeply at what we did to ourselves".
Whether the conservative or the more radical visions for the site prevail remains to be seen. For now the ravaged building, littered with bottles and rags, continues to be a mute testament to Beirut's ongoing internal divisions. "From the outside, the building looks like its all one", says Hallak, "and on the inside there's this void, which is how I see the city: divided and divided and divided".
April 17th, 2009, 06:15 AM
I just read in Blom banks economic report that the Kuwait Fund recently granted $30 million to build a museum depicting the history of Beirut...
This has to be it..
June 13th, 2009, 11:18 PM
A museum for collective healing
Beirut’s Barakat Building to become a Museum of Memory
Maysam Ali, NOW Staff , June 12, 2009
The Barakat Building, one of Beirut’s most notorious landmarks, is set to be transformed, after years of lobbying, into a Museum of Memory.
Last month, in honor of National Heritage Day, an exhibition was held to display all items that will be transferred to the building when it opens as a museum in 2012. They include the possessions of Dr. Najib Chemaly, a dentist’s chair, pictures, personal letters, business cards of political figures who used to be his clients, old liquor bottles, newspapers and clothes belonging to one of the residents of the building from the 1930s.
Also known as the Yellow Building, the Barakat building is located on what used to be the Tramway Station, Damascus Road near Sodeco, and was built by renowned Beiruti architect Youssef Aftimos in 1924.
The building has a unique design, with multiple doors, balconies, huge windows that extend all the way to the interior and an open central space to allow sunlight into every room in the structure. From the rooms in the back of the building, all the surrounding streets can be seen.
“This architectural transparency was perfect for snipers, who could sit in the back of the building and shoot people in the front while being very well protected,” said Mona Hallak, a local architect and heritage activist.
The snipers left their mark on the building, and not just with bullet holes. They built concrete barricades, wooden sniper shelters and, of course, left their names on the walls: “Katoul was here” and “Abou El Zouz was here” can be seen on the walls inside.
Before the war, the building’s ground floor housed a vibrant array of businesses. Neighbors remember a shoemaker’s store, a music shop, a hairdresser, a pharmacy, an Armenian-owned photography shop and a Bohsali sweet shop.
“I went to the building in 1994. It was first time I had the courage to enter the building because everyone thought it was full of cluster bombs. As an architect, I found it was a masterpiece. They started demolishing it in 1997 but we were able to stop them on the third day of its destruction. They had removed the tiles but we were able to stop them. It took seven years of campaigning until in 2003, we were finally able to pass a legal decree to transform the building to a museum,” Hallak told NOW Lebanon.
Today, the Beirut Municipality, with the support of the Municipality of Paris has taken on that initiative.
“We don’t yet have a clear idea of what the museum will consist of,” she said, “but we know it will focus on the Ottoman period onwards. We want this museum to be a live, modern museum, displaying permanent items, such as Dr Chemaly’s souvenirs, as well as rotating exhibitions on various themes. It will also contain a memory booth, where people share their memories prior, during or after the civil war. The war is only part of the museum.”
But for people who grew up on that street, the bullet-ridden structure is but a reminder of an ugly war.
Mohammad Karout, 55, owns a small dollar store on what used to be the Green Line, the division between Beirut’s Muslim-dominated West and its Christian East. Karout grew up in the Sodeco neighborhood, hopping around the neighborhood’s shops, before he eventually inherited his own.
When asked about the war, he walks away, saying, “People died, they’re gone now and we started a new life. You can ask me whatever you want, but I know nothing about wars.”
One of the buildings’ corners lies on Monot Street, a small side street that later became a central part of the country’s nightlife. People who own stores here are free most of the day: some discuss politics, others play chess.
“We closed our stores for 15 years,” said Fawzi Salamoun, who owns a local drugstore by the building. Dr. Chemaly and Mansour Barakat, who lived in the Yellow Building, were some of his most loyal customers.
“When I closed my store, some families were still living here. When I came back, everyone was gone,” he said.
Those who survived the war, and those who left during the war, prefer not to talk about it.
“We used to call it the Sodeco front,” said Charles Ghostine, a lawyer who was commander of former president Camille Chamoun’s National Liberal Party, also known as An-Numour Al-Ahrar. “It was right on the Green Line, set up in an area of utmost strategic importance to fighters.”
“It was very dangerous, as 25 people, both civilians and fighters, died on that narrow street,” he said. “In 1975 it was no longer safe to live in that building, so its residents left. The Lebanese Army occupied it until March 1976. Al Ahrar then took over the Barakat Building, which had a strategic location and defense architecture.”
In 1977, Al-Ahrar left the building and the Syrian army took over.
It was a sniper’s den. They shot at people on the street and fighters shot back at the building. It now stands bullet-ridden and empty.
“Instead of renovating it, they should leave it as is. What better way to remind people of the destruction of war?” Salamoun asked.
Hallak said that preservation of the bullet holes in the walls is a decision to be made by the architect.
Another civil war?
Some people believe the war taught the Lebanese that it should never be repeated. The more pessimistic, or realistic as they would call themselves, believe that Lebanon is bound to be a war zone because of its location and sectarianism.
Ghostine said that the war will not return. “The reasons for which the 1975 civil war started are gone. In 1975, it was a question of Christian sovereignty versus Palestinian dominance, protected by one sect. Today, the divisions are vertical and across sects, not among sects. Nobody is prepared for war,” he said.
“Things have changed,” said Mohammad Merhi, 66, whose grandfather constructed a four-story building close to the Barkat building in 1949, one year after Monot Street was paved.
“Today, I’m supporting Chamoun, Geagea, Gemayel, Hariri and people from different sects. We, and the leaders, learned a lot from the war so they won’t go back,” he said.
But Kamal Haddad, 57-year-old owner of a nearby antique shop, says that the chances for war are not unlikely. “This is Lebanon, something is bound to erupt every 10 or 15 years. To stop war, you have to stop sectarianism.”
But Mohammad says he will never accept a Lebanon whose president is not Christian. “This is our guarantee.”
Kamal fled the war to Saudi Arabia, while Roudi Sawma, who lives on Monot Street, stayed. On how he did it, he said, “We adapt. In war, people split. Some sold weapons and others sold coffins. But at night, they went out and partied together.”
“We used to get drunk,” says Tony Al Kosta, local hairdresser who does not stop smiling, even when he talks about war.
“Whether we die or not does not matter. We love life and it’s the only way we know how to live, even if we are in the middle of war,” he added.
Kamal said: “You get used to it day by day. At first you are careful and then you start to know when the bullets are shot and what time fighting stops.”
“To forget the war, you need to forget the country,” Roudy said, because people are susceptible to political and sectarian divisions that take them to opposing extremes.
“But even if the whole world conspired against the Lebanese, if they were not willing to pick up arms, they will not,” Merhi argued. “And this is what Rafik Hariri was, a man who was Lebanese above all.”
Another civil war may be unlikely, but another May 7 is entirely possible, they agreed.
“So what can we do? We tell our children to love the country,” Roudy said.
Tony added: “If the youth want to fight, let them do it after we’ve passed away. You’re still a young lady, you’re going to have to witness a war.”
It is a heritage building like the Barakat Building that will initiate a process of national healing, Hallak hopes.
“[Sunday’s parliamentary] elections were peaceful, but there is hatred inside people, you can read it in their slogans. There is no forgiveness and no reconciliation. The Barakat Building shows you that the city offers you things that you can love, and that Beirut is beautiful. It tells you that on Abdul Wahab Al Englizi Street, you will find an orange tree that’s 90 years old. It will tell you that Furn Al Shubbak area started with a man opening a bakery. These things are part of us regardless of which sect we are,” she said.
“They ask us: ‘You want to remind us of the war?’ Of course we want to,” Hallak said. “People are so drained by the war that all they want to do is stay in their houses, go to nightclubs and cafes. There is little say in what should happen to the city because all efforts to change have been a failure. Hopefully with this little success story, people will start to believe.”
October 11th, 2009, 10:42 AM
they started work on it, and are moving fast.
Picture taken end of September:
April 8th, 2010, 04:54 PM
Hariri to Lebanese: Get Ready to Head to Polling Stations
Premier Saad Hariri has stressed that the municipal elections would be held on time and urged the Lebanese to "head to polling stations."
"Be ready to cast your ballots as everyone should be sure from this moment on that the elections will be held on time," Hariri said during a ceremony to launch "Beit Beirut" project at the Grand Serail on Wednesday.
The project, which was launched by Beirut municipality in cooperation with its French counterpart, is a museum located inside a historical building in the Beirut neighborhood of Sodeco to commemorate the 1975-1990 Civil War. Hariri said the elections will be held starting May 2 based on the current law "because it is clear that reforms won't be adopted at the appropriate time."
"I do not support one Lebanese faction over another but I am not neutral when it comes to Lebanon's right to determine its fate, freedom, sovereignty and friendship with its neighbors," Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said after Hariri's speech.
The prime minister later threw a dinner banquet in Delanoe's honor.
Beirut, 08 Apr 10, 08:04
April 9th, 2010, 03:35 PM
By iSoura, April 9th 2010.
April 9th, 2010, 04:53 PM
courtesy of BeitBeirut.org
April 9th, 2010, 06:08 PM
At the same time, I wished the addition was a bit more..... umm... mutated? abstract? Just something to trouble the continuity of the building.
Nonetheless.. I like.
April 9th, 2010, 10:56 PM
I am in LOVE!!!!!!!!
i love buildings that have both modern and old looks at the same time. this is going to be one of Beirut's so many jewels once it's completed :)
April 9th, 2010, 11:35 PM
I hate the extension, it's way too random.
April 9th, 2010, 11:53 PM
^^ This is how it works,actually,i don't know what this kind of architecture is called,but i totally love it !!!!!!!
April 13th, 2010, 09:26 AM
في البرنامج الجديد، ستبقى الطبقة الأرضيّة والطبقة الأولى على حالهما. رصاصات ومتاريس القنّاصين ستبقى حاضرة لترسم معالم حقبة أساسيّة من تاريخ لبنان عايشها المنزل. أغراض طبيب الأسنان فؤاد الشمالي، الذي سكن منذ عام 1943 في إحدى شقق الطبقة الأولى، سوف توضع في مكانها بعدما جمعتها منى حلاق في التسعينيات وعرضتها ضمن عمل تجهيزي في عام 2001، ثم ضمن عرض استعادي العام الماضي. ملابس وأحذية وأدوات منزلية ورسائل حبّ تبادلها مع زوجته الإيطالية دوروثي بوليزافيتش التي تركت المنزل بموجوداته بعد وفاته في عام 1973. والوظيفة الثانية الأساسية للمبنى تكمن في المعرض الذي يحكي تاريخ بيروت من القرن التاسع عشر، مروراً بحياتها الصاخبة في العشرينيات والثلاثينيات، وصولاً إلى تسعينيات القرن الماضي وزمن المضاربات العقارية الذي ذهب بالقسم الكبير من عمارتها التراثية والكولونيالية. وسوف توضع جميع الوثائق والصور وأرشيف بلدية بيروت في متناول العامة، كي لا تقتصر الدراسات والأبحاث على كبرى مكتبات الجامعات الخاصة في لبنان. أما الطبقة العلويّة فستجدّد لتصبح صالةً كبيرةً متعددة الوظائف، تقام فيها معارض مؤقتة لفنانين وموسيقيين وحرفيّين في لبنان والعالم العربي والعالم، وذلك في محاولة لخلق حالة ثقافية دائمة، همّها شحذ طاقات الشباب اللبناني.
لن تتسع مساحة «مبنى بركات» لمختلف الأفكار المعروضة. لذلك، سيستحدث مبنى إضافي على العقار نفسه هو عبارة عن «مرصد مديني». وفي حال إنجاز هذا المشروع، سيحقّق المرصد مطلب العديد من المعماريين والباحثين الذي دأبوا في السنوات الماضية ، من خلال أخلاقيّتهم المهنيّة، على التعامل مع بيروت كمدينة لها جذورها لا كسلعة تجارية. سيكون هذا المرصد مركزاً لإحصاء جميع المشاريع العقاريّة والهندسيّة التي تقام في لبنان، ويمكن من خلاله رصد تحوّلات المدينة وتغيّراتها، وربما تكوين جبهة واحدة فاعلة للحفاظ على ما بقي منها... ومن ذاكرتنا.
May 2nd, 2010, 10:31 PM
courtesy of martin
May 23rd, 2010, 12:16 AM
Courtesy of mikemuch1
May 23rd, 2010, 10:43 AM
3 years for renovating a 3 floor low-rise?!
May 23rd, 2010, 10:50 AM
mish hayne tkoon Beneye lebneneyeh...
Plus don't forget they are also building a whole new structure in the back... probably with parking lots etc. Ba3den its a museum, they have to to also fill it with stuff, not just furnishings, but research.
What do you guys think they will have?
May 23rd, 2010, 09:22 PM
I'm really excited about this project.. Can't wait to see it all finished and done..
May 25th, 2010, 03:37 AM
The new buiding is actually 10 floors...6 of which are underground. The underground is for parking an auditorium etc
July 28th, 2010, 10:16 PM
Courtesy of Me
October 15th, 2010, 10:00 AM
Courtesy of AndreRibeiro.A2R
October 25th, 2010, 06:51 PM
Courtesy of Beirut1986
December 15th, 2010, 09:57 PM
Table ronde autour du projet Beit Beirut
BEIRUT, by Simon Girling | On December 13, 2010 BEYROUTH, par Simon Copin | Le 13 décembre 2010
The Yellow House at Sodeco (credit: Thisisbeirut.worldpresse.com) La Maison Jaune, à Sodeco (crédit : Thisisbeirut.worldpresse.com)
Wednesday, December 8, a roundtable was held in the conference room of the French Cultural Mission as part of a series of meetings on the draft Beit Beirut (Beirut home in Arabic). Mercredi 8 décembre, une table ronde avait lieu dans la salle de conférence de la Mission culturelle française dans le cadre d'un cycle de rencontres concernant le projet Beit Beirut (la maison de Beyrouth en arabe). It is a collaboration between the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France in Beirut, the Beirut municipality, the City of Paris and the French Institute of the Near East , whose aim is to think and to prefigure the role and place of future museum and cultural center in Beirut Beit, which will be installed in the legendary " Yellow House "by Sodeco. Il s'agit d'une collaboration entre le Service culturel de l'Ambassade de France à Beyrouth, la municipalité de Beyrouth, la Ville de Paris et l' Institut Français du Proche-Orient , dont le but est de penser et de préfigurer le rôle et la place du futur musée et centre culturel Beit Beirut, qui sera installé dans la légendaire « Maison Jaune » de Sodeco.
The purpose of the cycle was to bring together professionals from the museum to share with others their different skills in order to complete the project Beit Beirut. Le but du cycle était donc de réunir des professionnels de l'institution muséale pour faire partager aux autres leurs compétences différentes dans le domaine afin de mener à bien le projet Beit Beirut. Thus, in turn, stakeholders were to share all their experiences. Ainsi, tour à tour, les intervenants faisaient partager à tous leurs expériences. Were met: Claire Calogirou, researcher at CNRS and head of research at the Museum of Civilization in Europe and the Mediterranean (Mucem), Jean Marc Leri, Director of the Carnavalet Museum in Paris; Zina Arida, it director of the Arab Image Foundation , and Beatrix Goeneutte, deputy director of the suburban house and architecture , located in Athis-Mons, near Paris. Etaient réunis : Claire Calogirou, chargée de recherche au CNRS et responsable du département de la recherche au Musé des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (Mucem) ; Jean Marc Léri, directeur du musée Carnavalet à Paris ; Zina Arida, elle directrice de la Fondation Arabe pour l'Image ; ainsi que Béatrix Goeneutte, directrice adjointe de la Maison de Banlieue et de l'architecture , située à Athis-Mons en banlieue parisienne.
The museum, located in the conservation of memory and a parallel between the Carnavalet Museum and Beit Beirut Le musée, lieu de conservation de la mémoire; un parallèle entre le musée Carnavalet et Beit Beirut
It is first Jean Marc Leri, who intervened to reconfirm the importance of the museum as a place of conservation and memory. C'est d'abord Jean Marc Léri qui est intervenu pour reconfirmer l'importance du musée comme lieu de conservation et de mémoire. He recalls that his example of the Carnavalet Museum, devoted to the history of the city of Paris, was created following the massacres of the Commune, "which destroyed one-fifth to one quarter of Parisian heritage reminds us does it. Il rappelle par exemple que son musée de Carnavalet, dédié à la l'histoire de la ville de Paris, a été crée suite aux massacres de la Commune, « qui a détruit un cinquième à un quart du patrimoine parisien » nous rappelle-t-il. The primary purpose of the museum is to preserve to remember. Le but premier du musée est donc de conserver pour se souvenir.
With this in mind here that he sees a strong resemblance between the Carnavalet museum project, which is now well over a century, and the project's future cultural center Beit Beirut. C'est dans cette perspective là qu'il voit une ressemblance forte entre le projet du musée Carnavalet, qui date maintenant de plus d'un siècle, et le projet du futur centre culturel Beit Beirut. First, because the yellow house bears traces of a story that is not appropriate to delete but managed to advance the entire community. D'abord parce que la Maison jaune porte les traces d'une histoire qu'il ne convient pas d'effacer mais de gérer pour faire avancer la communauté tout entière. For this, he suggests: "in the work taking place to renovate the Yellow House, it should be kept as much as possible the marks of war that can still be seen on the facades, the walls riddled with bullets." Pour cela, il suggère : « dans les travaux qui auront lieu pour rénover la Maison jaune, il faudrait garder le plus possible les marques de la guerre que l'on peut encore voir sur les façades, ces murs criblés de balles ». So much for the museum as a conservative institution of stories in the plural, as guarantor instead of memory. Voilà donc pour le musée comme institution conservatrice d'histoires au pluriel, comme lieu garant de la mémoire.
The museum, a place of interaction between the public and the environment Le musée, lieu d'interaction entre le public et son environnement
It then Beatrix Goeneutte to speak to propose another dimension to the role of the cultural center. C'est ensuite à Béatrix Goeneutte de prendre la parole pour proposer une autre dimension au rôle du centre culturel. Based on the experience of its association francilienne she especially emphasized that the museum, or at least the cultural center, is also needed to interact with its environment. En s'appuyant sur l'expérience de son association francilienne, elle a surtout insisté sur le fait que le musée, ou du moins le centre culturel, se devait aussi d'être en interaction avec son environnement. Enjoy such historical and other resources to better understand, and especially better understanding of what surrounds it. Profiter par exemple des ressources historiques et autres pour mieux comprendre, et surtout mieux faire comprendre ce qui l'entoure. The implementation by specialists guided tours for children and adolescents seem a way to introduce these young people to a reflective view of its Historical, cultural, and urban. La mise en place par des spécialistes de visites guidées pour les enfants et adolescents semblent un moyen d'initier ces populations jeunes à un regard réflexif sur son environnement historique, culturel, et urbain.
The museum has thus an unexpected dimension, beyond the mere accumulation of data. Le musée a donc par là une dimension insoupçonnée, qui dépasse la simple accumulation de données. It must also use these data and resources to benefit the public in the field, not only in the museum wall. Il faut aussi se servir de ces données et de ces ressources pour en faire profiter au public sur le terrain, et non plus seulement dans la cloison muséale.
The museum and the need to reach as many people and interact with society Le musée et la nécessité de s'ouvrir au plus grand nombre et d'interagir avec la société
But it should not stop on the educational dimension of land for defining characteristic of a cultural center. Mais, il ne convient pas non plus de s'arrêter sur cette dimension pédagogique de terrain pour définir le propre d'un centre culturel. The Head of Research Mucem brings a unique perspective. La responsable du département de recherche du Mucem y apporte un éclairage particulier. Itself researcher at CNRS, Calogirou Claire defends a close collaboration between the museum, who then holds the archives, and students and researchers. Elle-même chercheur au CNRS, Claire Calogirou défend une étroite collaboration entre le musée, qui détient donc les archives, et les étudiants et chercheurs.
Again, we must insist that open up the institution of the museum and open to the widest possible audience, which is not confined to mere visitors. Encore une fois, il faut donc insister pour décloisonner l'institution du musée et l'ouvrir le plus largement possible au public, qui ne se limite pas aux simples visiteurs. This would be to have searchable archives rooms, a center for collecting digital data, to make the most accessible parts preserved. Il s'agirait là de disposer de salles d'archives consultables, d'un centre de collecte de données numériques, pour rendre le plus accessible possible les pièces conservées.
The museum as an exhibition, a Lebanese problem and lighting Le musée comme lieu d'exposition, un problème et un éclairage libanais
Here then are three different perspectives of industry professionals, all European. Voilà donc trois éclairages différents de professionnels du milieu, tous européens. Only Zina Arida, director of the Arab Image Foundation, will address a point of view of Lebanon. Seule Zina Arida, directrice de la Fondation Arabe pour l'Image, portera un point de vue libanais. His foundation aims to collect as many as possible of photographic archives to create a database to support large-scale art of photography in the Arab world. Sa fondation a pour but de collecter le plus grand nombre d'archives photographiques possible afin de créer une banque de données de grande envergure pour soutenir l'art de la photo dans le monde arabe.
If the Foundation has several hundreds of thousands of photographs, however, the director denounces the growing difficulty of establishing a place of preservation of these photographs available to the public. Si la Fondation dispose de plusieurs centaines de milliers de photographies, la directrice dénonce cependant la difficulté grandissante d'établir un lieu de conservation de ces photographies, accessible au public. "Given the price of real estate Beirut and its evolution, it is now increasingly difficult to establish a place of archival preservation, without financial funds of great importance." « Etant donnés le prix de l'immobilier beyrouthin et son évolution, il est aujourd'hui de plus en plus difficile d'établir un lieu de conservation d'archives, sans fonds financiers de grande importance». Thus, it discloses a problem entirely of Lebanon. Ainsi, elle dénonce là un problème tout à fait libanais. Other speakers also answered him that it will be the role of this cultural center Beit Beirut to host and expose this kind of collections. Les autres intervenants lui répondent d'ailleurs que ce sera aussi le rôle de ce centre culturel Beit Beirut de pouvoir accueillir et exposer ce genre de collections.
Sharing knowledge and experiences such as Beirut Beit project can only be born of good omen. Un partage de connaissances et d'expériences tel que le projet Beit Beirut ne pourra que naître de bon augure. Moreover, the site will begin within months and should be completed during the year 2013. D'ailleurs, le chantier débutera dans les mois qui suivent et devrait se terminer au courant de l'année 2013. So a few years to see this collaboration come and carry out a project that is worth the candle. Encore quelques années donc pour voir aboutir cette collaboration et mener à bien un projet qui en vaut la chandelle.
December 15th, 2010, 10:06 PM
-On december 8th the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France in Beirut, the Beirut municipality, the City of Paris and the French Institute of the Near East met to discuss the building's future
-Jean marc Leri wants to keep the building looking shattered and bullet holed, because its purpose is remembrance of the civil war
-Beatrix Goenuette she wants the museum to interact with its environment, this basically will not be a place where you just go and read stuff, you are going to be surrounded by it
-the building does not only want visitors, but society itself to come in. So there will be searchable archive rooms
-Zina Arida is going to use this building as an exhibition place for photography. Because real estate is expensive in Beirut, not many shows happen because they don't have the funding, this center will expose these collections
-construction is to resume in a few months, and is still expected to be completed in 2013
February 14th, 2011, 04:44 AM
A feb 4th pic.. looks like nothing new:
February 15th, 2011, 01:25 PM
A feb 4th pic.. looks like nothing new:
everyday i pass by this monument. they have never started working on this project.
February 15th, 2011, 01:58 PM
Work will start in March as per an article posted earlier if i am not mistaken.
February 22nd, 2011, 04:22 AM
Retooling modernism for memory
Plans to transform the Barakat Building into a museum are one step closer to completion
By Chirine Lahoud
Special to The Daily Star
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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Retooling modernism for memory
BEIRUT: In the area of Achrafieh now called Sodeco, once known as Nasra, there sits a gorgeous ruin. Hidden behind the tarpaulin announcing future plans for the structure, the Barakat Building, also known as the Yellow House, is a rare piece of Beirut architectural history.
Constructed in two phases in the 1920s and ’30s, under the direction of architects Youssef Aftimos and Fouad Kozah, the building was once a model of innovative design. The meaning of the house has changed in the intervening decades.
Because it is located along what came to be called the Green Line – the demarcation line separating “Muslim West Beirut” from “Christian East Beirut” – the structure came to be a favorite snipers’ nest during the 1975-90 Civil War.
The Yellow House emerged from that era severely damaged, seemingly fit for nothing but demolition so the land could be redeveloped – the fate of so many Beirut-area historic buildings.
But activists tried to save the Barakat Building from this fate.
Architect and preservation activist Mona Hallak dedicated 13 years of her life to saving this building from destruction and to preserve it as an important part of Beirut’s cultural history and memory. She wrote articles, lobbied politicians with petitions and organized demonstrations in front of the Barakat Building.
The building was very special when it was first erected, sometime in the 1920s, Hallak said, since its design marked it as an “avant-garde building.”
Erected on the corner of the Damascus Road and today’s Rue Eliyas Sarkis, the building forms an L-shaped structure, whose “elbow” was left open on its first and second floors.
Rare in the early 20th century, such a structural void was seen to be a modern innovation, Hallak added, since “every room had a front view onto the streets. So, there was a visual access to everyone living in the Barakat Building.”
Kozah elaborated on Aftimos’ construction in 1932 and added the concrete colonnade, nowadays heavily scarred by war damage, on the building’s southern face. This colonnade is not only aesthetically pleasing; it is characteristic of a transition (from stone to concrete) in local materials and building techniques.
As noted, the Yellow House’s function changed dramatically during the Civil War. After 1990, the most important thing about the building seemed to be how much its plot of land was worth to developers.
Between 1997 and 2003, Hallak fought to convince the government that it should expropriate the building, in order to facilitate it being re-made into a public space. After many campaigns and petitions, the Lebanese government finally acquired the Barakat Building.
Since 2008, the Yellow House has experienced a renaissance. Once doomed to destruction, it is now set to be transformed into Beit Beirut, a Museum and Urban Cultural Center scheduled to open in 2013. The objective of this project is to valorize the city’s architectural heritage with a memorial to the Civil War.
Beit Beirut will not be “a space dedicated to the dead,” said Youssef Haidar, the project’s architectural consultant, “but a memorial to [human] exchange and debates on history.”
This project is the fruit of cooperation between Beirut and Paris, who signed their first pact of friendship and cooperation in 1993. Renewed in 2006, this partnership centers on the architectural heritage and culture of Beirut. The Barakat Building was chosen to symbolize this alliance between both cities.
The rehabilitation of the building and the work to retool it as a museum has experienced serial delays, most recently that of Beirut’s municipal elections, in May last year. Afterwards, though, the new municipality’s project commission immediately signed-off on the project. The structure’s renovation and construction of the museum is set to start in June.
Architect Habib Debs, who also played an active role in efforts to preserve the structure, told The Daily Star that “for the last century, the concept of a museum [has] evolved a lot in Europe and in the U.S. And we are trying to bring that same vision to Lebanon, with the idea of opening our country to the world.”
The construction of the museum and urban cultural center wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Paris City Hall. According to Haidar, Paris has volunteered its “technical professionalism and expertise” for the development of the project.
A scientific committee, supported by Paris City Hall and comprised of architects and urban planners (including Hallak and Haidar) has been created to follow the project step by step.
Changes in Beirut’s urban fabric, especially in the last few years, seem to have been driven exclusively by the profit motive. Beit Beirut will not be a haven for capital accumulation or short-term revenues, but a home for the recollection and preservation of Beirut’s history.
In Haidar’s view, this project has a significant civil society aspect.
The citizens taking part in Beit Beirut wanted it to be more than just a museum, he said. They wanted it to be a space for memory, exchange, debates and exhibitions, all related to the city’s history.
The building’s first floor, he said, will be dedicated to artifacts and symbols of the war years that were found in the ruined building. Here, Najib Chemali, a dentist, left all his belongings during the war. His dentist’s chair and the remains of his clinic have been kept by experts and will be exhibited.
The same is true of the snipers’ nest and the bunkers they built in the building, then abandoned after the war.
On the other floors of Beit Beirut, visitors will find a restaurant, a boutique selling replicas of museum pieces, an auditorium (for conferences and debates), a space for workshops (presently envisioned to be dedicated to questions of memory and history and the like), and an 800-square-meter exhibition space.
Haidar says Beit Beirut will have three main axes. “First, a museum about Beirut’s memory. Second, a space on the history of the city, centered on the Civil War period. And third, a platform focusing on the question of urbanism to inform the visitors.”
“The commercial aspect of the project is very limited,” Haidar insists, adding that all revenues will be used to maintain the building and the museum.
The metamorphosis of the Yellow House into the Museum and Urban Cultural Center, said Mathilde Chaboche, who manages cooperative missions at Paris City Hall, has to be seen as the embodiment of “the history of 20th century Beirut.”
Some may be skeptical about a project devoted to recollecting this tragic period in the city’s history. Haidar insists Beit Beirut should not be considered as a morbid and gloomy space.
“[Lebanese] have to stop lamenting themselves,” he said. “It is a necessary place for memory and development.”
April 3rd, 2011, 04:17 AM
Courtesy of leahspelman (http://www.flickr.com/photos/57493478@N06/)
April 9th, 2011, 01:20 PM
July 23rd, 2011, 04:04 PM
Beit Beirut on Wikipedia
(click the logo to read)
July 23rd, 2011, 04:16 PM
Interesting video showing an animation of the project, along with real footage of the building in its current status. (size 87.1 MB)
July 23rd, 2011, 04:29 PM
July 30th, 2011, 11:12 PM
It's a beautiful building, even in its current state. I'm happy to hear it is being saved!
August 2nd, 2011, 11:47 AM
October 1st, 2011, 05:06 PM
From Beit Barakat to Beit Beirut
01 October 2011
PARIS: Last week the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris’ museum of urban planning and architecture, hosted a presentation by Lebanese architect Youssef Haidar, who discussed his restoration and modernization project for what will be a museum and urban cultural center called Beit Beirut.
It is hoped the presentation’s setting will prove a good omen for Beit Beirut. Known locally as Beit Barakat or simply “The Yellow House” [after the ochre sandstone of which it is built], it is located in the area of Ashrafieh once called Nasra and now more commonly known as Sodeco.
Terribly damaged yet still stunning, the building survived the civil war against great odds but was nearly lost to development. Indefatigable architect and conservation activist Mona Hallak saved it from demolition in 1997 and it’s been in the hands of the Beirut Municipality since 2003.
One of missions of the Pavillon de l’Arsenal (a 19th-century structure that itself became a museum in 1988) is to provide Parisians with information about projects in their city, inviting citizens to be involved in the process of architectural and urban creations.
In a sense, this is what the community of people working on the Beit Beirut project are aiming for. Besides the renovation, supporters hope Beit Beirut will become a locus of peaceful exchange and debate.
“It is the first project of this type in Lebanon in which the civil society played an active role,” said Youssef Haidar, who was in Paris with Beirut’s mayor, Bilal Hamad. “We hope it will become a tool for society.”
Paris became involved in the Beit Beirut project after Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë visited in 2006 and agreed to cooperate with the Beirut municipality on the restoration.
Beginning in 2008, Paris city hall provided technical and professional assistance and shepherded a scientific committee made up of architects and urban planners. During this session it was clear that all the parties involved were relieved the project finally seemed to be underway.
Haidar hopes to break ground in five to six months and says the building will take at least two years and up to $20 million to complete. Beirut municipality will provide the financing.
“It’s been a very complicated and very lengthy process,” said Paris’ Deputy Mayor Pierre Schapira. “When I first saw the building I couldn’t believe it could ever be restored, it looked like it should have been enveloped in bubble wrap.”
Haidar, who designed Sidon’s Soap Museum, AUB’s Museum of Archaeology and renovated the Al-Omari mosque, among others, will indeed preserve the original architecture and develop an extension that will link the V-shaped Barakat building together at the back of the structure.
Haidar said the project has been slow-going because it’s had to deal with two administrations. Beirut’s municipal authority, he explained, is comprised of the elected administration, headed by the mayor, as well as the muhafez, the appointed governor.
Speaking to a capacity crowd, Mayor Hamad – himself an engineer specializing in reinforced concrete – said that, during the civil war, he lived close to the demarcation line where the Barakat building is situated.
Its location on the former Green Line makes the project is all the more important. “There is only one Beirut,” he said. “It is neither a Christian nor a Muslim one.”
During the Civil War Beit Barakat was inhabited by a succession of Christian militiamen and later the Syrian army. It became a notorious sniper’s lair. In fact, Hamad said, a sniper nearby once shot at him.
Haidar showed photographs and a film that slowly pans the building’s interior. What appears to be an ordinary wooden door is in fact reinforced on the other side by concrete. A telltale rectangular opening ending in a funnel-shape was in place for snipers to shoot from. On the wall the snipers’ names are signed in graffiti. One inscription simply reads “Death.”
Haidar remarks that the construction of the Barakat building symbolized the beginning of architectural modernism in Mandate-era Beirut. “It was the first residential building conceived by architects, rather than builders,” he said.
In 1924 the Barakat family commissioned architect Youssef Aftimos, who also designed the Beirut city hall, to work on the project. Every room in the Barakat building had a view onto the street. In the 1930s Fouad Kozah added his famous concrete colonnade to the structure.
“Everything about it was a symbol of openness and then it became a war machine,” commented Haidar. Beit Beirut “… is like us Lebanese, it has wounds, visible and invisible, but we are moving on … There was a huge debate about whether we should keep or get rid of the traces of war,” he said. “It’s a process. We need to reconcile with our past so we didn’t want to erase these traces. We are healing but there will be scars and prosthetics.”
The first floor of Beit Beirut will be a Museum of Memory where the signs of the civil war will be kept intact. The second floor will focus on the modern history of Beirut and the third floor will be dedicated to temporary exhibitions. There will be a rooftop garden. A patio will be built between the restored building facing a modern addition built in glass and mirrors. “No sniper would dare settle in it,” Haidar remarked.
Representatives of the city of Paris say they are committed to accompanying the project to the end. The French Embassy in Beirut is also involved and has organized debates and conferences that helped to shape the museum’s cultural direction. The embassy will continue to provide institutional support once the museum is open.
The long road to saving Beit Barakat and transforming it into Beit Beirut may provide organizations such as the Association for Protecting Natural Sites and Old Buildings in Lebanon and Save Beirut Heritage with a much needed boost. With the wrecking ball of development weighing so heavy in Beirut, the battle to save the city’s architectural patrimony is all more pressing.
For more information see www.beitbeirut.org.
© Copyright The Daily Star 2011.
December 17th, 2011, 07:02 PM
Barakat Building : A Public Green Space
Read more here http://spatiallyjustenvironmentsbeirut.blogspot.com/2011/06/barakat-building-public-green-space.html
February 5th, 2012, 06:14 PM
Courtesy of Beit Beirut
February 9th, 2012, 03:54 AM
For those who are interested in understanding the significance of the Barakat building, this is an excellent short walkthrough the building and the history.
March 11th, 2012, 01:55 AM
March 13th, 2012, 08:02 PM
R they even working on this anymore?
May 4th, 2012, 01:03 PM
May 1st , 2012
Rebuilding from the war, Beirut (http://www.flickr.com/photos/acupunctureman/6995241546/) by tcmman (http://www.flickr.com/people/acupunctureman/), on Flickr
May 6th, 2012, 12:21 PM
How will they open 2013.. I don't see that they've really done anything or begun renovation yet.. Not even sure why the scaffolding is put up!
And money/finance shouldn't be a big issue.. Well unless the support from the French is just moral and some kind of technical expertise..
May 6th, 2012, 03:21 PM
I think the scaffolding was put up so they could attach the lights and banners:
Courtesy of Beirut1986
July 17th, 2012, 02:42 PM
The New Flex of Beit Beirut: A jump for the coming phases
July 19th, 2012, 10:57 AM
Good to see an 'update'.. I was very excited about this project.. Its still exciting obviously, but i'm just going to hold my breath till 2015..
September 21st, 2012, 10:31 PM
The commencment of the rehabilitation works will be on the 24th of september 2012 for 24 months. This was announced by Beit Beirut Official page on FB
September 22nd, 2012, 04:20 PM
The commencment of the rehabilitation works will be on the 24th of september 2012 for 24 months. This was announced by Beit Beirut Official page on FB
September 22nd, 2012, 06:20 PM
The commencment of the rehabilitation works will be on the 24th of september 2012 for 24 months. This was announced by Beit Beirut Official page on FB
it has been 4 years on hold!
October 3rd, 2012, 03:56 AM
Beirut, Paris municipalities begin restoration of Civil War ruin
October 03, 2012 01:08 AM
By Niamh Fleming-Farrell
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The municipalities of Beirut and Paris co-launched Tuesday evening the commencement of restoration work on Beit Beirut, the iconic Civil War ruin standing at Sodeco on the intersection of Damascus Street and Independence Street.
In a ceremony co-chaired by Beirut Mayor Bilal Hamad, Deputy Mayor of Paris Pierre Schapira and French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli, the culmination of four years of cooperation between the city councils of Beirut and Paris was showcased with the relaying of the building’s first stone.
“Beit Beirut is happy today to have its first stone relayed because it will be renewed once again with its dear memories,” Hamad said in his address.
The building, which is also known as the Yellow House or the Barakat Building, was constructed in 1924 by Lebanese architect Youssef Afandi Aftimos. Two extra floors were added in 1932 by architect Fouad Kozah, completing the four-story facade Beirutis are familiar with today.
Its location on the green line during the 1975-90 Civil War transformed Beit Beirut into a forward control post, sniper base and eventually the bullet-damaged shell it presently is.
Hamad Tuesday described the building as a symbol of resilience. “This historic building has seen violence and killing and madness, but despite all that destruction, despite its presence on the green line that forced even birds to flee, it has refused to fall and has decided to prevail against the waves.”
Moving to the topic of its restoration, he added: “Instead of being hit by killing bullets it will turn into a national museum and a cultural center in memory of Beirut.”
The restoration project, overseen by architect Youssef Haidar, will preserve the original character of the building while incorporating a contemporary architectural structure behind it. This new structure will house a museum; a cultural and artistic meeting place; an archive of research and studies on Beirut; an urban planning office for the city of Beirut; and an underground car park.
Offering a dynamic description of the future building, Hamad said: “It will have different halls and rooms for art exhibitions and also host forums and theatrical plays. Artists and lovers of art will visit this place to discover the origins of the capital Beirut.”
The deputy mayor of Paris for his part also praised the restoration project as an extraordinary challenge that he believes the Beirut and Paris teams can see through to completion.
However, while Paris brings its technical expertise to the project, the restoration is entirely funded by the City of Beirut. When it is completed, Beit Beirut will be the first municipal cultural center in Lebanon’s capital.
With the restoration work now under way, Beit Beirut is expected to open in late 2013 or 2014.
October 8th, 2012, 01:20 PM
what's the building U/C behind it?
Beirut (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyedol/8057518466/) by eyedol (http://www.flickr.com/people/eyedol/), on Flickr
October 8th, 2012, 01:22 PM
Beirut (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyedol/8057516674/) by eyedol (http://www.flickr.com/people/eyedol/), on Flickr
October 8th, 2012, 02:32 PM
what's the building U/C behind it?
Beirut (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyedol/8057518466/) by eyedol (http://www.flickr.com/people/eyedol/), on Flickr
I believe that would be Sama Beirut rising.
October 8th, 2012, 03:21 PM
It's Sama Beirut. It's also written...:lol:
October 21st, 2012, 11:57 AM
Courtesy of Sietske
i don't think they have even started working on it yet
Sama Beirut is rising though