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Son of the cedars
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Lebanese design firm GM Architects will be presenting its “Museum of Civilization” at the Time Space Existence exhibition of the 2014 Venice Biennale. The firm will be the only group representing Lebanon at this year’s exhibition. Their museum design addresses the Biennale’s theme of fundamentals by exploring the historical basis of architectural culture in the rich and varied context of their home country.


The museum will be sited in Martyr’s square, Beirut, and take the form of an excavation in the earth. Visitors will enter the excavation on a scaffolding system that is 20 meters by 60 meters in area, with platforms at different levels. Each platform will be an exhibition of a civilization that once encompassed Lebanon, from the Roman Empire to the more recent French occupation.



The floor of the site is an expanse of water, meant to represent the Mediterranean basin, the origin of all of these civilizations. At the opposite end of this water feature is a model of Stanley Kubrick’s monolith from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. While the surface of the monolith facing the museum is unblemished and smooth, its back is eroded, representing the inherent architectural uncertainty of the future.


A view of the back of the museum’s monolith. Image © GM Architects

While the design for the “Museum of Civilization” will be discussed at the Venice Biennale, the actual construction of the project remains in question. Museums and other such civil buildings are, in Lebanon, privately funded. Financial negotiations for this particular museum are in progress.





source: http://www.archdaily.com/512141/gm-architects-cut-through-beirut-s-multicultural-history-at-2014-venice-biennale/
 

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the whole downtown area should be some form of public space museum, where you can walk through a number of sites, and where there are numerous crypts under ground.
 

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the whole downtown area should be some form of public space museum, where you can walk through a number of sites, and where there are numerous crypts under ground.
Or at least more such sites distributed around the area. It reminds me of a project Jad Tabet described in a lecture years ago, regarding the medieval period city wall, part of which was dug up and reassembled in the souks. He had proposed excavating the whole line of the wall, and covering it over to create an accessible archaeologically-themed tunnel which we can all imagine the possibilities for. But that, and this museum proposal, don't fit with the need for parking. Isn't the proposed site of this museum currently dedicated to the massive parking planned under Martyr's Square?
 

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Is this located in front of Al Nahar building when you are driving from Kataeb? Because there used to be a large archeological area there, with lots of "numbered" stones as if they were dismantled from somewhere. But the other day I passed there and was surprised a new road was built on part of it! But on its side an enclosed area with boards mentions something about UNESCO or museum or something of the sort. I was driving so couldnt read fast enough. But a large chunk was taken by this new road! Any idea what happened to all the old stones n structures sitting at that plot that was replaced by this road?!
 

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Son of the cedars
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Is this located in front of Al Nahar building when you are driving from Kataeb? Because there used to be a large archeological area there, with lots of "numbered" stones as if they were dismantled from somewhere. But the other day I passed there and was surprised a new road was built on part of it! But on its side an enclosed area with boards mentions something about UNESCO or museum or something of the sort. I was driving so couldnt read fast enough. But a large chunk was taken by this new road! Any idea what happened to all the old stones n structures sitting at that plot that was replaced by this road?!
I believe the stones been moved to the new Waterfront. Not sure if it's the same plot where the museum is going to be built though.
They started digging the plot back in September/October if I am not mistaken.

The status of this project should be changed from proposed to under construction.
 

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The one next to Annahar is the Museum of Beirut's History, the design submitted is a Renzo Piano one that hasn't been made public yet but was submitted to Solidere before the intensive excavations currently ongoing so the design does not account at all for the current state of the ruins - many are expected to be demolished. My friend is the leading archaeologist onsite - she took me on a tour of it a couple of weeks ago when I was in Beirut - they have an immensely rich site that Solidere already damaged heavily with the construction of the useless new road that connects Martyr's Square with Avenue Chafic el Wazzan. I took some photos of the site but I'm not at liberty to share them since nothing has yet been published around the findings.
 

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The one next to Annahar is the Museum of Beirut's History, the design submitted is a Renzo Piano one that hasn't been made public yet but was submitted to Solidere before the intensive excavations currently ongoing so the design does not account at all for the current state of the ruins - many are expected to be demolished. My friend is the leading archaeologist onsite - she took me on a tour of it a couple of weeks ago when I was in Beirut - they have an immensely rich site that Solidere already damaged heavily with the construction of the useless new road that connects Martyr's Square with Avenue Chafic el Wazzan. I took some photos of the site but I'm not at liberty to share them since nothing has yet been published around the findings.
Wow thanks for this update! Yeah I was shocked to see they built a road there. How come its not all over the news? No one protested or anything? And since you say your friend is an archeologist on the site, so they would be aware of what's going on. When will the destruction end! So how important is that site ? Plz share what u are allowed to share. Did they find anything new or are they just cleaning what is already found. There used to be piles of stones dismantled from somewhere else and numbered n placed on that plot maybe like 10 years ago. They were supposed to one day rebuilt what they had dismantled (thats y they were numbered) to its original form. But I used to walk there n had noticed most of the numbers were fading n some stones were falling apart.
A lot of those stones were resting where the road now runs. Do you know if they have been moved to a safe location or were they destroyed? Im pretty sure they were important that's why they were originally saved there, to quiet the opposing voices. Do you know where they were from? I think maybe it was from the ruins at the center of martyr square or from somewhere else I can't remember.
 

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Wow thanks for this update! Yeah I was shocked to see they built a road there. How come its not all over the news? No one protested or anything? And since you say your friend is an archeologist on the site, so they would be aware of what's going on. When will the destruction end! So how important is that site ? Plz share what u are allowed to share. Did they find anything new or are they just cleaning what is already found. There used to be piles of stones dismantled from somewhere else and numbered n placed on that plot maybe like 10 years ago. They were supposed to one day rebuilt what they had dismantled (thats y they were numbered) to its original form. But I used to walk there n had noticed most of the numbers were fading n some stones were falling apart.
A lot of those stones were resting where the road now runs. Do you know if they have been moved to a safe location or were they destroyed? Im pretty sure they were important that's why they were originally saved there, to quiet the opposing voices. Do you know where they were from? I think maybe it was from the ruins at the center of martyr square or from somewhere else I can't remember.
Sure thing! The road was built in almost total secrecy throughout the summer, my friend had been the archaeologist on site for 2 years until then, she and an incredible crew had found a fully stratified section of ruins showing the continuous urbanization of the Beirut Tell for the last 6,500 years starting from the Neolithic period. It including the walls, gates and foundations of the first Cannanite city and then 5 successive walls and gates from different periods in Beirut's ancient history (Pre-Roman Colonia Berytus). she also unearthed ruins from the Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman and early Roman period around 300 AD to 100 BC (She and her team shed light on a very obscure moment in Beirut's history when the city was burned from within without there being a clear evidence of war..etc), and a series of homes, wells and fortifications.

That stratified section, that showed the entire succession of the civilizations in one piece was burred under the road. My friend petitioned the Directorate of Antiquities and Solidere to delay or halt the construction of the road but they proceeded anyways. She even suggested that they built the road as an elevated bridge (which was totally feasible albeit at a little more cost), so that the section underneath the road could be incorporated into the museum design. But, because the design was already submitted to Solidere by Renzo Piano, and was approved for construction, the building of the road had to proceed anyway. At the end of it, she managed to snatch a compromise from Solidere in order to securely bury the section so that the road would be built on top rather than destroying it for the same purpose. She saved the section, and now the road is built on top.

The rest of the site is also extremely rich in ruins and finds, but that section was unique in the fact that it combined all of the juxtaposed cities in one view. My friend and her team are now working on excavating the remainder of the site and salvaging what they can before Renzo Piano's museum is dropped on top. (I repeat, the museum's design was submitted before excavations started and does not take into account the ruins they are finding now).

The piles of stone that were dismantled were cleaned and paced around Martyr's square, specifically in the Ottoman/Byzantine sunken structure at the Northern end of the square. I don't know what they're planning on doing with them, but they'll probably throw them around the city in the middle of traffic intersections as a way of saying 'here you go, we find rock, we keep rock', but I'm not entirely convinced they're going to be kept and re-used.
 

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Sure thing! The road was built in almost total secrecy throughout the summer, my friend had been the archaeologist on site for 2 years until then, she and an incredible crew had found a fully stratified section of ruins showing the continuous urbanization of the Beirut Tell for the last 6,500 years starting from the Neolithic period. It including the walls, gates and foundations of the first Cannanite city and then 5 successive walls and gates from different periods in Beirut's ancient history (Pre-Roman Colonia Berytus). she also unearthed ruins from the Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman and early Roman period around 300 AD to 100 BC (She and her team shed light on a very obscure moment in Beirut's history when the city was burned from within without there being a clear evidence of war..etc), and a series of homes, wells and fortifications.

That stratified section, that showed the entire succession of the civilizations in one piece was burred under the road. My friend petitioned the Directorate of Antiquities and Solidere to delay or halt the construction of the road but they proceeded anyways. She even suggested that they built the road as an elevated bridge (which was totally feasible albeit at a little more cost), so that the section underneath the road could be incorporated into the museum design. But, because the design was already submitted to Solidere by Renzo Piano, and was approved for construction, the building of the road had to proceed anyway. At the end of it, she managed to snatch a compromise from Solidere in order to securely bury the section so that the road would be built on top rather than destroying it for the same purpose. She saved the section, and now the road is built on top.

The rest of the site is also extremely rich in ruins and finds, but that section was unique in the fact that it combined all of the juxtaposed cities in one view. My friend and her team are now working on excavating the remainder of the site and salvaging what they can before Renzo Piano's museum is dropped on top. (I repeat, the museum's design was submitted before excavations started and does not take into account the ruins they are finding now).

The piles of stone that were dismantled were cleaned and paced around Martyr's square, specifically in the Ottoman/Byzantine sunken structure at the Northern end of the square. I don't know what they're planning on doing with them, but they'll probably throw them around the city in the middle of traffic intersections as a way of saying 'here you go, we find rock, we keep rock', but I'm not entirely convinced they're going to be kept and re-used.
Thanks again for the info. Well at least they didn't destroy it. Ur friend is my hero!!!! Plz wassel my love n respect :)
Maybe future generations will one day decide to unearth it, but for now its good to know its still safe!
I'm still surprised it didn't get any attention in the media. Usually such things go viral, even if in the end it leads nowhere n they still destroy the findings, but at least people know about it n get to vent haha..
Anyway I googled the design of the museum n it looks interesting, all glass n transparent so it will show all the ruins. But like u said new discoveries have been made, so hopefully the foundations won't ruin what's below.
Thanks again! Xoxoxo
 

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Is he trying to make Beirut look like Los Angeles and/or Miami with these renders?

http://www.rpbw.com/project/beirut-city-history-museum

The museums foundations will undoubtedly destroy the extremely rich area currently under excavation along Martyrs Square's northern entrance. The placement of the museum and the way it's designed as a block does not account for what lies beneath it, it's all going to be wiped away to make room for those underground galleries. He has an immense amount of space, and yet in the interest of keeping the building footprint limited (in order to 'save the ruins') he intervenes along the side of the main road (the area with the heaviest amount of ruins) and places a concrete block topped by a glass box that reminds me of an Apple store.

Frankly, Renzo now has 4 projects in Beirut's city center (Solidere). He's designing the SGLB bank headquarters in Gemmayze (a parcel that falls within Solidere's zoning), it's going to be a light glass tower); he's designing the Beirut Pin-Wheel (10 or so structures along the Biel entrance with a massive +200m tall tower topped by a circular observatory, the Martyr's Square masterplan (Beirut becomes Miami), and this shitty museum (Beirut tries to be Rome but becomes LA instead). Ultimately, Solidere is justifying its continued existence (Solidere's contact was supposed to terminate fully in 2019 but received a unanimous extension when the new Beirut municipality board was elected last may, the group that united Lebanon's political parties to face the civilian movement Beirut Madinati) by branding itself and Beirut in the process with these star-architect projects. Zaha, Herzog & De Meuron, (even Ivanka Trump at some point), Renzo piano and many many others are part of this branding process.

I also don't really understand how they're going to fund all of these projects because theyre broke as shit.
 
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