The Museum of Civilization

GM Architects
2014

01A view of the museum from the monolith. Image © GM Architects

The Museum of Civilization 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.

02Ariel View. Image © GM Architects

03Museum Entrance. Image © GM Architects

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.

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.

04Interior View. Image © GM Architects

05A view of the back of the museum’s monolith. Image © GM Architects

06A view of the museum from the monolith. Image © GM Architects

07Construction Diagram 1. Image © GM Architects

08Construction Diagram 2. Image © GM Architects

09Construction Diagram 3. Image © GM Architects

10Site Section. Image © GM Architects

About the architect:

Galal Mahmoud studied architecture at Paris at Ecole d’Architecture de Versailles Paris – from 1980-1986. Soon after graduation, he joined Jean Pierre Heim, for a period spanning from1987-1996.

The mid-90’s in Lebanon were an exciting time. The feverish pace of reconstruction after decades of conflict meant there was a lot to be done. Architects and interior designers were in demand and their services were at a premium. Though returning to Lebanon meant starting from scratch, thanks to a decade’s worth of experience and a portfolio of international projects under his belt, Galal soon found he had more work than he could handle. Amongst them was his first major commission following his return: the Crown Plaza hotel project in West Beirut’s Hamra neighborhood, and three landmark restaurant designs: Circus, Noodle and AJA.

Success was soon at the rendez-vous, and a growing reputation around the Levantine region ensured GMA a sturdy position amongst the heavy weights.

Galal also Juried the marina competition in solider as a Juror member, in 2002. All the while invited for speeches and lectures in public areas or universities. it is with constant growth that Galal established GM Architects in Abu Dhabi in 2006.

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