The Place That Remains; Lebanon’s National Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2018

Text by Farah Abdel Jawad

For the 16th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Lebanon will be participating for the first time along with four other Arab countries and will have its own Pavilion in the Arsenale.

Preparatory Sketch, Beirut River watershed, 2018, ©Hala Younes

Lebanon’s Pavilion will go under the title of “The Place That Remains” which is set on the catchment region of the river in the backwoods of the greater Beirut area thus redirecting the attention towards the natural essence of the project.

View from the Lebanese Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura 2018 ©venicedocumentationproject

Considering the highly-dense built environment in Lebanon, the curator Hala Younes and her team responded to the theme  of Freespace,  set  by Yvonne  Farrell  and Shelley  McNamara  for the  Architecture Biennale, by addressing the built region through an inventory of unbuilt land.

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There’s a vibrant focus on the prerequisites of Architecture in Lebanon through the evaluation of scarce resources, fragile territory and the identification of what remains of that territory in an attempt to expose the persistent logic of productivity specifically that of the real-estate economy in Lebanon.

View from the Lebanese Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura 2018 ©venicedocumentationproject

The Pavilion explores the theme of “Freespace” through the employment of multiple formats and means that reveal the particular nature of a given territory. Such means include photographs, three-dimensional relief maps and video aerial surveillance.

View from the Lebanese Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura 2018 ©venicedocumentationproject

The team took on a challenge of transforming maps from solely being reflections of reality to become equipped with the power of allowing people to interpret, connect, feel and experience that particular reality. The maps indicate two milestones which address the years 1956 and 2015. The 1956 milestone occurs one generation after the great famine of WW1 whose traces still exist in the region. However, the 2015 milestone addresses the first systematic updating of the topographic maps by the Directorate of Geographic Affairs.

View from the Lebanese Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura 2018 ©venicedocumentationproject

As part of the Lebanese pavilion, the work of 6 photographers residing in Lebanon is also exhibited with each one of the photographers orienting his work towards a distinct field of exploration. The team of photographers consisting of Catherine Cattaruzza, Gilbert Hage, Houda Kassatly, Gregory Buchakjian, Ieva Saudargaitė  Douaihiand Tala Khouryendorse the cultural essences of Lebanon’s first pavilion as the team comes from various rich cultural backgrounds. The photographs portray what needs to be said, and what needs to be seen; it expresses the preoccupation and the taste. It expresses the cultural dimension of a certain territory; it makes up ideal landscapes, heterotopias.

View from the Lebanese Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura 2018 ©venicedocumentationproject

View from the Lebanese Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura 2018 ©venicedocumentationproject

About the Curator:

In an attempt of taking a permanent and a remarkable essence from Lebanon all the way to Venice, the team focused on “The Last Monument” which resembles the powerful geomorphological shapes of mountains that will eventually withstand the test of time as other elements disappear.

Graduated in 1993, curator Hala Younes is a renowned Architect and a prestigious Assistant Professor of Architecture and Landscape design at the Lebanese American University (LAU). As an educator, Younes directs her curiosity and deep interest in the relation between Architecture and Landscape towards design studios and classes in the AUB, Lebanese University and ENSA Marne la Vallée in France. Currently, Younes practices her passion towards Architecture in France and Lebanon with a focus on history and cultural landscape as design initiators.






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