The Sheikh Nahyan Center for Arabic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue

Fouad Samara Architects

CASID evolved from the concept of dialogue. Dialogue with its immediate site, architectural heritage, and wider cultural context of Al Koura and Lebanon.


Located on a gently sloping site with an unobstructed view of a walnut grove, the campus in the foreground, and the Mediterranean Sea beyond.


The building aims to engage faculty, students and visitors alike, be a non authoritarian accessible platform for cultural and intellectual exchange, and offer a progressive image of Arabs to the world.


Designed as a modern interpretation of the traditional courtyard buildings of the Levant, The building’s open courtyard is oriented due West, symbolizing its role as a vehicle for intercultural dialogue.


This role is also embodied through the building’s access, which is provided from all sides and respective levels of streets and surrounding landscape, further reinstating CASID as a nexus of exchange.


The western portion of the building hovers heroically above the terrain creating the main entrance aligned to the street, embodying the aspirations Arabs must have for the future, while the southern part acts as a natural extension to the landscape itself.


The eastern part of the building roots itself into the landscape, built perpendicular to the existing inclination, reflecting how traditional Levant architecture deals with construction on sloped terrain.


Non-structural walls and suspended ceilings are painted white while floors, both in and out, are honed Basalt. Facades exposed to the western sun have aluminium sun baffles articulated in both spacing and size as a modern and abstract interpretation of Arabesque – itself a play on the size and rotation of geometric forms.


Project info

Location: University of Balamand, Al Koura, Lebanon
Completion Date: March, 2015
Total Built up area: 2,567 m2
Client: University of Balamand
Architects: Fouad Samara Architects
Photography: Ieva Saudargaitė

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