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Architect behind One New Change wins Beirut jackpot

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Hala Wardé, who led the design team on Jean Nouvel’s One New Change project in London, has been chosen to design Beirut’s newest art museum

The Paris-based Lebanese architect’s proposal for the new BeMA: Beirut Museum of Art includes a 124m-tall campanile-like tower housing 1,000 works of art, workshop space as well as artists’ residences.

Wardé’s practice HW architecture was chosen from a 13-strong shortlist by an international jury chaired by developer Peter Palumbo and also including the Serpentine’s former director Julia Peyton-Jones, Rem Koolhaas, Richard Rogers, artist Lamia Joreige and APEAL (Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon) president Henrietta Nammour. Zaha Hadid had also been on the judging panel until her death in March this year.

Wardé was made a partner of Ateliers Jean Nouvel in 1999, before setting up HW architecture in 2008 and she continues to work with Jean Nouvel, with whom she studied at the ESA School in Paris during the late 80s.

As well as overseeing the London scheme, for the last decade Wardé also has managed the yet-to-complete Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum project.

The competition-winning Beirut scheme will sit on a ’symbolically charged site … that once marked the dividing lines in the Lebanese civil war [and which will now become] a site of unification’.

The jury praised Wardé’s concept for ‘the way it created a succession of varied landscapes and spaces where art and society can come together’, adding that the ‘connections between garden, amphitheater, exhibition spaces and roof garden [were] well considered and [would] offer a continuous visitor experience that lends itself to both exhibiting art and engaging with the community.’

The museum’s permanent collection will include 470 modern and contemporary artworks from Lebanese artists as well as pieces by ‘the Lebanese diaspora’ and the wider region.

The project is expected to complete in 2020.

Statement by Hala Wardé

I am delighted and honored to realise my first major project in the city of Beirut where I was born, on such an exceptional site.

This museum programme, in connection with the university, will allow us to create a new cultural and social space with a garden and amphitheater, and will single out this artistic territory with a strong and recognisable urban beacon, which through its multiple expressions, will belong to the new urban landscape of the city.

It is a moving coincidence to receive this news (10 October) as the architectural world is gathered in London to honor Zaha Hadid, an inspiration to women and architects worldwide, who was originally a member of this competition’s jury. I am thinking of her today with great affection.

BEMA Plan and section HW architecture

BEMA Plan and section HW architecture

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