Photographer Matthieu Salvaing and art dealer and gallery owner Guillaume Excoffier offer an instructive overview of the heritage and richness of Lebanese architecture in this beautiful book.
This 320-page book, published by Éditions Norma, opens the door to the laboratory of architectural modernity in the Middle East. Beirut Modernist spotlights anew Lebanon’s creative force, from the 1950s to date. Matthieu Salvaing and Guillaume Excoffier lend a hand. The former is a travel photographer specialising in architecture and design. The latter is a dealer, gallery owner and decorator. Both retrace the history of modern architecture in Lebanon from a social, economic and artistic perspective. It is also, and above all, a matter of rehabilitation and restoration in view of the “accelerated disappearance of works and buildings from this pivotal period”. The emblematic Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli, for example, was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage in Danger in January 2023. Beirut Modernist also invites us to raise our awareness and save buildings built “under Ottoman tutelage or during the French Mandate
History, Architecture and Nature
Cultural institutions, government ministries, major corporations, banks, apartment buildings, schools, campuses, chalets, villas, seaside residences… The authors offer a wide selection through two hundred photographs and thirty-two selected buildings. A fine selection of buildings by leading national and international architects, from Beirut to Tripoli, via the Mediterranean coast. These include Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier, Joseph Philippe Karam, Addor & Juilliard, Henri Edde, Khalil Khoury and André Wogenscky. Over the pages, the authors raise the reflections of these architects who probed the principles of the modern movement in Lebanon and the brutalist models through the place given to concrete. The designs, some of which draw inspiration from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra, are a magnificent interplay of volumes and materiality, verticality and horizontality, geometric patterns and modular spaces. But they also reveal an extraordinary alliance between nature and architecture, with calls for colour. This radiographic tour d’horizon offers an important legacy and another facet of Lebanese development.
By Guillaume Excoffier and Matthieu Salvaing
320 pages , 200 illustrations
Modernist Beirut de Guillaume Excoffier et Matthieu Salvaing
Éditions Norma, septembre 2023
Photo credit © Matthieu Salvaing