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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Hakawati – House of art and culture in Beirut, Lebanon by Ooze Architects

January 31st, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Ooze Architects

Before the appearance and the diffusion of cinemas and of mass media the Hakawati was the main form of entertainment in Arabic-speaking countries and most notably in Lebanon. The Hakawati was a storyteller who thrilled his audience with a story. He was the spontaneous messenger moving throughout the city, a key-figure in stimulating social cohesion and in activating a public space for all.

Exterior Finale

  • Architects: Ooze Architects
  • Project: Hakawati – House of art and culture
  • Location: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Areas: 16 000m2
  • Budget: 20 M EUR
  • Client: Ministry of Culture – Sultan of Oman
  • Team: Eva Pfannes – Ooze, Sylvain Hartenberg – Ooze, Florian de Visser –  Assistant Ooze, Omaya Malaeb – Assistant Ooze Beirut, Andre Chedid – Assistant Ooze Beirut, Alice Grégoire – Assistant Ooze,
  • CULTURAL PRODUCER: Lucia Babina iStrike
  • STRUCTURE: ABT – Ronald Wenting
  • SOCIOLOGIST: Prof. Samir Khalaf – Beirut
  • DATE: Competition /  01- 2009

Interior Finale

The social and spatial fragmentation Beirut has been undergoing, as a consequence of the civil war and of dislocating forces of urbanization, calls for a renewed Hakawati in order to resurge the rich cosmopolitan culture of the city and to celebrate its vitality.


In modern times the House of Arts and Culture is recovering the role of the missing Hakawati and transforming the city into his stage. The House of Arts and Culture is a dynamic, receptive and interactive hub for the celebration of culture on a local and international level. It is a clear reference as well as an itinerant meeting place in open dialogue with the city. It is a multifunctional platform that breaks through the walls of a “white-box” institution and engages with the urban realm.


The House of Arts and Culture is the Hakawati that takes advantage of its central position on the threshold of the city centre and spreads temporarily its cultural program throughout the city. It is a dynamic organism that extends hors limits its multiple antennas and uses the city as a stage. Its structure constantly deconstructs and reconstructs in order to relocate its diversified cultural program – such as exhibitions, concerts, screenings, performances, festivals, etc. – in parking lots, abandoned buildings, public gardens, left-over infrastructures throughout the entire city and even further. The Hakawati makes use of three types of culture carriers to spread its program in the city: super light ( a person for spontaneous actions in the public realm), light ( a truck for medium-scale events far in the city) and medium (temporary structure for Large scale events). They are leaving the building and come back in a dynamic movement from the house to the city and the city to the house.

Whole Elevation

The organization of the building is designed around the stream of public going through the House in a spiral up till the Garden roof. It provides a generous accessible public spaces which can be used for performances, festivals, and other events.

Diagram Inhabitation spaces

Instead of an imposing iconic building, HAKAWATI is a multifunctional structure able to merge with the city and to listen to its urban voice. It is a free space for pluralism, multiple encounters and interactions. It is a real center for the celebration of one of the most lively cultures of the middle east.

Plan 00 - city level

Plan 01 - motorway

Plan 03 - offices

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Categories: Art Studio, Cultural Center

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