Byblos Town Hall Architecture at the service of human relations | The Plan
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Byblos Town Hall Architecture at the service of human relations

Hashim Sarkis Studios

Byblos Town Hall Architecture at the service of human relations
By Conrad-Bercah -

As we know, architectural form has a special relationship with time. It has no choice: it can only be non-contemporary, or anachronistic, if for no other reason than the time it takes from inception to implementation, which is to say, from the moment it is independent of its creators. That is why architectural form remains detached from its own temporal context. During the 20th Century, the rhetoric of the Zeitgeist was often used by Modernist architects who were eager to demonstrate the contemporaneity of the formal solutions they adopted so as to be considered contemporary by their peers. To achieve this, many thought (and still think) that being contemporary means seeking a formal equivalent of the dominant rhetoric of their day, without questioning if it might be devious. In doing so, most of them have managed to be punctual for all unimportant dates of the architect’s job (dates with the futile chronological time of the “isms” of the day) and to be late for one important date, the one with the congenital anachronism of architectural form. Very few, if any, have thought that acting in a contemporary way would mean, in Giorgio Agamben’s words, being “able to look at one’s own time in the face, perceiving the darkness rather than the light. […] and that the person who is contemporary, even when dazzled, manages to discern their era’s darkness as something that concerns them, something with which they must engage”. Within this scenario of wanna-be failed contemporaries, Hashim Sarkis’ new Town Hall, a multi-functional, multi-level complex in Byblos, Beirut, emerges as a convincing way of showing how to come to terms with the darkness of our time. It does so thanks to the architectural moves of its author who, by making the new structure interact with the existing environment to design a new urban geography, emerges as a truly “contemporary” architect in Agamben’s sense. The architectural wood is home to refugees of many kinds who, for the most part,...

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