THE UNWASHED PALIMPSEST
carol el farraji
Our beloved Beirut, in general, and Gemmayze, in specific, were made over a heterogeneous process giving Beirut its existential charm. This esoteric diversity resonated while riding the different transient waves that this culture was hit by, and thus this project aims to reflect that through a complex system of overlapping functions, circulations, materials, structures, and enclosures. Taking into consideration the warmth of the street it’s located in, a rammed concrete enclosure interlocks with a fair faced one creating a warm volumetric wrap that ensures a play between the enclosure and the steel structure reflecting an unwashed palimpsest capable of telling different stories from different angles or in some cases, all at once. This palimpsest effect is not limited to the materials and facade but is also read through the vertical and horizontal assembly of architectural elements and the moments they create in between. With stairs animating the spaces carrying the Gemmayze spirit in them and an ensured visual connection around a continuous void spanning all the way to the roof, users are capable of reading the project differently through different spaces and the transitions in between. All of those qualities are created within the library which alone, as a function, has a nostalgic character that builds on history to reach towards the future, thus overlapping the frames of time in a cultural palimpsest.