After 20 years of renovation, Beirut’s treasure, the Lebanese National Library opened its doors in 2018, having them shut during the Lebanese civil war. The existing Sanayeh building was built in 1907. The new library building is a cultural center, it has an auditorium, many multipurpose rooms for workshops, conferences, and exhibitions, and a big reading hall for the public.
The construction and rehabilitation of The National Library Project became possible with the will of the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, the help of the European Commission and the generosity of His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar.
The main design proposal faced a lot of challenges to bring the National Library back to life. The design solution should reflect the civic quality and character of the Lebanese National Library, a project of high importance on a national scale level. It should also address the surrounding context of the site, acknowledging the presence of Sanayeh garden, public buildings around and other related neighborhood aspects. Another challenge was to keep the project feasible in terms of design and execution-completion within the proposed budget.
At the end, the project resulted in the construction of a new underground building block, composed of four underground floors, to meet the needs and facilitate the operation of the National Library, as well as the rehabilitation, renovation, and re-use of the existing Sanayeh building by seeking the help of international libraries’ restorers among local ones. To accentuate the beauty of contrast between modern and traditional architecture, a new reading hall was designed as a new addition connecting the two old wings of the Sanayeh existing building.
The restoration and renovation of the Lebanese National Library was led by Erga Group as architectural consultants and Erga Management as construction management.
Construction Supervision: Erga Management
Interior Design: Rbeiz Associates Interiors
Landscape Design: ZMK Landscape Architects
Client: Lebanese Ministry of Culture
Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Category: Cultural, Low Rise