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This project is part of a transformative series of APT Architecture school libraries that are expanding their educational purposes by rebuilding communities through culture. 

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J. JABBRA LIBRARY AND
R. NASSAR CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION

Jbeil, Lebanon | 88,000 SF Library | 47,000 SF Landscape Grounds | Completed 2020  

LEED Gold | Passive Design Features | Educational

Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil taken from the bottom of the stairs, with two people in the foreground.
Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil taken from above, showing two people walking down the stairs.
Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil taken from the bottom of the stairs, showing the outside seating area between the building and the rock wall.
Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil showing the buildings and their surroundings from a walker's perspective.
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Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil, taken from an inermediate floor and showing the concrete columns.
Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil, showing the original shape of the building and its structural columns.
Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil showing the library and its unique movable bookshelves.
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Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil taken at nightfall showing the outside stairs and people sitting on them.
Photo of the J. Jabbra Library project in Jbeil taken at nightfall, from the outside stairs and looking towards the outside seating area.

The city of Jbeil (Byblos), believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is a UNESCO World heritage Site. Jbeil or Byblos is where the first phonetic alphabet was codified by the Phoenicians and "bùblos" was the word used for papyrus by the Greeks.

 

The Lebanese American University commissioned Atelier Pagnamenta Torriani to design a new library and central administration building on its Byblos Campus. The excavated rock and mountain above were the first impressions while visiting the Byblos Campus site. The exposed sedimentary rock and the complex, stratified history of the region became the inspiration for our design. Both the library and the administration buildings are placed adjacent to the excavated rock, forming an open amphitheater with the rock as a backdrop, juxtaposing the natural with the man-made.

 

The new structures are conceived as dynamic forms and their exterior skins are layered, providing shade and optimizing diffused light inside according to the orientation. The interior spaces of the library are developed around a large atrium that acts like a hub, brings great luminosity, and allows for natural air circulation. In our design, the exterior spaces flow seamlessly inside, creating connectivity between the two.  The interior spaces are fluid, open, and transparent.

 

Throughout the project, the contrast between solid and transparent is apparent. During the day, the building facades are opaque and become more transparent in the evening. Above the amphitheater, a concrete wall displays the carvings of the four alphabets historically used throughout the immediate Jbeil region.

 

Passive features inspired by the local typology are incorporated into the design: the double outer skin allows for shading, ventilation, and light diffusion, and the main open atrium acts like a chimney vent, detaching the buildings from the rock allows the sea breeze to circulate and ventilate the outdoor amphitheater and café areas.

 

The library and ancillary spaces create synergy among scholarly activities and social life while providing common ground for diverse student activities and forms of information: an inclusive space for exchange, communication, learning, and understanding.

 

Atelier Pagnamenta Torriani (APT) is the Design Architect for the project, Rafik El-Khoury & Partners are the Engineers / Architect of Record and local craftsmen were involved in the realization of the project.

 

Publications & Exhibits

  • 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale: "Time Space Existence" International Exhibit

  • 2020 International Panorama, Vol 1, Art & Architecture Editions

  • 2020 The PLAN Magazine, “Lebanese Culture the Focus of the New Byblos University Library and Central Administration”

  • 2013 AIANY, “New World Group Exhibit”

  • 2012 AIANY, “CHANGE: Group Exhibit”

 

Photographs by Bahaa Ghoussainy

Architctural rendering showing the promenade and programs within the J. Jabbra Library complex.
Architectural elevation and section showing the J. Jabbra Library project.
Architectural section showing the J. Jabbra library's air flow and sunlight systems.
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