Stone Garden

“It has to resist any earthquake. That’s why it survived the explosion in the port.”

In this video, Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh talks about Stone Garden, the building she designed to be resilient enough for Beirut, a city that has been buried and rebuilt seven times.

Shortly after the building was completed a large explosion ravaged the port of Beirut in 2020.

Stone Garden stood its ground, with its structure modelling the resilience Ghotmeh had envisioned for it: “We’re in a seismic area. Beirut has been buried seven times, so it has to resist any earthquake, and that’s why it also resisted the explosion in the port.”

The apartment block is placed on the edge of the city centre of Beirut. The same city centre that was left demolished by the civil war and had to be rebuilt entirely when the war ended in 1990.

“There were a lot of manifestations and critiques around the rehabilitation and the question of erasing the memory of the city. People had a very emotional relationship with the city centre, and it was completely transformed and cleaned up. So, the question of memory was very much present when I had to do this project,” says Ghotmeh.

A mixture of cement and local earth was hand-combed by artisans from the bottom to the top of the façade of Stone Garden to mimic her memories of the vernacular architecture in her hometown. “The building started to talk about all these bulleted facades that were just eaten up by the war. And then thinking about how the openings maybe can be a place of life now, it can be a place where nature can grow. Where instead of being an opening that portrays these negative moments of conflict, they become places of life. A large opening becomes a place where a big garden can live, and nature can be a part of the architecture.”

Lina Ghotmeh

Lina Ghotmeh (b. 1980) initially wanted to be an archaeologist but carried out her architectural studies at the American University of Beirut. She looked at the notions of memory, space, and landscape through her own methodology entitled Archeology of the future. After graduating and being awarded both the Azar and Areen prizes, Lina pursued her education at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where she took on a teaching role as an Associate Professor between 2008 and 2015. In 2005, while working in London and collaborating with Ateliers Jean Nouvel and Foster & Partners, she won the international competition for the design of the Estonian National Museum. Following this victory, she co-founded her first studio, DGT Architects, in Paris and led the realisation of the large-scale project of the National Museum. Acclaimed unanimously by the international press and has won prestigious awards (Grand Prix AFEX 2016 & nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe Award 2017), the museum became the symbol for avant-gardist architecture, combining pertinence and subtlety. Stone Garden was part of La Biennale di Venezia in 2021.

Lina Ghotmeh was interviewed for Louisiana Channel by Marc-Christoph at her studio in Paris in November 2021.

Camera: Mark Nickels
Edit: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.
This video is supported by: Dreyers Fond.