More than ten thousand kilometers away from the capital Brasilia, a jewel of Brazilian modern architecture overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Located in another Brasilia, a district in Beirut named after the Brazilian capital, the Residence of the Ambassador of Brazil in Lebanon, designed by Olavo Redig de Campos, combines tropical modernism with elements of Middle Eastern culture.
For the first time, the house will be open to the public through guided tours focused on historical heritage. Geared towards architecture, design, and art professionals and students, the visits will be guided by Dr. George Arbid, director of the Arab Center for Architecture, a renowned institution in modern architecture in the region.
The project began in 1959 after approval by General Fouad Chehab, the President of the Republic of Lebanon at the time. Since then, the residence has witnessed various significant events in the country’s history, including the bombing of the Lebanese Presidential Palace in Baabda in 1990, which caused extensive damage to the house and Bruno Giorgi’s sculpture in the garden.
Designed by Campos, the residence was built under the guidance of Lebanese architect-engineer George Jurdak, with the essential contribution of local artisans and suppliers. It harmonizes characteristic elements of Brazilian modernism, such as the use of exposed concrete, brise-soleil, and tile panels, while respecting the original characteristics of the terrain and local culture.
The influence of the Middle East is manifested in the geometric shapes of the tile design, as well as in the central role played by the internal courtyard in the project. The location is safeguarded by imposing walls, with few windows and doors that subtly connect public and private spaces. In its center, there is a white marble abstract sculpture by Bruno Giorgi.
Redig de Campos was the head of the Heritage Conservation Service of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1976. In addition to the Residence in Lebanon, he also designed the Residence of the Brazilian Ambassador in Dakar (Senegal), the Brazilian Chancelleries in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Peru), and Washington (United States), and the Monument to the Soldiers in Pistoia (Italy), among other relevant works.
In addition to the Residence, Lebanon houses another Brazilian modernist masterpiece: the Rachid Karami International Fair, located in Tripoli. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the Fair was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2023, and in 2022, the Aga Khan Award was awarded for the Renovation of the Niemeyer Guest House by East Architecture Studio, part of the Rachid Karami International Fair. Check ArchDaily’s interview with Charles Kettaneh and Nicolas Fayad, founders of East Architecture Studio.
Source: Arch Daily