Cult RoomsIn north Lebanon, two architects are rebuilding a corner of Oscar Niemeyer’s international fair.

Cult RoomsIn north Lebanon, two architects are rebuilding a corner of Oscar Niemeyer’s international fair.

  • Words Farah-Silvana Kanaan
  • Photograph © East Architecture Studio

So much in Lebanon has become synonymous with loss. Physical loss, psychological loss, cultural loss. Beautiful buildings have been ravaged first by war, then by greedy corporations. Nowhere is this truer than in Tripoli.1 A now much-neglected city, it was once known for its craft industries and its Mamluk architecture. In the 1960s, Tripoli was recognized as a cultural hub when it was chosen as the backdrop of the Rachid Karami International Fair, designed by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. 

The construction of the fair, on the outskirts of the city, was abandoned on the brink of completion when the Lebanese Civil War erupted in 1975 and it became yet another ghost in a country haunted by many. Today, the site is surprisingly intact but derelict. In Niemeyer’s empty bui...

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