Aleppo is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has always been perceived as one of the most important and influential cultural centres far beyond Syria and the Arabic world. To live up to this fame the city has decided to open an international competition about the design of a cultural centre whose main programme is to comprise in addition to a library also an opera and a theatre. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the political turbulences in the country, the outcome of the competition was never decided and the future of the project is still open.
The volume of each of the three main functions, opera, theatre, and library, is optimally tailored to the specific demands of the respective utilisation and clearly visible from the outside. The position of each function within the context depends on its interfaces with the other functions in the building as well as on the interfaces with the surrounding city and the visual contact with its important historic sites. Accordingly, all important transparent parts of the outer shell, as for instance, the background of the stage of the theatre and parts of the facade of the large reading hall, refer to the nearby world-famous citadel of Aleppo. This several thousand years old landmark therefore serves as the main cultural scenery for the new centre.
Aside from these distinctive sculptural constituents of the design one identifies two further shaping elements. On the one hand, the architrave block hosts the main entrance for the pedestrian traffic and all back of house functions. On the other hand, all main functions from the first floor upwards surround an interior yard that can be accessed from the outside by foot and by car via an extended ramp. The yard forms the visual link between all functionality and enables accessing them from one central point.
Marc Anton Dahmen,
Baha E. Arab