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Notre Dame De La Roche Hall

Ehmej, Lebanon
Built 2008

This program was prepared with three privileged partners: a private partner, a parish and a community.

A donation from the private sector to the parish sector, and thus to the public sector. A festive place for special ceremonies, weddings and banquets. The site lends itself to quiet reflection during events such as condolences.

The Site: a church, a school, a town hall and a courtyard. The courtyard is higher than street level and on its southern side, looks on to the landscape of the neighboring mountains. There is nothing ordinary about this site.

The town of Ehmej, which can be seen from the neighboring hills, is distinguished by its church, built on a type of promontory created by a long series of cliffs which locals refer to as the “shir”.

The Project: one theme, that of disappearance, quickly came to mind as we contemplated this project. Building a structure over more than 500 square meters, situated next to the site, would cause harm to the site as we know it.

Thus, the project has been designed for execution just below the level of the piazza; the goal involves seeing its roof serve, in its turn, as a type of public space.

Like the Piazza di Campo in Sienna and in the style of the baked-clay roofs of its surrounding buildings, the roof of the hall and its access passage is covered with bricks inserted in a fine metallic layout grid, with slight gradients on either side of the main walkway. The material was also chosen for its durability.

However, the project is not simply buried below ground; the building offers a number of facades: one giving onto the street, one onto the valley, another more functional one onto the town hall building, and finally the roof, the sometimes so-called “fifth facade.”
The Access: situated against the natural promontory and the “shir”, the project is oriented toward the street, where the site can be accessed through a large passageway. The entrance contains aspects that make it suitable for ceremonies – one can pass under a narrow zenithal light to reach the ceremony hall, in front of a suspended terrace that looks over the distance. A vertical passage will allow access to and from the courtyard and hall.

The hall also has another very large opening, which offers a sweeping panorama of the mountains; penetrating the “shir.” This opening is also an extension of the hall, a large platform suitable for certain types of special events and ceremonies.