Lina Ghotmeh, an award winning humanist architect with her own firm Lina Ghotmeh- Architects in Paris, is an inspirational women shattering the glass ceiling of patriarchal restrictions, with her humanist approach to design, context based use of local materials and play in scale that justifies the history and geography through architecture.
She leads a team of 25 professionals at her Paris based firm Lina Ghotmeh – Architecture.
With a historical and materially sensitive approach to Architecture, the firm aims to evoke memories and senses of users. Each of the firm’s projects develops from thorough historical research into an exquisite intervention. According to Lina Ghotmeh’s design philosophy, this is an «Archeology of the Future» where every new gesture is drawn from the traces of the past.
“The “Archeology of the Future” is the quest of an architecture that is deeply anchored to its ground, in deep dialogue with nature. It is a humane architecture drawn from the past, from ancestral forms soliciting memories yet projecting these memories into the future. In this way architecture becomes a discovery; it is revealed rather than imposed on its context. The result of this process is a ‘newness’, an ‘original’ future form that emerges with a sense of a déjà-là.”
She graduated from The American University of Beirut, where she developed her theory of «Archeology of the Future» where the aim was focusing on reviving memory through space, and landscape, and was awarded the Prix AZAR and Prix AREEN at the end of her studies. She pursued her education at École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where she was an Associate Professor between 2008 and 2015. She was awarded in 2008 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication with the AJAP Prize (Albums of Young Architects and Landscapers), and in 2016 with the Jean Dejean Prize by the Académie d’Architecture Française.
She left Lebanon in 2003 to collaborate with Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris and with Norman Foster in London. She worked with Foster and Nouvel on the office and retail development, Walbrook Square, in London where her Anglo-Saxon and French-European education gave her a unique edge. The project nicknamed ‘Darth Vader’s Helmet was scrapped in 2009.
In 2005, Lina Ghotmeh with Dan Dorell and Tsuyoshi Tane designed the Estonian National Museum for an international competition and established the architectural practice DGT (Dorell Ghotmeh Tane) in 2006 after they won. With the completion of their first project, the museum opened on September 29, 2016. DGT won the Grand Prix Afex 2016 and was nominated for the Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2017 for this project. The firm was dissolved however by the end of 2016 and Lina Ghotmeh established a Paris based firm under her own name, Lina Ghotmeh- Architects (LGA).
Lina Ghotmeh- Architects is a multi-disciplinary firm that focuses on innovative and poetic architecture derived from extensive research in history, geography, materials, space, and feelings a structure evokes. For the firm, Architecture must derive aesthetics through its connection and association with nature. With a sustainable approach, the firm has completed many award winning inspirational projects that transcend the boundaries of convention.
Her firm teamed up with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Michel Desvignes for the competition for the urban rehabilitation of Maine-Montparnasse in Paris and added the award to her growing list. She was selected in 2007 for The 20 essential young architects by ICON magazine and in 2010 for 10 for 2010 Visionary architects for a new decade by the European Architects Review. She won the ArchMarathon Prize (2016), The Main Prize for Cultural Endowment for Architecture (2017) and The Annual Prize of the Estonian Union of Architects, for the Estonian National Museum Project, Reinventing Paris (2016) for Réalimenter Masséna, The Rise: Renault Auto Shows 2018-2021, Lebanese Architect Award (2017), Best Design Award for Les Grands Verres, Palais de Tokyo by LeFooding (2017), and Adivbois Competition – Les Bois d’Angers – Innovation in Wood Construction (2018).
The growing number of awards are a testimony to her humanist and innovative design philosophy. Dreaming of becoming an archeologist when she was young, Ghotmeh grew up surrounded by rich cultural history marred by the aftereffects of the Lebanese civil war. Her attachment with history, discovery, identity, narration and earth, namely with what and who we are, comes from her understanding that conflicts and quests for identities have been the main reason for people’s divisions.
“I felt the need to assemble, construct and understand myself through making; it is probably this intrinsic need to draw a shelter, a roof for people.”
Her theory involves building structures symbiotic with nature, which are sustainable and ecological while extremely unconventional in space and dimensions. The choice of materials are a result of extensive research in history and geography that the firm takes pride in performing.
“I grew up with this desire to uncover, reveal and reconcile the city through architecture. The “Archeology of the Future” is the quest of an architecture that is deeply anchored to its ground, in deep dialogue with nature”
STONE GARDEN, BEIRUT
Ghotmeh’s first project in her hometown, Stone Garden is a residential building designed for photographer Fouad El Khoury. The design for this building comes from the significance of the location; centre of the city which was renovated after war, and from her own perceptions of her city and its history.
“I didn’t want to design a building, I actually don’t like buildings, edifices per se. I thought of this project as an “inhabited sculpture”, drawn to the city’s building law: a mass rising in the skies, windows as carved-out openings, chiselled from this mass.”
The architecture reflects its synergy with nature and sustainability through its facade, which was made by local construction workers with the intention of avoiding any industrial process. The thick skin of the building is an earth and cement mixture, projected on the building’s structure and combed with a metal chisel. The facade draws out the landscape and city-scape of Beirut, while pointing at the loss of nature in relation to architecture in the city. The smooth vertical tower stands out among the concrete urbanscape and echoes the history and ruins of the city.
ESTONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM, TARTU
The museum was built by Ghotmeh along with Dan Dorell and Tsuyoshi Tane and their firm DGT Architects after they won the international competition for the design of the same. The project was anchored near an old soviet military base used during the world war. Estonia’s history is rich with war and soviet rule, finally gaining independence in 1991 and joining the European Union in 2004. The museum aims to regenerate national pride and cultural heritage of the city. One of her most popular projects, the reflective, innovative, meaningful and simple yet dynamic architecture of the museum has won her multiple awards.
“With a sensitive intervention on this site, the National Museum becomes a continuation of the airfield – its roof lifting and expanding towards ‘infinite space’ – inviting the visitor to enter into the landscape and into the heart of the museum. The design creates an open house for public activities – exhibition, performance, learning – a place of gathering and interaction, bringing people together to celebrate a rich, if sometimes painful, history.”
‘PRECISE ACTS’ HERMES WORKSHOPS, FRANCE
Marked by the power of hand, the workshop is a poetic structure that blends in with the landscape of the area creating a discrete organic and artistic building. The orthogonal grid, which comes from the internal functioning and spaces, is adorned with spanning brick arches that trace the movement of galloping horses and provides a sense of movement to the facade. They delicately transfer the structure towards the ground, connecting them aesthetically.
“Precision — the quality of what is calculated, measured, provides unequivocal information. It is the keyword, and the main act that guided our design of the Hermès Workshops’ building in France. The hand’s precision and its gestures on leatherwork are transcribed in the drawing of the building, its implantation, its qualities, as well as its dimensions, sustainability, timelessness and evolutive capacities.”
The arches create bay windows which along with the ceiling apertures in the north, provide comfortable and abundant daylight into the workshop, increasing the quality of the space. The passive architecture of the structure is low in its Carbon Footprint and sustainable, resourcing from the environment and oriented towards local and earthy materials.
MUSEUM OF REVOLUTION OF DIGNITY IN KIEV, PARIS
The design was developed for the Revolution of Dignity International competition, which aimed to build a multifunctional museum for cultural, educational, and methodological activities commemorating the Ukrainian nationwide protest movement that lasted from November 2013 to February 2014.
The proposal for this museum was drawn as a prolongation of the streets that had embraced people during the revolution. The building, a continuously unfolding elevation, inculcates various public spaces along its heights . Drawing from the traces of human tide that occupied the Instytutska Street for days, it lifts the ground in altitude and allows the citizens to dominate back their city, Kiev.
NATIONAL STADIUM OF JAPAN, TOKYO
The competition for design of the National Stadium in Tokyo was commenced and judged by Japanese Architect Tadao Ando.
Deflecting the ideals and characteristics of modern stadium architecture, Lina Ghotmeh – Architects found a way to integrate their ‘Archeology of the future’ to create an innovative stadium, a pioneering structure and a milestone for all architects to reach in the future. Deviating from the usual non-site specific and mindless conventional stadium designs, Ghotmeh and her team decided to utilize the central location and historic importance of the site in Tokyo, which used to be a Meiji empire memorial and the Meijijingu-Gaien Imperial forest a 100 years ago, both erased after WWII.
“This is a stadium for the next generation that combines past and future to create a place for people in the city. It will be a timeless place for all.”
Ghotmeh’s design, The Kofun Stadium, is an earth based design that regenerates the memory of the forest. With systems like rainwater harvesting for the forest on the roof, the structure is sustainable and provides for the entire city.
“The idea is to foster a dynamic between the natural and the artificial that can positively create a sustainable future.”
Ghotmeh’s Architecture is a perfect blend of transcending timelines and sustaining the environment and ecology of the present. The firm’s compassion towards re-search gives each of their structures a contextual uniqueness from spatial planning to materials and facades. Lina Ghotmeh has given the world multiple examples of excellence in Architecture which reflects here own ideologies that developed in her war tainted childhood. She believes in the importance of connecting with the earth and building spaces that affects the users senses while having extremely less negative impact on the environment.
Her innovative use of materials and approach to design substantiates her need to create a symbiotic relationship between nature, architecture and the people, which also unquestionably impacts the urban fabric. Her ideologies define her design, and her projects define excellence, making her a beacon of inspiration.