UofT Daniels | A Place for Life – an Archaeology of the Future
Online via Zoom
Lina Ghotmeh, the 2021-22 Frank Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architectural Design, will deliver a public lecture, A Place for Life — an Archaeology of the Future, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 3. This online and in-person event will include a conversation with Dean Juan Du and is the second of two public Gehry Chair events.
More than a method of work, Archaeology of the Future is a real approach to the built environment invented by Ghotmeh through her practice, Paris-based Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture. Her firm’s designs develop from thorough historical research and emerge as exquisite interventions that enliven memories and senses. In this Archaeology of the Future, every new gesture is drawn from the traces of the past. A link is drawn between Time, Memory, Space and Place, but also between the Human and the Natural. The past meets the future as histories are unearthed and memories excavated to allow for questioning, innovation and a more sustainable architecture.
Through a “humanist” approach, Ghotmeh’s practice emphasizes the work of the hand and craftsmanship. Through this, the built embraces the traditions of its localities, while validating the subjective experience and the collective memory of those who experienced them. Projects such as the Estonian National Museum in Tartu, Estonia find their contexts in difficult pasts, listening to ancestors and promoting their voices to guide us toward better futures. Similarly, Stone Garden in Beirut, Lebanon anchors that city’s eventful past in the present by calling forward its ruins, its “voids,” its histories of conflicts and its ongoing challenges. Home to inhabitants but also to the Mina Image Center, a space dedicated to reflection, debates and exhibitions on the Middle East, the building embodies an Earth-like envelope, hand-chiseled by artisans fleeing neighbouring wars. Its skin was further imprinted in 2020 by the Beirut port explosion, an event that emphasized the ephemerality of our breathing bodies and their relationship to the built one.
In the epoch of the Anthropocene, the need to build better futures has become more urgent. From circular economies to energetic autonomies, the mission of architecture is clear: to achieve a future of symbiosis where everything is a resource and nothing and no one is forgotten.
Images 1, 2, 3: Stone Garden photo © Iwan Baan
Image 4: Wonderlab China photo © Guanchen Yu
Image 5: Palais de Tokyo Restaurant photo © Takuji Shimmura
Image 6: Estonian National Museum photo © Takuji Shimmura
Image 7: Saradar Collection © Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture
Image 8: Hermès Workshops © Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture
Lina Ghotmeh’s practice, Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture, is based in Paris. Born in Beirut in 1980, she graduated with distinction from the American University of Beirut in 2003. In 2006, Ghotmeh’s design won first prize in the Estonian National Museum competition, leading her to establish her first partnership to realize the project. Her current practice, comprising a team of 25 professionals of various disciplines, is research-driven. Echoing her lived experience in Beirut — a palimpsest of unrest — the office’s work is orchestrated as an “archeology of the future,” where every project develops from thorough historical and material research, learning from a vernacular past to build a new “déjà-là.”
Among Ghotmeh’s other major works are Réalimenter Masséna in Paris and Stone Garden in Beirut. Her studio is also currently designing and leading the construction of the new Hermès Manufacture in Normandy and the urban rehabilitation of the Maine Montparnasse grounds in Paris.
Ghotmeh has taught at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture and lectures internationally. She now holds teaching positions at Yale School of Architecture and the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. She is co-president of the RST ARCHES Scientific Network and the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2020 Tamayouz Woman of Outstanding Achievement Award, the French Fine Arts Academy Cardin Award 2019, the French Academy Dejean Prize 2016, the Grand Prix Afex 2016 and the French Ministry AJAP Prize 2008. Ghotmeh’s work was exhibited at the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice and has been widely published by the likes of Phaidon, RIBA, Domus and Architectural Record.