The new French Cultural Centre (FCC) is to replace an existing building occupying a different site -which could no longer meet the space requirements needed for the various activities taking place in the Cultural Centre. The design of the new structure, situated in central Damascus, was determined by site constraints, and its volume was to be in line with the scale of the adjoining constructions.
The project comprises: a reception hall, an exhibition area, a 200-seat cinema, a library, a video and record library, classrooms, a cafeteria, and administrative offices and utility rooms. Both the urban context and climatic considerations resulted in the conception of an introvert plan. A spacious internal courtyard rises over three stories. Its walls are pierced with small openings and a larger window on the southern façade is protected by a grille filtering natural light. This patio also acts as a stairwell, as it is lined by a staircase leading to the upper storeys and punctuated by landings protected by balustrades overlooking this central space. This seven-storey high building includes a basement and a roof terrace which commands a view over the city and can be used as an amphitheatre, as part of its surface is stepped. The ground floor is occupied by the reception area and adjacent exhibition hall. On the first floor, the cinema occupies the western part of the building and can be accessed independently outside office hours. Above, the library is built over two levels - on the fourth and fifth floors - which are connected by an internal, winding staircase. Offices and activity rooms are placed on the eastern side of the structure, and the two upper storeys mainly house classrooms.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture