International Fair of Tripoli by Oscar Niemeyer



Photographer Cristobal Palma has sent us this recent set of images taken at the unfinished International Fair of Tripoli, Lebanon, by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.


Construction stopped in 1975 at the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war and was never restarted.


The 10,000 hectare site comprises 15 buildings by Niemeyer and was added to the World Monuments Fund's list of 100 most endangered sites in 2006, in response to plans to turn the site into a theme park.


Despite being deserted, the site is a popular attractions for tourists interested in architecture.


Tripoli is the second-largest city in Lebanon and is located 50 miles north of Beirut.










Posted on Tuesday August 5th 2008 at 6:03 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • What

    What an amazing rediscovery of a forgotten global treasure. Thanks for the pics.

  • Tyler


  • AFRI


  • edward

    It all looks to have been very low budget. The thin concrete shell is the only interesting thing to me.

  • oujaz

    other lebanese project should be published on this site aswell.
    projects conceived by lebanese and international architects.

  • M!

    You don´t want to stay in that place for long time…

    All that concrete and glass are boring and very hot!

    Obviously that architecture says nothing about Lebanon, or any other place.

    I´m brasilian, I know Niemeyer´s buildings…

    But you know, he always talk about his inspiration, his sketchs, women curves, bla bla bla, and everybody believes in it, particulary cause he is 100 years old….

  • ney

    great job!

    niemeyer dispensa comentário!

  • chris

    just great pictures! very emotional old textures and a very emotional mixture of shapes. AMAZING
    it does so good to my eyes in this world of all this zaha blabla!

  • Azeem

    Ah brazilian architect!! Oscar Niemeyer. He should be applauded!!.

    B.T.W, I would have appreciated more if he had choosen some other place , where there ain't no wars,!

    & yes The thin concrete shell is the only interesting thing to me.

    • jean

      what does war have to do in all this?! namely appreciating architecture?

  • Lite


    How sad for you that being brazilian, doesn’t know a thing about architecture or can’t recognise a genius at your side.

    Good for you that you are brazilian (for many reasons besides being able to visit other architecture wonders), but sadly you’re not an architect. At least doesn’t seem to be judging by your comment.

  • D!

    That’s why all the biggest architects of the world (all) that came to Brazil come to “take a bless” of Niemeyer, he is still alive but already is a legend. And believe me M!, I am a brasilian too, and I think that some comments are absolutely unfortunately and unrespect, becouse first, he have 100 years old (I pray to reach this age!. And he still work!), second he is brasilian (like you and me, so BE PROUD!), third I already say, he is a legend, and how we all know whit legend’s there is no comments! And sorry, I say legend becouse I don’t find any other word for the master of the masters. Even I don’t like all he works, but who matters? If one day I make the number of projects that he makes, maybe I fail some. But again, who matter? He is still Niemeyer….and sure…great photos!!

  • Peter

    Sadly, i see a one trick pony in these pictures. While i think it´s absolutely OK to see a certain signature style, this has nothing to do with the purpose of real Architecture. Instead, it´s just silly eyecandy to represent a not so funny dictatorship. Niemeyer is resembling an old Rock Band that made history with great songs but missed the right moment to stop.

  • sk

    @ Azeem,
    “B.T.W, I would have appreciated more if he had choosen some other place , where there ain’t no wars,! ”
    really? thats you contribution to the design? so your saying that the only good architecture products should be in non war tormented countries? Grow up will ya.

    Anyhow, Ive lived in lebanon for 24 years before i left, this project is just absolutely stunning, you might not agree with the designer’s vision, and you might have something against modernists, but it doesnt hide the fact that you simple will be blown away when you experience it, which is not something you can say about any of the recent pojects that are coming out, (hear that dubai and china)
    Anyhow, some info about the project,
    The big dome was used as a bunker first when shelling started in the north of the country, later it became a syrian gun depository (sucks balls), you can still see all the steel reinforcements on the inside.
    I forgot to mention that the project was never finished because war broke out in 75.
    Keep in mind that this project was supposed to be the international fair, which dont have to make a whole lot of sense but have to show the technological abilities and what not, and during that time it was reinforced concrete that was the craze, along with design from Pier Luigi Nervi and such.
    In the end im happy this forgotten gem has been published in this blog.

  • freedom


  • Azeem

    “The big dome was used as a bunker first when shelling started in the north of the country, later it became a syrian gun depository (sucks balls), you can still see all the steel reinforcements on the inside.”

    This is was exactly i had in my mind when I said about choosing the place with less wars.The government of lebanon should have spent their people’s money for better purposes not for some “FAIR”.
    Last time I remember Israel was bombing lebanon, why ?Rafiq harriri killed!.The state of the country is bad.( am really soory but these are the facts)

    I also remember ad’s in news paper’s & bus stop’s all over Dubai for the AID that was being collected for lebanon.
    “I forgot to mention that the project was never finished because war broke out in 75”.

    It seems that you are proud that the work was left unfinished because of war, grow up will you!.

    I do understand the technological abilities, all wanted to say is that i would have loved to see the project completed,but war…..

    Hitler had a number underground bunkers built to protect himself & their arsenal from the allied forces, now is that something of huge admiration?.

    I would love to see normalcy in lebanon & wish the lebanese people a prosperous future.But first concentrate on politics !!

  • Oscar Niemeyer inspired a lot of contemporary architects, to name a few, Calatrava, de Mocha, even Tadao Ando. He softened the manifesto of Corbusier and ‘poeticized’ it. I’m a great admirer of him.

  • sk

    @ Azeem,
    Your insight and political views are amazing and im sure you are admired by everyone as stupid as you.
    Maybe you would like to reference some prehistoric war too while your at it.

    @ Freedom,
    Yeah my comments were a bit “emotional” because of the ignorant comments made about the country, however im a great admirer of the Brazilian master’s work around the world.

  • Azeem

    Well ,if u have comment’s on the design or realted issues you are welcome,it shall be taken !!.Sorry but I dont see that!!
    U are acting personally, which implies that u are illinformed & misguided.That’s what make u “Emotional”.Please keep your philistine opinons to yourself.

  • sk

    i will keep my opinions to myself and your mother and i swear no one else.

  • Guilherme Marcon

    Niemeyer is a fucking master!
    He play with the gravity…

  • AFRI

    u guys r being emotional, wars and stuff. pls appreciate the architecture, this guy is a genius, remember his designs were before the computer age,

  • freedom

    sk, my comment wasn’t for you.

  • It’s a big treasure I didn’t know. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ali

    This group of unfinished buildings is actually somewhat more interesting than Niemeyer’s finished Monument street collection in Brasilia, whose buildings are shoddily constructed and poorly maintained, but very white. It is very sad to see countries like these spending so much money on someone’s ego.

  • im from tripoli, and i know the spatial worth of this fair – its unfinished state leaves so much for the perception .. and the history of it, and how it was being used only adds to its depressing charm – so critiquing niemeyer is pointless .. architecture outlives its creator, its function, obviously it has evolved into an organism that has an alternative spatial message –

    • Chloe

      Totally agree with everything you’ve said, the place is hauntingly beautiful as it is.

  • Bo

    It seems like a collection of all the works he did. Believe me, I’m one of Niemeyer’s biggest fans, but judging from these photo’s I don’t see any development in his sculpture.
    Maybe I should study the plan a bit better, or wait untill it’s finished constructing (if this day ever comes).

    By the way, normally architects don’t choose the location/country where they build a certain project.

  • E

    the most amazing country ever “Lebanon” if it wasn’t the jewel of the middle east no one would cared enough to fight for it …… and by the way the tripoli int. fair is stunning!!!!

  • BA-Leb

    i did visit the International fair of tripoli very lately… it’s a very nice place, nice architecture. especially the interior of the Dome! Even if it’s not finished, but the steel reinforcements on the inside gives it a very special interior! cables from the ceiling… amazing.
    Big place, i had the chance to walk for hours in it and take nice photos!
    i guess the goverment won’t be interested ENOUGH to finish it, for the moment… it’s sad!
    if someone knows what are the original functions of each volume in the fair site… what neimeyer original concept was for each element.. i would like to know! :)

  • Olep

    Right on, Peter!

  • samer osta

    i’m Lebanese, and the fair is just in front of my house, when i was little i used to play on top of the dome, and i went in every corner of the fair, before it was renovated. so it is really a shame the my government didn’t use it as an international fair for our country, because it all about politics, in Beirut our capital the politicians and big money people built their own small exhibitions and they are using it, and all are backed up by the government, so they will not use the Tripoli fair in a million years, only if a billionaire came and took it as an investment for 99 years.

    when Arch. Oscar built it is was for the international EXPO, that happened in every country. the building with the arches is the Lebanese hall. the dome is a planetarium.

  • bassem


    Fadi Abboud, Minister of Tourism: “We are also working on rehabilitating the Rashid Karami international fairground in Tripoli so as to tranform it into a resort similar to Disney Land.”

    Never know what to expect in this country…

  • Jana

    Please correct your siting. This is in Tripoli, North Lebanon and not Libya.

    Amazing place and the spaces are just magnificent and is considered one of the heritage modernist sites of Lebanon’s great – diminishing – collection.