Annabel Karim Kassar’s telescopic pavilions bring a taste of Lebanon to Milan
Movie: in this movie, French architect Annabel Karim Kassar explains how her Camera Chiara installation recreated the atmosphere of a Lebanese house in a Milanese courtyard.
Kassar's Camera Chiara installation, which opened in April during Milan Design Week, consisted of two telescopic pavilions made from steel and burnt wood situated within one of the University of Milan's eighteenth-century courtyards.
One of the structures contained a cinema showing movies about Lebanon, while the second housed the recreation of a liwan — the central room in a traditional Lebanese house.
"I've lived on and off in Lebanon for 20 years," explains Kassar, whose architecture practice has offices in London and Dubai as well as Beirut. "I tried to bring to Milan my experience of Lebanon. I came here to share an emotion."
The pavilion housing the liwan featured tiles and textiles by Lebanese artisans, as well as vintage furniture from Europe and a decorative toilet that Kassar designed for her own house.
An old TV played classic movies, while a gramophone emitted street sounds, which Kassar recorded in Beirut.
"In Lebanon the houses are very open, the doors are always open," Kassar explains. "This mix of arabic music, birds, the sounds of the street and the TV going on with some incredible old movie is a mix of life that I can't find so easily in Europe."
The stepped floor of the cinema pavilion, which showed films produced by Kassar documenting a range of traditional Lebanese crafts, was lined with mattresses made in Tripoli, Lebanon.
"The cinema brings a glimpse of the culture of Lebanese people," Kassar says. "These mattresses were made by a man outside [on the street]. It's nice to bring [his craftwork] here."
Kassar says she is very pleased with how popular the cinema has proved with visitors.
"I'm very happy that people are coming and staying," she says. "At night the place is full and people are staying until midnight. For me that is the best outcome."
This movie was produced by Dezeen for Annabel Karim Kassar Architects.
It was filmed at Milan University, where Kassar's Camera Chiara installation was on show from 13 April to 24 May. Additional footage used in the movie and the photos in this story are by Annabel Karim Kassar Architects, unless otherwise stated.