ancient alphabets are carved into the facade of jabbra library in jbeil, lebanon

ancient alphabets are carved into the facade of jabbra library in jbeil, lebanon

modern architecture in historic jbeil, lebanon


The J. G. Jabbra Library has been completed as a new landmark for Jbeil (Byblos), Lebanon, a city with rich history and postcard landscapes. Designed by Atelier Pagnamenta Torriani (APT), the library serves the Lebanese American University’s Byblos Campus, and brings a unique blend of study areas and social spaces, all enclosed by an alphabet-wrapped facade. Jbeil, believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities globally, holds UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This city is where the Phoenicians codified the first phonetic alphabet, and ‘bùblos’ — the word used for papyrus by the Greeks — originated here.

jabbra library jbeil lebanonimages © Bahaa Ghoussainy



jabbra library responds to excavated rock


Upon arriving at the Byblos Campus, the site of its J. G. Jabbra Library, the architects at APT were struck by the dramatic presence of the excavated rock and the mountain looming above. These exposed sedimentary layers, representing the region’s complex and stratified history, became the cornerstone of their design concept. The library and administration buildings are positioned adjacent to the excavated rock, forming an open-air amphitheater with the rock as a backdrop. This placement creates a powerful dialogue between the natural and the man-made.

jabbra library jbeil lebanon
J. G. Jabbra Library is a new architectural landmark for Jbeil, Lebanon



the layered, alphabet-wrapped facade


The J. G. Jabbra Library in Jbeil (Byblos) takes shape with dynamic forms and layered facades. This layered system provides shade and optimizes diffused natural light penetration based on the building’s orientation. The library’s interior revolves around a large atrium, functioning as a central hub that floods the space with natural light and facilitates natural air circulation. The project is characterized by a contrast between solid and transparent elements, as the facades appear opaque during the day and transform into a more transparent volume by night. A concrete wall above the amphitheater showcases carvings of the four alphabets historically used in the region.

ancient alphabets are carved into the facade of jabbra library in jbeil, lebanon
the double outer skin facilitates shading, ventilation, and light diffusion
jabbra library jbeil lebanon
inspired by Jbeil’s rich history and dramatic landscape, APT integrates the library with the excavated rock


the main open atrium acts as a chimney vent, while detaching the buildings from the rock allows ventilation

ancient alphabets are carved into the facade of jabbra library in jbeil, lebanon
the library and administration building form an open amphitheater, juxtaposing nature and human creation


a large atrium acts as a central hub, bringing light, air circulation, and a connection between indoors and outdoors

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