A winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for his role in the ongoing restoration of the Azem Palace in Damascus, Michel Ecochard (1905-1985) donated his archive to the Award. The collection represents his work as an architect, urban planner and archaeologist, and demonstrates his keen interest in photography and aviation.
After his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he was first based in Damascus and then in Beirut from 1931 to 1944, in Rabat from 1946 to 1952 and in Paris from 1953 to 1983. He worked in the Near East under the French Mandate on excavations at Baalbek and numerous restorations, notably on the site of Palmyra. Named architectural adviser to the Syrian government in 1934, he undertook many restoration works in Syria in the 1930s, including the Azem Palace in Damascus, home of the French Institute, on whose grounds he constructed a modern director’s house. He carried out research on the documentation of hammams in Damascus with the architect Claude Le Coeur , then on the construction of the Museum there, having done that of Antioch (Antakya) in 1931.
After having worked on an urban plan for Damascus, he served as director of the Service d’urbanisme in Syria from 1940 to 1944, establishing a new and ambitious urban plan for Beirut (1943-1944). In 1945 he began to look at the principles of functional urban planning while traveling with Le Corbusier on a tour of the United States. He implemented these ideas in various cities of Morocco when he became director of urban planning. His ambitious plan for Casablanca was approved in 1952 but he refused to submit to pressure from developers for modifications and resigned his post.
After presenting his experience in Morocco at the ninth CIAM conference in 1953, he worked in Pakistan, designing the University of Karachi, in Africa, with the urban plan of Conakry (1959), universities at Abidjan (1962-1978) and Yaoundé (1963) and the urban planning of Dakar (1963), as well as on projects in Iran. In 1955, he designed, with another French architect Claude Lecoeur, the Collège Protéstant in Beirut along with a series of other high schools and hospitals.
The most ambitious architectural project of his later career was the Museum of Kuwait from 1960 and a new urban plan that he developed a new plan for Beirut, concentrating on infrastructure (1961). He then outlined a new urban plan for Damascus, with a focus on the circulation of traffic.
He was put in charge of of urbanism at the Ecole des beaux arts in Paris (1967) and continued to pursue projects in both France and the developing world until the 1980s.
hospital is located in Baabda, a suburb of Beirut. Michel Écochard joined
with the Lebanese architect, Henri Edde, to complete this project, which
constituted the beginning of a prosperous decade for him in Lebanon. The
project consists of several buildings responding to the traditional functions
of a hospital, and including a dispensary, lodgings for personnel and a
is composed of a first five-storey building which is the main façade. Columns break
up this facade covered horizontally in windows and separated in the middle by a
horizontal element that indicates the service floors. At the rear on higher ground,
a four-storey building follows the slope of the land, an used for the
dispensary and administration. A separate entry was planned. General services
located between the two buildings form a U and offer a clear space and a
courtyard. The operating room backing onto the last two buildings has three
floors. Land levelling was undertaken to allow two levels of parking. Perpendicular
to and at the side of this ensemble, a group of buildings comprises firstly,
housing, and , secondly, a chapel in the middle.
set is built in reinforced concrete. In the treatment of outdoor spaces, there
is a reminder of the traditional stone used in architecture in Lebanon. The
composition of buildings, circulation areas, the treatment and emphasis on
outdoor parking as well as in the choice of materials used, brought together
all the elements of modern architecture at the end of that era hospital;
nevertheless, the hospital is not as bold as other projects conducted by Michel Écochard in the same period.