Nadim Karam

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Nadim Karam
Nadim Karam.jpg
Nadim Karam 2012
Kaolack, Senegal
PracticeAtelier Hapsitus Nadim Karam

Nadim Karam (Arabic: نديم كرم‎); (born 1957) is a multidisciplinary Lebanese artist, painter, sculptor and architect[1] who fuses his artistic output of sculpture, painting, drawing with his background in architecture to create large-scale urban art projects in different cities of the world. He uses his vocabulary of forms in urban settings to narrate stories and evoke collective memory with a very particular whimsical, often absurdist approach; seeking to 'create moments of dreams' in different cities of the world.

The Three Flowers of Jitchu, Nara, Nadim Karam & Atelier Hapsitus
The Travelers, Melbourne, Nadim Karam & Atelier Hapsitus

Early life and education[edit]

Nadim Karam grew up in Beirut. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from the American University of Beirut in 1982, at the height of the Lebanese civil war,and left the same year to study in Japan on a Monbusho scholarship. At the University of Tokyo he developed an interest in Japanese philosophy of space, which he studied under Hiroshi Hara, and was also taught by Fumihiko Maki and Tadao Ando. He created several solo art performances and exhibitions in Tokyo while completing master and doctorate degrees in architecture.


Nadim Karam taught at the Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo in 1992 with Riichi Miyake and then returned to Beirut to create his experimental group, Atelier Hapsitus. The name, derived from the combination of Hap (happenings) and Situs (situations), comes from Karam's enjoyment of the fact that the encounter of these two factors often gives rise to the unexpected. He taught architectural design at the American University of Beirut (1993-5, 2003–4), and was Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Art and Design at Notre Dame University in Lebanon from 2000–2003. He co-chaired in 2002 the UN/New York University conference in London for the reconstruction of Kabul and was selected as the curator for Lebanon by the first Rotterdam Biennale.[2] From 2006–7 he served on the Moutamarat Design Board for Dubai[3] and regularly gives lectures at universities and conferences worldwide.

Urban art projects[edit]

With Atelier Hapsitus, the pluri-disciplinary company he founded in Beirut, he created large-scale urban art projects in different cities including Beirut, Prague, London, Tokyo, Nara and Melbourne. His project for Prague's Manes Bridge [1] in the spring of 1997 was both a commemoration of the city's post-communist liberalization and an echo of its history, with the placement of his works in parallel to the baroque sculptures on the Charles Bridge. The post-civil war 1997–2000 itinerant urban art project he created for central Beirut was one of five worldwide selected by the Van Alen Institute[4] in New York in 2002 to highlight the role they played in the rejuvenation of city life and morale after a disaster. In Japan, 'The Three flowers of Jitchu' realized at Tōdai-ji Temple in Nara in 2004, was a temporary installation commemorating the achievements of a Middle Eastern monk, Jitchu, whose performance is still enacted yearly since the year 752 in the temple he designed for it. Karam's project took 20 years to gain acceptance from the Tōdai-ji Temple authorities. His 2006 Victoria State commission'The Travellers'[5] a permanent art installation of ten sculptures which travel across Melbourne’s Sandridge Bridge three times daily, tells the story of Australian immigrants and creates an urban clock in the city.

Selected public art installations[edit]

2017 Trio Elephants- Lovers’ Park, Yerevan, Armenia
2017 Wheels of Innovation- Nissan Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan[6][7][8]
2016 Stretching Thoughts: Shepherd and Thinker- UWC Atlantic College, Wales, UK[9]
2014 Wishing Flower- Zaha Hadid’s D’Leedon residential project, Leedon Heights, Singapore[10]

Architectural work[edit]

Cloud Project by Nadim Karam & Atelier Hapsitus

Nadim Karam is mainly known for his conceptual work, like 'Hilarious Beirut', the 1993 post-war anti-establishment project for the reconstruction of Beirut city centre, and 'The Cloud',[11] a huge public garden resembling a raincloud that stands at 250m above ground. Inspired by the city of Dubai, it proposes a visual and social alternative to the exclusivity of the skyscrapers in Gulf cities. Karam's signature un-built projects include the 'Net Bridge'[12] a pedestrian bridge conceived as a gateway to Beirut city centre from the marina with five lanes that playfully intersect and interweave. Similarly, his winning design of a competition for the BLC Bank headquarters[13] for Beirut features the new headquarters straddling the old. Karam collaborates closely with Arup Engineers in London, who give structural and technical reality to his most unusual ideas.

Ongoing projects[edit]

The Dialogue of the Hills[14] is an urban art project conceived to invigorate the historic core of Amman through a series of public gardens and sculpture for each hill community. The sculptures are designed to create a dialogue with the others on the surrounding hills of the city, physically and visually linking diverse socio-economic communities. The Wheels of Chicago[15] is a project inspired by the city where the Ferris wheel was invented. An iconic project for the city shoreline, through several wheels, symbolizes the different city communities and harnesses sea breezes to provide energy for the surrounding parklands.

Art Works[edit]

Selected Auctions[edit]

2012: Christies' Auction, Dubai 'The Lollipop Boy'[16]
2012: Art & Patronage summit, the Middle East. Auction of “The Cloud, The Fisherman and The Mutating Cities” sculpture proceed to the benefit MART winners[17]
2011: Christie’s Auction, Dubai, ‘The Pearl Elephant’
2011: Ayyam Auction, Dubai Sale No11[18]
2011: Sotheby’s Auction, “Memories, War and Hope”, London[19]
2011: Christies’Auction, Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art, Dubai[20]
2010: Ayyam Auction, The Beirut sale, I & II
2009: Ayyam Young Collector’s Auction I & II, Dubai
2008: Sotheby’s Contemporary Asian Art Auction, Oct, London

Selected Solo Exhibitions[edit]

2017: “Urban Stories”-Fine Art Society, London, UK[21][22][23]
2016: “Shhhhhhh…shout!”- Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE [24]
“Stretching Thoughts”- Ayyam Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon [25]
2013: "99 Objects possible to find on a Cloud", Ayyam Gallery Dubai (AlQuoz), September – November 2013[26]
2013: “Urban Zoo”, Ayyam Gallery Beirut, August–October 2013[27]
2013: “Shooting the Cloud”, Ayyam Gallery London, January 2013 [28][29][30][31]
2013 & 2011: Menasart, Beirut International Exhibition, BIEL
2010: The Wild Cat and other sculptures, DIFC Gate, Dubai
2008: The Fisherman fishing from a Cloud, installation, Creek Art Fair, Bastakiya, Dubai[32]
2008: Clouds & Chairs, Sultan Gallery, Kuwait
2002: 101 archaic procession elements, rooftop installation in Leeds, UK
2001: London & Dublin project, exhibition, Unesco, Beirut
2001: Solfeggio 101, exhibition, Portside Gallery, Yokohama, Japan
1999: The Giraffe, the Wild Cat & the apparently Digested Objects, British Council, Beirut
1998: Hilarious Beirut, exhibition, Order of Engineers & Architects/Beirut, Venice Institute of Architecture/Venice, Berlin Technical University/Berlin 1997: Bartlett School of Architecture/London
1997: T-Races PCB-137, exhibition, Manes Gallery/Prague, Fragnera Gallery/Prague 1996: Bartlett School of Architecture/London 1996: Arhus University/Denmark
1995: Galleri ROM, Oslo / French Cultural Centre, Beirut
1992: Spinning Caves, exhibition, Formes Gallery, Tokyo &Kikukawa Gallery, Oita
1991: The Carrier, exhibition, Marunouchi Gallery, Tokyo
1990: Temple of the Obelisks, installation & performance, Sagacho Exhibit Space, Tokyo/ Intercrossings, IMA project exhibition & performance, French-Japanese Institute of Tokyo
1987: Architectural Crisis, performance, Cealacanth House, Osaka / Celebration of Life: The Funeral, performance & exhibition, Spiral Garden, Tokyo
1986: Micropluralism, exhibition, Striped House Museum of Art, Tokyo / Family Crisis, performance, Yamagata

Selected Group Exhibitions[edit]

2016: Art Dubai- Dubai, UAE*[33][34]
2015: Art Abu Dhabi- Abu Dhabi, UAE*[35]
Art Dubai- Dubai, UAE*
2014: JISP Biennale 2014- Jing An Sculpture Park, Shanghai, China[36]
Art Dubai- Dubai, UAE*
2013: Art Dubai- Dubai, UAE*
2013: 'Closets & Closets' series and ‘Trio Elephants’, as part of the “25 years of Arab Creativity” exhibition at Abu Dhabi Festival 2013, Art Abu Dhabi and the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), Paris, 2012[37][38][39][40]
2012: The Cloud, The Fisherman & The Mutating Cities, Villa Empain Exhibition, Brussels
2012: "Subtitled: WITH NARRATIVES FROM LEBANON”, at the Royal College of Art, London as part of the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL)[41]
2011: Chatsworth Beyond Limits at the Sotheby’s, London[42][43]
2010: Convergence, American University Museum, Katzen Arts Centre, Washington / Contemporabia, Beirut, March
2009: Stories from the Levant, Ayyam Dubai / Nadim Karam & Safwan Dahoul, Ayyam Beirut
2006: Liverpool Independent Art Biennale
2003: Exhibition, Renewing, Rebuilding, Remembering, The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Scotland, Van Alen Institute, New York, 2002.
1996: Venice Biennale of Architecture, South Korean Pavilion
1996: Erotisches Museum Berlin, Aedes Gallery, Berlin
1995: Kwangju Biennale of Art, Korea


10th FEA Distinguished Alumnus Award
ASI steel Award 2008
Urban Design Award 2006
Melbourne Prize 2007


2013 : ‘Stretching Thoughts’, Booth-Clibborn Editions, London
2007: ‘The Cloud, the Desert and the Arabian Breeze’, Booth-Clibborn Editions, London
2006: ‘Urban Toys’,[44] Booth-Clibborn Editions, London, with introduction by Paul Virilio
2000: VOYAGE,[45] Booth-Clibborn Editions, London

Further reading[edit]

Arkimeet 2013 "ARCHITECTS MEET in ISTANBUL"[46]
“Shooting the cloud”[47][48][49][50]
Interview with Ricardo Karam Domus[51]
Curve Magazine[52][53]
Pearl Elephant[54]
Urban Design[55]
10th FEA Distinguished Alumnus Award[56]


  1. ^ "The phoenix of Beirut: Nadim Karam's urban interventions | Boston Society of Architects". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Architect looks for 'a room with a view'". Retrieved 29 July 2015.<meta />
  3. ^ "Dubai to Host Global Design Forum". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Information Exchange ARTBOOK | D.A.P. 2003 Catalog Van Alen Institute Books Exhibition Catalogues 9780972553520". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
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  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  11. ^ "The Cloud by Atelier Hapsitus". Dezeen. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Net Bridge by Atelier Hapsitus". Dezeen. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  13. ^ "BLC Headquarters by Atelier Hapsitus". Dezeen. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  14. ^ "The Dialogue of the Hills, Amman/Jordan by Nadim Karam & Atelier Hapsitus". Archived from the original on 20 September 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Architects Design 'Wheels of Chicago' Surrounding Navy Pier". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
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  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 January 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  28. ^ Conversation with Edwin Heathcote
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  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 December 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  50. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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