f house
daher el sawan, lebanon
2004

The site of 11,000m2 sits on a sumptuous pine-covered hilltop, 1200m above sea-level commanding extraordinary vistas in all directions.
 
A sweeping arched retainer wall holds back the hilltop, allowing a series of orthogonal local sandstone walls to spring out from the land. From the highest point of the hill, they read as archaeological traces of a timeless structure sunken in a field of indigenous flora.
 
Horizontal planes of cross-cut travertine slabs, cool reflecting water ponds, and cantilevered canopies intersect the walls in dialogue with the slope, generating the living spaces of the house. Careful orientation and sun shading, fifth-façade planted roofs, crawling greenery and obsessive attention to proportion help the house to sink considerately into the hill and respect its ecology.

Effectively, the house has two faces it offers to the world. The first is a mute succession of stone walls with occasional vertical slits and trees peeking from behind, hinting furtively at the private world beyond. Passing through these first layers of filters, one goes through a succession of quiet spaces, mirrored by shallow reflecting pools and open to the sky, but already shielded from the hills around.
 
The second face is more private, yet fully glazed to allow a complete communion between house and nature: the bedrooms open to the views on the upper floor; the gym, pool house, service and playrooms are arranged around the courtyards of the semi-enclosed basement. All are cross ventilated capturing the sea breeze rising from the valley. From within, the views framing the pine woods and the valleys beyond are gradually unveiled and broadened, eventually opening fully to great vistas to the sea.

team:

architecture: nabil gholam architects
structural design: Bureau d’Etudes Rodolphe Mattar
electro-mechanical design: Barbanel Middle-East
landscape design: Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture
photography: Fouad el Khoury, Geraldine Bruneel, Richard Saad, Clement Tannouri, Marco Pinarelli