Architecture Residential design

Karim Nader Studio designs a boxy, transparent house in Lebanon that blends into its snowy, mountainous surroundings

October 9, 2021

On a mountainous site in Faqra – a ski resort located in the Keserwan District, around 47km from the the Lebanese capital city of Beirut – sits a starkly modern house, unfazed by the rocky terrain that is swathed in snow. The rock formations carved by millennia of rain and snow offer panoramic views to the nearby club, the surrounding rock park, the valleys, the Mediterranean sea and Beirut beyond.

Architect Karim Nader

The modern, boxy residence, called On the Rocks, designed for a client by one of Lebanon’s most well-regarded architects – Karim Nader – is meant to be totally immersed in nature. The architect expanded the existing grey canvas into manmade fair-faced concrete volumes that contain the intimate functions of the house. Bridging across those apparently dispersed boxes, a zinc roof floats to create an enclosure. But where roof happens, enclosure disappears, and where enclosure happens, roof disappears. The intimacy of enclosure here is opposed to the openness of an extreme transparency as they do not happen at once in this atypical house.

The boxes contain three ‘punctured’ bedrooms, where every entrance at the turn of an angle opens up to a small patio with a tree, a rock and a selected perspective to the outside. The rooms are insulated, fully clad in wood to create the needed double wall without exceeding a contemporary standard of thickness.

The reception area is the absence of enclosure to an extreme. Sitting under a bridging roof 18m in length, its fully operable facade to the north and south creates an unusual setup for such an environment where the possibility of living outside during the spring, summer and fall becomes the natural invitation.

The house is entered from the west side via a cascading staircase that meanders around the rocks, reaching to the reception platform/terrace where a long pool juts out towards the view and cascades down towards the street. The southeast corner with its existing circular rock formation becomes the receptacle for a sundeck with a fire and an extended reception terrace with lavender, scattered smaller rocks and pebbles in the zen tradition.

The overall composition – a multitude of grey volumes surmounted by a roof – reiterate the elements of a house iconography. But it is as if nature has taken over, and in the numerous gaps where light seeps at varying angles, it is more of a garden folly that emerges this time.

Project details:

Project name: On the Rocks

Location: Faqra, Lebanon

Year of completion: 2021

Architect: Karim Nader Studio

Project partner: Roula Assaf

Project Team: Karim Nader with Roula Assaf, Elie Christian Naameh, Yasmina Baladi, Omar Faress Darwish, Elias el Hage

Structural engineering: Elie Turk MEP engineering: EAK Signature

Construction: MAK Builders Rami Kassem and Walid Sader

Photography: Dia Mrad (completed), Marwan Harmouche (under construction)

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