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ARCHITECT'S HOUSE

1971, RABIEH - LEBANON

The site, with its steep configuration led to the non-conformist solution. Any trial to model and level its surface would disfigure its natural appearance. Opting for the daringly unusual solution of protecting the natural setup, rocks were left protruding in different locations while long ramps and short stairs connected multi level planted surfaces.

Integration to the site was done through elements of harmony and contrast. The form of the construction was pure and simple, as a perfect cube of 12 meters on each side. It somehow reminded the Lebanese traditional houses with their red tiled slanting roofs, white natural stone walls and small openings. Its slanting red tiled roof was parallel to the natural slope of almost 30 degrees. Travertine marble cladding was in harmony with the rocks of the surrounding area. The projecting sun shades, with their long perpendicular lines, acted as a balancing factor to the gravitational illusion.

Integration was done through contrast, like a rock on the flank of a mountain, as a simulation of a natural accident.

The structure was composed of a rigid reinforced box of walls and slanting roof slabs, enclosing four floors of living areas and a service attic. With only two internal columns, a large open space was achieved with a panoramic view on the south elevation, where 12 meters beams, at three levels spanned the east and west walls.

Location of the plot and its orientation lead naturally to an open space layout of the internal spaces and the utilization of the south elevation for lighting and natural view. Cantilevered balconies, planters and overhangs, helped to control the high sun in summer and invite in the lower sun in winter, through the perfect south orientation. 

Climatic factors were given special attention in order to achieve year round temperate interior atmosphere through an efficient control of heat gain and loss. East and west walls with their small openings kept the summer heat out, while the low sun on the south elevation provided the necessary winter heat. East and west wall window elements with their graphic elements articulated the plain travertine surfaces and through differential temperature created natural ventilation. During winter, North winds being the coldest, two floors were underground while the other two floors were almost blank with their 60 degrees slanting red roof slab having only few windows and the main entrance door. While south elevation was completely open, bay windows acting as transparent dividers of the internal and external spaces. During the summer, balconies on the south orientation are completely in shade, while during the winter, the sun is halfway inside the all the rooms.