SOUTHEAST ASIA BUILDING13 Feb 2020
Architect Karim Nade unveils photographs of new house under construction on a uniquely beautiful but challenging site in Lebanon
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Saifi, Beirut – Karim Nader Studio has released new photos showcasing the ongoing construction progress of On The Rocks, a spectacular concrete and glass retreat sitting on the limestone bedrock of Faqra, Lebanon, at 1,700 metres above sea level. The site, characterised by an almost lunar landscape with scenic rock formations known under the popular name of “houses of ghosts,” is located between ski slopes and Roman ruins on Mount Lebanon, about 1-hour drive north-east of Beirut. On-site construction is entering the homestretch, completion slated for late 2020.

The small town of Faqra might be most famous for its majestic archaeological site, the most extensive of all Mount Lebanon with Roman and Byzantine ruins, and its skiing facilities. Once there, one cannot but be amazed by its limestone landscape, with natural rock formations carved over the centuries by rain and snow. It is here that Karim Nader Studio has designed a new, spectacular retreat residence, deeply inspired and reminiscent of its surroundings. By carefully considering materiality and relationship to the site, the house - due for completion in late 2020 - expands the existing grey canvas of the natural surroundings into man-made fair-faced concrete volumes that accommodate the intimate functions of the house.

The house is accessed by a stunning floating staircase that, cascading between the built volumes and meandering around the rocks, seems to be almost emerging from the limestone formations surrounding the house. The thickness and the overall sense of compactness offered by the concrete enclosures is counterbalanced by a careful use of glass in a dynamic relationship that characterises all rooms in the house. A zinc roof hovers above those apparently dispersed boxes, creating a seeming enclosure.

“But where roof happens, enclosure disappears, and where enclosure happens, roof disappears. The intimacy of enclosure is here opposed to the openness of an extreme transparency as they do not happen at once in this atypical house,” said Karim Nader.

Each of the three bedrooms, fully cladded in wood to offer a warm environment, opens up to a small patio with a tree, a rock and a selected perspective to the outside. The living rooms sit under the bridging roof (18 metres in length) and are bounded by fully operable facades to the north and south, allowing its inhabitants to enjoy sheltered outdoors space in the warmer months.