karim nader studio extends the cliffs of lebanon with its house 'on the rocks'

Oct 03, 2021

karim nader studio completes a dwelling retreat dubbed ‘on the rocks’ within a spectacular and textural canvas of grey. the site in faqra, lebanon, is defined by its dramatic rock formations carved across millennia of rain and snow. the natural and inviting cradle offers panoramic views to the neaby ski area, the valleys, and beirut beyond.

seeking a total immersion in nature, the team designs the house as an extension of the existing grey canvas into volumes of exposed concrete. these volumes contain the private functions of the house, and are connected by a floating zinc roof. the roof plane serves to enclose the interstitial space between the private volumes, defining the transparent and outward-looking social areas.

the architects at karim nader studio program the cluster of ‘rocks’ as 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 warm worlds, fully cladded 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.

the bridging roof, spanning 18 meters (60 feet), shelters a fully operable facade. the facade looks outward to the north and south and 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.

exploded axonometric

physical model

project info:

project title: on the rocks

architecture: karim nader studio

location: faqra, lebanon

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

completion: summer 2021

photography: dia mrad | @diamrad