Beirut, Lebanon


SOMA architects as Architects

Responding to strong and specific data, our proposal for this project purposefully takes into consideration the cultural heritage in which it is set. Situated at the heart of Faqra Club, the site is a gently sloping terrain with stupendous views of the valley, and, at some points, of the Mediterranean.

Our proposal utilizes a system that has been tried and tested over hundreds of years when dealing with mountainside slopes: steppe, or terrace farming techniques. It seemed like a natural solution to gently break down the site’s slope into a series of terraces or plateaus that follow the curvature of the site and its topography. Building on a simple 5x5m grid system slanted diagonally from the North-Eastern peak down to the Southern and Western extremities, individual clusters of 5x5 modules start forming separate plateaus, which in turn define a unique topography and level for each individual volume. Each “steppe” allows direct street access, both pedestrian and vehicular, and soon individual volumes start to emerge following a rigorous strategy of sitting, form and placement in relation to external context, program requirements, and maximized privacy.

What started as a simple modular grid system evolves into a sophisticated matrix that guides the design process on every scale. The result is a matrix of elements that are individually carved and crafted to maximize views, daylight and ventilation for each and every element. The multiple combinations and variations of three basic volumes, associated with three different materials, results in 18 unique and different buildings, totaling 44 equally unique and different residences. Yet the association of these disparate elements and their multiple combinations maintains a unified and coherent ensemble to the whole development. As opposed to multiple dwelling developments in the region, our goal was to convey to our client and future buyers the true –almost obsessive compulsive – efforts that our team has invested in crafting individualized homes for each inhabitant. The villas have very different layouts and volumetrics, and although we purposely tried to control the variations for the townhomes and chalets by establishing 8 types, the combination of those types together always end up with varied experiences, outdoor areas, accesses and views to each of the 44 variations.

It is important to note that these intensive operations resulted in a matrix that not only directed the physical implementation of each house structure, guided the carve-out of their massing, but also laid out their interior partitioning and their exterior landscaping. The consequence of this unique system of modular variation across all levels and all scales results in perfect alignments between interior and exterior spaces. In summary, this unifying system, or matrix, successfully unites landscaping, architectural and interior design in one operation.

Project team
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