Zouk El-Khrab, Metn, Lebanon
© Géraldine Bruneel © Joe Kesrouani
This family villa in the hills of Metn, north east of Beirut, makes the most of its hillside position and the open vista of the coast and the Mediterranean Sea. The house, designed for clients Magda and Karim Abillama, is a subtle combination of old and new, with the various layers of history adding rich character and texture to the building. The historic house on the site, made of locally quarried limestone, has been much adapted and changed over the centuries. The original building, sitting on bedrock, was of a relatively modest scale but was expanded over the years with the addition of an engaging façade featuring a sequence of arched windows. During the period of the civil war in Lebanon, the building – including its roof - was badly damaged. At the beginning of the project a decision was taken to retain and restore as much of the original house as possible, while ensuring that the building was structurally sound. RAA designed a significant extension, or companion building, also using stone, but in a distinctly contemporary style. The junction between the old and new parts of the house was softened and dissolved by the introduction of a sheltered porch and an adjoining balcony, forming a half way zone between inside and out. The extensive programme for the interiors included a choice of living spaces and four principal bedrooms. The relationship between inside and outside is accentuated throughout, while the landscaped gardens feature substantial terraces and a generously scaled swimming pool, which reflects and softens the massed stone of the house itself.