Partner in Charge: 
Youssef Mallat, Ibrahim Berberi 
Architect in Charge: Layal Aoun, Kim Akiki

Project Description:

Two brothers requested independent villas on a single plot.

Several questions arose early on: How do you construct two different villas, with two distinct identities, on one 1,890 square meter lot? What should be the connection between them? Should there be one at all?

The answer to our questions was the existing landscape. At an altitude of 1,000 meters, it features a steep slope studded with majestic Mediterranean pine trees, their canopies framing a south-facing view of Beirut.

Taking full advantage of the environment, we established two 500 square meter villas, each with a particular relationship to the trees. One would create a “treehouse” experience at the top of the plot. The other villa would live among the tree trunks.

It’s not architectural features that establish a connection between the two homes, but their interaction with the landscape. This approach also allowed us to accommodate individual requests: internal parking and manicured gardens versus budget-friendly external parking and a more organic landscape. It also afforded access to each villa from different roads, one from the upper portion of the plot and from on the lower.

The upper villa is designed as a series of light boxes, each affixed to a horizontal rail embedded in the tree-lined slope. Parking is located at the top of the bar, while the main entrance is a patio and series of stairs that follow the slope of the land. By minimizing intrusion on the site, the villa becomes one with its environment.

On the lower floor, the rail contains a south-facing reception area, kitchen and family room. The open kitchen is the most important function for the client. The heart of the floor, it stands between the reception and family room. More importantly, it establishes a connection between a deck, pool terrace and garden outside.

The lower plot concludes at a small cliff overlooking the road and an exquisite view, the ideal location for the house. Full embedded in the landscape, the villa dissolves into the slope to prevent any visual disruption to the upper villa.

The villa’s unconventional U shape allows the natural terrain to creep inside the curve. It opens to the neighbor’s land, so the view-facing arm of the design accommodates the reception area. A deck and pool run along the reception area, which the kitchen and service area face it from across the courtyard. This distribution creates a thoughtful sequence: from the pool and terrace, through the courtyard and into the service area. This series of functions brings life to the project and amplifies its relationship to its surroundings. Rooms are located above the service area, overlooking the courtyard and containing the slopeside terrain.

The master bedroom sits in a box propped on one arm of the U, perpendicular to the slope. The box recreates the upper villa’s treehouse experience while drawing inhabitants toward the view. Openings are tucked between two concrete slabs, with external cladding made of zinc. This material selection is our sole effort to create unity between the two villas.

The parking entrance and pedestrian entrance have been combined to minimize construction on the land. Located at street-level, it is more than six meters below the ground floor.

We designed access to the villa as a memorable spatial experience, like that of a cave. Inhabitants enter the project through an opening in the cliff, which reveals a double-height space illuminated with filtered natural light. A series of stairs (or an elevator) emerge to a spectacular scene: the glowing villa entrance with a glazed opening that reveals the courtyard, forest and gardens.



Structural consultant: P.A.R Consultants

Mechanical consultant: ZNA

Electrical consultant: ZNA 
BOQ: EGN Consultants
Renders: Imagenatives

Location: Baabdat
Year: 2017
Project status: In Progress;