Lebanon architecture, Nabil Gholam Architects, Residential architecture

Nabil Gholam Architects designs a seaside villa in Lebanon inspired by Chinese puzzle box

Lebanon’s Nabil Gholam Architects has designed a cube-inspired residential villa, called the AZ House, in a densely-inhabited neighbourhood at one end of the panoramic bay of Jounieh, located north of Beirut at a distance of a 20-minute car ride. The simple white cube, measuring 16m on each side, with recessed windows, carved volumes containing suspended gardens and at its uppermost level, an extruded glass box housing master bedroom’s bathroom, has a Mondrian-esque façade mimicking a Chinese puzzle box.

While this may not be clear at the first glance, but the house has been designed to correspond with its surroundings. As the house faces onto Lebanon’s busy coastal highway, the first impression is of a fortified façade but when seen from the garden, which is shielded from the neighbours by tall hedgerow, the house reveals its expansive layout.

Being situated along the shore, the house makes the most of its location, whether from the recessed patio on the upper level, the plunge pool on the roof, the long balcony fronting the living area or the artfully placed pool at the edge of the small cliff-top garden. The house offers a sense of generous space and the architects ensure this by not including any obstructive structural features, especially in the large living area.

Family bedrooms are linked to one another and to the master bedroom and spacious rooftop terrace above them by a series of staircases, punched-in atria and a triple-volume louvered patio, which deftly balances the desire for openness and cross-ventilation with the need to preserve privacy.

Photos: Richard Saad

Read DesignMENA’s report on new residential design trends by interior architect Sneha Divias