Laying remotely within Lebanon’s most arid and historical naturescape, Villa Chams embraces its surrounding’s identity from the flora to the Roman temples and presents itself as a melodically elemental storyteller.
At a distant glance, this one shelled structure grounds itself horizontally, while respectfully blending in with the mindfully preserved rocks, opuntia, olive trees and other flora on a backdrop of distant mountains. Upon a more intimate inspection, sporadically equidistant walls and columns orchestrate a rhythmic flow on a rudimentary grid, creating both introverted spaces and open extensions. The pool is floored with rough terrazzo, mixed with native mineral aggregates, which emits a grounding effect and massages the feet. Flowing like a river through concrete columns, the water comes to a gentle rest by bordering rocks that lead to a view of neighboring plants, distant mountains, and sky.
Rooms are naturally furnished with poured earth concrete walls, stone, light, and layers of view, emitting an earthy sensorial balance. The music and reading room is infused a level lower into the ground which further introverts the spirit of its function and opens to an eye-level glazed view of the outdoors. The bathroom, irradiated solely through a skylight, is embraced with a floor to ceiling rock and contrasting smooth sound reflective walls which further enhance the soothing water acoustics.
In the further manifestation of the living nature of this house, certain materials are encouragingly left to change color aesthetics with the natural wear and tear of time. The seasonal nature of Baalabek adds another dimension to this built environment. Dry and sunny days can be enjoyed under shaded areas and within cooling rocks, while chilly mystical nights can be spent stargazing by the fireplace around the heated pool. Touching on all elements of the earth, this house is meticulously designed to emit feelings of harmonious tranquility with nature’s many sensorial layers, for a solemn retreat.
PROJECT: VILLA CHAMS
TYPE: PRIVATE RESIDENCE
LOCATION: BAALBEK, LEBANON
Photography with courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects