Mountain Retreat
By Erasmus Michel Hausen
Architectural Review (March 1998)
Simone Kosremelli's design of the Fattal residence draws on the local vernacular. The house at Faqra, a ski and summer resort high in the Lebanese mountains, has been built on a rocky south-facing slope. At 1500m above sea level, such buildings must withstand the rigours of hard winters, and like others in the neighbourhood it is built of stone, sitting squarely and solidly on the site.

Conventionally, houses in the area were compact stone cubes or rectangles, their height varying with the slope of the site. Roofs were red-tiled and hipped or pyramidal in form; with flat roofs being common in less well-off districts. The main storey corresponding to the Italians' piano nobile was typically the top one and had a central hall reached by a flight of steps running up the outside of the building. It was indicated externally, on that side with the best view, by a central triple-arched opening and balcony.

In the Fattal house, Kosremelli has freed up the traditional arrangement of the interior and made it more informal. This strategy has permitted a degree of latitude in expressing the exterior while adhering to the standard vocabulary of rough stone, arched and orthogonal openings.

Two upper storeys rise from a platform built into the slope of the site and the house looks south-west onto a terrace and cascading garden. On the ground floor, living and dining rooms give onto a cross-vaulted double-height loggia that wraps around the west corner of the building; to the east is a roomy tiled kitchen. Bedrooms on the first floor are spun around a central galleried void with the master bedroom having fine views from corbelled south-east and south-west balconies.

© Simone Kosremelli 2013