By Erasmus Michel Hausen
Architectural Review (March 1998)
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
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.