Nestled between the peaks of Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains, in the historical town of Niha, is a recently completed home by Lebanese practice L.E.FT Architects. Located just below the domed shrine that marks the burial site of the Biblical prophet Job, the House of Many Vaults features a modern reinterpretation of the cross-vaulted houses that have long dotted the surrounding landscape, particularly since the turn of the 20th century.
The house’s striking form is achieved through a series of vaults, which relate to the different uses of the home and scale up both in plan and section. From the front of the home, a series of gables creates a daunting welcome, while towards the rear, the building appears to flatten out. The building’s two different elevations are connected via the roof’s gentle slope, which ascends towards the view, appearing to kneel.
“The [traditional] house volume is redefined here,” says Makram El Kadi, partner at L.E.FT, “from a normative pitched roof sitting on a box with cross vaults below, [it collapses] into a new geometry where the roof of the house becomes both pitched from above, vaulted from below and twisted from the side to form the rectangular base.”
Internally, the vaults organise the spaces of the home. The ground floor contains the main public areas, including the kitchen, dining area, lounge, office and guest bedroom, while the upper level holds two master bedrooms. Throughout, boundaries between the spaces coincide with the boundaries of the ceiling vaults. Kadi adds that the house’s roof structure also lends itself to rain water collection, which connects to a drain located between the pitched roofs and feeds the irrigation of the landscape around – making the home an experiment in both reinterpreting traditional forms and responding to environmental challenges.
This was originally published in Architectural Digest Middle East in February 2020.