Two startling architectural cliffhangers — the cantilevered Biré Bitori restaurant by TALL ARQUITECTOS and the sublime Cliff Retreat, beautifully rendered by Alex Hogrefe — have gone viral on Architizer during the past month. While these conceptual projects were met with a great deal of awe on Facebook, a number of people were skeptical about these structures for a number of reasons — how would such a building fare against long-term erosion? What kind of foundations would be necessary for such a precarious location? Can the costs for projects like these — both monetary and environmental — ever be truly justified?
Now, Open Platform for Architecture is aiming to answer these questions with Casa Brutale, a striking residence with many similarities to the aforementioned proposals, but with one vital difference — this project is actually set for construction. A site has recently been confirmed on the Faqra Mountain in Lebanon, famous for its exclusive villas and luxurious ski resorts, and a budget of around 2.5 million dollars will be spent to bring the architects’ vision to reality.
OPA describes this audacious abode as “a geometrical translation of the landscape.” Flanked by two vertical planes of board-formed concrete, a monumental entrance staircase descends below huge structural beams, leading to a balcony overlooking a mountainous landscape just outside Beirut (original renderings show the house perched high above the Aegean Sea). Through a large pivot door, the open-plan living space is framed with integrated seating and other furnishings hewn out of raw, natural materials.
Another concrete staircase with a dark timber handrail leads to the mezzanine, where the sleeping quarters are located — OPA has increased the internal floor area to include three bedrooms. Above, a glass-bottomed swimming pool permits a dappled light to enter the excavated spaces. “Light penetrates the transparent or semi-transparent surfaces of Casa Brutale, bringing it to life,” describes OPA. “The dynamic light patterns caress the bare concrete with refractions and shadows.” At the far end of the living quarters, a huge, double-height wall of glazing will grant residents uninhibited views across this scenic region of Lebanon.
OPA’s proposal constitutes a no-holds-barred ode to Brutalism, evoking the architectural language of concrete connoisseurs such as Paul Rudolph, Marcel Breuer and Tadao Ando — but if the completed project can live up to the work of these preeminent names remains to be seen. To this end, OPA has enlisted the help of local Lebanese firm Sarkis Azadian Architects and global engineering firm Arup, who will devise the structural systems necessary to deliver this unique residence.
Previously deemed a home “suitable for James Bond,” the firm’s visceral description of its project appears fitting: “Casa Brutale redefines the harmonious coexistence of human and nature in a poetic homage to pure Brutalism.” To keep track of the project’s progress over the coming months, bookmark OPA’s firm profile on Architizer.