Stringent building codes in the Mechref village of South Lebanon entail all built two story homes to include red tiled roofs and expansive natural stone facades. The goal is to maintain harmony within the village as new houses replicate the traditional Lebanese home. The result unfortunately is a mix of post-modern houses that distort rather than replicate traditional heritage. Instead of allowing the houses to integrate within the context, the red tiled roofs dramatically expand the height and volume of the built projects within the village. Ultimately, both the rich historical context and lush natural landscape of the village are greatly suffering.
How can the existing building code be manipulated to the benefit of the residents and village? While all two storied houses necessitate red tiled roof, a shift to a single floor house evades the building code requirement. The house footprint thus expands on a single level, while the roof becomes a natural extension of the landscape. And as the building stone façade is punctured and treated as second skin, natural light and ventilation are ensured.
Rather than embracing form and style as a means for historical integration, the Oak House is an investigation of the spatial qualities of the historic Lebanese home. The courtyard becomes a nod to past public halls that would unite residents in large family homes, transformed here into a linking agent between the private and public quarters, the house and upper terrace, shelter and landscape. The stone façade is also transformed into a shading device mimicking the oriental screens, and filters the southern light during the day and illuminates the exterior private gardens at night, while allowing natural air to cool and ventilate the interior.