j House 2007
bois de boulogne, lebanon

50 years ago, the grandfather, having made his fortune in Africa, returns home to build a mansion in the woody hills of Mount Lebanon. At the start of the Lebanese war in 1975, the house is appropriated by the Syrian military intelligence. It becomes their regional HQ until 2005. 

Two generations later, a new beginning: the grandson returns and reclaims the damaged property and grounds, and the memories they kept. Like many others, he lost his brother while defending the property in these woods. It was surely a place of conflicting memories to go back to, once layered with the magic of childhood moments, and the tragic events that eventually followed.

A new project removes the roof and empties the old mansion of its graffiti covered walls, leaving only the envelope of stone. As if attempting to cleanse the tragic history of the house, nature regains its rights by growing climbers and plants all over its shell; somewhere else on the grounds, a small memorial chapel is built. Soon afterwards, the empty shell of the stone house is invaded and inhabited by a curious guest: a new family home that stretches its rust tainted mass into the forest, skirting by the old pine trees, as if to rejoin the secretive memorial.  

The challenge in this project was how to keep this iconic element of the Lebanese war and give it a completely new image, based on the respect of nature and on learning from its environment.


3 floors Main House 2,000 m², 2 floors Guard House 850 m², 40,000 m² land


client: Private
architecture: nabil gholam architects
structural design: Serhal Consulting Office
electro-mechanical design: Pierre Dammous & Partners
landscape design: Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture
photography: Joe Kesrouani, Richard Saad