The Glass House (supplied)

The Glass House in Baakline nears completion

The tribute to Philip Johnson takes a rural and ecological twist

by Staff writer 26 January 2023

Architect Karim Nader is about to complete the Glass House in Baakline, a town located in Mount Lebanon, Chouf District, 45 kilometers southeast of Beirut. 

This tribute in stone, steel and glass to the eponymous project by Philip Johnson takes a rural and ecological twist, stemming from a personal reinterpretation of traditional elements found in the modernist icon. 

In a country assailed by a severe financial and political crisis, Nader remains optimistic and committed to his work as an architect. 

According to Nader, his project for the Glass House hybridises Philip Johnson’s approach, resulting in a less dogmatic and more adaptable design that takes into account the specific environmental context in which it is set. The house is fragmented into independent, interconnected volumes that the floor plan highlights as an aggregate of small units. 

In elevation, the Glass House doubles up, resulting in two floors, stacked one on top of the other and separated by a very thin plate. The H columns, as in Philip Johnson's house, are positioned with their flanges facing the facade, so only the edges are visible and not the flat side; the lines are recognised, not the individual elements. 

The compositional strategy is based on the idea of the relationship between the inside and outside of the house and develops the theme of framing and integrating into the horizon that the Philip Johnson-designed house in New Canaan had defined.

With this project, Nader seeks to blend classical icons with contemporary technologies and local architectural heritage. This design process results in a unique hybrid of an exposed minimal steel structure and natural stonemasonry originated from the local quarry. 

The floors are in basalt, also a local material. The house is built without concrete. The building offers panoramic views towards Beirut, Deir el Qamar, and Beiteddine and opens up to a large garden with olive trees, pines, play areas, a pool, and a guest area below.


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