Haven House. A Gateway in the Rocks
Design & picture credits Anastasia Elrouss Architects
Mount Lebanon. Built-Up Area: 150 m2
The Haven House is Inspired by old Lebanese churches and hideaways that were carved inside Rocky Mountains historically and were appropriated with time by their surrounding natural environment, these small grottos remained hidden for centuries enabling their users to live their cultures and beliefs as they saw fit without any external social pressures. The challenge was to create a hidden house with surreptitious experiences in continuous dialogue with nature at several scales and levels. These secret experiences would allow the creation of an imaginary world for its inhabitants, blurring the limits between public and private without physical boundaries or judgement.
Carved out in the rocky mountain and hidden between rocks and trees, a sloped cantilevered roof shelters the main reception space. The roof acts as continuation of the mountain’s slope and disappears in its context. The sloped roof is cantilevered from one side above the internal stepped courtyards. Three women will occupy the house transforming the space into a spiritual retreat. Three main planted courtyards act as natural breathing spaces for the main reception areas. These courtyards are formed by rocked boundaries from outside and are elevated to connect to the upper main garden that provides visibility on the nearby village but remains hidden to the village through the protection of the sloped wooden roof.
The house creates an intense experience for the five senses in a short sequence of moments. From the existing olive trees distributed chaotically across the rocks, that connect to form a stone shelter for the house, to the combination of wood and fair faced white artisanal concrete used in the interior, create a stone masculine fortress on the outside and a feminine, spiritual and soft space from the inside. The reception area takes the length of a 23 meters’ procession of experiences always in contact with the sky or with the three courtyards.
Three hidden doors lead the way to the three secret sleeping spaces. A large chimney for heating and cooking, a bow window, an open Kitchen and a library are always in contact with internalized rocky walls penetrating the main space from outside. Three bedrooms disappear completely underground with each having two carved-in, secret thematic gardens that allow for natural sunlight and a private relationship to the outside world. The architectural approach is focused on the empowered daily experience of the three users who recreate their spatial limits within the mountain leave their physical and spiritual trace. Aligning the main roof with the mountain’s slope and creating a deconstructed, rocky landscape mimicking the hardscape in a contemporary vision allows the three users to appropriate the mountain itself.
Creating complete freedom and intimate relationships with the natural environment that unleashes their creativity and spirituality through their own personal space. Haven house is a revisited, contemporary vision of the gardens of eve.