A Suburban House

Category: Future Projects – Residential
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Architect: Abiat Architects, Dokki, Egypt

The Program & Site

The single storey house has an area of about 150 squared meters and occupies a large property of about 2400 squared meters filled with orange and lemon trees. It is situated in a suburban compound adjacent to the desert highway connecting Egyptian biggest cities of Cairo and Alexandria. The required program included a large reception and living space, two bedroom suites, a master bedroom, a winter room, a dining room, an outdoor living room, a swimming pool and the related services. The relatively small area of the house compared to the land plot inspired a scheme that capitalizes on openness and fragmentation of the house mass. The vision was to design a house floating “on” the site and not “in” the site keeping as much as possible of the existing trees, and relying on the natural landscape.

The Design Concept

The design aims to challenge the shallow conventional notion of the expected and praised “neo-classical villa” widely spread in the new suburbia of Cairo. It is a suggestion to intelligently shift from blind adaptation of what we nostalgically think of richness and luxury, to a critical regionalism that connects us to the world’s modern existence without neglecting our local geographical and social reality.
In fact, the design concept of the house relies on such modern means and language – a simple dialogue between glass and stone panels – without violating our traditional concepts of privacy, and taking into consideration the delicate conditions of the Egyptian weather. Glass faces north and stone completely blocks south, except when sunrays are welcome to create a winter warm hearth.

The rough stone contrasts with the clear glass. The rough stone roots and fixes the building to its natural site, while the smooth clear glass just gently wraps it shaping the living spaces. The relationship between the landscape and the structure is totally blurred. One can not exactly define where the outdoor begins and the indoor ends. Visually and physically, the building occupies the whole site. Visually, one’s existence is stretched to the four corners of the vast plot while remaining in the shade and comfort of the reception or the bedroom. Physically, one moves literally through a compelling interplay between clear and solid planes among the landscape elements to get from one space to another. The building is exploded into multiple entities connected by transparent corridors floating on a bed of greenery and shaded by adjacent trees and stone walls.

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