Aamchit Private Housing, Aamchit, Lebanon

Aamchit Private Housing

The project consists of four high-comfort single-family houses on the coast of Aamchit, Lebanon. The site slopes west towards the Mediterranean, its angle allowing for embedding the houses in the landscape in such a way that the front is open to the view and breeze whereas the other sides of the house are protected by earth. Each house consists of a double-layer wall that retains the earth from the east and slopes with the land north and south.
The framing/retaining wall is doubled to create insulation and a service passage against the soil’s humidity and to draw in cool air into the house. The double perimeter wall also works as a structure and is used for all the services of the house, leaving the ground floor open. A courtyard is inserted in the back to enhance cross ventilation and create a microclimate in the extreme days of summer and winter.
The Courtower Effect
The courtyard and the tower work together in order to create a coherent environmental strategy at different levels:
For one, the tower provides shading for the courtyard from the eastern and southern sun. For another, they create a temperature and air differential that helps circulate the air in the house. Finally, the tower acts as a chimney for the hot air passively out of the house and the bedrooms in the towers. The stair and bathrooms are located at the east and south side to provide a thermal mass against the summer heat while the northwest corner is completely clear of structure, turning the bedrooms into balconies when the windows are open. The combination of the courtyard and tower produces a new house typology that is used with degrees of variation on the site as the development grows around its common facilities and the sea.
Environmental Techniques and Tectonics
The environmental strategy of the courtower is further enhanced by the systems and materials used to build it. A heat-exchanger system is used in the house, to cool down the rooms. This gravivent system is provided by a heat exchanger using cool seawater on the primary side. The gravity driven system is integrated into the closet design of the bedrooms as shown in the section.
An air handling unit is used to provide fresh air for the rooms when no natural ventilation is possible. An earth duct is used to pre conditionate the outside air before entering the air handling unit.
The double concrete block walls are clad with light colored local stone and the windows are all shuttered with wood to protect them from sun and to reduce the radiant heat. These wood shutters also create an air cushion that further pads the house windows.
A band of canvas canopy is also placed along the western façade in order to delay the entry of direct sunlight into the house until past afternoon peak and to create an air spoiler effect above the main house façade.

Aamchit Private Housing
Aamchit Private Housing
Aamchit Private Housing
Aamchit Private Housing