The N.B.K. Residence 2 by Bernard Khoury
Located at the ninth and last level of a building in Beirut, Lebanon, this tremendous three storey apartment is articulated by architect Bernard Khoury through an independent structure capping the building. Structurally, the apartment only shares the building’s vertical circulation core, as well as the perimeter along which its two peripheral walls lie. Beyond the ninth level, the structure of this residence becomes autonomous. The result is what resembles an independent house placed atop a building. Virtually situated on the former demarcation line which separated east and west Beirut, this apartment opens up onto the hell of its city, placing it neither east nor west but in between. Whereas usual preference for Mediterranean roof apartments is to turn their backs on the urban fabric in exchange for a sea view, this apartment is oriented toward the city, taking advantage of the setbacks imposed due to the surrounding projects defining its entire periphery. The result is a thrilling mixture between futurist, reminding of a giant robot, lines combined with a way more classical interior due to the use of wood making it a true gem within the heart of Beirut.
N.B.K. Residence 2 resumes certain experimentations with interior layouts, furnishings and materials used in various projects throughout the years, including the N.B.K. Residence 1 which was conceived 12 years earlier. This allowed for the development of a certain knowledge related to the misappropriation and reinterpretation of traditional materials, through the reanimation of specific artisanal practices. Alliances formed with local artisans over the years were thus rekindled, and materialize in the intricate steelwork and elaborate woodwork of the apartment, notably in the reception area.
The wood panel cladding of the reception space is defined by a layout that starts at the floor, folding onto the walls and ceiling, and extending throughout the rest of the rooms. This same cladding layout defines that of the steelwork, which ultimately frames the focal point of the room, a piece affixed to the ceiling housing all air conditioning and ventilation equipment. The modern tradition has rarely worked the ceiling, and this element falls within the traditional interior architectural practices. However, rather than a fresco, this installation consists of an extremely dense hood-like structure, designed to perfection in coordination with a mechanical engineer, with plaster as the material of choice.
Finally, the beautiful outdoor pool terrace at the roof level is crowned by two antennae containing the area’s light fixtures, completing the robotic look, almost like two eyes lighting up during the night. Southwardly oriented, these probe-like pivoting projections exceed the height average of their adjacent buildings, making them visible from surrounding neighborhoods and marking the N.B.K. Residence 2 and therefore the city of Beirut in an undeniable fashion.
Photography by DW5 / Bernard Khoury and Ieva Saudargaite.
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