The Mediterranean Sea real estate project where old Lebanon meets modern design


Kudos for the mixed income approach to Chafic Saab, son of company founder Jamil, while its translation into reality is the work of New York-based WorkAc’s Amale Andraos, former Dean of Graduate Columbia School of Architecture, and its partner, Dan Wood, who got involved after being asked to design one of the villas and ended up taking over the entire project. The duo then used this succinct project to explore ideas about urban planning and nature they had developed elsewhere, including in their 2012 exhibition for MoMa, Foreclosed: relocating the American dream.

Arranged in four terraces cascading down to the beach, the properties increase in size the further down you go, with sea-facing villas and top-floor studios. Regardless of size, each unit features a double-height living space that opens differently to a patio or, in studios, to a rooftop terrace. The swimming pools are shared or private.

A design detail.

Bruce Damonte

While Marea eschews the Levantine sandstone and red-tile roof aesthetic for an angular white cubism dotted with pastel-painted balcony recesses – a use of color reminiscent of the WorkAc section of the Museum Garage in the Design District of Miami – it references the Lebanese vernacular in the layout, with narrow, vegetated “streets” that promote the chance encounters that characterize life in the old cores of cities like Batroun and Jbeil.

“Each ground floor is exactly level with the roof of the house below. The streets are quite dense, you see neighbors all the time, but the second you enter your house, it’s reversed. C It’s just the horizon and the views, as if it were you and the ocean,” explains Andraos. “Our manifesto was to combine individual privacy with an almost city-like density, to demonstrate that having a piece of sea ​​does not only mean having to develop sprawling villas.

Marea is also, praise be, car-free. There is underground parking, but the development is best navigated on foot, maximizing this chance encounter opportunity. Its enthusiastic reception, especially after a slow start, seems to have surprised even its passionate developer.

A rooftop Marea pool with views of the Mediterranean.

Bruce Damonte

“We already had this land, and Beirut had become saturated during the property boom, so I decided to start a new journey,” says Chafic Saab, who now lives there full-time and says that in the beginning, Saab Sr. Wasn’t convinced it would work. “You don’t feel the stress of the city, the people are unpretentious and welcoming. It’s like being on vacation, 24/7.

Marea of ​​the sea.

Bruce Damonte

Marea seeks to cross its borders, to break down its doors and to be a good neighbor. The beach remains open to the public, which although the law is not a given in Lebanon, and its restaurant and gym will both be open to non-residents, a generosity of spirit that is reflected in the fact that his most expansive views must be had from his least expensive properties.

“All the land next to it is reserved, and no one knows how it will develop,” says Wood, who intimately understands the fiercely individualistic and chaotic nature of construction in Lebanon. “So for us, it was really important to demonstrate that you can commit to openness without sacrificing privacy.”


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