Squeezed hard up against the Mediterranean Sea by the infamous lands of Syria to the North and to the East and by the countries nemesis, in recent times Israel in the South, Lebanon is a country with a rich and interesting history which can be a long and complicated read at times.
However, as Lebanon is a mix of architecture styles, I was targeting the places built in and around the 19th century. The “Lebanese house” was invented and built during this period and they were a world of sunshine and light and of color, both subtle and vivid.
The Lebanese house always though has a relationship with nature, as they are usually sat in and around stunning landscapes. So, this was incorporated into the designs around this period, designs embracing the landscape. So, may I introduce to you... The Lebanese Triple Arcade!
Derelict mansion in the mountains of Lebanon, which features that "grand central room".
These houses generally have at least three things in common: the red roof tiles, very high ceilings and interior arcades with three pointed arches in a street-facing wall which sits within a large central room.
Paris By Design
A stunning abandoned mansion that somehow retains the ceiling detail.
High ceilings were born from the need for cool rooms during Lebanon’s hot summers, as they allowed a breeze to swing through and the central hall was convenient for extended families living together in the same large house.
The Smell Of Roses
One of the balconies that I mention in my text.
The three central large arched windows evolved to take advantage of the sweeping views of Lebanon’s hilly coastline and impressive mountainscapes.
The triple arch usually has a central door with a window on each side and a small balcony outside it and the high ceilings and the placement of doors & windows ensured some cross ventilation, creating a comfortable and cool environment. The orientation of this main central room was usually towards the valley and hence the breeze.
The triple arcade was not always an external feature, sometimes it appears throughout the interiors as well.
Back to that red-tiled roof that I mentioned earlier, it appeared in the nineteenth century possibly an Italian import. The roof never has windows, nor any chimney stacks and it is known locally as the Tarboush or fez of the house. This red roof was a source of pride for owners up and down Lebanon.
President Is Calling
Former mansion with an impressive double triple arcade.
The mansion that was extremely difficult to shoot, with awkward lighting coming in from behind and in front of the camera position here. The mansion was also stripped, but I loved the columns that were left here in the frame and the circular space behind.
A ruined apartment block hit during the war, however, the triple arcade can still clearly be seen through the remains.
Occasionally, the buildings showed unusual shapes to this familiar design.
The Front Line
A mansion undergoing renovation work, thankfully I was allowed in to take this photo. Pointing south, at the edge of the front line - as the bullet holes in a frame show.
The ceiling of a mansions central room. This palace overlooks one of the prettiest valleys that I have ever laid eyes on.