SOMA is an international architectural firm located in New York founded by Michel Abboud in 2004. The firm is renowned for its innovation in the field of architecture with regard to technological and environmental development. Their projects have overcome various challenges of building in the following nature. They have offered their expertise in residential, hospitality and mixed-use developments mainly in New York, Dubai, Doha, and Lebanon.

The firm relentlessly works towards meeting client needs and providing adaptable solutions as the need arises. It designs patterns that accommodate people with time and allow the space to modify itself with time.  It is the ability to work in the virtual space of organizational tools while deploying concrete structures and materials that place SOMA at the cutting edge of architectural practice.

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Sculpted house hovering over the Mediterranean_©Officialbespoke.com, 2021

Sculpted house hovering over the Mediterranean is a private residence located on the north side of Jounieh Bay, Lebanon. The residence was completed in April 2016. The gross floor area of the house is 1,000 square Meters. The main materials used in the construction are powder-coated aluminium, concrete, and glass. 

The name is given as such seeing the location and the way the design plunges into the sea. It hovers over the sea like crystals emerging from the rocks. The site being located between the sea and the road derives its form from the differential landscape. With Calypso House, SOMA Architects’ Michel Abboud has created the ultimate seafront home. The glass structure pushes boundaries while providing for an idyllic family getaway. 

The house is built on water and not on land, and literally floating over the shore. Calypso House has received its share of acclaim, including the World Architecture & Design Award in the Residential category for 2019. 

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View at night_©Architecturelab.net, 2021
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Living area_©Architecturelab.net, 2021

The firm did commendable work with interconnecting the architecture, interior, lighting, and landscape making it a unified element that fits perfectly within the given site. It juxtaposes onto the sea like a sculpture, yet making a blending impact. The spaces contract and expand according to their functions giving the user an experience of intimate as well as open spaces. While the staircase is concealed, the rooms have outdoor views and terraces are provided at all levels in the living areas. 

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Intimate spaces_©Architecturelab.net, 2021
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Bedroom_©Architecturelab.net, 2021

The entrance to the residence is from an upper road which consists of parking space. The spaces descend in an orderly fashion from the living room to the bedroom spaces. The program is inverted from the typical residence pattern. On descending, one finds itself in the main living areas that open up onto the sea-facing terraces and the dining area. The ceiling is sloped up towards the glass with teak slats to enhance the viewing experience of the user. 

The living room also boasts a seven-meter-long letterbox, wood-burning fireplace upon its wall. The third and bottom level houses six bedrooms – each with its own bathroom – plus a family room whose glass doors open onto concrete, a sea-level terrace that ends with an infinity pool.

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Plan showing the public spaces_©Archello, n.d.
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Plan showing the private spaces_©Archello, n.d.

Since the residence is located on easter Mediterranean, it frequently witnesses powerful winter storms which exceed 5 meters. The only way to overcome the high waves was by using a continuous wrap-around deck at the bedroom level. This feature breaks the outdoor waves and provides uninterrupted spaces as well. Another design element is the laminated glazing system that is supported by structural steel, which is capable of withstanding the strongest waves of the winter storms. The glass also provides views of the sea along with allowing natural light to penetrate within the space, hence it mimicked the colour of the sea.

The colour pallet is kept basic towards more earthy and warm tones to balance out with the cool colours of the sea and the sky. This creates a more subtle and pleasant experience for the user. The uneven geometry allows for terrace spaces to flow out naturally along the sea. These stepped terraces also allow for shading at lower levels. The warm lighting during the evening makes the structure shine and stand out from a distance and gives a calming effect. The idea of the form was to create a seamless impression on the user and to make one feel as if they were in the water.

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Section across the house_©Archello, n.d.

The various strategies incorporated by the firm create a powerful and iconic structure that is also elegant and rich in its features and integrates itself with the landscape. The structure dictates a balance between the openness and the intimacy of spaces creating a wholesome user experience and overcoming many challenges with almost perfection. 

References

  1. Official Bespoke. (n.d.). SOMA Architects Create a Stunning, Modern, Glass Home on the Edge of the Mediterranean in Lebanon. [online] Available at: https://officialbespoke.com/calypso-house-by-soma/ [Accessed 20 Apr. 2021]
  2. Archinect. (n.d.). Sculpted House Hovering Over the Mediterranean | SOMA Architects. [online] Available at: https://archinect.com/soma/project/sculpted-house-hovering-over-the-mediterranean [Accessed 20 Apr. 2021]

Images references

  1. Officialbespoke.com. (2021). [online] Available at: https://officialbespoke.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SOMA-CALYPSO-HOUSE-FRONT-VIEW.jpg
  2. Architecturelab.net. (2021). [online] Available at: https://cdn.architecturelab.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/calypso-soma-architects
  3. Archello. (n.d.). Sculpted House Hovering Over the Mediterranean | SOMA architects | Media – Photos and Videos – 20. [online] Available at: https://archello.com/story/38916/attachments/photos-videos/20 [Accessed 20 Apr. 2021]
SHREYA JAIN
Author

Shreya M Jain is currently studying in 4th year of architecture. She believes that architecture is a reciprocation of one’s thoughts and feels that it creates a dialogue between people and its surroundings. Through her writing she wishes to share how time and space can create meaningful impressions in an individuals life.

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