Nine years ago, Lebanese architect Nabil Gholam was taken to a villa in the mountains above Beirut. Completely unkempt, it had been damaged during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war and Syria’s subsequent military presence in the years before its 2005 withdrawal.
According to local residents and family members the home was used by the Syrian military as a base of security operations and as a prison. Captives scribbled their names on the wall with charcoal and match sticks. ….
The renovation cost more than $10 million and took more than seven years. A total of 120 workers and craftsmen worked on the house over the course of the project, which was completed in 2013. It added more than 21,000 square feet to the original 16,000-square-foot stone house, along with an annex and guard house. In the end, all that remained was the house’s shell and its checkered past.
The architect and owner decided, “What Syria didn’t destroy, we wouldn’t destroy. Everything was totally gutted, but we kept the shell,” said Mr. Jabre.
Located in a relatively safe area of Lebanon, the villa is a spacious, three-story modern home with large bedrooms, a home theater, an indoor swimming pool and sauna, an elevator and large windows with sweeping views of the gardens and surrounding forest. The ground floor of the main house is white reconstituted stone; the first floor is made of solid oak. The piazza flooring is made from basalt embedded with lines of shahhar, a local dark stone, giving different hues of red and brown. ….