Carl Gerges Architects merges the sky, sea and mountains of Batroun at Capo Hotel

Exploring the contours of the coastal city in Lebanon, Carl Gerges Architects designs Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort as a haven of sandy tones, rich textures, and lush greenery.

by Sunena V MajuPublished on : Nov 07, 2022

"From afar, the architecture resembles a sailing boat," says Lebanese architect and musician Carl Gerges' eponymous studio of their latest project, the Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort. Mediating a dialogue between the mountains and sea of Batroun — a coastal city in northern Lebanon and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities — Beirut-based Carl Gerges Architects designed Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort in the cascading terrains of one of the oldest ports of Lebanon. Beholding the historic impressions of the land of Phoenicians, master sailors, and expert celestial navigators, the hospitality architecture, inspired by the Mediterranean landscapes and its tales, aims to pay homage to the land’s history.

  • Inspired by Mediterranean landscapes and tales, Capo is a boutique hotel and resort in the coastal city of Batroun, Lebanon | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Inspired by Mediterranean landscapes and tales, Capo is a boutique hotel and resort in the coastal city of Batroun, Lebanon Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • Nestled between the mountains of Batroun and its sea, Carl Gerges Architects’ Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort shapes as a haven of sandy tones, rich textures, and lush greenery | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Nestled between the mountains of Batroun and its sea, Carl Gerges Architects’ Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort shapes as a haven of sandy tones, rich textures, and lush greenery Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • While paying homage to the land’s history, the design aims to deliver a sense of balance across the property | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    While paying homage to the land’s history, the design aims to deliver a sense of balance across the property Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • The built structures are laid out in five descending levels, ultimately leading up to the shore of Batroun’s sea | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The built structures are laid out in five descending levels, ultimately leading up to the shore of Batroun’s sea Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects

In the architecture encompassed in five levels, the first level introduces visitors to Capo through a front yard with delicate plants such as reeds, grasses, and evergreen cabbage palms, mostly seen in arid regions. Imbibing an animated sense of regionalism through the landscape design, the architects make the hotel design resonate with its surroundings. The landscape spaces gradually transition to enclosed architecture, through the corridors shaped in wooden pergolas and timber columns. The design character of the corridor holds a unique place in the architecture and is repeated in other outdoor spaces as well. A walkway visually connecting the entrance of the site to the seashore breaks the linearity of the built structure asymmetrically, creating two volumes housing the different preliminary functions of the hotel such as entrance, reception, and indoor dining areas. With a series of sculptural cacti and fabric shading, the stone-laid walkway frames the distant shore and reinstates the significance of the sea and sky in the design. Across the first rectangular built volume is an outdoor space complementing the transitional design character of the corridors. Overlooking the sea from the site's highest point, this space also hosts an outdoor pool. From a semi-open garden reflecting the aridity of the region to enclosed architecture in sandy tones and an open space overlooking the vastness of the sea, the design oscillates between contrasts of open and enclosed spaces.

  • The resort’s dramatic entrance is lined with statuesque cacti and swaying white canopies | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The resort’s dramatic entrance is lined with statuesque cacti and swaying white canopies Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • The dialogue with the sea and the sky is intentionally kept unhindered throughout the property as a means to connect with Phoenicians | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The dialogue with the sea and the sky is intentionally kept unhindered throughout the property as a means to connect with Phoenicians Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • Capo is constructed almost entirely using a unique mix of beach sand and cement, reflecting warm golden hues off the shoreline | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Capo is constructed almost entirely using a unique mix of beach sand and cement, reflecting warm golden hues off the shoreline Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • Each room has its private pool and terrace, allowing guests to relax in their private little oasis while still being in the presence of the sea | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Each room has its private pool and terrace, allowing guests to relax in their private little oasis while still being in the presence of the sea Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects

Following the introduction to the concealed horizon of the sea is the second level which hosts the accommodation units. In symmetrical balance, two rectangular volumes mirroring each other are separated by a passage of steps that connect the different levels. With bedrooms and bathrooms accompanied by small courtyards and private outdoor spaces with a pool, the accommodation units are an intimate experience of the surroundings through design. An array of vegetation creates privacy for the outdoor area of each room by creating a tropical wall. In similar functionality, the third level also hosts cottage units for guests. Occupying larger areas individually, the spatial planning of the cottages mimics each other and follows repetition in scale and proportion.

  • From afar, the hotel suites blend with the landscape | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    From afar, the hotel suites blend with the landscape Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • Reminiscent of a glamorous Lebanon of the ’70s, the multi-level pools are a meeting point for an eclectic local scene | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Reminiscent of a glamorous Lebanon of the ’70s, the multi-level pools are a meeting point for an eclectic local scene Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • The pools’ unusual shapes follow the land's natural topography, creating unique outlines that summon the coastline | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The pools’ unusual shapes follow the land's natural topography, creating unique outlines that summon the coastline Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • The vegetation across the property animates the scenery: delicate plants such as reeds, grasses, and evergreen cabbage palms sway and chime with the wind | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The vegetation across the property animates the scenery: delicate plants such as reeds, grasses, and evergreen cabbage palms sway and chime with the wind Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects

Following the private levels, the fourth layer hosts public activities including outdoor dining and recreational activities. With the fifth level hosting a large pool area and related spaces, the fourth level becomes the last zone for built structures. Through the different descending terrains, the architects reinstate their conceptual approach, "the main protagonist is omnipresent." Even when spaces curl into indoor experiences, the other side opens to a wider datum encompassing the sea. In an orderly unravelling of spaces, the Lebanese architects transform the circulation of design into a journey, exploring, and widening the horizon at every turn of the waterfront project.

  • Throughout the different descending terrains, the architects resonate with their conceptual approach which states “the main protagonist is omnipresent” | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Throughout the different descending terrains, the architects resonate with their conceptual approach which states “the main protagonist is omnipresent” Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • The interiors are sleek, monochromatic, and understated with a clean finish, the colossal sliding doors invite expansive sea views inside | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The interiors are sleek, monochromatic, and understated with a clean finish, the colossal sliding doors invite expansive sea views inside Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • The bathroom features a carefully planted private courtyard, giving the shower an immersive open-air experience | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The bathroom features a carefully planted private courtyard, giving the shower an immersive open-air experience Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects

The interiors of the hotel, even when trying to contrast the architecture, follow a similar language through its minimal and contemporary interpretations. Through a monochromatic palette that revolves around unique materiality, the line between the outdoors and indoors blurs. Talking about their approach to interior design, the architects remark, "From afar, the hotel suites blend with the landscape. Upon closer inspection, the interiors are sleek, monochromatic, and understated with a clean finish, and the colossal sliding doors invite expansive sea views inside."

Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort: Site plan and section | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort: Site plan and section Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects

While the architects mention the design to be "architecturally reminiscent of a Roman amphitheatre, using classical symmetry and intricate detailing," symmetry and balance appear to be redeemed in an indirect sense. The form counters the irregularity of the site through a balanced intervention of solids and voids that appear to blend with the natural context. Adding to this play are materials in the palette of beach sand and cement, reflecting warm golden hues off the shoreline. With the coming together of materiality and geometric volumes, the Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort emerges from the site as an extension of a modern sand castle. Narrating the concept of the project, the architects share, "The symbolism is not lost on Capo, aptly named "Captain" - invoking ancient Lebanese civilisations in one of the world’s oldest ports – and creating an open dialogue between our ancestors, the stars, the sea, and the present moment."

  • The meticulously tended gardens visually connect the different spaces, transforming the place into a botanical sanctuary | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    The meticulously tended gardens visually connect the different spaces, transforming the place into a botanical sanctuary Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects
  • Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort aims to create an open dialogue between our ancestors, the stars, the sea, and the present moment | CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort | Carl Gerges Architects | STIRworld
    Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort aims to create an open dialogue between our ancestors, the stars, the sea, and the present moment Image: Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects

The architecture of Capo begins in the warm hues of the sand and concludes in the blue vastness of the sea, steered through the transitions of the natural landscape and man-made enclosures. However, in the flow of spaces that lead to a destination, visually close but physically away, movement becomes a voyage and an experience. Throughout the design of the Capo Boutique Hotel and Resort, the architects seemed to have created an organic spatial experience through a contemporary adaptation of hospitality design in coastal regions. In the coming together of landscape and architecture, the building remains at the centre of natural elements and man-made elements, balancing both. While responding to the needs of the site rather than shaping the site to the user's necessities, the architecture of Capo presents a new dimension for stories of modern Mediterranean landscapes.

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