Living on the Edge, Literally: Homes Perched on Cliffs

The House on the Cliff is striking, but it has competition. Laertis-Antonios Ando Vassiliou, principal architect and director of LAAV Architects, who grew up with a view of the sea in Greece, creates designs for even more daring projects to fit the kind of clientele who might like to live on the edge.

“I think you need to be a little bit of a daredevil,” he said.

Potential buyers have tracked him down for his designs, such as the Casa Brutale concept, renderings of which went viral in 2015 — and for good reason: it’s a home that doesn’t sit on a cliff but in it, like a drawer in a dresser, with a pool for a ceiling and glass windows flush with the rock face.

Alex Demirdjian, chief executive of Demco Properties in Lebanon, wanted to make the house a reality in Beirut. When Mr. Vassiliou partnered with Arup Group to lead the engineering, he found himself in a meeting with structural and mechanical engineers, where he asked, “Is this possible? Is it feasible?”

“Well, what’s the budget?” asked one of the engineers. “If there is a budget, everything is possible.”

The budget in 2016 was equivalent to about $3.25 million today. Cliff homes present obvious challenges that can be costly to overcome. “They have erosion, they have landslides, so they are tricky,” said Mr. Vassiliou. “But of course, from the standpoint of science and engineering, there are many solutions.”

Even someone with the budget for it has to find the perfect location, a quest that has taken Mr. Vassiliou around the world. Geotechnical tests, which extract a core sample from the rock, have shown several spots to be untenable.