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Author Archives - Courtney

Angular Rammed Earth Home created by Kendle Design Collaborative in a beautiful mountain valley

By • Sep 13, 2019

Amidst the dips and mountains of a rocky area called Paradise Valley in Arizona, Creative design teams at Kendle Design Collaborative recently put the finishing touches on an expansive, angular house called Rammed Earth Home.

This home was born from the unique goal of combining modern, almost minimalist architectural and decor styles with a celebration of the awesome natural environment surrounds it. Through creative shapes and organic materiality, design teams were able to create a stunning blend of elements that, thanks to a breaking down of borders and colour palettes that mirror the valleys and mountains, pay tribute to the very ground on which the structure was built.

The house itself spans 6,100 square feet and every last inch of it is inspired by the rolling desert around it. The materials used in the building process itself were sourced locally, letting things that are actually indigenous to the land provide dwellers and guests with not just home comforts and amenities, but also unparalleled mountain views.

True to its name, the walls of the house are actually made of layered rammed earth in combination with metal, concrete, and glazed glass. The large number of expansive windows, sliding glass doors, and transparent walls helps break down visual and physical barriers between the home’s interior and the natural environment around it. At the same time as the home almost feels like a cohesive part of the beautiful desert, the glass walls also allow it to stay bathed in cheerful uplifting natural sunlight for most of the day (without overheating, thanks to UV resistant glass coatings).

Upon approaching the house, the most notable feature is clearly its roof. This angular structure, which appears to float above the house, is a canopy roof. The underside of this roof is made of a tectonic-like plates which are inspired by both the local geology and how the rocks historically formed, as well as how the monsoon clouds form in certain seasons.

Besides just looking decorative and interesting, almost sculpture-like, the canopy roof actually serves several practical uses as well. The angle at which each part sits provides weather resistance against the occasionally harsh desert climate changes. It also provides shade to certain outdoor living spaces, giving those lounging there a bit of protection from the hot afternoon sun.

The roof is also a place where, in the owner’s goal of harnessing both coziness and grandeur within the house, grandeur briefly takes centre stage to welcome guests. The roof’s structure rises dramatically towards the mountains in a way that’s almost as breathtaking as the natural view in how it mirrors the rocks, crags, and cliffs themselves.

Both in and outside of the house, designers made the choice to conceal all lighting, figures, and mechanical devices smoothly within the walls, ceilings, and built-in structures unless they were chosen and included to be purely decorative within themselves. This allows the shape and form of the roof, facade, and interiors, as well as the materials used in building, to remain the focus.

Another notable element of the structure lies in the way several interior living spaces are arranged carefully around a central outdoor atrium. This lets daylight and fresh air (when walls, doors, and windows are opened) to pass simply and easily from room to room, providing maximum comfort.

In fact, light was intentionally considered within the design of each room and in the placement of the swimming pool. Designers wanted to harness the beauty of how it might bounce off reflective surfaces and water, light dark corners, and change the look of certain spaces as shadows move about the house during the day’s progression. The entire pool area, for example, is dynamic but also remains zen-like throughout the day.

From the modern, almost minimalist bathrooms to the home office, this home is so clearly inspired by and blended into its surroundings that the overall sense is one of pleasant cohesiveness. Despite its contemporary nature, no warmth or coziness is lost in the home’s interior; in fact, it is quite the opposite.

Photos by Alexander Vertikoff

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Vietnamese Bienhouse created by Nemo Studio for a leading luxury rental business

By • Sep 12, 2019

Along the shoes of a beautiful seaside setting in Vietnam, creative design teams at Nemo Studio have recently finished a beautiful housing project called Bienhouse for a leading rental company in the area.

More specifically, the beautiful new property is located in Ha Long Bay. Originally, the house was built and finished in an unfurnished way, as all houses for the company, Vinhomes, are. On the outside, this house is grand, modern, and stunning, but it does bear a brand recognizable resemblance to many of their other properties in the area.

In this case, it’s the interior that really sets the home apart and brings out the character of the place itself and the influence of the area surrounding it. Now that new tenants have moved in and added their own personal touches, the character of the home shines even more brightly and some of the best features are really showcased.

Of course, one of the very best things that the house has to offer is a stunning, broad view of the beach and its surrounding magnificent landscape. This view can be enjoyed from countless windows in the house and also from a lovely rooftop deck that provides plenty of fresh air and a veritable boat show of the boardwalk and yacht activity just a short way from the house.

Inside the house, the design is clean, neutral, and neat. The spa-like palette was chosen very intentionally in an attempt to make the atmosphere inside the house just as centred on relaxation as the one outside on the beach. The shapes and dimensions of the furnishings, structures, storage spaces, and so on, were created with calculation and great consideration because, at the same time as designers wanted the house to feel like a retreat, they also wanted it to be optimally arranged, organized, and efficient, minimizing clutter and making sense in order to reduce daily stress.

Another very intentional choice was the placement of large windows and big sliding doors that feel as though a barrier between the interior and the stunning beaches outside is being removed. The purpose of these many openings was to let residents feel as though they have access to the beach from essentially anywhere in the house.

For those places where beach access simply wasn’t possible, designers wanted to at least build a thoroughly beach atmosphere within the home, but not the stereotypically kitschy kind you’ve probably seen before. They aimed for more of an upscale, calming atmosphere communicated primarily through fluid shape and natural materiality. This theme  continues through bedrooms, bathrooms, corridors, and even simple stairways, extending right from the entryway all the way up to the rooftop.

Executives also wanted to keep the house feeling light, airy, and even more spacious than its generous square footage already grants, which is a central theme that they try to keep throughout all of their different properties. This is why designers chose to create an artistic looking steel staircase in the very centre of the house with a sizeable open space void around it, creating a highlight space that really feels like a focus. The uniquely curving shape and bright red colour of the staircase really draws the attention of guests, which is sensical in the space because those stairs allow access to so many important areas.

If we had to choose an area in the house that we thought designers might have prioritized the most, we’d say the bedrooms were treated as the most important! They were created with the most possible space they could possibly be allotted within the home’s overall square footage, but they were also intentionally made with a softer sense of structure, line, and style.

The bedrooms are where the spa-like sense we mentioned before really hits home. The furniture chosen is curving, natural looking, and extremely comfortable despite also being stylish. The materials were chosen intentionally for their organize nature and matching warm neutral tones and other details, like the rugs and curtains, were opted for to match that aesthetic.

If you ask us, easily the best part of the bedroom space is the master bedroom’s impressive concrete tub. Because it is polished and green in colour, it almost looks like it’s made of jade, making it resemble something you might have found in the royal quarters of an old castle. It ties into the rest of the house cohesively even as it stands out because designers included other decor pieces and details made from concrete and potteries elsewhere in the house as well.

At the vert top of the house, of course, is the stunning fifth floor patio. This was intended for family bonding, social gatherings, or peaceful solitary reading time in the fresh air. The space is set up well for groups or those looking to enjoy a bit of outdoor time alone and, no matter one’s company, it’s the perfect place to enjoy those beautiful beach sunrises and sunsets.

Photos by Vu Ngoc Ha

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Down the Rabbit Hole Store created by Kilogram Studio in beautiful 100 year old space

By • Sep 12, 2019

In the heart of the city in Toronto, Canada, innovative designers and architectural teams at Kilogram Studio have recently completed the repurposing of a beautiful historical space as a retail spot called the Down the Rabbit Hole Store.

The first step in the project was to strip down the space that was already there. The intention of this was to reveal and showcase the beautiful 100 year old masonry walls and copper plumbing systems that were hiding behind a rather bland plaster walling. This exposed aesthetic brings the authentic history of the building much more to the forefront in the new space.

Despite the fact that this spot was already being used as a retail space before and is being renovated to serve as the same thing now, the nature of the project is still slightly unique in that the use is dual-purpose. Rather than housing a singular company, the space is actually now a co-location shared by a plant shop and a cold-pressed juice store all at once.

This means that the space had to meet some unique goals in order to satisfy the needs and requirements of both halves of the store. Within that, teams installed millwork fixtures, overhauled interior finishes, swapped out lighting, constructed a new storefront, and even did a little bit of landscaping. The overall goal, besides meeting functional requirements, was to create a space that fits the brand and identity of both clients, each of which melds and meshes well with the other.


The typical layout for retail spaces in the small downtown store spots of Toronto is often narrow, long, and a little bit dark. designers for this project, however, wanted to flip that around, brighten things up, and re-imagine it. To do so, they used Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole, from the classic Lewis Carroll story Alice in Wonderland, as their inspiration.

The store and the layout of the building is actually more of an experience than the average retail space already just thanks to the building and how it sits. Rather than having the classic street level storefront and immediate entrance combination that’s typical in most areas, this space features a small frontage leading to a laneway that leads to a rear garden that’s removed from the sidewalk level.

In this way, the choices and designers of store owners subverted the regular customer experience. This is actually indicative of a small and slow but very presence shift by small local businesses to actually get away from the classic storefront all together, reducing competition for space and taking advantage of newer and unique spaces by paying more attention to alternative opportunities just like laneway networks.

The fact that the store lies at the end of a laneway worked perfectly with the designers’ and owners’ fantasties and their Wonderland inspiration. The idea was to create an enticing little display at the street mouth of the laneway, leaving the actual storefront to emerge along the journey away from the sidewalk like a destination at the end, drawing customers into the space out of sheer curiosity if not actual desire for the quality product.

The Victorian-era brick building in which the store sits contributes to the old fashioned but intriguing Wonderland fantasy as well. The old brick facade along Queen West is patterned with natural visual texture and repetition but with the occasional contrastingly coloured brick or inconsistency that looks natural, interesting, and authentic to the building’s history.

The entrance to the retail space is a little bit tucked away, but not in a way that hides the store from customers and makes it hard to find. Instead, taking the path up is part of the experience. The garden outside, which meshes well with the plant store at the end of the lane, lets people pause for a moment in appreciation even as it draws people inside. There is even a lovely shaded bench here where people and their dogs are welcome to relax before visiting the store or when they come out with a juice.

The way the new store was renovated ties once more into the green world in how sustainable it is. Large inset doors take advantage of sun, shade, and breezes and create a fantastic cross-ventilation that reduces the need for powered heating and cooling systems for at least parts of the year (besides during Canada’s harsh winters).

Inside the space itself, the design was specifically conceptualized to address the needs of a food-based and a plant-based business. In fact, attention was paid to these requirements all throughout, with designers fully integrating those needs into the space overall. The teams opted to do what they could to deconstruct the spatial division between customers and staff, weaving the shop and the community that is fosters together so it’s more like a space to be enjoyed and less like a service place.

In every element possible, locally reclaimed, natural, and sustainable materials were chosen. This is true for the structures that actually makeup up the store’s layout, the furnishings, and just about every detail incorporated. This is part of what reflects and ingrains both clients’ ethos and values throughout the customer space and experience.

The space inside is fluid and accessible. The plants and drinks available for purchase are simply to reach and peruse but are also displayed in a way that makes them look like part of the decor scheme. The space feels fresh and new but at once somehow homey and old fashioned, perfectly paying tribute to the fact that the building itself has been standing in that spot for literally 100 years.

Photos by Scott Norsworthy

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AZL Architects’s Ultra-modern Song House created as a caring haven for a multi-generational family

By • Sep 11, 2019

In the quickly changing city of Fengxian, China, innovative construction and design teams at AZL Architects have recently completed a residential project called Song House that serves as a caring, supportive home for several branches of old and young within the same extended family.

Although the modernization of certain areas of China has been largely positive in terms of an increase in average wealth, it has certainly contributed to the unfortunate disappearance of innumerable very small natural villages throughout the country. This has impacted the cultural heritage in many of these areas as well. In response, many architectural teams and homeowners are aiming to once again take advantage of all that these abandoned rural areas have to offer, going back to some of China’s home and cultural roots while adapting modern living systems for those locations.

Song House is one of these homes! Originally, the home’s location was chosen by a family looking to escape ever-rising and increasingly unaffordable living costs in the nearby city of Shanghai. Instead, they opted to invest their money in creating a home that has all of the modern immediate home conveniences of their city home but in a more peaceful place.

The owner also had the large consideration of his elderly mother’s need for care. Already a resident of the Fengxian countryside, the mother needed the support of family but would not thrive as well in the hustle and bustle of the city as she would in the calmer rural setting where all of her needs were already convenient and available. This influenced the family’s decision to move back out to the village where their roots lie.

In returning to their hometown of Nansong Village, the family made the decision to demolish their first house, a dilapidated little cottage that they left behind for the big city but still owned. They aimed to rebuild a new house that was much more modern and more suitable for generations both young and old, all at once. In fact, the house was planned to be so accessible and suitable for all generations that a set of in-laws who were also in need of health assistance were invited to live with the family and receive mutual are and support within the home’s welcoming walls as well.

Designing and building the home was no small feat. As an average working class crew, the Song family invested all of their savings into this space with the intention of making it everyone’s forever home. Since the intention was always to built it for a full family of at least eight, the family also put extra money towards meeting the needs, desires, and styles of each person to ensure it truly feels like home for every single person.

The new house is southward facing with an open-concept layout, enabling sun and fresh breezes from that side to enter the inner and outer spaces and maximizing lovely views of the surrounding area. At the front, the house opens out into a spacious atrium, which the family uses in myriad ways.

In keeping with the focus of re-adding traditional rural home elements to the space that have been lost from local architectural practice in recent years, designers built a large courtyard into the home’s outer spaces, centring it in the layout in order to establish it as the main hub of daily family and social activity.

Inside, the home boasts five bedrooms, each of which was custom designed for the actual family members using them. These rooms and the various shared spaces are arranged around the house’s central inner atrium in a way that creates easy flow, good accessibility, and interconnection but without sacrificing privacy and peace. The goal in arranging the rooms this was was to create an easy sense of daily ritual and a sense of belonging, as though the family and home are its own community.

On the ground floor, just off the lowest point of the atrium, designs built a lovely, welcoming living room filled with lots of light. Next to that, within easy reach, is Song’s mother’s room, giving her a short distance to travel from bed to another comfortable place for a change of scenery. A bathroom was place to the other side of the bedroom, with a high toilet and a specially designed shower large enough for two people, making it accessible and simple for personal assistance.

Across the atrium, on the north side, a large dining room and open layout kitchen feature plenty of seating room for the whole family. This kitchen was designed as an informal social space for family bonding or meal prep, chores, and regular daily routines. This is another space where updated pieces and tradition meet; the kitchen features both a gas stove for modern cooking and an earthen stove as was once traditional in the area, allowing older family members who have never used a gas stove before and would prefer not to use one to be just as involved in cooking family meals. There is also a small kitchen garden out back where the oldest grandmother grows vegetables for the family, as us customary.

The central location of the atrium has a spiritual function as well as a practical and convenient one. The room is built around a stainless steel rendering of the Chinese character for the family’s last name that has been inlaid into the floor. This positions the rest of the house as though it is embracing the family’s symbol, creating a true sense of belonging.

On the home’s second storey, two bedrooms have been customized for the two older couples in the family. These are placed near a beautifully open family room, letting the couples bond without having to go downstairs. A specially built accessible restroom is placed near by as well. The bedroom of the youngest couple, the owner’s daughter and her husband, is placed on the far side of the second storey, giving them their privacy to the extent of relatively independent living.

Although it does not have an elevator, the house is accessible for the in-law’s wheelchairs. There is a ramp that extends from the top floor, near their bedroom, outside the house and gently, safely downward, allowing not only accessible movement from one storey to another but also between indoor and outdoor living spaces, making sure everyone in the house gets fresh air and sun.

A unique system of openings, intentional holes in the walls between rooms, and mirrors creates almost seamless continuity between the rooms, ensuring that no elderly person ever feels isolated or cut off from the social spaces of the house and the rest of the family. The whole purpose of the home’s design truly is to enable young and old alike to care for one another fully.

Photos by Li Yao

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Wyoming Mountain Home created by KAM Designs as a perfect blend of modern and rustic style and living

By • Sep 10, 2019

Nestled onto a stunningly green mountainside area on the edge of Teton Village in Wyoming, KAM Designs has recently completed a sprawling and beautiful holiday home called Wyoming Mountain Home.

This impressive looking house is lovely through and through for more than just its location (which is undoubtedly breathtaking). From the outset, the goal of both the owners and the design teams was to create a space that perfectly blends modern living and amenities with rustic styles and settings as seamlessly and comfortably as possible.

The actual mountainside plot that the home itself sits on is part of a beautifully rural housing community called The Shooting Star. The whole area, which is quite exclusive in an attempt to preserve its quiet, peaceful nature, is positioned at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

On one side, the plot sits next to an award winning golf course, which only bolsters the home’s already unbelievable view of the Grand Tetons, as well as the Gros Ventre Range. The home itself encompasses a whopping 8,000 square feet, boasting five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and stunning open concept shared living spaces.

Inside the house, the rooms are open concept and spacious. In an attempt to keep the modern and rustic blend of styles and functions consistent all throughout the home’s experience, designers used mixed materiality. A perfect example of this is the mix of antique hardwood flooring that contrasts beautifully with glazed stone and skip troweled walls.

The floor isn’t the only interior feature that involves wood. The formal dining room, for example, also features large, locally sourced reclaimed timbers across the ceiling, which extend downward to frame the great room next to it as well. Similar themes, with the addition of wooden furnishings, are found throughout the kitchen.

Rather than succumbing to a bit of darkness as so many rustic, heavily wooden houses seem to do, this house accounts for the abundant inner shade provided by its sturdy structure by also boasting expansive windows. This lets dwellers and visitors enjoy mount and valley views that are nothing short of mesmerizing.

The area of the house with perhaps the veery best view is the master suite. Here, a large window in the social wing on the edge of the bedroom provides breathtaking views while dwellers sit in comfort by a gorgeous fireplace. This space also includes a home office, a luxury bathroom with a spa sized bath, a boutique walk-in closet, and even its own exercise room! Should the owners wish to enjoy the sunrise before they’ve even left the bedroom in the morning, the master wing also has its own beautiful (and impressively sized) porch.

Besides being a place where one can seek the convenience of modern amenities alongside the comfort of more rustically traditional settings, the house is also a retreat. This puts relaxation, social and familiar bonding, and entertainment at the forefront of its functions as well. Designers made sure it had plenty of special features to offer as a result.

For example, the Wyoming Mountain House is home to not only a stunning stone deck with a secluded outdoor seating space for quiet personal time and a home office just in case real life does come calling, but also four cozy fireplaces, a wet bar in the great room, and even a home movie theatre, fully equipped with HQ surround sound.

Photos provided by the architects.

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Modular dwelling called House in the Orchard creatednby LDA.iMdA architetti associati as a unique interpretation of shape and minimalism

By • Sep 10, 2019

True to its name, the House in the Orchard, located in San Miniatio, Italy, actually sits nestled amidst the trees in a real orchard! Design teams at LDA.iMdA architetti associati built the little home to explore space, shape, and natural context in unique, minimalist, and efficient ways.

Although the building is, indeed, a private home, certain aspects of its structure are built to mimic more public spaces’ function and shape, like its focus on open concept layouts and its transparent walled ends that create a visual blending of indoor and outdoor space, creating a feeling of increased square footage despite its actual modest but efficient size.

Speaking of efficiency, the actual systems used to power the house and make it run are highly efficient as well! This includes the hydro, the heating and cooling mechanisms, and even the home’s facade. The external coating around the whole house, which gives it quite a monolithic look, creating stunning continuity, was made by covering a wooden frame in an ecologically protective polyolefin sheet, which has a high solar reflectance, preventing the interior from becoming overheated.

The shape and structure of the house actually inspired by that of a classic greenhouse meant for plants, but wildly re-imagined and invigorated. As you might know if you’ve ever worked with plants, the average greenhouse (exception those used on high production farms and so on) is not a place fit for anything but a plant to inhabit. Here, however, the shape, level of natural light reaching the interiors, and temperature control technology has been updated and adapted for actual living in a permanent home.

The exterior of the house isn’t the only space that got a little bit innovative and green with its materiality. Designers ensured that the home’s interior followed suit as well! For example, the flooring of the main room is covered in a material that uses anti-infiltration, water resistant protective products to coat a prefabricated wooden floor. This is great for improving insulation and energy emissions and conservation. The floor is also built from “self-supporting” panels, making it sturdy and resistant to weathering or wear and tear; it is layered with larch wood, polystirene, and then fir wood.

The emphasis on plant life that surrounds and inspires this home doesn’t stop at its shape and location. Designers also wanted to integrate and enable the dweller’s favourite hobby as best they could. You see, the owner absolutely adores vegetable gardening! This is part of the reason the house was kept modest in size and green in function; they wished to make the most of the available plot as far as gardening space was concerned.

The emphasis on smalltime agriculture and modern home technology creates a beautifully blended home experience both within and directly surrounding the house itself. The whole place has a sense of green prioritization, as well as a strong relationship between energy conservation and natural production.

Originally, designers briefly considered a much larger design that would have included an extra interior gardening space that was intended as a winter gardening plot or greenhouse. Upon reflection, however, they opted to create just the little house you see here, basing it in part on classic children’s drawings of houses in its bare shape. Cutting out the additional building process and square footage stopped the structure itself from leaving too big a footprint on the land. After all, clearing natural land to create indoor spaces for gardening, instead of just gardening the land, seemed counterintuitive on this small scale.

Speaking of reducing impact on the land, designers found another way to make this happen physically as well! Instead of building the house so its entire ground floor lays flush on top of the earth beneath it, building teams created a raised frame in which the house appears to sit on solid, strong stilts. This allows natural growth right underneath and minimized the amount of clearing that had to be done in order to erect the building.

Over all, the house exists as an example of the design team’s ongoing study and prioritization of the way that architecture can build and maintain relationships with the land, as well as how fluid combinations of modern technology and the natural world can benefit home and societal experiences.

Photos by MEDULLA Studio

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Portuguese Apartment in Rua do Arco to São Mamede created by Atelier 106

By • Sep 9, 2019

In the stunning city of Lisbon in Portugal, architectural design teams at Atelier 106 have created a stunning apartment called Apartment in Rua do Arco to São Mamede as part of the city’s attempts to reinvigorate gorgeous historical buildings in the area and bring a new wave of residents and businesses to its oldest neighbourhoods.

The building in which this particular apartment now exists was originally built in the 19th century. It is located in a beautifully older part of the city called Principe Real, which is well known for its old fashioned partition walls and towering stone buildings. This building even still has its recognizable glazed tiles in the facade and entry features and its original floors have withstood the test of time.

In the apartment renovation itself, the kitchen received the biggest overhaul. Although the entire apartment was updated and refreshed quite thoroughly, this is where the most tangible work was done, while the rest of the spaces were pained all over and had their doors and frames recovered. In certain spots, the floors were also replaced, despite the originals holding up in the more public spaces in the building like the lobby.

Within the kitchen’s modernization, several new pieces were installed that improve its functionality. First, it was fitted with a wall-to-wall bench. Next, a generously sized stove was placed under the chimney where smoke and steam filter out with ease and effectiveness. A big modern fridge now stands between the two meal preparation areas to make reaching supplies and moving from space to space easier. A family sized dining table was placed in the middle, making the kitchen kind of a social hub or focal point within the apartment.

Although designers were certainly intent on keeping the integrity of the original building’s layout, materiality, and history, they still wanted to update the apartment enough to provide new residents with a fully equipped and modern living experience in terms of amenities and conveniences. As a result, the aesthetic actually quite opposes the look and style of the rest of the building, but in a way that is interesting rather than clashing.

Now, the apartment’s inner layout is a little more open concept than the one that originally stood there. It is also a little more streamline and minimalist looking in its fine details, with neutrally coloured palette consisting primarily of whites and creams, natural wood, and the occasional black metal feature for balance and contrast.

Despite the fact that the palette of the overall apartment is quite calm and neutral, there’s actually a specific intentionality to it. They involved two different types of ceramics with slightly varied colours and textures. These light differences mark certain delineations of space based on function and style between, say, a practical room like the kitchen and a social room like the living room.

Storage and organization was also paramount within the new apartment. It is by no means a micro-living situation, but it does have the slightly more modest sizing of an older apartment, even in its new open concept layout iteration. This need accounts for the presence of new shelves above the kitchen island and the diverse storage options of the island itself. The combination of metal and wood gives the space a sort of modern-rustic, lightly industrial influence.

At the same time, the apartment is cozy and takes advantage of all its little niches and corners. A little wooden bench by the window makes the perfect morning time reading and coffee spot, for example, but it also features cupboards underneath the seat that provides another additional little storage space. The house is full of convenient little spots like this.

Finally, lighting was made a large priority within the new space as well. Firstly, large windows were installed to get lots of bright, natural sunlight into the space in order to make it feel more cheery. Clean, white overhead lighting was included in every single room as well, giving the room a good brightness from above that keeps things bright on into the evening as well while the family finishes their routines before bed.

Photos by do mal o menos.

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Uniquely shaped Efjord Retreat Cabin created by Stinessen Arkitektur in the waterways of Norway

By • Sep 9, 2019

On the Lofoten archipelago in Northern Norway, creative designers have teamed up with esteemed local architects at Stinessen Arkitektur to conceptualize and complete the unique holiday home called Efjord Retreat Cabin. Located in Narvik in Norway, the actual plot on which the cabin sits on a small branch of water right off the Ofoten fiord. It is nestled onto a little island called Halvaroy, on a natural ledge that affords the little home breathtaking views in essentially every direction and from every room.

The natural terrain of the island presented both challenges and opportunities to the design and constructions crews working on the project. In the end, they opted to orient the cabin to the west, giving it a primary view overlooking the wider fiord itself and stretching on towards two of the country’s most challenging climbing peaks.

This particular location might seem a little too far out there for some, but this was precisely the intention of the designers because it was actually the primary goal and desire of the owner. From the outset, the whole concept of the cabin was to provide them with a retreat experience that truly feels as though it has transported them into a place of peaceful isolation and total quiet privacy. As a person whose life is often engulfed by the bustle of big cities and the hectic nature of full time work days, the owner wanted a complete and drastic deviation from that experience for total healing relaxation.

In order to create that atmosphere, designers created a building that has a truly unique shape. The concept here was to build certain parts of the building so they feel as though they open and close in different directions, giving each area within those parts a different feeling, atmosphere, or experience, depending on the owner’s mood or needs at any given point.

For example, the eastern section of the cabin tapers and “closes” towards some neighbouring buildings not far in the distance, limiting views of those buildings (and those buildings’ views into the cabin) for privacy. At the same time, the cabin opens to a large glass wall towards a swooping ridge and some stunning close by terrain right across, creating the feeling that other structures and humans are truly far off the cabin is simply existing amidst calming nature.

The same tapering and expanding, or “opening” and “closing” techniques were built in elsewhere in the cabin as well. Magnificent views are established as a focal point of the main rooms by the way the front end of the cabin appears to open up towards the dramatic sight of the mountains and the flowing fiord below them to the west.

In terms of its layout, the cabin is split into two cohesive volumes that, despite being oriented differently, don’t actually feel cut off from each other. The two volumes do sit slightly offset from one another in order to let their angular edges provide a bit of shade and shelter to some outdoor areas that exist on their axes and ends. This also gives each volume its own end on all sides, letting designers incorporate more large windows with more extremely impressive views for a panoramic feel from anywhere inside the house.

The incorporation of outdoor spaces that blend nearly seamlessly with the indoor ones, as well as the way the cabin sits atop a high point in the terrain but has a clear view of the different surrounding peaks and valleys, makes it feel and look as though it truly fits with its natural setting. The cabin’s particular orientation and height also works well with the movement of the sun, which rises towards the open functional spaces and sets towards the private sleeping areas, letting the owner’s routine flow well with the natural course of the daylight.

The cabin also blends quite well with its surroundings in terms of its materiality. The exterior consists of primarily only two materials: core pinewood and structural glazing. For durability, the wood was treated with iron sulfate; this also gives it an even, pleasant appearance that suits its environment well.

The cabin’s exterior isn’t the only place where wood appears! Inside the house, many of the surfaces are clad in birch veneer, which contrasts beautifully with the granite tile and stone across other details. Inside the sauna and the bathrooms, which were built with relaxation and body healing in mind, the floors and ceilings are also clad in aspen slats.

Photos provided by the architect.

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Hufft creates welcoming, innovative office space for leading leasing company Mac Properties

By • Sep 6, 2019

In the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, creative design teams at Hufft have recently completed an overhaul and redesign of the full office space occupied by neighbourhood leasing company Mac Properties.

Part of the goal with this office redesign was to set the company apart from others in its field. What marks the real difference in terms of their actual work is that they are much more dedicated than many other multi-family property development agencies to preserving what’s already there and working.

Where other companies might start from scratch and implement what they think is best in place of what exists, Mac Properties would rather improve existing infrastructure and enhance the potential of neighbourhoods they already think are beautiful. In their office redesign, executives opted to apply the same values and principles; rather than moving entirely or totalling and restarting with the entire space, they opted to work with what was already good about the spot they had.

This decision to honour the old space and simply reinvigorate it was partially due to the spot’s history and a desire to preserve some elements of that. Before it was inhabited by Mac Properties, those same office spaces were used by IBM. There were, therefore, all kinds of great things about the rooms and what they offered that designers wanted to work with rather than abandon.

From the outset, the whole concept the new office’s design was based on was centred around and focused upon the idea of fostering community. The building’s residents are top priority in all the plans for the office, which revolves around connectivity and fostering a welcoming and interesting but homey atmosphere that makes them comfortable.

The office sits on the first floor where it is easily accessible to everyone who might need to visit. It is wrapped on nearly all sides in glass in order to create a sense of seamlessness between the exterior street level where the neighbourhood the building is in lies and the interior lobby space is. This is just one element of the office that puts the whole central idea of connectivity into actual action.

Although executives wanted to build a space that looks impressive and upscale, reflecting the quality of product and service provided by the company, they also wanted to make sure the space is an inviting one. That’s where the playful use of colour came from! The waiting space by the front desk features comfortable lounge seats and boasts a sense of warm hospitality designed to give potential new residents having their first meetings get a taste of the comfort and friendliness that might become used to living in the building.

Having been in the business for so long, Mac fully understands that some conversations surrounding new home leasing can be sensitive, so certain spaces were built with this in mind. Now, the usual process for potential residents is to visit the “property bar”, a casual and friendly public space where photos and information outlining different rental options can be laid out and perused in a way that is fun and feels low pressure.

After the options have been laid out, when it’s time to have more serious conversations about finances and contractual elements, designers built a separate space that gives small parties a little more privacy and a sense of quiet formal intimacy. Past the property bar lies a series of booths with break room amenities, specifically catered to discussing personal details and expectations.

After the options have been laid out, when it’s time to have more serious conversations about finances and contractual elements, designers built a separate space that gives small parties a little more privacy and a sense of quiet formal intimacy. Past the property bar lies a series of booths with break room amenities, specifically catered to discussing personal details and expectations.

These two spaces are actually beneficial for and available for use by current residents already living in the building as well. The break services and lounge area, in particular, are advertised throughout the building’s inner community as an after-hours social space where people can come to meet their neighbours and get to know other residents.

Perhaps our favourite visual element of this dynamic office’s space is the artistic ceiling feature in the lobby space and welcome area. This custom feature is build from pieces of wood trim that are anchored individually above the property bar and painted different bright, beautifully contrasting colours on their cut end. This piece helps define the space and contributes to a cohesive colour scheme that flows nicely throughout the entire space.

Photos by Michael Robinson

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Ultra modern Guaratinguetá House created by Ricardo Abreu Arquitetos using the beauty and durability of ceramic as the inspiration

By • Sep 6, 2019

In a lovely, quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs of Vila Paraiba, Brazil, Architectural innovators at Ricardo Abreu Arquitetos have recently completed a modern housing project with a slightly more traditional inspiration, dubbing it Guaratinguetá House.

At its very conception, the house was inspired by the idea of using ceramic, a material that can be both quite beautiful and quite strong. That idea was honoured all throughout the planning, designing, and building process, so it we’re sure it will make as much sense to you as it does to us that many different surfaces in the finished house feature or are made entirely from ceramic.

For the most part, a beautiful ceramic technique is used to cover a wide range of surfaces and facades within and outside of the house. Parts of the home’s facade feature ceramic in the details, as do the interior floors, walls, and some furnishing and decor details. Because there are so many different types of ceramic and ways to use it, incorporating this material so well allowed designers to explore all kinds of different textures, finishes, colours, and characteristics in each situation within this home.

Of course, the exterior facade of a durable home that will withstand weather can’t be entirely made from ceramic! This is why designers also chose to construct much of their structure using light bricks and dark bricks, alternated and grouped in ways that not only benefit the house in terms of which were placed where for density and durability, but also creating colour interest across the home’s facade and on several accent walls inside too.

In terms of its physical layout, the house is composed of three volumes. The first one is largely constructed of light bricks, with the next volume on top of that featuring the darker brick facade we mentioned before. The three volumes are distinct looking but still have good flow and cohesiveness between them inside, stopping any part of the house from feeling too cut off. The way they’re arranged in a staggered manner downplays how tall the residence actually is, keeping it low to the ground and modest looking.

The largest example of ceramic tiling in the house is undoubtedly on the floors, and this feature is consistent between all of the rooms in the house. The tiles look nice and uniform but also actually have a practical function as well; they help keep the house feeling nice and cool throughout the day, reducing the home’s impact on the environment in terms of heating and cooling systems by enacting a bit of passive cooling.

As you move through the house, you might notice that there isn’t actually a hard, limiting material barrier between most of the rooms. Of course, privacy was absolutely provided in the sleeping and personal areas, but the rest of the house is quite open concept and seamless feeling. A perfect example of this is between the living room, dining room, kitchen, and veranda.

There is a clear visual delineation of space based on style and function, of course, which helps the layout of the house make sense and keeps things in order. Overall, however, there is very little physical separation between rooms and spaces, in hopes that energy flow, movement, communication, and sunlight will travel through the house well, making just about every experience had there more pleasant for family members and visitors alike.

If you’re still following the presence of the porcelain tiles, then you might as well follow them right outside the house, through a set of wonderfully large sliding doors, and on into what designers describe as a “gourmet terrace”. This is a lovely outdoor lounge and social hosting space on the external top of the first volume, laid out like a patio in the air. The tiles in question continue across the floor out the door and all across the terrace, once again creating a dialogue between spaces inside and outside of the home’s walls.

The two floors (there are three volumes, but two sit on the same upper storey level) are connected by a concrete but modern looking floating style staircase described by designers as being “monumental”. This staircase has cantilevered steps and, across the facade of the concrete stairs, features a combination of black and white marbled porcelain tiles. The finished product was so satisfactory to everyone involved in the home’s creation that it has actually become recognized as a standout piece in the home!

Outside, the home has its own backyard space with a modest but lush green lawn. Here, designers built a beautiful swimming pool that, though sizeable, was primarily included for relaxation. The tiled theme continues even here, outside the house, where the edge of the pool is tiled in cool grey stone squares that add a calming but luxurious effect.

Photos by Andre Mortatti

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Oceanside House in Matanzas created by Cristián Izquierdo Lehmann in Chile

By • Sep 5, 2019

On the edge of a windy but gorgeous ravine in Matanzas, Chile, creative design and architectural teams at Cristián Izquierdo Lehmann have recently completed the beautiful, view rich vacation home called House in Matanzas.

The orientation of the home is key to its enjoyment thanks to its cozy little spot near the ravine. The structure is actually purposely situated to face towards the Pacific Ocean, but its elevation above the water gives it a view from just about any direction that’s nothing short of breathtaking!

In terms of its layout, the home was built with a nice, wide open and centralized pavilion. This makes it feel bright and spacious, but it also places the hub of the house in the centre of the home for harsh oceanside weather days when one wants to take refuge from the landscape outside and, say, curl up with a good book. Large, gorgeous windows ensure that no natural light is lost even on days that one chooses to enjoy the cozy areas inside.

At the same time, designers wanted to give residents as many opportunities and spaces as possible to enjoy the stunning environment around the house on the days where the weather is welcoming and warm. This accounts for the stunning terrace that’s situated perfectly towards the ocean, as well as the way the central pavilion can be fully opened to the outside, blending indoor and outdoor experiences thanks to sliding doors and a series of sprawling patios.

For the most part, the house is a beautifully exposed wooden structure that brings together organic and rustic aesthetics without losing any of the feeling of modern living with fully convenient amenities. The central focal point of the house, that pavilion that makes up the hub, is arranged on a raised circular base that elevates the beautiful views even more.

From this central room, four rectangular spaces emerge, making up the rooms in the rest of the house. The social and functional portions of the house remain in the centre while the bedrooms and private spaces exist in the spokes. These are almost entirely encased in glass walls and windows, keeping every room in the home well stocked in stunning oceanside views and natural lighting.

Outside, the spaces between the four rectangular spokes form a series of courtyards. Designers opted to turn these into useful and enjoyable outdoor spaces, even building a continuous outdoor pathway between those spaces so residents have no problem moving between them. This mimics the wooden path on the upper level of the house that leads to and from the rooftop terrace where residents often sit to watch the sun set over the water.

One of these courtyards acts as a beautiful welcoming spot adjacent to the entryway. Another is a lovely stone patio that has a view of the water below that is nothing short of breathtaking. Finally, another courtyard hosts a beautiful blue pool with plenty of space for lounge chairs. The placement and orientation of this pool gives an equally stunning view, making it an irresistible place to float.

In the primary living space, where that central focus lies, perhaps the most interesting detail is the wooden grid all across the ceiling. This is partially decorative, but it also services a practical lighting function as well. You see, within each of the squares featured in the grid is a small skylight window that keeps the whole inner space feeling free and open.

Photos by Roland Halbe

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Gorgeous Cedrus Residential building created by Next Office–Alireza Taghaboni in Iran

By • Sep 5, 2019

In the bustling heart of the city of Tehran in Iran, architectural and design teams at Next Office–Alireza Taghaboni have recently completed a unique and innovative housing project called the Cedrus Residential with the goal of creatively working with the spatial limitations of trying to build new homes in a very crowded city.

In cities like Tehran, architects face many challenges when it comes to infrastructure and urban design. The idea of making new buildings in a space that is already so over-crowded is one that, in many places, has started to require building and design teams to think outside the box and fit more homes and apartments into smaller spaces without getting unrealistic when it comes to actual living spaces sizes for individuals and families.

That’s why the teams on this building decided to build up instead of out. Instead of just creating a flat, unappealing looking facade on their tall building, however, they also opted to use the outside of their building as another spatial opportunity, giving each apartment a little more living space by creating a series of unique balconies all the way the facade, giving the building some decor value and providing residents with a bit of additional space and fresh air.

In Tehran’s specific social and political climate, designers were also faced with the challenge of accounting for the common fact that people’s public and private lives are markedly different and kept purposely distinct from one another. It was therefore paramount that privacy be well prioritized. This accounts for the fact that the buildings ensure a view from other places outside the individual apartments is nearly impossible to get thanks to strategically placed windows and the partial barriers the unique balconies we mentioned earlier actually form around each unit that has one, and therefore needs bigger windows.

Inside the building, the social and welcoming spaces like the lobby are very modern looking indeed, but in a way that is formal rather than intimidating or unfriendly. Surfaces are clean and neat, edges and lines are very streamlined, and materials and shapes are contemporary. This theme in materiality and atmosphere follows one into the individual apartments as well, but in a way that is slightly more cozy and homey than on the ground floor where one might encounter the public.

Perhaps the most endearing element of the balconies for both the residents in their private lives and for the decorative sake of those viewing the buildings from the street is the way greenery has been included on each one! Designers Kept the spaces looking welcoming and made them contrast beautifully with the otherwise quite urban scenery surrounding the building by including a small garden with a small, beautiful tree to shade the space at least a little.

Photos by Majid Jahangiri

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Uniquely laid out Patio Apartment created by RAS·A as a private but social living space

By • Sep 4, 2019

On the edges of a growing urban space in Vila do Conde, Portugal, designers and architects at RAS·A have taken the opportunity to turn part of a newly constructed building into a uniquely laid out living space called Patio Apartment!

What makes the building opportunity they took such a good one is the fact that the building the apartment was actually created in was under construction when they selected the space. This meant that walls, rooms, and spaces were being torn down, shifted, and rebuilt building-wide, meaning the space selected by the team was quite customizable.

Rather than being stuck working only within the confines of a specific unit, building teams for the apartment specifically had the chance to alter the physical layout of the unit and all of its rooms to better suit the owners’ vision. The apartment sits at the very top of the building, so the opportunity to create unique outdoor social spaces and provide the owners with fantastic views was there.

From the beginning, the plan was to make a spacious four bedroom apartment that could be shared by friends or family comfortably, featuring lots of unified social spaces meant for bonding without sacrificing private spaces entirely. Designers also wished to create an apartment with more outdoor space than the average unit style living, which is where the whole idea of being built inside a building that was already under construction came in handy.

In the end, the new apartment was afforded a fantastic patio space that it wouldn’t have had before! This provides the owners with a lovely outdoor living, lounging, and entertainment space that also provides beautiful views of the city. The patio is placed quite centrally, which is quite unique for an apartment unit, with the kitchen, dining room, and living room arranged around it.

Having the main interior social spaces of the house arranged in a revolving or spoke-like manner around the outdoor social space creates a sort of blending of shared space. The whole central focus of the apartment becomes those places where the residents will enjoy time all together, leaving the bedrooms like an outer layer of the circle, slightly more removed and private, like personal havens for each person.

Diving space by function like this is actually quite practical for small space living. Rather than making the bedrooms feel isolated, this division of space strategy more so defines the areas of the house in a way that feels sensical and flows well. Easy access to social spaces at any time, but also the ability to opt out into one’s own quiet personal quarters actually fosters a better sense of living in balance with other people, reducing tension and creating cohesion and routine.

Just like the design team was able to take advantage of the convenience of the construction processes themselves, they were also able to take advantage of convenient access to on site materials. This reclaiming actually helped reduce waste production in the building’s overall project and made the process of selecting materials and bringing them to the site cheaper, quicker, and much more efficient.

Design teams chose to make more surfaces of the apartment from white lac, painting the walls and ceiling white to match. The effect was a bright and cheerful open concept space filled with natural sunlight and clean white surfaces. The apartment is also abundant in naturally stained wooden panels, creating a contrasting dialogue with all that pristine white we just talked about.

Overall, the neutral and quite calming colour scheme and materiality gave the apartment a sort of spa-like atmosphere. Decor teams took this idea one step further, adding a comfortable hammock in the living room surrounded by cozy, socially oriented lounge furniture. A bit of greenery on the patio and in the share living space hits the sense of natural relaxation home, as does the addition of a small, old fashioned looking wood fireplace in one corner.

Photos by do mal o menos

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Innovative Aercoustics Offices created by iN Studio to inspired collaboration and productivity in employees

By • Sep 3, 2019

In bustling city streets of Toronto in Canada, creative designers and interior decor specialists at iN Studio have recently completed an office overhaul project on the Aercoustics Offices, a working space for a leading sound engineering firm. The company itself is Toronto-based, so it only makes sense that they’d want their physical representation in their home city to be top notch and of the highest quality! They aimed to create a new space that might showcase their standing as the go-to option in their industry, locally and otherwise. With 10,000 square feet to work with, the goal was certainly achieved!

Aerocoustics is most prominently known for their work in workspaces, architecture, and performance halls, having established themselves as the perfected option for sound engineering throughout the past 40 years. Now, they wanted a workspace that might show off their leading place in the world of industry relevant creative thought as well. Executives hoped that these new offices might better communicate the brand’s dynamic nature and range of services.

In addition to reflecting their eclectic business in terms of its multi-faceted services, executive also wanted the new offices to represent and cater to their relatively young workforce, providing them with a daily work experience that feels progressive. In an ever-growing company culture and an industry that’s always changing and updating, it’s important for the office spaces in which that work is completed and coordinated to “keep up with the times”.

Immediately upon entering the offices, visitors are greeted by the hustle and bustle of the office. This does not, however, occur in a manner that is overwhelming or unwelcoming; instead, the office feels like an exciting and inviting hub of activity, much like the city it was built in. The atmosphere is one of constant innovation and creation happening just beyond the threshold.

For the sake of balance and atmosphere, designers ensured that cutting edge technology and an emphasis on differing workspaces were balanced out with natural elements as well. Green integration was paramount in the plans from the beginning, with lots of plants and leafy displays set prominently through the entrance, collaborative spaces, and private offices.

The materiality of the office might look quite modern upon first sight, but it actually contributes to the natural elements of the aesthetic and energy flow as well! Much of the walls and surfaces within the office’s interior are transparent, giving the office a feeling of openness and connectivity, but also letting views of greenery and natural sunlight from the large windows pass through from office to office and space to space. The light flow from the windows feels bright and cheerful!

In order to let the greenery and sunshine really take centre stage, a rather minimalist colour scheme has been maintained throughout the office at a base level, like a sort of blank canvas. Complementing the plants, inspirational art and graphics have been hung throughout the space to foster creativity and stimulate productivity on a daily basis. These also create a sense of colour popping, which keeps things visually interesting without being distracting.

Of course, given that the company operates in the acoustics industry, sound was a priority in the office’s conception as well. This inherently influenced the appearance of the office as well; executives and designers alike decided that having an office with great sound quality for auditory work was more important than looks or adhering to the industry-wide idea that that good acoustic design is often invisible.

Instead, Aercoustics opted to let all the inner workings of good acoustics show! This gives the office an aesthetic that is at once casual and fresh but also quite industrial influenced. The double height ceilings, for example, have exposed piping and systems running across the tops that are visible in each room. An acoustical sprat was also applied to the ceiling all throughout the office in order to create ideal acoustic environments.

In terms of its spatial organization, the main floor serves primarily as a workspace. This floor features active meeting rooms, which are sizeable enough for large groups and boast state of the art industrial technology. Given that the company’s work involves sound, each meeting room is built to the company’s top specifications for optimal conditions, rendering the board rooms on the first floor almost like a testing lab for different services and products provided to Aercoustic clients.

On the upper floor lies perhaps the most unique element of the office. Called “The Bridge”, this piece is a cutting edge piece of technology that is a sound simulation studio and total industry game changer. It combines ambisonics audio with virtual reality video, allowing Aercoustics to create three-dimensional experiences from static data in new, unprecedented ways.

In work-specific practice, The Bridge allows the company to accurately reproduce all kinds of different acoustic scenarios. This, in turn, allows clients to hear and understand precisely how their prospective space would sound in terms of acoustics and sound quality upon completion. This is ability is something that sets the new offices apart and establishes them an industry leader.

Photos courtesy of the designers.

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Breathtakingly rustic Lakefront Mountain Cabin created by Sandbox Studio

By • Sep 2, 2019

On a stunning waterside plot in the beautifully rural cottage country around Lake Tahoe in California, creative design teams at Sandbox Studio have recently completed a stunning, sprawling family holiday home dubbed the Lakefront Mountain Cabin.

The plot itself is located on the calm, peaceful waters of a little community called Carnelian Bay. The impressive home spans 6,168 square feet and also boasts 200 feet of its very own beachfront. The property is just as impressive on the outside as it is on the inside, with a facade that looks just like a traditional, old fashioned lodge.

The mere fact that this beautiful home is made almost entirely from reclaimed materials is unique in itself, but that’s not actually the most interesting part. Much of the timber upcycled from the local area to build the structure was actually taken from cabins that once housed athletes who were cimpeting in the 1960 Winter Olympics at nearby Squaw Valley!

Primarily thanks to these reclaimed materials, the lodge harmonizes very well with its natural rustic surroundings. It was also intentionally built to take stunning advantage of nearly panoramic views of not only the lake but also the Sierra Nevada foothills. In fact, designers specifically oriented windows so that some kind of breathtaking nature view is afforded to guests from every single room in the house.

Another very intentional element of the house is how certain spaces were both sized and organized. For example, smaller social living spaces were included in the centre of the home with the intention of giving a home to intimate immediate family gatherings while much larger living spaces were built adjacent with more seating and an atmosphere of slightly increased grandeur, where larger gatherings of extended family and friends might take place.

The theme of reclaimed items continues throughout each of these social spaces and doesn’t actually stop at the timber taken from the Olympic cabins. Various items and materials were also sourced far and wide, from naval shipyards right in California to rural barns all the way across the country in Pennsylvania. Some of the heavier timbers were even imported from British Columbia in Canada!

Of course, with a natural outdoor space like this one, the house already comes with an abundance of available outdoor activities practically by default. Designers equipped the home with plenty of deck and patio space to take full advantage of the warmth and fresh air, including seats and open air lounge spaces for family bonding and hosting guests.

Naturally, if one is going to have guests, they’ll need somewhere to sleep, particularly since just about everyone who visits this gorgeous space ends up wanting to stay and enjoy it for as many days as they can. That’s why the house was specifically equipped to handle plenty of overnight visitors. On top of the primary master bedroom and a stunning room for the owners’ children, the cabin also boasts five additional guest suites that rival the master in size.

Perhaps the loveliest of the outdoor lounge spaces is the upper level sun deck, since it gets the most natural light an a gorgeous 360 view. Inside there are plenty of relaxation spaces too, built to include every member of the family no matter their age. Designers even built a kids’ lounge space and a shockingly cozy and unique reading loft with views of its own.

All of these different elements combined in one place have a very particular kind of charm to them. They might be various things ramshackled together, but that’s precisely the intent, and they’re combined in a sensical way that tells a story and has plenty of charm. Designers used the house as an opportunity to find beauty in the rough and discarded and they succeeded to such an extent that the whole place now has an aura of rustic sophistication to it!

Overall, the house welcomes people to each room, from the expansive kitchen to the kitschy guest rooms, with an air of traditional, down-home, old world Lake Tahoe warmth. Every detail is planned and executed in such detail that, even in the most haphazard and reclaimed look parts of the cabin, things fit just right as the lodge itself appears to grow right out of the land it fits so well on.

Photos by Vance Fox Photography

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Bright and airy Modern Beachside Home built by JDesign Group on Australian shores

By • Aug 30, 2019

In the stunning and sunny seashore town of Inverloch, in Victoria, Australia, creative architectural teams at JDesign Group have recently finished a bright and airy holiday house called the Modern Beachside Home.

Besides an emphasis on lots of natural sunlight and a comfortably airy atmosphere, just like one might imagine in a seaside home, a carefully blended aesthetic made up from mixed materials and mixed colour palettes is perhaps what makes the home stand out most in our minds. The home’s exterior facade is the perfect example of what we mean here! It is made from not only timber, but also cemintel cladding and careful blockwork.

The previously mentioned cladding is more than just a design choice in its materiality. It was actually selected based on a desire for energy efficiency and green home systems as well. Cemintal cladding is a lightweight material manufactured in Australia. The process of making and installing these panels is low-waste and efficient and their effect is to increase passive temperature control and reduce energy waste in homes. They also paint well for colour customization!

This particular beach home puts the cladding to good use across its top level. The house has two storeys with several cubic looking sections and volumes stacked on top of and fit efficiently around each other in a way that is most pleasing to look at from street level. The shape gives it a sense of modernity even while certain decor elements add that more traditional seaside charm.


Rather than concentrating solely on colour scheme, which is undoubtedly important within the home and balances natural woods with a full spectrum of blue, teal, and grey shades, designers chose to establish decorum using texture as well. Clean lines and harder materials like glass, metal, wood, and tile are contrasted with comfy window nooks and floor cushions.

Perhaps the most appealing part of the house, in our opinion, is the fact that outdoor space was built with just as much care and consideration as the inside living areas were. The large deck boasts stunning views, welcoming seating spaces designed for entertaining guests, and a pool for cooling off between lounge sessions. The coated wood keeps things warm and typical of the beach-y setting, but doesn’t heat up to the point that it hurts your feet!

Given that the pool and deck are such central spots in the home’s social spaces, designers wanted to ensure that dwellers and guests could access them easily from just about anywhere in the house. This accounts for the presence of several sets of floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, which help blend indoor and outdoor spaces very well. This is also why the winding staircase, which also adds interesting visual detail, was included, giving direct deck access to the bedrooms on the top storey!

In the spots that are painted grey, there’s actually an intentionality behind this as well. Designers strategically placed grey painted walls in spots that might visually reflect or beautifully complement and contrast with the rocky elements of the natural settings around the house. It’s primarily sand, water, and greenery, but the occasional rock face and crag within view lets they grey colour ground the house well.

Photos by Warren Reed Photography

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Brazilian Campinarana House created by Laurent Troost Architectures with the need for climate protection in mind

By • Aug 29, 2019

On a beautifully green plot of land in Manaus, Brazil, a stunning, almost treehouse-like residence was recently completed by innovative teams at Laurent Troost Architectures, dubbing it Campinarana House!

Building a home in the Amazon’s surrounding area comes with its own unique set of challenges. Firstly, it is absolutely necessary for environmental protection and climate change purposes that architects and building teams use low impact strategies in the construction processes in order to protect the crucially important natural landscapes around the plots they’re working on.

Additionally, the actual local climate present in places like Brazil, and Manaus specifically, makes it important for design teams to account for the possibility of extreme weather conditions, since the whole area sits in an equatorial zone. Impressively, the teams working on Campinarana House achieved both of these goals and prioritized all of the needs covered by these challenges!

Throughout the house, the architectural practices and building techniques used and featured are all ones geared towards effective thermal comfort and passive (and therefore “green”) sustainability. Campinarana House is built from an unique and cutting edge combination of protective eaves, cross-ventilation openings, and preservation mechanisms for the local ecological systems surrounding the house itself.

In fact, the entire house was actually inspired by, and not just named after, local environmental elements. Campinarana is actually a type of small tree found in the Amazon, known for growing in shallow, clay-like soil. The concept of preserving these trees and the soil they thrive in was central to the whole design of this housing project!

The minimization of deforestation required by building this project was absolutely paramount to both the design teams and the owners. Instead, they wanted to preserve as much of the surrounding forest as they possibly could. This is partially what determined the shape and layout of the house; designers wanted to build between, around, above, and through the trees rather than clearing them out to build in the space where they once stood. The effect was that they aimed to work with the space that was naturally provided rather than making any new space.

In practice, this resulted in a sort of “layout flip” to what’s typical, or a reversal of more classic housing typologies. Within the 20 x 40 square metre plot, the house grows upwards into the trees, rather than outwards through their trunks and roots. The private and sleeping rooms, which are more typically put upstairs, are located on the ground floor, while the shared living spaces, outdoor seating areas, kitchen, and swimming pool are all located on the upper deck, where they could be created a little more spaciously without interrupting the natural and crucial landscape.

The house, which exists as two distinct but cohesive volumes, was strategically divided to harness the power of natural heating and cooler powers offered by the climate it exists in. For example, the top portion of the house was purposely built to house functions that benefit from sun exposure, like the pool, the entryway, and the laundry. The lower volume, however, was built as a refuge for those places that would do better with protection from harsh sunlight. This keeps the bedrooms, for example, cooler, quieter, and more private.

Effective cross-ventilation is also essential to the passive heating and cooling systems of the house. This accounts for the strategic placement of closed and open-air spaces on the top level, as well as the presence of large windows or glass walls and how they move on the lower floor. This keeps thermal elements of the house under control, which in turn keeps the house as a whole very low in its energy consumption levels, and therefore enables it to have a lower impact on the environment.

The decor scheme of the house is simple, natural, and clean. Glass is used heavily in order to create a visual blending of indoor and outdoor spaces, letting the house exist in and around the trees in a way that feels and looks impressively seamless. Polished concrete, black marble, and wood make up most of the rest of the home’s natural materiality. Decor is quite minimalist, but not in a way that feels cold or under done. Instead, it lets the lush greenery right outside the glass walls feel like a part of the home and take centre stage in establishing the colours and aesthetics of the home’s experience.

Photos by Maira Acayaba

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