Author Archives - Stefan
By Stefan • 2 days ago
On a quiet, rural street in Belgium, STAARC ingenieurs en architecten has completed a unique housing project that was designed to give a young family lots of space despite their limited land plot by using open concepts and working vertically!
Besides concentrating on providing the owners and their kids with open but cozy spaces, designers also aimed to build them a house that is affordable up front thanks to materiality, but also affordable down the road thanks to energy efficiency. Careful plans were laid and that precise goal was achieved, much to everyone’s delight!
Because the area of land that was most suitable to build the house on within the family’s plot was quite small, it was paramount that designers work carefully with the space they did have to make something quite space efficient and compact. To make this happen, they created a dynamic structure that feels spacious thanks to its open concept but that also takes up a small square footage thanks to the way it grows vertically rather than sprawling wide.
This open concept layout does more than just help the space seem a little bigger and free flowing! Lack of solid barriers between rooms and spaces means that airflow is simpler, which in turn means that the entire house is easier and more affordable to heat in the winter and cool in the summer. Besides that, it means all rooms have lovely views out the windows, which can be seen from basically anywhere in the house!
The primary technique for making the house feel open and breathable was to build all of the private rooms around a central open space that extends from the ground floor all the way upwards to the very top ceiling above the second floor. Close rooms like washrooms and bedrooms are arranged around the outside of this open space like a border, so no privacy is lost despite the fact that so much open social and bonding space exists.
To achieve this wide open structure in the centre but still build a vertically extending house, split levels were employed! This breaks down traditional boundaries between different rooms and floors and lets sunlight and sound use space that might otherwise be unnecessarily filled or wasted. The act of climbing the ladder-like stairs and walking the ramp from one split level of the upstairs space to the other, passing the empty area in between, feels almost like you’re in a treehouse!
Within this very open house, there’s actually quite a careful system of insulation in place to make sure it’s not actually left open to the elements of the seasonal weather. A great deal of attention was paid to air sealing and air tightness, particularly where things like the sprawling windows we just described were installed. An air-to-water heat pump also provides floor heating, while solar panels on the roof put the cherry on top of the energy efficient cake.
You’ll notice an emphasis on natural materials the moment you walk through the door; this comes partially in the form of light wooden details and is partially created by the concrete floors that give things an ever so slight industrial feel without sacrificing a homey atmosphere.
Outside, a red brick exterior provides character similar to that of a farmhouse of one of the traditional cottages of the area, but with a heightened, modern twist. Red isn’t the only colour pop the house is afforded; bright green tiles, fittings, and details can be found throughout the home in all different rooms, from the ground floor to the upper bathroom. This creates a consistent theme and ties the different rooms together in a way that feels cohesive.
Photos by Bam Track
By Stefan • Apr 18, 2019
In the bustling urban area of downtown Chicago, Perkins+Will has recently completed a workspace renovation for the Skender Construction Offices that’s designed to inspire its employees to work a little differently than they might be used to!
Compared to their old space, these new offices are much more community-oriented. They have a much more open layout throughout the entire office space, fostering an easier time working together amongst employees when necessary. Project partners can find a common area or a secluded corner to discuss their work in or industry associates and clients can meet with experts in interesting, less traditional places that the regular “stuffy office” might not offer.
Besides just renovating an older space, the company actually moved their office as well, meaning the entire area around the office is also new to their staff. Of course, this requires a touch of adjustment, but it mostly signals a fresh start in their vibrant new workplace. This move was part of the ongoing positive evolution that Skender sees for their company and its employees.
To start, designers actually met with company leaders and their employees and let the people who will be using the space at ground level weigh in about what kinds of changes they wanted to see and how their needs might be met even better than they are already. This discussion process gave company representatives at all level some small hand in the office’s new redesign.
The central feature of the new space is a sort of workplace social hub at the heart of the office. This is where staff, from their private work areas, are easily and quickly connected to a thoroughly collaborative environment with plenty of space for different groups to work in at once.
Extending off that central space are three smaller but still spacious and very diverse spaces that might be used for a number of multifaceted purposes. These range from group meetings, break time, private moments, or simply a change of scenery. Sometimes industry events and town hall meetings are even held in the new meeting rooms at Skender. At any given point, the new spaces might house up to 600 people quite comfortably.
Lighting and decor play a huge role in the atmosphere of the office as well. Large windows provide natural light but interestingly shaped and clean, white LED lights are placed throughout the office for function and decor as well. The furniture, which is quite decorative, hits somewhere between homey and mod, giving employees a day to day change of scenery but also a sense of familiar comfort.
Because the office is so unique in its open concept and collaborative tenets and layout, several industry and client related tours have actually been requested and lead since its completed. This has allowed an increased networking opportunity for all professionals involved while also letting the companies show off their fantastic new space.
Photos by Hall + Merrick Photographers
Publishing house IMQ Editorial created by KLM Arquitectos reflects its multifaceted neighbourhood and diverse urban setting
By Stefan • Apr 17, 2019
In the city centre of Buenos Aires, Argentina, innovative design teams at KLM Arquitectos have recently renovated the publishing house IMQ Editorial, giving it a modernized feel much more suited to its urban location and diverse neighbourhood.
Though wildly successful, this publishing house is small and specialized. It primarily publishes kids’ books that have some kind of scientific content! The functional needs of the company are quite simple, which worked well with the slight limitations of small urban office spaces typical to the area. Besides a reception area and some small offices, the company also needed a reading area, a kitchen, some meeting rooms, and an accessible terrace for staff and industry client use.
The update for the publishing house was a long time coming but was perfectly timed, as the mixed-use neighbourhood it currently sits in has hit a period of transformation and change. The streets surrounding it are home to light industrial warehouses, diverse housing types, commercial spaces, and even some mechanical repair shops.
On the exterior, the building is a concrete cube that has been hollowed out to provide the publishing space on the inside. Rather than looking cold, however, the light concrete picks up the sun and looks stylishly industrial. It stands quite high, which designers took full advantage of on the inside, organizing offices and workspaces between three separate floors.
To keep things bright and feeling airy, an empty column of space extends up the centre of the entire building, with the offices placed around it like a border on each floor. This space spans from the ground floor all the way up to the ceiling, with a staircase winding upwards in the same fashion from floor to floor as well. The cubic shape you see on the outside is preserved here.
On the inside, the decor scheme doesn’t have much relationship with the streetscape outside its walls. That’s okay, though, because the effect is a transformational one! Rather than seeing urban textures and styles reflected in the interiors, you experience a shift into light woods, white surfaces, shining glass, and natural light bathing all of it thoroughly. The effect is comforting and quite playful, particularly in contrast to the slightly more stern exterior facade.
The very materiality of the interior decor scheme creates contrast with the bustling city outside the building’s doors as well! Nearly all materials you’ll find inside are very natural (and were even sourced and reclaimed locally), so the atmosphere inside contrasts well with the industrial street life just a few feet away on the sidewalk.
Photos by Javier Agustin Rojas
Mississippi’s Gator House created by emerymcclure architecture to emulate owners’ childhood summers by the river
By Stefan • Apr 16, 2019
Have you ever had fond memories of a beautiful summertime getaway that you remember visiting and adoring as a child but that you haven’t been back to since? Well, that’s exactly the kind of nostalgia that motivated emerymcclure architecture‘s latest dream home project in Mississippi!
The Gator House is a stunning, sprawling Southern ranch style house that is modelled after the riverside escapes that the owners’ remember spending their childhood summers running along. Located in a slightly remote location off a busy state highway, the house was created alongside a false river that happened to present the perfect site for building.
In reality, the “little river” that Gator House sits along is actually part of an oxbow lake that was created naturally by the uneven flow of the much larger Mississippi River. This serene piece of waterfront lies in a skinny inlet in the river bank, surrounded by cypress trees that are at least 100 years old.
From the road leading up to Gator House down to the little lake, a slope steeps quite sharply towards the water. This slope is why one end of Gator House, which is a long, narrow building, stands on stilts! This way, designers were able to build with the natural terrain rather than cutting into it, while also keeping the floors of the house even and flat for comfortable living.
Gator House was designed as a sort of camp house for spending hot summer days in. The owners’ frequently spend weekends there and make visits during fishing season, staying for long periods of just a few days, depending on their schedule. Their space is fully equipped for permanent living but simple enough to clean and care for that it’s also the perfect place for mini stay-cations and bonding with family during special times, like an escape from everyday life.
Since the whole point of the lovely house is to emulate summers spent outdoors, doing things like camping, the house has been built with quite an open concept structure so that as much fresh air and sunshine can be sought as possible. A long deck, for example, provides a semi-outdoor social space where people can draw back the walls entirely for a warm breeze but also seek some shade from the hot Southern sun.
Indoor and outdoor bonding spaces like this are dotted all throughout the ground floor and all around the completely wrapping deck space. Inside, bedrooms featuring bunk beds and lots of room for guests can be found, decorated in a comforting, homey way. These things are part of what make Gator House the perfect summer retreat with family and friends.
Photos by James Osbourne IV
By Stefan • Apr 15, 2019
Under the sunny skies of Haifa, Israel, the stunning indoor-outdoor residential retreat called House F was recently finished by A.M.N Architecture. The primary goal with this lovely, sunny project was to created a modern, simplistic space that has all the amenities of contemporary living while still harnessing the beauty of an outdoor space on a warm, sunny day.
Though quite minimalist in its lines, colours schemes and shapes, House F is not the kind of home that is so modern that it sacrifices comfort. Instead, it uses light and wide open spaces, along with the occasional unique shape to contrast its modern straight lines, to create a blended experience that draws attention and makes fresh air and enjoyment of private greenery part of the experience.
Possibly the most noticeable thing about the space is the emphasis on windows. In every room of the house, floor to ceiling windows lets natural sunlight dazzle just about every corner (but, thanks to modern glass finishes and good air flow, without heating the place up beyond comfort). Because of the open concept layout in most of the house, this light can spill through from room to room, flowing just as easily as movement or conversation does between spaces.
This sense of easy flow and blended space carries on past just the borders of the house itself; in more than one place, walls actually slide back almost entirely to transform interior spots into an indoor-outdoor experience, allowing natural light to travel even further!
On the ground floor, for example, a stunning social seating area off to the side of the kitchen turns into a veritable patio when the floor to ceiling glass doors are recessed back to make it feel as though the wall has disappeared and the room extends right into the gorgeous yard by the poolside.
Despite all this wide open space and visibility, House F doesn’t actually rob dwellers or intimate spaces or private experiences either. Instead, easy to use shades are installed with most windows and glass walls and bedrooms are well equipped with pristine white doors despite the open concept layout elsewhere. Designers understood that, even in a place where the goal is shared space and blended rooms, sometimes a little alone time is important.
Besides being open, modern, and well lit, House F is also energy efficient! A lot of the temperate regulation and air flow takes place naturally as features like the indoor-outdoor patio are used during daily life routines. Opening the glass walls releases how air and allows a rush of cool air and ongoing circulation. Designers also built a perfectly angled shade structure into the facade of the house on the South side to hide some of the biggest windows from the sun’s direct rays during the hottest part of the day without really sacrificing any of that beloved sunlight.
During other parts of the year, the smart glass windows keep the inner spaces a little more heated while solar panels run what systems must be used. These various features reduce the frequency with which heating and air conditioning must be used, while the panels reduce the need for electrical power use in the house overall. It’s a truly green space!
House F might look extremely modern, but many of the materials used to create it are actually quite natural and more in tune with the outdoor space surrounding it than its actual modern aesthetic. For example, natural concrete is used to make up many primary features of the structure, such as the entrance and the stairs, while other parts of the home are finished in lovely stained wood to create a contrast. Most furnishings are made with reclaimed white oak, finishing off the natural colour scheme quite nicely.
Photos by Uzi Porat
Distinguished new private law firm offices completed by Studio Thelma Epstein in Sao Paulo for a practice that values sophistication
By Stefan • Apr 12, 2019
In the downtown corporate area of Sao Paulo, Brazil, highly respected and innovated design and architectural teams at Studio Thelma Epstein recently completed a high-end private space for a notable law firm. This office space provides more than just an effective working environment for its employees; it’s also a fantastic example of places that provide an experience of sophisticated professionalism to its clients and cohorts as well.
This office had a head start in its pomp and circumstance because it’s actually located in one of the most distinguished corporate buildings in the whole city of Sao Paulo. The designers and client alike, however, aimed to make this particular space stand out compared to the other stunning offices around it rather than just relying on the default sophistication that the space already provided.
This goal was achieved by elaborating on the distinguished details that already existed, resulting in an atmosphere and aesthetic that looks high end and contemporary but also sober and serious, as though you can sense immediately upon walking through the door that expectations and standards in this place are high. This aligns perfectly with the values and reputation of the law firm itself.
Visual esteem wasn’t the only goal in building these magnificent offices. They also needed to provide employees with everything they need day to day amidst the glamour. This priority accounts for the spacious social and meeting rooms, the high windows allowing for lots of natural light, the quiet private office spaces, and the unique lighting fixtures that add a particular luminosity to the space in partnership with the windows.
Overall, the effect here was to created a fully functional, hardworking office that has a generalized sense of refinement in the subtle details so as to almost look slightly understated. What you might not notice just by looking at the office is that the space is also a highly developed tech project. The entire workspace, for example, features automation which controls efficient, energy saving heating and cooling systems, controls al LED lights, connects and enables video conferencing capabilities, and runs network devices. The goal here was to make things as user friendly but high tech and efficient as possible and the setup is actually quite cutting edge.
In the entryway of the office, stunning wooden side panels that perfectly frame natural and artificial light in one place and let it spill into the hallway entices visitor attention immediately. Natural stone adds a luxurious touch in the floor and around the bases of the walls and leading up to the walnut and marble reception desk, with state of the art inlaid lighting glowing along the whole walk from the elevators.
That same walnut element that keeps things looking a little bit understated in a calm, classy way continues into the main office space, where it can be noted in the details of the meeting rooms, CEO offices, and lounge areas. Glass partitions between these spaces allow light to flow and spaces to feel open even in a context where privacy and quiet work spaces are often necessary.
Despite the clear concentration on efficient and high class workspaces, there is an emphasis on break and social time as well. There is, for example, a coffee break balcony near the full functional kitchen that employees and visitors alike are encouraged to use for some entertainment and relaxation to keep them concentrated well and feeling good during the workday.
Even the bathrooms in this office bear a strong sense of sophistication and subtle high end drama. In fact, a client once compared them to those one might find in a designer boutique hotel! The monochromatic palette that adorns the rest of the space continues into this private area, creating a sense of cohesion.
Photos by Filippo Bamberghi
Stunning South Korean home Yongin Dongsanjae built by Lee.haan.architects around a beautiful private garden
By Stefan • Apr 11, 2019
Standing on a unique site in Yongin, South Korea, the Yongin Dongsanjae home by Lee.haan.architects was recently created around the kind of private garden so beautiful you can hardly believe it’s real. What’s even better is that the house itself is breathtaking too!
The house stands in a city, but it’s lucky enough to be located on a plot that has the buffer of larger, quiet, and quite lovely apartment buildings on each side. This affords is a slightly quieter and more private location than most city dwellings have, giving it a sort of buffer on one side where a lovely green space of its own can be enjoyed.
This brand new house was built for a busy, social couple in their 50s who have two grown up children. Hosting friends, family, and guests is a big part of their lifestyle and that was heavily kept in mind during design and conceptualization. Among other priorities were a free flowing layout, lots of natural light, and, of course, fantastic outdoor space.
To account for the fact that the house is surrounded by other buildings on three of its four sides, designers chose to arrange this new dwelling in an L-shape, thereby creating private space in the centre that can be enjoyed like a private oasis in the back and middle. The garden that was established in that space opens towards the already existing green space that runs along the open side. This makes it feel bigger without sacrificing any of the privacy that makes it feel like its own little getaway. A stunning cherry blossom tree grows in the centre, giving the green space some focus.
On the ground floor of the house, the living room and kitchen blend with each other, delineated by furniture and function rather by walls that cut off sound and visuals. This space also opens out fully into the garden thanks to a set of floor to ceiling retratcing glass walls that keep the space bright and cheerful even on gloomy days. Even the staircase leading up to the private rooms feels open, thanks to it awesomely modern “floating” style.
On the second floor, besides large bedrooms, you’ll find a private upper terrace that sits tucked away from neighbours’ eyes thanks to the way designers kind of tucked it into the hallway’s space. This terrace gives additional laters to the very indoor-outdoor theme throughout the house and provides a lovely view of the neigbouthood past the house’s sloping roof. A skylight in the corridor works with more floor to ceiling windows to provide the whole upper floor with as much light as the ground floor.
In term of materiality, the house is made primarily of stone and wood for durability. The exterior will weather the changes in climate well throughout the year but the house still has a calming, natural sense to it thanks to these materials, despite its quite modern features. Both the stone and the wood have been left with quite a bit of their natural texture purposely for a homey, friendly atmosphere.
Photos by Youngchae Park
House by The Forest by cakov+partners is a natural wood and concrete haven outside historical Prague
By Stefan • Apr 10, 2019
Just outside the limits of the stunningly historical city of Prague, in the Czech Republic, sits a newly finished house that blends well with and fully takes in the beauty of its forest surroundings. The appropriately named House by The Forest is the latest residential creating from cakov+partners.
The small, rural area that the house actually stands in is a charming town called Ostružná. This house was built for a young family whose ideal living situation was to have direct contact with the landscape and a relationship with their natural surroundings. The first floor is constructed using brick tiling that is typical of the country houses in the area, but it’s placed on a visible concrete base for some slightly more modern looking but still natural stability.
The house, though stunning, was actually created on quite a strict budget, since the family is quite young. Even so, designers worked with their clients to achieve a space with beauty, functionality, and longevity. The house, though spacious, was kept quite small compared to the plot of land it sits on, giving the family plenty of outdoor room to enjoy together.
Another huge priority in the building of this house was natural light and windows. Slats in the walls are filled with crystal clear windows all around the home’s border and the living, kitchen, and dining room even features floor to ceiling glass doors that slide open all the way and further blend this open concept social space with the fresh air and yard outside.
Because the plot is at the end of the village, the family is afforded a decent closeness to neighbours but quite a lot of rural space and privacy. It is set back from the street and blinds aren’t necessarily always used because the area beyond the plot’s limits is a seemingly boundless stretch of nature. This house, made primarily of concrete and wood, rises up from the landscape without seeming to interrupt it harshly.
Between the quite, natural location, the big windows, and the wonderfully green view, just about every room in the house is afforded a quiet sense of serenity, like you’re alone with nature for miles around (even though civilization is quite accessible in case of an emergency). The way the house is situated lets the big windows bathe just about any corner in natural light, even on a gloomy day.
Despite the fact that the house is built with such hefty, durable materials to ensure that its care is low maintenance, it’s not without its whimsical aspects. The stunning window bench topped with a comfortable cushion is the perfect example of what we mean. It sits nestled in a particularly sunny corner of the main living space with a perfect green view outside, a great spot for catching a nap or reading a book. Nearby, some modern and unique ceiling lights are mounted for those rare days when the sun isn’t doing the trick.
Photos by Metodiy Monev
Villa Helios by SWA Architects is a stunning vacation rental destination in Turks and Caicos with a view that’s practically out of this world
By Stefan • Apr 9, 2019
Along the stunning tropical beaches of Turks and Caicos, as part of the Long Bay Beach Club, the breathtaking retreat Villa Helios was recently completed by SWA Architects. Its beautiful blend of indoor and outdoor spaces and turquoise hues highlight the view so well that onlookers can hardly believe it’s real.
Whether you’re taking a relaxing bath, eating dinner with your family, or lounging on the beach recliners that sit right outside the villa’s doors, the stunning view of shockingly bright, clear waters is never far away. In fact, that was the whole point of the house when designers began conceptualizing it! With a view so perfect so close by, there should be just about no point where you can’t soak it up, even if you’ve gone inside for the night.
Besides just giving you access to the lovely oceanside, this villa also gives you the option of swimming in a private pool. This pool makes it easier to keep little ones close by where you can keep an eye on them while they swim, enjoy some private family time, or take a quick, relaxing dip before you call it day (without getting sand between your toes again).
In order to accentuate the stunning turquoise and blue shades of the water and sky sitting right outside the window, interior decorators finishing off the villa decided to bring those colours inside as well. In every room of the house, small and large details and features can be found bearing the same bright hues as the view just beyond the windows.
The effect of this ongoing colour scheme is profound, creating a cohesiveness throughout the whole building and its surrounding area that feels complete, whole, and uplifting, since it’s such a cheerful colour. The continuity between the view and the decor really makes it feel like the lovely outside area has joined you inside too.
Because the villa is designed for vacation time, relaxation, and bonding, there are plenty of social space to choose from, depending on the time of day. A quiet night in might be spent in the media room, while dinner or snacks might be served at the large dining table or barstool style kitchen seating. If the weather is fine late into the night (which is almost always is), a big patio seating area lets you and all your guests appreciate the view of the water from sun up to sun down.
Besides the pops of turquoise and blue, the villa’s colour scheme is quite natural and neutral, making the bright shades in the details stand out even more. Most surfaces are a pristine, gleaming white that creates a lovely contrast with the teal hues, while other transitionally coloured pieces are made from a lovely reclaimed wood with a natural finish.
The emphasis on indoor-outdoor spaces is so thorough in this heavenly villa that even the bedrooms feature large doors that can be fully thrown open to the seaside breezes, as though the wall has disappeared. In each room, the bed is oriented towards the windows and balconies so that you wake up to that stunning view that attracted you to Turks and Caicos in the first place the moment you open your eyes each morning.
Photos by Provo Pictures
By Stefan • Apr 8, 2019
If you’re the kind of person for whom colour takes an unconventionally large priority for in your life, then we have a feeling you’re going to positively adore this breathtaking Bahamian getaway designed by New York based creative Trish Becker. Chatterbox House is a stunning pastel palace that gives its street a bit of mod but also vintage inspired colonial personality.
Nestled onto the coast of Harbour Island, in the Bahamas, Chatterbox House looks like a small but grand, stately cottage was designed by someone who loves unicorns. Some of the finer details might be white or wood finish, but most of the interior decor is mint and pastel pink. In fact, this lovely colour scheme is so pervasive in the house’s identity that it’s even reflected in the exterior of the house itself!
Located in the heart of Dunmore Town, the original cottage was first built in the 1800s, which is where it gets its classic, slightly more traditional Bahamian charm. In fact, similar cottages can be seen elsewhere on the street that Chatterbox House calls home. Because most of the changes that took place were subtle updates and changes in decor, a lot of the classic architectural style that’s so authentic to the island remains, which is part of the building’s glory.
When Becker decided to restore the old house, she had no doubt that the best way to give it a facelift was to add a little more contemporary personality to its already existing charm. Her and her team chose to do so through colours, patterns, and textures! This exciting blend of visual makes the house a Caribbean getaway that’s more than a little notorious, especially in the local area.
While the inside of the house has a classic wooden element that’s full of traditional Bahamian charm the outside is a bit more like a dreamland. The entire base exterior of the house is a soft, cheerful pink that’s even lighter than bubblegum, while the shutters and some trim details are a lovely mint that stands out against the pink very well and picks up tones in the blue sky and water on the horizon.
The house is abundant in social spaces (because how could you not host guests when you’re living in a place that’s so dreamy?), but perhaps the best one is the stunning white wood deck that’s a detailed recreation of the original. Porch portion of the outer deck features a bamboo mini bar and a fully equipped seating area with low tables and patterned cushion clad chairs.
From there, you can take visitors up to the first rooftop deck, where several sunny day beds lie in wait for those hours you might spend soaking up rays. Near the half-door, a ladder extends upwards one more floor to a crow’s nest style rooftop spot that’s like a prime relaxation destination with the best view around.
Photos by Annie Schlechter
In the stunningly sunny city centre of Ponte de Sor in Portugal a wonderfully contemporary building that’s modern in both its aesthetic and functionality was recently completed by Nuno Piedade Alexandre to serve as the brand new Elderly Care Centre.
When the proposal was originally put forth, the challenge was to create a building that will present something new but also blend well and have a good connection with the wider complex in which it sits. Inside, the goal was to provide as many bedrooms as possible without sacrificing too much space or getting in the way of the patients wellbeing as top priority.
The finished building features 10 double rooms and four individual rooms, each one fully equipped with en suite bathroom facilities for ease and privacy. Designers aimed to make the bedrooms and all patient spaces as spacious as possible without wasting any space, because space efficiency was also high on the list of priorities as well.
By fitting the rooms comfortably and sensibly into a building that’s perfectly tailored for the available space near the residence’s main building (this particular part of the Centre is a contemporary extension), designers aimed to provide an experience within that space that’s user focused. By this, we mean that the person themselves and what they need becomes to whole purpose of the room.
This is achieved in part through dematerialization. Of course, we don’t mean that no creature comforts are provided! Rather, a calming and serene sort of minimalism is the style followed throughout the rooms. At the same time, decorative elements are not foregone. This is evident even in the building’s impressive exterior.
You see, the facade of the Centre is distorted and made to look geometric and interesting thanks to the way the rooms are allowed every so slightly to extent past the boundaries of the walls where the windows are located. The overall effect from the outside is almost sculptural, rendering the new Centre a sort of landmark in the town thanks to its eye catching nature.
As part of its indoor minimalism, the rooms inside the building are purposely positioned to capture as much of the lovely outdoor view beyond them as possible. This is something the large windows and their angled protrusions helps with as well. The goal here was to bring vast amounts of sunny, natural daylight into each room for when patients aren’t able to actually go out and experience it beyond their beds on a given day.
These same windows are really the key to the designers’ goals of facilitating communication between the building and its surrounding space and landscape. It might sit closer to the other buildings its patients need access to, making it a functional urban setting, but it also provides wonderfully framed views of the sprawling trees in its yard so no one resting in its beds has to struggle to enjoy nature.
Photos by João Morgado
Mitsuhiro Shoji completes the stunning two-level Modern Wooden Apartment amidst the bustling city skyline of Shanghai
By Stefan • Apr 4, 2019
In the heart of busy Shanghai in China, Mitsuhiro Shoji recently completed the stunning and surprisingly serene Modern Wooden Apartment for a young family with an active, bustling lifestyle.
The first thing visitors usually notice about this innovative residence is its size. Simply put, the apartment is very small! In fact, if takes up only 47 square metres, which is a feat even for the more space efficient standards typical of city life in Shanghai.
The main concept that designers worked with in the making of this apartment was that they wanted to build maximum subtle and space efficient storage into the walls and available spaces in order to make a small home feel a sense of spatial richness through lack of clutter.
To make this happen, designers had most of the furniture included in the photos custom made for the space in order to get the dimensions that would work best. This and their carefully selected materiality helped them build an aesthetic that feels carefree and sophisticated all at once.
The primary materials the designers chose were primitive. They stuck to quite natural feeling things like bamboo, iron, and laminated wood. This incorporates some element of the traditional in with the very contemporary city feel of the apartment’s layout. This is actually a combination that is quite typical or urban spaces in Shanghai, but Modern Wooden Apartment takes that atmosphere to an impressive new height.
In the main living spaces, you’ll find wood used heavily. One of the most noticeable pieces (besides the stunning cut wood dining table) is the retracting kitchen door that gives the dining room some privacy and delineation. This is made from slats of wood that slide right into the wall when you want to keep the space open.
Despite its very small space, the innovative little apartment actually features two levels. The first floor is home to the communal, social, and hosting areas while the upper floor features a bedroom and tatami room. Although the company is based in China, they chose to work with the family’s heritage and follow traditional Japanese culture by including the tatami room, which is actually quite typical in the area.
The stunning tatami room, which sits to the side of the master bedroom, might be used to host guests, conduct tea ceremonies, or serve as a sort of home religious altar.
Photos by Kenta Hasegawa
Design teams at Debaixo do Bloco create a stunning art gallery in Sao Paulo entirely from neat concrete blocks
By Stefan • Apr 3, 2019
In the midst of busy city life in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the breathtakingly serene and beautiful Concrete Block Art Gallery was recently completed by Debaixo do Bloco to provide visitors with a calming space in which to enjoy art, greenery, and literature in peace.
The building in which the gallery is housed occupies a surprisingly narrow plot for how much wonder it features inside. The whole space where the structure was built is only 13 metres long and 4.5 metres wide. The concrete of its facade creates a sense of communication between the gallery and its urban street setting but its texture also makes it stand out rather than blending entirely.
This is because of the stunning precast concrete that makes up the building’s exterior detailing. A sort of textured geometric stacking pattern results, framed perfectly on all sides and up top (where a beautiful rooftop garden sits) by luscious greenery, which balances the concrete in a truly beautiful way.
Originally tasked with the challenge of create a new space for the gallery, which was being moved from another location at the time, designers aimed to make the fresh spot look like the pieces are being displayed comfortably in someone’s home. This is part of the reason they decided to split the art between two main levels and include lots of seating from which people can appreciate the works.
Besides the two main floors, the new gallery also features the rooftop garden terrace we mentioned before, a free space that gets diverse use, a bathroom with its own miniature indoor-outdoor garden, and an office that might be turned into a cafe sometime in the future.
Starting where the awesomely geometric concrete facade ends, the building is clad with cobogos. These are a type of structure concrete wall with beautifully shaped cut outs that give a space a bit of privacy and delineation in their decorative standing without making it feel cut off from the outside world. This lets sunlight into the gallery in a way that is actually quite reminiscient of the local architecture.
Insides, a staircase leads up the centre of the gallery from the ground floor to the second. These stairs are made with plaques supported by a central beam. At the top of the staircase, the beam serves as a spot for displaying additional artwork amidst its cheerful yellow screen feature.
Throughout the whole space, large windows let natural light perfectly highlight the art hung carefully on almost every inch of the walls. These windows also establish a stunning sense of communication between the peaceful interior and the city street outside. Around both floors, visitors experience a strongly established colour scheme made primarily of yellow, grey, and black.
This colour scheme stretches from the ground floor all the way up to the stunning terrace at the top, broken only by the green of the luscious plants all around and the colours in the paintings. Those paintings and frames themselves are hung with extreme care; they’re suspended on chains rather than hooks or nails so they can be displayed at all different heights without damaging the art or the walls.
Photos by Joana França
By Stefan • Apr 2, 2019
The beauty of the stunningly fresh looking and very newly finished Oasis Apartment by Lim + Lu might sit partially in its lovely aesthetic, but it’s also largely due to the story of its origins. You see, this impressive new home in Hong Kong, China, was refurbished from an abandoned apartment that was left empty to age and deteriorate.
Taking up 1,200 square feet, the apartment is now a peaceful, lovely haven that looks like the kind of place you might take a vacation in, which is even more wild to think about when you consider that is sat uncared for in the quarry bay neighbourhood for over 15 years before the new designers transformed it.
Originally owned by a man who spent nearly his whole life in the apartment itself, it was abandoned when he suddenly traveled away from Hong Kong, leaving everything behind in its place and never returning. About a year ago, designers visited the site and noticed how it looks as though time had simply been standing still the moment you walked through the door. They remarked to each other that the outdated but incredibly authentic scene inside was reminiscent of an old Wong Kar Wai movie.
In the newly transformed apartment, designers chose to keep a few original elements untouched in order to give the home a sense of unmatched character. Primarily, visitors might notice a series of old concrete beams visibly covered in chipped orange and green paint. These were preserved in their original condition from the abandoned apartment to give it some detailing that simple cannot be replicated in modern spaces in quite the same rustically kitschy way.
The shades of orange and green, long faded over time, create a lovely visual contrast with the pristinely new white walls. They also complement the warm, neutral palette of the wooden walls and details, which are made of oak, and play off the various brass accents that are found in nearly every room throughout the apartment.
In terms of its layout, the apartment is quite open and contemporary. Designers opted for a mixture of materials to offset the fact that they intended to keep some old painted concrete anyways. Now, besides that, the apartment features the oak and brass we already mentioned and also a heavy element of marble. The goal here was to mix old and new through materiality.
Besides wanting to simply make the apartment look nice, designers adored the idea that the home’s story and the act of keeping a few elements in their original condition almost made the very concept of time part of the material palette. The team and the new owners alike found this incredibly poetic.
Outside, the owners are afforded several lovely views of the apartment’s surrounding urban area. In order to give owners something besides a cityscape to look at, however, designers aimed to make the interior of the apartment artistic enough that it might feel like a view as well; one private to the owners’ enjoyment.
This is part of why clear elements of nature have been incorporated into the apartment in lovely ways. Greenery helps to make the home feel a little more like an escape from busy life, taking one’s mind off the hustle and bustle of the city. It also gives the apartment a fresh atmosphere that feels at once clean and sophisticated.
In the places where the most greenery is present, designers opted to include a few additional materials, just to really drive that sense of nature home. Here, in addition to the warm oak you see elsewhere, visitors encounter volcanic slate and woven wicker as well, giving parts of the apartment the peaceful island feel that begot its name.
Photos courtesy of the designer.
Illustrious Modern Apartment created by Corpo Atelier is such a feat of architecture that it borders on sculpture
By Stefan • Apr 1, 2019
In the heart of Vilamoura in Portugal, a stunningly minimalist and contemporary apartment, aptly named the Modern Apartment, was recently finished by Corpo Atelier.
Originally a little, old studio apartment, the space was renovated by the innovative design team to become a beautifully simplistic but fully equipped space that features such a clean visual appeal that its existence practically blends the lines between architecture and sculpture.
The room is very simple; it looks almost like a plain white box upon entering. The first thing that draws your eye, however, is a set of three bright yellow objects that are configured into interesting geometric shapes and placed about the room. Even before it was furnished, these shapes had such a presence to them that the otherwise empty room felt anything but.
Thanks to the bright colour pop of the yellow, the interesting presence of the shapes, and the large window that draws the eyes’ focus towards the far end of the apartment, the room feels almost limitless despite its small size. It also feels incredibly contemporary despite the fact that, if you consider them together from a wider perspective, the shapes scattered about actually resemble elements of classic architecture, like a fallen column and a plinth.
Knowing that small spaces requite surfaces and storage, designers built the shapes such that, beyond their visual functions, they can also serve as furniture. They fully expected that owners would place small trinkets on top of these and store things inside them and on parts of their irregular surfaces. This creates a blending of purpose that seems to suit the home’s contemporary feel.
For additional function, the yellow pieces also serve to delineate space slightly in a wall-less apartment. Of course, the openness of the home is part of the main point, but that doesn’t mean a bit of spatial direction and understanding isn’t valuable. In particular, the yellow pieces mark off the bedroom (which has a stunning panoramic view, the entrance hall, and the central living room.
Photos by Alexander Bogorodskiy
By Stefan • Mar 29, 2019
In the stunning residential commune of Lille Metropolis, in Hem, France, a stylish and professional couple named Vivien and Marion have worked hard to make their very own housing dreams come true. The two have spent several years transforming a stunning loft that started as merely a large empty space into a veritable piece of art.
Designed and conceptualized entirely by the couple themselves, their priorities for the loft were quite clear from the start. One of the biggest challenges was adding a satisfactory number of windows to the solid, already formed space without compromising the walls or foundation because of the materiality and how the house sits. They wanted to be entirely sure that the rooms inside the home would get enough natural light.
Secondly, they wanted to create a space where art is at the forefront. They decided to use colours, patterns, art they made themselves, and locally created pieces from artists they know to decorate the space. The effect is so eclectic and full of personality that visiting their home feels like an actual experience.
To tackle the first priority of the windows, the couple helped themselves out with natural light a little by opening the roof entirely, letting light flow in from parts of the top of the house. They did this by creating a high patio and two terraces, all off ground level, and then installed several skylights and sprawling rook windows in the rest of the ceiling that wasn’t opened up for lovely indoor-outdoor space. Now the sun can simply just shine down on- and right into- their home.
On the ground floor, the rooms of the house are quite open concept, which was intentional. That’s not to say, however, that there’s not delineation of space at all. Stylish furniture and visual art pieces have been strategically placed to make some demarkation of rooms with different functions without sacrificing any space or open-concept flow.
Near the living and dining rooms and the kitchen sits a stunning open patio on the ground floor. This opens fully into the house thanks to receding doors and allows a flood of natural light that keeps the room cool or warm, depending on the season, and allows sunlight to reach every corner of the floor. On the outdoor portion of the patio stands a beautiful olive tree that was relocated from Portugal, where it was originally planted in one of the fields on Vivien’s grandfather’s land. Now, it grows perfectly acclimatized and thriving, like a natural family heirloom.
Although the interior decor and art features of the loft house are quite bright, shiny, and new, the couple purposely chose to keep some sense of weathering in the home’s structure itself. The natural concrete that the actual house is built from was preserved as is, which was beneficial to their budget but also serves a particular contrasting aesthetic. It bears marks of wear and tear that denotes the previous lives of the building, something the owners appreciate.
Visual art isn’t the only kind of creative appreciation in the home. The couple also built themselves a stunning library, which is a favourite space for everyone living there. It houses architecture and design magazines, musical vinyls, and even some stylish vintage furniture, like the LC4 chaise lounge and the infamous Pipistrello lamp. The space is nothing short of inspirational.
The theme of classically designed and mod styled furniture extends into other rooms too, but some pieces were actually created by the couple themselves as well. Much of the art featured on the walls is their own too, or that of their family members. The bright and colourful paint pot piece, for example, was created by Vivien’s father, who was a house painter by trade.
Of course, a “loft house” couldn’t be complete without stunning spaces being created on the actual loft itself! This is where the private and intimate sectors of the house reside. The loft is home to spacious bathrooms, guest and master bedrooms, and a bright, exciting child’s room. An increased touch of warmth is added to these spaces thanks to the way pine wood has been used to cover the original concrete floors that were preserved everywhere else.
The emphasis on fresh air, open space, and sunlight continues near the private loft spaces. The master bedroom, for example, features its own small terrace where the roof opens to the high patios we mentioned before. Here, views of the whole surrounding area twinkle in the sunlight as dwellers sit above their lower patio, on which an inflatable jacuzzi lives.
Photos courtesy of the designer.
By Stefan • Mar 28, 2019
Instead of just building a standard apartment building in the downtown core of Jiangsu, Japan, innovative designers at GPT Architectural Design opted to create the ultra modern, super stylish, and downright experiential Port Apartment Suzhou Shilu Community Project!
This fantastic new building was created using an older apartment complex as its base. The first step in the new project’s facelift was to remove the metal grilling on the facade of the original structure, as this made it look grey, old, and unwelcoming. Designers opted to cut into the newly revealed bare facade to create alcoves where plants might hang, creating 3D hanging gardens.
Another area of the original plot that was preserved as a base but changed and embellished was the courtyard in the centre of the community. This sits off a cutting edge social kitchen that is run by the Internet and features high public workspaces, blending perfectly into the outdoor leisure garden in a rather open concept way. The black and white stripes on the outer walls surrounding the courtyard create a visual effect like that of wind rippling water.
In the spaces surrounding the leisure garden, a calming, spa-like effect was created by finishing most of the atrium space with natural wood colours and light concrete accents where more solid material was required. This creates beautiful contemporary contrast while also affording the space a sense of calm typical of traditional gardens found in ancient cities.
The courtyard and atrium aren’t the only garden spaces! The building actually features a rooftop garden as well. This space has its own viewing platform for drinking in the city and even a barbecue area suitable for open-space hosting when renters have friends visit. The viewing platform is covered with a soft, white stand designed to mimic the beach, adding a sense of seaside calm to the space which is reinforced by decor accents in blues, teals, and other beach hues. This space has become quite famous around the city, since there’s no actual beach quickly accessible in the area.
One of the central priorities in building the individual apartments in the community was stellar Internet connectivity. The idea was so make the apartment’s functions efficient, new age, and cutting edge, so fantastic online connections are absolutely necessary. Most of things in the building, such as signing into the one site fitness club, shopping at the boutique retail locations nearby, and using the virtual canteen, are powered by wifi and the renter’s cell phone.
Although the apartments and the rooftop escape are accessible only to renters, the ground floor features a shopping space, more electronic vending services, and a social garden area that are fully accessible to the public. This makes it possible to socialize and have a whole day out with others without having to go far from one’s apartment at all if they don’t feel like it. It builds a sense of wider community right there in the community building!
One of the most popular things to do in the social space is to order food from the virtual food court, a 24 hour fast food delivery service run out of the buildings connection hub, and find a cozy, modern looking social pod to sit in around the public garden. The decor is undoubtedly modern but also quite wood heavy and spa-like, with stunning greenery surrounding all levels.
Besides the general public social spaces we’ve described, renters are afforded plenty of themed common escapes for time enjoyed outside their apartments. There’s the “House of Cards” area that is furnished and decorated in pure white with black outlines and artistic lighting, providing a thoroughly futuristic experience. There’s also the “rainforest inspired area that features cascading waterfall lights, wooden furnishings, greenery on every surface, and wooden details that feel somehow warm and also luxurious. Perhaps you’d prefer the simple seating designed to let renters take an unwinding break underneath a stunning sprawling tree when they first arrive back to the community after a busy day elsewhere before actually returning home.
In decorating and laying out the apartments, designers chose to gear their choices towards the young white-collar workers so typical of the surrounding urban area. They opted for fashionable Nordic aesthetics and MUJI style details to create a living space specifically for young people that feels, modern, high quality, and unique.
Inside the apartments, the Nordic influence brings a sense of fluidity to the design. Furnishings are integrated all into the main functions and each other to save on space and increase efficiency, almost to the point of qualifying as micro-living. The textures are simple, the shapes are flexible, and the details bear clear signs of local craftsmanship. The spaces are simple and practical but still charming to the point of feeling nearly luxurious despite their smaller size. This is more than made up for with the diverse common spaces the community offers right outside the apartment doors!
Photos provided by the designer.