Author Archives - Courtney
Concrete and iron SB House built by Pitsou Kedem Architects as a modernist, open concept escape home
By Courtney • Aug 12, 2019
In a beautiful suburban neighbourhood on the edges of Tel Aviv in Israel, creative and modernist design teams at Pitsou Kedem Architects have recently completed an industrial inspired family home called SB House that was specifically designed to blend minimalist, contemporary living with outdoor spaces.
From its conception, the SB House was always intended to be an experience. It is a blended space that combines interior and exterior spaces, industrial materiality with natural elements, and open concept public spaces with private resting areas designed as singular places to seek peace on one’s own.
The walls of the house rise up from the ground like a concrete envelope, wrapping around the interior spaces even as those flow through the spatial delineations in a way that feels sensical and very free. On the bottom floor, you’ll find social and public spaces designed for hosting family and friends while the more meditation and rest driven areas where one might like to escape to exist upstairs.
Of course, just because a space is designed to be private doesn’t mean it has to be dark or enclosed! Privacy can be opted into in the form of lovely curtains, but otherwise the bedrooms are surrounding on at least one side each by stunning floor to ceiling windows that open entirely to lead to a concrete balcony with an iron railing for each.
Most of these balconies can be walked along from one to the other, like a series of hard stone paths in the air, looking down onto a lovely backyard that features its own swimming pool. Here, the public spaces downstairs open onto seated patio areas around the pool as well, contributing to the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces.
Although the decor is intentionally minimal, which was a choice made to let the wonderfully simplistic materiality of the house stand out, there are several details inside that are both functional and eye catching. The bright red side tables and shelves dotted throughout the space are a great example.
Elsewhere in the house, wooden surfaces and furnishings are used to sort of ground and create contrast with the concrete and iron that generally rules the space. This wood is stained slightly darker than its natural finish to keep the colour palette consistent in a way that is earthy and comforting. This can be seen in in the floors, coffee tables, and many window shutters.
All together, the slightly industrial and slightly open concept style dotted with contemporarily shaped furniture takes on a rather mod feeling. The spaces looks as though the 1950s underwent a suburban modernizing of some kind, but in a way that is more organized, typical of more contemporary buildings and homes.
Photos by Amit Geron
By Courtney • Aug 9, 2019
Located in the Coghlan neighbourhood of Argentina’s city Buenos Aires, a unique apartment structure called the Pedraza Building was recently completed by A3 Luppi Ugalde Winter with the goal of making the most of a small urban space in order to benefit several families at once.
From the time of its conception and original plans, the Pedraza Building was intended to house an entire set of multi-family homes right in the same space. By challenging traditional ideas of who can share what kind of space, how homes might be organized, and how private and public spaces might coexist in more shared context than usual, these designers built a home building that’s contemporary in many more ways than just how it looks. Despite being home to more than just one family, creating an interesting blend of dynamics in an already unique home space, this building is actually incredibly homey. It is simply an adjustment when it comes to transitionary spaces and participatory relationships outside of just the standard family unit, but not so closely co-existing as live-in roommates might experience.
The building is organized and conceptualized around ideas of community. Its structure rises up around a common space in the middle that serves as a sort of nucleus, with transitionary hallways leading from there like circulation spots. At the ends of these is where the private areas, those where the different families sleep and customize their own spaces, can be found.
This unique organization makes one feel as though they inhabit more than just heir own small apartment. Instead, they joint occupy the entire building together. This is true from the welcoming lobby space on the ground floor all the way up to the shared leisure space at the very top of the building, on the sunny terrace.
The space we’ve touched on that sits on the ground floor is organized into two essential areas. There is a main shared housing block at the front bottom of the building, with an individual house for a single family at the back. The main house portion extends upwards, splitting into seven different units, comprising the varied “multi-family” element of the residence.
The first, second, and third floors feature two units each, but the fourth floor is slightly different. This floor is shared by two units that face each other with a building-wide shared terrace sitting in between them. Back on the ground floor, the individual house portion is designed with maximum space efficiency in mind.
The reason for this part of the home’s conservative spatial footprint is that designers wanted to leave as much space in the plot for outdoor spaces to be enjoyed by all of the building’s residences, The space that is not taken up by units and the individual house is now home to front and back courtyards that offer an impressive amount of privacy and respite.
The placement of the courtyards, which sit as a kind of inner portion of the building despite actually being outdoor spaces, is modelled after classic ideas of colonial housing from the beginning of the century. In these old houses, courtyards were the heart of the house, acting like a sort of central hub around which the daily lives of all members of the home were organized.
Because this building was erected much more vertically than those old houses, however, designers saw a need to maintain easy connections between units and all other common spaces. This is how the upper floor bridges came about! These bridges pass over the lower courtyards, acting like transitionary open air spaces that let copious amounts of natural light into the building’s core.
The materiality of the house is just as unique as the way it was built and organized. Keeping things natural looking but appropriate for its urban context, designers chose to create balance in the space by playing strong, opaque shapes against glass walls and transparent spaces that increase easy visibility and the flow of air and light.
All combined, the unique elements of the house provide a sense of fluidity throughout the building, both in terms of atmosphere and social interaction and spatial understanding. The building truly is an example of humankind’s ability to adapt their habits and lifestyles around and in partnership with each other to best suit the spaces they have available and make them feel the most like a comfortable home.
Photos by Alejandro Peral
By Courtney • Aug 8, 2019
On a peacefully secluded site in Amagansett, in the United States, creative and building teams at Jerome Engelking have recently completed the Wuehrer House; an impressively sized residential home that is surrounded on most sides by stunning nature preserves. Nestled into a clearing in the small Stony Hill Forest, sat away from view of the street, is a large house that can only be accessed by a private gravel path. The plot on which the building sits has a slight natural incline that slopes gently downward. This entire slope, and most of the land at any height surrounding the house, is covered in tall white oaks. The area also, however, features a number of eastern red cedars and even some pines.
Photos by Nic Lehoux
Casa Fantini Boutique Hotel created by Lissoni Architettura as a triple stacked, modern escape inspired by rectangular shapes
By Courtney • Aug 8, 2019
By the stunning waters of Pella in Italy, a beautiful triple stacked boutique hotel was recently completed by innovative modern designers at Lissoni Architettura. The stunningly unique and linear looking Casa Fantini Boutique Hotel combines contemporary indoor spaces with sunny outdoor spaces for the ultimate Italian holiday experience.
The three storey hotel is situated in a beautifully green spot that sits right on the shores of Pella’s Orta Lake, not far down the little European street from the ferry landing stage where boats dock or set off into the beautifully rippling waters. In the middle of the lake, right across from the hotel itself is the island San Giulio, which provides a great view from the lovely balconies on the upper floors.
Rather than simply being a hospitality site, this little boutique hotel is actually also an architectural project designed to bring an artistic element to the lakeshore without interrupting it so far as to distract from the already beautiful natural views. The designers’ goals were to create a building that harmonizes with the local topography and that creates a dialogue with the local history and traditional buildings surrounding it despite its more modernized style.
Designers achieved this primarily through materiality. The use of traditional stone provided by local artisans and things like typical metal and reclaimed wood seen in other houses in the area balance out more modern surfaces and shapes on the outside and ground the design so it feels cohesive even in its impressively unique style.
The hotel is the kind of building that, despite being close to all possible local amenities, has certain parts of it that feel pleasantly secluded. Rather than cutting guests off from the beauty of the village, the hotel provides beautiful views from elevated heights or from behind beautiful green hedges and gates that feel like a part of the experience but provide a calming screen against the hustle and bustle of daily routines.
The physical materiality of the building and how it was build isn’t the only thing that links the hotel to the village and its various traditional elements. Water actually plays a huge role as well! The tranquil, sunny waters of the lake beyond the hotel’s wall reflects light the same way and along the same plane that the hotel’s pool does, as if the two are paired or mirroring one another; a complete pair.
Upon closet inspection, the hotel is actually comprised of two different buildings; one older and from an original old hotel that once sat in its place and the other newly built in its entirety. Although one has been standing far longer, it was refurbished and updated when the newer building was erected, so they visually appear to complete the landscape in the same way.
The relationship between the hotel and the local landscape actually continues as visitors approach the front entrance. This is because the main entrance is accessed through a stunning private garden that was specifically designer be landscaping professionals to blend with, look typical of, and look as though it has a visual relationship with the natural greenery of the area and gardens elsewhere in the village.
In this garden, a grey beola stone typical to the area has been used to create a geometric path. The slightly modern shape of the stones is softened into a slightly more classic Mediterranean look by the way it’s surrounded by local herbs, flowers, and other vegetation. This continues around the back to the swimming pool, the edging of which is clad in the same stone.
Varying slightly but following the same sober aesthetic of materiality, despite its slightly more contemporary shape, the exterior of the hotel features a surprisingly natural facade. Particularly prominently on the new building, the facade is comprised of thin slats made from Accoya wood, evenly spaced to create a geometric effect.
These slats are paused only for large windows featured on the lakeside of each room, where the balconies sit. From the inside, these stunningly picturesque windows keep the rooms extremely light and also quite spacious looking, in addition to providing a breathtaking view of the lake and the mountains beyond it.
Besides the simply contemporary and very comfortable rooms within the hotel, a lot of visitor time and attention is given to the lounge. This is a shared public space that sits at the heart of the hotel’s newer building like a central hub. Although it is another contemporary space, it has a calming atmosphere and colour scheme that make it feel like a place of peace or meditation.
In the older building that comprises the hotel, a more lively space connects the aspects of the structure; The Blu Lago bar! This particular place has been functioning and well known in the community for longer and then revamped hotel, so it was already a part of the local identity and social fabric of Pella when the new iteration of Casa Fantini opened.
Overall, the hotel bears a thorough sense that it is a unique place where history and style blend with success. It is generally regarded by locals and visitors alike as an “intimate oasis” both inside and out.
Photos by Giovanni Gastel
Simply rectangular Draindot guest house created by STARSIS + ilsang workroom as a uniquely shared island living space
By Courtney • Aug 7, 2019
On the stunning, calming island of Jeju-si in South Korea, contemporary design teams at STARSIS + ilsang workroom have created a unique and interesting shared living guesthouse called Draindot, intended to provide a peaceful living space for those seeking a sense of community and a lifestyle of collaboration.
The concept for the house was simple; the client visited the island and positively fell in love with the area, deciding that they would like to live there one day. Originally, a much larger building space that might house more people was desired, but analysis of the local area, lifestyle, and what might suit the location best resulted in that idea being scrapped in favour of a smaller guesthouse.
Even with this change in plans, the original concept of creating a shared living space was upheld and prioritized throughout the new plans, even as the plans were defined better and whittled down into a tangible idea that designers could actually work with and that the new owner of the plot felt good about.
Despite the way the house is built and the beautiful views and sense of the island it gives off, harnessing the stunning landscape and local culture of Jeju Island was never actually named as an explicit priority for the team. The simple fact is that the island’s terrain and local customs are so inherently present and important in the area that they are always present as influences and within experiences any time someone visits the island. The clear association with and respect for its local setting within the building was sort of subconscious, like a happy accident.
The effect is one that designers described as a “silent blending”. The living spaces provided by Draindot, despite being unique in their shared space set up, are organized in a way that is beautifully and almost imperceptibly typical of the area. Each unit within the little compound feels wholesome and is organized around ideas of relaxation and peacefulness.
The units might sit within close range of each other and share common spaces between them, but the intention of each rest area was to create a place that feels entirely private and personal; a space where one doesn’t feel pressured to interact with others when it’s time for rest and self care, no matter how close by they are. That’s what the rest of the day is for!
In its infancy, the owner of the plot actually intended to make this building a private home. The thought was to live in parts of it and rent the other units out to family and friends for a close knit collaborative living system. As time went on, however, the owner opened up to the idea of renting it out to others, which essentially creates an entirely new close social system that might not have existed otherwise.
Just because there is an inherent sense of the local area and culture woven into the very fabrics of the Draindot building doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few elements of outside influence. There is, for example, a sense of vintage appreciation in the details that came with the influence of the owner’s personal tastes outside of their appreciation for the island. This gives the interior spaces a sense of classic style within its concentration on clean peacefulness.
The style of each room, in both the individualized resting units and the shared spaces, is coziness personified. Contemporarily shaped furniture made from very natural materials creates a spa-like atmosphere that’s heavy in lovely stained wood and neutral colour schemes. The living spaces are small, but with a layout and configuration that has fantastic flow and makes good sense. The overall feeling in the building’s interior is clean, nearly minimalist, and quite relaxing, with interesting details.
On its exterior, the building is actually quite reserved, not standing out much from the surrounding landscape in any way besides its very clean, linear shape. This is intentional, allowing the structure to blend in quite well with the terrain of the island and amplifying that feeling of quiet coziness.
Photos by Hong, Seok-Gyu
By Courtney • Aug 7, 2019
In the central London neighbourhood of Paddington, in the UK, an old brickwork townhouse was recently refurbished and revitalized as a beautiful office for an investments business in the sustainable agriculture industry by creative design teams at Edward Williams Architects.
Aptly named the Office in Paddington, the building sits in the quiet mews, a traditional looking building in a row of similar structures. While parts of the original building were restored, other parts where years of weathering had taken their toll were rebuild entirely. This is particularly true on the inside as designers wanted to keep parts of the old home authentic while still updating certain aspects to account for the needs of a modern office.
Although the company is growing, it is still quite small in the grand scheme of things, making the house the perfect size for a boutique office of this kind. Because the company’s focus is on sustainability, it only makes sense that the revamped building and the office inside also function along ideas of sustainable systems that have a low impact on the environment. Besides being best for the needs of the office itself, this also displays a real world commitment to the values of their business.
From the outset of the project, a zero carbon sustainable strategy was established for the building, which encompasses 210 square metres. This was achieved by replacing the original gas systems leftover from the house with 100% renewable electricity purchased from an ethical and sustainable local source.
Within their attempts to keep the building as authentic as possible to its original structure while also modernizing the inside, designers chose to work primarily with natural and locally sourced materials. This was where the decision to put so much effort into restoring the original brickwork facade came from; the goal was to make sure the office still looked like part of the street level fabric, fitting in as seamlessly and impressively as possible.
Inside, the office rooms maintain a lot of the original style as well, continuing the brickwork theme and working in some natural oak in the linings, as well as grey painted steel throughout the furnishing and details. The office is fully equipped in terms of technology with more open concept layouts than is typical of these townhomes on the inside, but the lead roofing and height of the windows make sure the building fits right in at the front, from street level.
Inside the building, where beautiful oak wood is prevalent on the floors, walls, and ceiling, there are certain parts of storage, partition, and spacial division that were simpler to build the bases of off-site, bring into the space, and construct there, rather than working from scratch in the small space and risking damaging original aspects of the building that the designers were actually aiming to preserve.
These partitions are minimal, as a sense of collaboration and community is essential to the goals and values of the office, but they do help to provide a sense of delineation and privacy for the few meeting areas that require such a thing or benefit from a little less noise. Elsewhere, the office is a space that feels intimate, friendly, and even a little bit domestic.
In terms of its functional layout, the building features all of its public spaces, or spaces where clients would usually be met, on the ground floor. This leaves the upper floors for private offices, which are all linked by an open stairway. At the back of the ground floor, where clients might be spoken with on a sunny day or where staff might take their breaks, a pair of collapsing doors can fold back, revealing a patio space that makes the cobbles feel like they lead right up to the picnic table style common spaces.
These doors do more than just give access to the outside world from the floor of the office. It also lets natural sunlight and fresh air flood the common spaces, reducing the need for powered light and temperature regulating systems in certain seasons. A view of the neighbourhood and the mews beyond the home’s little plot provide atmospheric context to the refurbished interiors that create a stronger relationship between the modernized indoors and the more traditional exterior.
Photos by Agnes Sanvito
Wood and concrete Box House created by Caio Persighini Arquitetura to blend nature and a passion for music in a family home
By Courtney • Aug 6, 2019
In a residential neighbourhood in the town of Araraquara, which sits about 260 km outside of Sao Paulo in Brazil, creative designers at Caio Persighini Arquitetura have recently finished a uniquely shaped home called the Box House, which combines natural materiality and actual pieces of nature, both inside and outside of the house, with a family’s passions and personalities.
The very basis of the Box House is rooted in the concept and shape of the cube. It has a poetic air about it in the way the building sits so linear, contrasting with the shapes of the houses around it like a paradox, but somehow still suits the local landscape thanks to its materiality, which is primarily rooted in concrete and wood.
In its essence, the house is quite simplistic in its layout and shape, despite clear style and personality coming through in the details. The layout is quite open with the exception of resting and work spaces that require a little more privacy and quiet, rendering a notable difference in shapes and details from room to room and between shared and closed spaces.
The idea of keeping the basics of the house very simple is clear throughout the whole structure. Spatially, the home is organized in a classic cubic way, with a sort of spiral access way vertically up the middle. The stairs lead up the centre, giving way to hallways that give access to the rooms on the upper floors, which are located all around the outers edges of the house, with the most important rooms settled near the corners.
Easily the most notable aspect of the house is the fact that a very real and sizeable Jabuticaba tree grows in an in-ground garden surrounded by wood, right at the heart of the home’s central spiral. The stairs leading from the ground to the upper floors appear to wind around the tree as they lead upwards, with bright shafts of light pouring down from a glass ceiling.
This central area is where most of the light accesses the public spaces of the house. At one side of the kitchen and dining area, more light pours in from a fully openable patio wall that slides back to blend a lovely patio and walled yard space with the interior shared rooms. Air circulation is increased when this wall is pushed back as well as light, increasing the home’s sustainability.
The private bedrooms and resting areas feature large windows as well, but these are shaded at the front by a wooden slat facade above the front door and garage access entryway. This not only creates a beautifully natural looking contrast between wood and concrete on the outside of the house, but also gives the bedrooms behind the slats a spa-like glow and privacy.
The bedrooms aren’t the only resting space dotted around the house. There are actually several reading nooks, calm and meditation oriented spaces, and throw pillow clad benches in the hallways, public spaces, and around the stairs. These are made of the same lovely stained wood you see elsewhere, placed on top of a base of concrete, as is the situation with most of the house.
Besides the tree and the materiality, the home’s most unique feature is the presence of a home office that is also a music and recording studio. Here, the wooden theme continues, but this time used strategically and functionally in order to provide the correct acoustics and sound insulation to the room, as using only concrete on the walls like in the other rooms would create too much reverberation for proper recording.
In places where the decor, furnishings, and details deviate from the natural concrete and wooden atmosphere, designers opted to include interesting shapes and slight colour pops, as well as material variances. Gleaming white tiles adorn the backsplash while bright red metal stools sit along the wooden kitchen island, while chairs, tables, and other furnishings provide depth in their slightly mod shapes.
Photos by Favaro Jr.
By Courtney • Aug 6, 2019
On a bustling central street in Amsterdam, in the The Netherlands, design teams at Standard Studio have recently completed a new franchise of the well known restaurant SLA Salad Bar in order to account for how successfully the company has grown in recent years.
The original salad bar was launched in 2012 and has seen nothing but positive growth since. The latest evolution is the opening of this new location, which is the eleventh of those built all across The Netherlands since the first. With this new bar, designers were specifically tasked with not only making the new restaurant itself, but also creating an entirely new design for the store’s interior.
This goal goes above and beyond just giving the building a new look. Instead, the priority was to established a recognizable atmosphere and look that customers might consider typical of the brand, associating it with the products and services it provides and the values its staff put forward with the company name. This aesthetic will continue onward as even more new locations arise.
Of course, even within the process of building a brand and typical, consistent look, it is essential to do so from elements that might be catered to specific spaces and applied flexibly to ensure that each new location functions and looks its best. After all, having each space be an organized, positive experience is still the most important thing beyond sticking to a particular look, even when the store is trying to convey a comfortingly well known identity.
As you can probably imagine, the process of putting together and making individualized salads is, in fact, the central function of the space. This is why the salad counter, which features spacious prep surfaces and storage spots for many different fresh ingredients, sits at the heart of the space like a hub.
Once they’ve moved the length of the salad counter and have their meal in hand, the space is set up intuitively in terms of space, so customers easily understand to move onward to choose where they’d like to sit and eat in several different seating arrangements laid out around the shop.
The seating spaces are flexible and have been designed to accommodate all kinds of different customers and their needs, depending on who their party consists of and what kind of day they might be having or what kind of dining experience they might be looking for. These range from individual stools at a bar for singular people grabbing a quick bite to comfortable, more intimately placed corners suitable for couples who want to take their time together.
Since the central point of the stores themselves, no matter location or style, is the food, the SLA salad bars are always built at central spots in the urban places the company choses to put them in. This makes the tendency of the space to feel diverse, accommodating, and flexible even more important, since people from all different backgrounds and experiences are more likely to be customers in busy urban centres.
Precisely because of those city locations we’ve talked so much about, however, designers made it a point to establish an aesthetic that is also sort of calming. In short, designers wanted this particular Amsterdam location to feel like a momentary escape from the hectic contexts right outside the doors, like a slower paced place where people can come together.
Overall, the space is quite open concept, making it feel contemporary in its calming, peaceful style and sensical layout. Wooden walls inspired by fins delineate space according to function, outlining where staff work versus where customers are free to spend their time. Large windows provide both natural daylight and a view of the bicycle heavy streets outside.
One of the most interesting aspects of the space that is intentionally consistent from location to location is the inclusion of greenery right inside the restaurant (beyond the presence of salad leaf options, of course). Plants play a huge role in the decor scheme; some are live and potted while others, like moss and fern leaves, are dried and framed. Green tiles and other details included around the space tie the plants in well and make the space feel and look cohesive.
One element that’s unique specifically to the new Amsterdam location of the SLA salad bar is the “show kitchen”. This refers to the way the functional kitchen and all food prep stations are built with glass walls so that there is still a delineation of space, but one that lets customers in on all of the work that goes into their meal, providing what becomes an almost entertainment moment. This space is also used for cooking workshops that customers can sign up for in the store’s off hours!
Photos by Wouter Van Der Sar
By Courtney • Aug 5, 2019
In a stunning seaside neighbourhood on the outskirts of Matanzas in Chile, creative designers at Worc Arquitectos have custom built a stunning beach house called House 222 for a young couple and their two young children.
The placement of the house was chosen very specifically; they wanted to ensure that their kids get a beautiful coastline upbringing while still being close enough to a city to enjoy all of the amenities of urban living when they want to. That’s why Matanzas was the perfect location! It sits just outside the bustling city of Santiago.
For the sake of privacy and a beautiful 360 degree view, designers and owners chose a beautiful north facing hill, building on an expansive plot of land right at the top. From here, the beaches below can be seen from just about anywhere in the house, as can the cliffs surrounding the hill and the village of La Boca de Rapel at the water’s edge.
Building on the top of a hill that peaks towards the north naturally involved several challenges when it comes to building and accommodating for the location in the space. Designers used certain vaulted architectural techniques to keep the floors of the house level, for example, creating the space they need rather than cutting into the hill and disturbing the landscape.
Additionally, it was essential for designers to work with the often strong south winds blowing up the hill towards the plot. This determined the placement and angle of the outdoor terrace and was also the reason that the raised patio seating space was inset within the centre of the building, sheltering it from both sun and wind depending on the season and the time of day.
The location of the terrace, which is wooden like most of both the facade and interior, also serves to give it privacy, which makes it feel somewhat like a natural looking place of peace. The unique shape of the space and the way it sits in an open air spot that also sits back nearly inside the house makes it a sort of blended experience that can be used all year round.
This terrace space is only one of three volumes that make up the total house. There is also a private volume that includes the bedrooms and resting spaces, as well as a public volume that is filled by shared and common spaces like the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. These three volumes all converge onto a central space that runs alongside the terrace, which is a corridor lined by glazed glass windows.
This hallway not only provides natural sunlight to the inner spaces of the house thanks to those windows, but it’s also the main structure that blocks wind and gives privacy to the central terrace we talked about earlier. The windows, which extend from floor to ceiling, can be slid back entirely to merge indoor and outdoor spaces, making the terrace an extension of the kitchen and dining areas.
From the outside, the shape of the house is quite square and linear with the exception of one area; the second bedroom in the private volume detaches diagonally from the main shape in order to give it a much better view than it would otherwise be afforded. All of the bedrooms feature shutters that can be pulled over the floor to ceiling windows in order to turn the spaces into private havens when necessary.
In terms of its materiality, the entire house features wood as a nearly monochromatic feature that dominates the decor scheme. The fact that this is true for both the interior scheme and the facade of the house creates a sense of cohesiveness. At the same time, the overarching wooden presence helps blend the house into its surrounding landscape even as the somewhat contemporary and interesting shape makes it stand out.
Photos by Amanda San Martin
Angular Bentes House built by CoDA arquitetos to take unique advantage of all of its spaces in creative ways
By Courtney • Aug 5, 2019
In a quiet and sunny neighbourhood in Para, Brazil, innovative design teams at CoDA arquitetos have recently finished a uniquely contemporary family home called the Bentes House that aims to take advantage of every little inch of space it was afforded in unique and pleasant ways.
Besides the goal of giving the family wide spaces in which to enjoy time together, as well as with extended family and friends, designers also built this house with the goal of integrating it into the suburban landscape. The location they were afforded was subtly unique in that it appears strangely natural despite technically existing in an urban space.
Besides being built like a modern looking house, the space was also designed in terms of its layout to feel social, alive, and full of references to local art and culture. Between that and the materiality choices that were intentionally made to blend the building with its terrain, the house has this overall sense that it is simply supposed to be there.
Part of the reason designers aimed to take advantage of all possible space was precisely because the family they were building the house for is so young. This means their needs and numbers might change over time based on whether or not they choose to have more kids and what their interests become as they grow.
Within their aims to make a diverse and adaptable space, designers created a single family home that is so well organized in terms of space that it almost resembles a condominium in the way the spacial flow makes complete and natural sense. At the same time, the open concepts of those same spaces and the fact even the top of one roof is put to good use makes the home feel free, open, and part of its surrounding area right to its very essence.
From almost anywhere in the house, residents and visitors are afforded stunning views of the nearby valley that sits to the north of the plot. Nowhere is this more true, however, than on the rooftop terrace, where the second floor of the house leads clear onto the extended roof of the bottom floor like a secondary patio.
Perhaps the next most notable feature of the house besides the rooftop is the way that greenery is incorporated into just about every room in unique ways. For example, rather than just potting some plants on the ground floor patio, designers surrounded the space in a concrete cubby wall that gives some privacy but also creates a perfect opportunity for a plant wall.
This cubby plant wall surrounds a small gravel yard that leads to a back lawn with its own swimming pool. The space with the rocks, despite not looking like a comfortable place at face value, has actually been catered to form a relaxing outdoor space. It features a nest of cushions in the centre and two hammock style seat swings placed perfectly together for conversing.
This green theme follows you inside the house as well. In one transitionary space, there is actually a “living wall”, or vertical garden that entirely spans the space from floor to ceiling. This, in combination with the open concept layout and open air feel when all window walls are slid back, contributes once more to the blending of interior and exterior spaces.
Inside, the ground floor of the house features all of the public, social, and common spaces, just like a condominium building might. This is where you’ll find the kitchen, dining room, living room, and even a home theatre, making this floor all about family bonding and hosting extended family or friends, depending on the day.
On the upper floor, bedrooms, bathrooms, and resting spaces are laid out in a way that feels slightly removed and private without being cut off or sequestered, which is once again thanks primarily to the open concept layout we mentioned before. This space was imagined like units in a condo as well, but with a slightly less harsh delineation of space since it is, in fact, a private family home that is not shared with strangers.
What really makes a distinction between the upper and lower volumes is that outdoor rooftop space itself. It is left intentionally empty and open in order to make it feel like a diverse activities space, intended for use however the family prefers in the moment. Sometimes it is a place to sit with friends and others it is a quiet, solitary place for one to seek solace and read.
Photos by Joana Franca
Californian San Vicente935 Housing created by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects as a modern adaptation of classic courtyard architecture
By Courtney • Aug 2, 2019
In the vibrant and exciting neighbourhood of West Hollywood, in Los Angeles, California, innovative designers at Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects have recently completed a uniquely open air shared housing project called the San Vicente935 Housing. Even before this project arose, this particular design and architectural team was already working on a general commitment to creating buildings and spaces that promote thoughtful design, even in cases where older, pre-built spaces are simply being overhauled or adapted, as is the case here.
The original building was erected along classic courtyard housing, which is quite typical of the area. This is where an open air courtyard sits in the centre of the building, like a shared, open air heart, while the individual units rise up around that funny column, providing individualized housing around the outer edges.
The building stands tall and square on San Vincente Blvd, nestled conveniently between Santa Monica and Sunset. Without spilling over the limits of the plot and the original building’s limits, designers restructured the inside to allow for maximum living space in each unit while also leaving as much space in the centre as possible for a large, beautifully sunny shared courtyard.
This outdoor common space is quite a common feature in Californian apartment style homes, particularly in this area. What distinguishes this particular building is the way that designers chose to open up the hallways entirely while still using creatively placed wooden slats to provide a bit of visual privacy from the street as each person approaches their own unit door.
The way the house rises vertically and amalgamates shared space rather than giving each unit cover a sprawling individual square footage arose from the need to get creative with how space in housing is used in densely populated urban areas. The units are by no means too small, but they are more personalized and geared towards good resting areas than the average apartment.
Quality outdoor spaces have also been prioritized highly within the building’s refurbishment. Building an open air spot in the middle of the building takes advantage of space that would otherwise be filled regardless, melding the indoor and outdoor experiences rather than having to extend yards and patios into the outdoor spaces around the building. It’s really all about space efficiency!
In addition to taking advantage of outdoor space in an interesting way, designers organized the units around that central outdoor space in a manner that puts large emphasis on social connectivity and access to the street and culture right outside the gates. Sure, privacy is important and is no doubt provided, making the courtyard feel like its own unique getaway, but the excitement and hustle of West Hollywood is never far off, with all kinds of fantastic amenities very close by.
Part of the social connectivity of the space is that the courtyard is more than just a place to relax; it’s also a space of convergence where people pass through to get all manner of places within the building, making it almost like a meeting hub, but one that is much less busy and overwhelming than, say, a public square or park. Instead of feeling like a place outside of one’s home, it feels like a spot for a very small community to interact with other residents and their visitors.
The courtyard and the building’s open-air hallways do more than just look good and make room for unique outdoor space. They also play a role in reducing the need for powered heating and cooling systems; the natural sunlight and breezes do most of the work in the climate control department, making the building a little greener and less impactful on the environment.
While the individual units are certainly geared towards rest, the courtyard extends that idea outward and continues that theme thanks to its layout. It is presented like a place meant for meditation, featuring a water feature, natural stone seating that varies from individual and cozy to versatile and socially grouped, and lots of beautiful local greenery.
When it comes to the units, the building has two different types of apartment. This prevents things from feeling too repetitive and cookie cutter from space to space. The units appear to envelope the open space, which is undoubtedly the nucleus of the building. They benefit from its natural light, which spills into every space between the uniquely cut slats that form the “hallway”, making the building in general feel just about as limitless as a place with private residences can be.
The building is organized so that the apartments have plenty of space each thanks to the way they fit together like puzzle pieces behind the walls. on the ground level are the entrances to three walk-up style homes. The middle storey makes space for a series of two-story homes, while the upper floor features four single-story apartments. No matter its type, every single unit in the building features impressively large windows for natural lighting on at least three outer walls.
In keeping with being low impact and green, the building is actually made of primarily recycled materials, providing an aesthetic blend that is partially industrial influence, partially natural looking, and very unique indeed. In fact, designers actually had a special powder coated fibre cement board created custom for this building specifically because they needed it to be light in both colour and weight for the structure they wanted.
Photos by Paul Vu
Stunning Freestanding Pool House designed by DAG Design using shades of blue to reflect its beautiful surroundings
By Courtney • Aug 2, 2019
The city of Boston, Massachusetts might not be a seaside or sit along a coastline, but that doesn’t mean the homes there can’t or don’t have their own water features! One design team from DAG Design decided that the luxurious swimming pool they planned to build in the backyard of their latest home was such a draw, in fact, that the rest of the house might as well complement it. That’s how the wonderful and thoroughly blue aesthetic of the Freestanding Pool House came to be!
The Freestanding Pool House might not actually be the main house in the plot itself, but it’s certainly stunning enough that you might actually think it was if we never told you that it was actually only a secondary building to an entirely separate Bostonian family home. In reality, this gorgeous space is designed specifically to be enjoyed by pool bathers on sunny days.
Despite the rather upscale aesthetic of the pool house, it was actually designed with a young family dynamic in mind. Created for a family of four with two small boys, designers kept fun, versatility, and an ease in use and cleaning at the forefront of their actual material and structural choices, keeping the decorative elements a little more pretty and adult for some balance.
At the time that the pool house was conceptualized, the main house and pool were already existent and the family wanted a useful space close by that would stop the kids from tracking water through the house, but that would still suit the luxurious home they spent so much time building a comfortable and beautiful aesthetic for.
The base idea for the overall style of the pool house came from the desire to have it feel like an extension of their home. The goal was undoubtedly lovely but also casual and comfortable to spend time in. They wanted it to be more than just a place where kids might throw their towels down or change their clothes; it should also be a place where the family might entertain friends and family on warm evenings where the sun stays out later than usual.
Undoubtedly our favourite part of the space is its colour scheme. White and creamy in most spaces with natural and reclaimed wooden beams, the spaces is not without visual appeal and balance. Designers made sure to create a sense of contrast by adding some pops of colour in red and blue. Light grey tile flooring suits both the neutral and bright elements for cohesiveness.
While certain bits of bright red are certainly integral to the appeal of the rooms, those are in the minority, reserved mainly for throw pillows in the living room. For the most part, shades of watery blue are allowed to take centre stage from room to room. These vary slightly in shade just like actual rippling water does, suiting well in each place but also adding depth.
In some rooms, blue is dominant and quite permanent in features like patterned blue and white wallpaper. Elsewhere, light blue pendant lights keep the room looking light and airy looking, contrasting off cushions, chairs, and rugs below. In the main room, the blue here appears to bounce right off the water right outside the large windows and sliding glass patio doors, creating a unique blending of indoor and outdoor spaces not only in lacking boundaries and open air spaces, but also in the way colours pick each other up visually across short distances.
Photos provided by the designers.
Contemporary and space efficient Black Box Apartment created by MATA Architects as an extension of a Victorian home
By Courtney • Aug 1, 2019
In the heart of London, England, innovative designers at MATA Architects have transformed a stunning Victorian era house in the neighbourhood of Islington by adding a contemporary extension that the owners use as a guest apartment.
The Black Apartment is a small extension built on the first floor of the house, at the back where it doesn’t compromise the style and historical integrity of the original building from street level. The couple who own the mid-terrace house wanted to add a space to the building that could be used as both a guest apartment and and home office when no one was visiting, making it a diverse space.
Because the house is built in such a dense urban space, the opportunity to build the extension essentially anywhere but at the back of the house didn’t really exist. It was also essential for designers to keep their design very space efficient in order to avoid consuming the bit of outdoor yard space the house is afforded. This determined the two-floor, stacked structure of the apartment.
The benefit of this placement is that building the extension didn’t disrupt the shape or integrity of the more historical building it was added onto at all. In fact, the team even went out of their way to make the brickwork in the lower half of the addition match the slightly weathered and traditional look of that used in the original ouse, creating a sense of cohesiveness and belonging.
The higher portion of the extension is where the concept of contemporary design touches the apartment’s exterior. This is the part that Black Box gets its name from. The upper floor is made from slats of dark stained Siberian birchwood that has folding panels where the windows sit, letting those inside seek a calmingly dark privacy or let the sun come flooding in, depending on their mood and the time of day.
The panels are controlled electronically from the inside of the house, splitting in the middle to fold upwards and downwards. When they’re opened, the panels reveal a flawless glazed glass that provides the interior with fantastic natural light without heating the room up too far.
These windows also serve to provide the upper room of the apartment extension with a fantastic view of the city downward from the home’s backyard. There’s nothing quite like a sunlit urban view depicting the bustle of everyday life! The window also gives a closer view of the home’s own gardens, which are curated to perfection and quite sizeable for the space.
The intention of building such a contemporary looking top half to the apartment if to make the box apartment look reconfigurable, as though the house can be adjusted according to the needs of the owners and their guests. This modern concept balances out the more traditional look of the original house for a blended experience that’s truly beautiful.
Photos by Peter Landers
UK office of parenting company Mayborn Group Offices created by Ben Johnson Ltd to reflect their playful values
By Courtney • Aug 1, 2019
Amidst the calm but steady bustle of a town called Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, a design company by the name of Ben Johnson Ltd has gone out of their way to create a friendly, playful, and accessibly motivating space for parenting products company Mayborn Group. Believe it or not, Mayborn Group is actually the head company behind the brand responsible for some of the best and most fun parenting products on the market, put out more directly by their secondary brand Tommee Tippee. They recently acquired a brand new large office space in North Tyneside, in a prime space called the Balliol Business Park.
This new office is all part of their global growth plans and is simply the latest in a series of planned updates. Just because it’s not the last, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t their most impressive space yet! The goal of designers was to mirror the fun, playful, and colourful image associated with their brand in the decor, aesthetic, and atmosphere of their work and break spaces.
At the forefront of the plans when this office was first conceptualized was the idea to make a global headquarters that might regularly enhance the experience of the company’s employees in simple, daily ways. It was also important to company executives that the space “bring parenting to life”.
In short, teams wanted to create a fun, collaborative workplace of the kind that employees can take pride in working at. They wanted their atmosphere to attract talent at the same time as it reflects the image and strength of the brand on a scale that makes it truly recognizable internationally.
Compared to its original office, the company’s new space encompasses a working area that is nearly double in size, spanning 33,000 square feet. This works very well in line with the company’s goals of expansion, giving them space to accommodate the new employees and spacial needs that will inevitably come along with a growing working infrastructure and a need for even more diverse kinds of talent as that takes place.
The atmospheric building begins immediately when guests enter through the front doors. Designers went out of their way to establish a reception space that is extremely welcoming, highly engaging, and interesting in the way it appeals to newcomers. The style of furnishing and decor relies heavily on the kinds of curved lines that mirror those seen in the company’s logo.
The brand is well known for and bears a strongly established colour scheme. This is heavy in cyan, gold, and pink, which contrast well against the clean white background provided by the walls of the area, which have been kept intentionally clean and minimal looking in order to allow the shapes and colours elsewhere to take centre stage.
Colour and shape aren’t the only details that add some personality to the space. Designers actually chose to get extra creative in a way that makes use of novelty and gets crafty with unconventional supplies. Possibly our favourite example of this is the reflective, clear glass chandelier that also features several dangling baby’s bottles, hanging about the stairwell.
Of course, it would be remiss to design an entire office around the values of parenting and all it encompasses without providing a space that is catered to actual working parents. This is why the office’s large ground floor features a meeting area that, right outside its doors, features several spaces specifically designed for kids to play in while their parents conduct business.
The first of these kids’ spaces is a play park and the second is a faux beach area complete with its own trees, colourful and rainbow inspired picnic tables, and swinging chairs suspended from the ceiling. This space might be geared towards kids, but its sized for humans of any age and adults who are waiting for meetings are encouraged it to use it just as much!
In keeping with the kitschy upcycled baby bottle theme, designers custom made the office a truly giant and wonderfully illuminated Tommee Tippee logo from 800 colourful and very real baby bottles. This glows above several private small meeting rooms, each one themed around different toddler activities concentrated on by Mayborn’s various global locations.
Each of the individually themed meeting rooms is highly decorated to the utmost creative degree, making conducting work there more of an experience than a regular workday chose. Additionally, each one is fully equipped with a mother and baby feeding room. The themes of the meeting spaces include a garden, an American diner, a surf club, a tea room, and a library.
Of course, any workplace that truly wants to make their office the best experience for their employees needs a break space that will match how great their workspaces are! That’s why these designers chose to create an entire break wing that features a large variety of spaces centred around comfort. These include colourful seating zones, a cafe, and a lounge with tiered seating.
Entertainment during break times is important to the company for their employees as well. For those who don’t feel the need to rest on their breaks, there are televisions, pool tables, and differently arranged seating spaces designed for informal group seating. Sometimes these spaces are even used for large group presentations so that people can relax during those that are informal.
This all takes place on the ground floor! Above that, on the first and second floors, are more formal workspaces that are a little bit less novelty and a little more business oriented. They are still aesthetically aligned with the quirky style presented in reception and they still follow the colour scheme; they are simply the necessary designated “business wing” that every head office needs.
The business wing is fully equipped with the latest office technology and is laid out in a way that makes everything feel like it has good flow. These floors feature more conventional working areas for those who need more structure for concentration, as well as a plethora of comfortable meeting areas, some fun and colourful multi-purpose booths, and even some sound proof booths for those who need a little extra privacy and concentration on special projects. Each business floor also features a cheerful kitchen area!
Besides the colours, themes, and branding, some things were intentionally prioritized to really make sure the space is as welcoming and conducive to productivity as possible. Large windows ensure that each room on each floor is filled with an abundance of natural sunlight while birchwood details and a large element of greenery (including whole indoor trees) ground the space, provide natural contrast, and create a sense of contentedness and calm.
Photos by Jill Tate
By Courtney • Jul 31, 2019
In a stunning village, nestled in the heart of the Long Bay Beach Club in the Turks and Caicos, a vacation home called Villa Helios was recently refurbished as the ultimate escape to paradise.
Every aspect of the beach house is bathed in luxury, both inside and outside the house. Because the villa is oceanfront, designers made the choice to feature turquoise heavily in the colour scheme in terms of art, furnishings, and other decor. This was intended, and perhaps even prioritized, to play off the stunning blues and teals of the water that splashes right outside the doors.
Thanks to the way that breathtaking views within the space were also highly prioritized in the house, there is a clear visual connection between that water and those colours in a way that is steady, as though the water itself is actually flowing through the house from room to open concept room.
In fact, just about everything in the house flows nicely. This is partially thanks to the open concept layout of most of the rooms, which are delineated more by visuals than actual limits that close rooms off. What makes things feel even more free flowing, however, is the fact that the house was intentionally constructed to blend indoor and outdoor spaces.
In nearly every room of the house, designers gave prime real estate to sliding glazed glass doors that provide a floor to ceiling view all the way down the beach and back. These also give residents and visitors what feels like nearly limitless access to the fresh air, beautiful patio seating, and even a stunning pool area that lets visitors enjoy water and sun in a way that’s slightly more private than the shared beach below.
Perhaps the best part of the private pool area is that it sits on a raised deck. This affords it an unparalleled view thanks to its vantage point that sits a little more forward from the rest of the house, down towards the beach. The view is free of obstruction, free of distraction, and simply full of sunlight and turquoise water so clear it hardly looks real.
The shades we’ve mentioned so much of sit against creamy neutral colours in each space, but designers made sure to use shades and hues in that same range to add dimensions, rather than getting stuck in an overly simplified dual colour scheme. The colours of the accent pieces dotted around the house vary around that same turquoise of the water, ranging green to blue in different pieces of furniture, art, and detail.
In terms of organization, the house is laid out in a way that makes complete sense. Sure, it’s intended to be a holiday home that people can escape to, but that doesn’t mean designers didn’t want to provide every amenity that a regular house in the city might have. The public and social spaces like the kitchen, living room, and a media space make up the ground floor, while the master suite, guest bedrooms, and master bathroom can be found upstairs.
This is where the best access to the outdoor deck and pool can be found. Of course, there are wooden stairs that leads from the ground floor to the deck and then down to the beach, but there’s something freeing and relaxing about being able to wander straight from one’s comfortable bed to an absolutely perfect sunrise view over the water in just a few easy steps.
Photos by Provo Pictures
By Courtney • Jul 31, 2019
In the lush forests right outside of Moscow, Russia, creative designers at ARCHSLON have recently created a contemporary and uniquely shaped but natural looking cubic residence called the Black Villa.
As its name suggests, the villa is made with an entirely black facade that at once makes the house stand out but also blends it right into the trees in certain lighting, preventing it from really interrupting the scenery around it. In fact, the distinct Russian landscape is actually what provided the direct inspiration for the designers’ original conceptualization of the house.
The house was made with the intention of integrating it right into its natural surroundings. In the process of building it, they also wanted to make sure it had the smallest impact on the environment within the plot as possible. The trees around the building’s perimeter were preserved throughout building, contrasting well with the home’s modern shape, which appears to add depth to the forest.
In terms of its structure and decor, the building is quite intentionally minimalist. It consists of two blocks, which function as separate but cohesive volumes according to what the rooms are used for. The halves of the home are linked by a beautiful terrace and a rooftop space that provides delineation without interrupting flow or making any part of the house feel closed off.
Despite the dark colour scheme of the home’s facade, it’s actually quite bright and cheerful on the inside. This is thanks to a system of windows, skylights, and double storey columns that let light pass through the house from space to space with a natural ease and a sunny atmosphere. The windows are large and strategically placed such that they provide almost every room in the house with a nearly panoramic view of the forest beyond the plot.
In shape, decor, and layout, the whole house was specifically created to look and feel simple, clean, and concise. The main living area is shaped longitudinally, like a sort of art gallery featuring locally made pieces and furnishings of natural materiality. At the far end, the master bedroom features its own spacious study, both of which flood with sunlight in the afternoons (without overheating thanks to double paned glazed glass). The kitchen and comforting, welcoming living room sit opposite.
The outdoor spaces that complement the comforting interior of the home are just as stunning and pleasant to spend time in. Between the volumes, for example, there is a stunning courtyard heavy in natural greenery that was preserved during the building process and has thrived since. To one side of the courtyard, a glass wall leads to the master bedroom, as though the greenery is actually a part of the bedroom’s peaceful atmosphere, integrating the experience.
Photos provided by the designer.
Innovative AstraZeneca Offices created by SpaceInvaders to provide a unique and engaging space for employees
By Courtney • Jul 30, 2019
In a little British town called Macclesfield, creative design teams from the uniquely named architectural firm SpaceInvaders have recently finished a complete overhaul of a new office space designer to work as a head quarters for a company called AstraZeneca.
From the outset, the design teams and the company alike wanted to make sure the whole space was approached from a progressive perspective. They wanted to make sure that the place caters to productivity and workplace respect and needs, but also that it feels fun, welcoming, and comfortable enough that employees actually enjoy the time they spend there, letting them create better work in the end.
By the time they reached the end of the project, designers had actually achieved exactly that! In fact, they found it so successful that the office now serves as a guideline for all of their other locations when it comes to layout, aesthetic, and functionality. This is often the case with head offices, of course, but this biopharmaceutical company found their own brand new design particularly well suited to their needs and efficient to recreate elsewhere too.
Once conservative and stereotypically “stuffy” in its style and function, this workplace has undergone a complete transformation in both its style and its mentality, culture, and way of working. The space is now much more free flowing, both in physical movement and communication. It is also much more technologically equipped and filled with more colour and personality.
Perhaps the biggest changes in space and aesthetic took place in the meeting rooms, which are now much more open, diverse, and geared towards collaboration. The break rooms, on the other hand, have been enhanced and geared towards actually giving employees a solid physical and mental break so they can go back to work feeling more genuinely refreshed and prepared. One spot even features a foosball table!
Elsewhere in the office, more classic workspaces do exist for those who thrive better in more disciplined setups and need a little more quiet or privacy. Besides the group work driven meeting areas in the centre, there are also tables, as well as comfortable booths where clients might be met, meetings might be held, or breaks might even be taken.
All throughout the space, colour popping plays a roll in livening up the space no matter which part you’re sitting in or how you’re using it. The dominant colour scheme is quite neutral and balanced with white, right onto the ceiling thanks to interestingly shaped pendant lights. Contemporarily shaped furniture pieces bring the colour pops in, adding red, green, and blue to the mix to add a bit of dimension and interest.
Photos by Gareth Gardner