Author Archives - Stefan
Montreal home La Cardinale renovated by L. McComber to bring it back to life after years of young kids and extensions
By Stefan • 9 hours ago
In the Ville-Saint-Laurent neighbourhood of Montreal, Canada, innovative designers at L. McComber recently completed heavy renovations on a semi-detached Tudor home called La Cardinale, bringing it back to life after years of loving wear and tear.
Originally built in the 1950s, the house was long a home for young families with many children. It underwent several extensions without update to the old, main house, limiting the light that enters from outside and causing a disconnect in aesthetic and materiality. Once the children of the final owners had grown up and begun lives elsewhere, the decision was made to give the space a completely new look.
From the start, efforts were made to preserve some of the original Tudor charm that came with the house itself. Sure, updating and a facelift were necessary, but elements of the facade were untouched and already stunning, so it was agreed that they would be kept despite other structural and aesthetic changes taking place elsewhere.
First, old, slightly more clumsy extensions were removed from where they blocked sunlight entirely from entering the back of the house. New extensions were rebuilt, but they were strategically place to extend where they might connected already existing parts of the original building, rather than sticking so far out the back that the sunlight and yard disappeared.
Materiality was considered heavily in this process; original elements like plaster, stone, and red brick were kept but black geometric metal framing near windows and black sheet metal cladding were added to improve curability or energy efficiency. They contrast well with the light grey walls elsewhere, creating a sense of added modernity to the more classic facade. In certain places, pops of more contemporary colour were painted for personality.
Inside, the new extensions enabled designers to build a much more open concept layout where previous, older extensions had actually broken up the house a little and created more walls. This theme continues outside now as well, as a brand new black deck extends the kitchen right into the yard when the lovely, large glass door is opened entirely.
Despite the main living spaces and the yard making for a nearly entirely open plan ground floor, some delineation of space still exists so that the home feels sensical and organized. The large kitchen island is a great example of this; it marks a change in function from room to room without cutting off conversation and social time.
Between both floors of the house, unnecessarily filled space has been opened up to create a double-height open area above the living and social spaces below. This makes the whole house feel opened out but without losing the privacy of the intimate areas above. Instead of being fully closed off, a simple corridor along one side of the double-height space leads to the master bedroom and its ensuite bathroom.
This corridor is actually quite an experience to walk down because it’s fully opened, making it feel like you’re traveling across a bridge to reach the deep, relaxing bath. On one side of this corridor the owners are afforded a view of the lovely backyard from big, clear windows. On the other side, they can see right down into the main social areas.
Although the grand and rather rich looking exterior of the house was largely preserved for traditional style, the inside of the house now looks much more simplistic and neatly pleasant in terms of colour and materiality. It’s clean, white overarching palette is minimalist but elegant, like much of the decor, while floors, cabinets, and other details provide a sense of warmth thanks to their stained red oak panelling. A subtle sense of contemporary sophistication comes through in the black and white marbling of the countertops and bathroom finishes.
Photos by Raphaël Thibodeau
By Stefan • 1 day ago
On a spacious plot of luscious green land in Bansberia, India, Abin Design Studio has recently completed a design intervention project in order to create the ultra contemporary and extremely unique House of Sweeping Shadows.
Originally, the plot contained a smaller structure already existing on the land, but the rest of the property was largely empty and unused. It bore a small, two story structure and a little mad-made ponds, but these weren’t being taken advantage of. Clients and designers alike decided that keeping the existing structures was a good idea, but that creating extensions to link them and build an unparalleled leisure zone was the best strategy. Establishing an impressive contemporary look was of the utmost importance to both parties.
First, they tackled the outdoor elements. The old brick lined pond, for example, was turned into a lovely swimming pool. The empty two-storey structure, on the other hand, now houses a gym, changing rooms for the pool area, and an innovative media lounge for when the owners host guests. The whole building has a lovely view out over the pool and surrounding grassy area.
Not far from the pool sits an outdoor leisure sector of a different kind; here you’ll find a barbeque station, a sunken seating area that recesses into the patio and gets lots of sun, and even a small aviary that draws huge, beautiful contrast with both the hard concrete spaces nearby and the softer, greener spaces to one side. The whole yard is an open area hub for entertainment and calm.
Regarding the original residence, the idea of keeping the existing structure was good but that didn’t mean it couldn’t receive a facelift! Designers opted to give its unremarkable facade a makeover by encasing it with a self-supporting metal screen structure that’s very modern in its shape and construction. The light metal used only required minimal anchoring to the building, meaning it was low impact on the original structure, particularly for the massive change it provided.
Thanks to the dreamy way it curves around the house, this metal screen facade casts interesting shadows on both the outdoor spaces below and the interior spaces behind its slats. These shadows change, particularly inside, as the day wears on and the sun’s angle moves. The spaces between the frames are large enough that they don’t inhibit the lovely view but small enough that they afford open-air verandahs on the inside some calm privacy.
The contemporary style that was so pivotal to the plan continues on the inside. Mod inspired furniture sits on a bright, daring red floor while the rest of the home’s surfaces stay rather neat and white. Air flow inside the home is breezy and pleasant thanks to the open facade near the verandahs, as is the level of natural light in the main living spaces.
Overall, the level of contrast in colour, materiality, and contemporary versus natural spaces achieves a careful balance in aesthetic and function that makes the whole area feel quite serene. The house is more than just visually impressive; it’s an entire experience.
Photos by Ravi Kanade
By Stefan • Mar 20, 2019
Amidst the calming trees and sunny breezes of Karuizawa, Japan, creative designers at Shigeru Ban Architects have overhauled an already existing retreat to create a brand new, totally transformed boutique resort called Shishi-Iwa House!
This resort is a social enterprise inspired by the need for restorative escapes from busy urban life for working professionals. It is a 10-room building that provides privacy, community, and access to nature and reinforces relationships with the self, human connection, architecture, and the world around us.
Shishi-Iwa House is also intended to embrace the idea of social hospitality, which makes it quite a different experience from staying in the average hotel or resort. By enabling easier, quieter, and simpler bonding in accessible, calm spaces, the retreat aims to allow for reflection and bonding, restore energy, and spark new ways of thinking during one’s stay.
The space and structure itself is also inspiring to look at, and quite visually stimulating. The architecture embraces curves and smooth lines, with an undulating roof that seems to flow visually with the forest around it. The building itself was erected with the careful goal of disturbing as few trees around it as possible which actually resulted in architects developing a brand new technique.
The building is quite open concept, blending indoor and outdoor spaces purposely and explicitly. Between this and the fact that most building materials are natural looking, reclaimed, and locally sourced, there’s a feeling that the retreat hardly interrupts the nature it sits in at all. Windows, patios and balconies, and openings are prioritized and strategically placed in each room to make sure that guests have a stunning view no matter where they’re unwinding, but the social spaces give the absolute best view of the garden.
Rather than separating spaces by function too heavily, designers chose to create each guest room as an actual meditation room in and of itself. Those on the ground floor open onto their own private gardens while those on the upper floors have private balconies or terraces. Social spaces are calming too, but they’re easily accessible to everyone and designed for interaction.
While relaxation is undoubtedly a priority, a particular atmosphere and aesthetic were carefully built by designers as well. Materials and furnishings were curated with intention, created a retreat that also feels sophisticated and intellectual. This is partially due to the innovation of some of the furnishings, where stunning high quality pieces are created from simple materials like cardboard, making them affordable and eco-friendly.
Last, but certainly not least, the retreat puts a huge emphasis on art. Several stunning original pieces are displayed from master painters and sculptors from different areas, from both local artists and renowned names in the wider Japanese scene.
Photos by Hiroyuki Hirai
Along the bustling city streets of Bucharest, Romania, a number of different homes and dwellings in various architectural styles can be found, depending on the neighbourhood. Along Occidentului Street, which is fairly typical for the city, one might see a combination of villas, post-war structures, or wagon-houses that have stood for many years.
Recently, some local designers aimed to build a new apartment building but, rather than letting it stick out and attract attention, they used shocking precision to help it blend in perfectly with the more traditional buildings around it! To the trained eye it might look a little more contemporary and have a bit less wear and tear, but overall it suits the street shockingly well.
The apartment building at Occidentului 40 was created by ADNBA using a technique that helped them compose the facade and its interior apartments from blocks, as thought they’ve been stacked. Rather than solely taking into consideration how their own finished product will look, the design team decided to account for the context around their project as well.
By this, we mean that they attempted to make their new building blend and mesh with the rest of the street, looking similarly to the buildings that are already there so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow and fabric of the space it was freshly built in. The level of detail that went into this goal, right down to the colour scheme, is very impressive indeed.
On the inside, the apartments are calm, wooden, and comfortable with all kinds of amenities typical of a modern, updated rental space. The goal wasn’t to actually create a home that seemed old or outdated in its practicality, but rather simply to match the aesthetic and style of the building faces in the local area in a way that is smooth and cohesive.
Photos by Laurian Ghinitoiu
Industrial Style Architect’s House created by Nadine Engelbrecht in South Africa using a barn as inspiration
By Stefan • Mar 19, 2019
On the outskirts of the city of Pretoria in South Africa, designer and architect Nadine Engelbrecht has built a sprawling, borderline luxury dwelling called Industrial Style Architect’s House. Despite its clear urban and industrial influences, the house actually has an unexpected inspiration behind it: an old barn!
The lead architect on site actually designed this lovely home for her parents using the kind of small barn that would have stood on their childhood farms as the basis for the new house’s shape and structure. Despite that rustic motivation, the overall aesthetic choice and materiality is far more industrial influenced than farmhouse themed, making for an extremely interesting and visually beautiful contrast.
The central portion of the house, made primarily of black steel and glass that lets in plenty of natural life, is the clearest portion bearing barn-like inspiration. Wings for additional living space are built off of each side, one part of which includes a loft with a stunning view and a unique layout.
In the long central space, you’ll find a reception room with a high cathedral style ceiling that peaks in the centre above. This entire space is bright and naturally lit, heavy in windows and glass doors, and quite breathtaking in its clearly industrial simplicity. At the far end, where doors open onto a patio and lawn, is the large family dining table, where things stay the brightest.
The parts of the house that aren’t made from glass and black metals are kept a little more natural and slightly more rustic feeling, without feeling very “farmhouse chic” like you might expect a home inspired by a barn to be. Instead, design teams used concrete, exposed brick, and exposed carpentry made with reclaimed wood.
Moving from the well lit reception hall and dining room into the kitchen, you’ll find a continuation of these material contrasts, as well the way windows are a huge priority. Here, a stunning wooden island acts as a central hub of the kitchen space, while a large, wooden trap door leads down into a temperature controlled wine cellar. This door closes flat into the floor but still stands out as a nearly decorative piece because it’s the only other part of the house besides the shape that explicitly looks like it might have been part of a barn once upon a time.
On the second floor of the kitchen volume to the side of the sunny hall you’ll find guest bedrooms and the master suite. The colour palettes here are simple, pleasant, and minimalist, comprised mostly of neutral shades and cream tones. Although each bedroom has a clear priority in windows and bright, natural light, the master suite is really the room that takes this concept further on the top floors.
At the end of the master bed, where you’d first look when you wake up in the morning, stand a stunning set of floor to ceiling windows. These can be covered by a horizontally sliding shade to reduce the light they let in or left open so you can gaze upon the nearly-rural view of grasses and trees beyond the property. Besides this breathtaking view, the room’s decor is quite pleasantly simple in a way that is classy and sophisticated.
On the top floor of the volume built on the other side of the reception hall, sitting high above a comfortable but stylish living room and social seating area, is an activities space. This bright, wide open room features art, gallery lighting, and bean bag chairs for reading. The family often uses it for entertainment or hobbies and creative endeavours.
Photos by Marsel Roothman
By Stefan • Mar 19, 2019
In the heart of the stunning city of Barcelona, Spain, design and architecture teams at META Studio recently completed a stunning residential project in which they transformed an old textile factory into a unique and breathtaking loft home!
In Barcelona’s Gracia district, nestled into the urban, slightly industrial setting, sits the Textile Factory Loft, a project that a pair of the local company’s architects did for themselves and currently reside in. When they originally came across the factory, it wasn’t much more than an empty space with a solid frame for structure, but they saw nothing but potential.
When the main architects, a married couple, bought the textile factory in 2013, it was being used by a painter as a storage and studio space. Despite some natural wear and tear and the need for a good dusting, it was in quite good condition and the high ceilings, which would provide space for a floor of regular heigh and a small loft space, pretty much made the decision for them.
Besides the fantastic space the building offered, the couple were also beyond intrigued by the backstory of its life as a textiles factory before it became a studio and eventually their home. A building with a bit of history always makes for a more interesting project, after all!
The factory was built in the early 1900s when most factories in Catalonia were textile based. Dubbed Frabrica Grober, it was taken over about 20 years ago after its doors closed by artists looking for creative spaces. Over time, the area became primarily residential, so the loft actually isn’t the only commercial-turned-residential property in the neighbourhood.
Despite the open look of the current ground floor, which has a lovely flow, privacy was actually one of the biggest priorities when the loft was redesigned. This is why the public, social, and “day space” is all located in the double height areas downstairs, while the upstairs area is saved exclusively for more intimate spaces; in this case, two bedrooms and a bathroom.
The sleeping area in this loft is afforded a little extra privacy on top of the division in floors because, before you reach it on your journey upstairs, you’re greeted by a small library that sits on the mezzanine. Besides being a relaxing space, the library serves as a sort of barrier between the day space and the quiet upstairs sleep haven in the loft itself.
In terms of decor, the designers chose subtle, natural palettes that suited the materiality and made the space feel cozy rather than cramped where the low ceiling swoops over the loft to make room for the high ceiling in the day space. For example, industrial black metal brace beams are contrasted and balanced with wooden ones inset into the ceilings.
Believe it or not, the loft isn’t actually the highest point in the home! on the rooftop, accessed through a subtle staircase in the further top corner of the home, is a red tiled rooftop patio with a lovely, sunny seating area. This space gets a fantastic breeze and gives visitors a lovely view of the surrounding city.
Photos by Lluis Carbonell
By Stefan • Mar 18, 2019
In the heart of Paris, France, innovative designer and architect Vincent Eschalier has finished a stunning residential loft project that involved transforming an old industrial factory into a stunning home that let the team play with shapes and visuals in a way that contrasts elements of old and new.
Modernized French Loft, which stands tall in the X th arrondissement of the city, was rehabilitated from an old factory originally built and working in the late nineteenth century, when the area underwent an industrial boom. Now, instead of heavy machinery and busy workers, the old building accommodates 17 lofts in total, ranging in size.
The one that caught our eye in particular, which is Eschalier’s own, is situated on the third and highest floor of the original factory building. Being his personal space, this is where many of the architects talents can be seen in the most detail, as he was free to work in his most preferred styles, rather than prioritizing client needs and expectations.
In his loft, Eschalier included industrial influenced elements to stay true to the building’s history, but contrasted them beautifully with natural wooden details, contemporary shapes, and pops of colour. The most notable industrial feature is, quite obviously, the stunning black metal winding staircase in the very centre of the apartment.
Flanked on either side by two matching metal columns, that are both decorative and functional, the staircause leads from the main living space of the apartment up into the loft area. This is where the master bedroom, which is conservative in size but stunning, and a lovely, sunny private roof terrace can be accessed.
The black metal of the staircase is repeated in several angular art pieces hanging throughout the house, as well as some modern lighting options. Not much artificial light is needed, however, because stunning skylights in the ceiling let natural sunlight reach just about every corner of the apartment.
Rather than just sticking to black, white, and natural wood, Eschalier added some colour to the neatly detailed space in the form of carefully chosen accent pieces. The best example of this is the bright, concentrated splash of orange in the living room, found in the carpet, the vintage chairs, the wall art, and the lamp shade.
Overall, the loft has a stunning sense of cohesiveness and harmony between all things old and new. It’s a standup example of how contemporary refurbishments can harness modern interior decor inside without disturbing historical facades, and while also still paying homage to architectural histories!
Photos by Joan Bracco
By Stefan • Mar 18, 2019
In the area that was, once upon a time, the small village around Brazil’s Canoas train station, a 19th century home was recently and very carefully restored and transformed into a stunning gallery by local design teams at Kiefer Arquitetos.
Casa dos Rosa, or Rosa House, as the building has always been named, is one of the last standing remnants of the area’s original municipality and architecture. Before the cities in the bustling region or Porto Alegre grew up around it, this little house was quite isolated because the surrounding village it was originally a part of was entirely demolished.
Rosa House was saved this levelling thanks to the mayor of the village, who had it deemed a cultural property by transferring it to municipal powers before the go-ahead for demolition was given. Now that is has been restored, this lovely house, originally built in 1874, serves as inspiration for similar restoration projects in the area, such as museums and theatres. Each one is an attempt to preserve history and cultural heritage in the region. Around the house, a little collection of these sites has cropped up, making for a stunning cultural afternoon walk through the park they’re all centred around.
During the transformation process, particular care was taken to make sure as many traditional aspects of the house were preserved as possible. While some additions and upkeep changes were made to create a stronger frame and ensure that the new place will last and wear well, drastic changes were avoided in order to keep the building authentic.
Things that designers did freely adjust included some landscape design in the old yard, the entry way (which needed restoration), the addition of a stunning glazed porch, and the expansion of a public social area on the ground floor. These things were completed with delicacy and using materials that are traditional, reclaimed, and locally sourced.
Inside the house, it was safe to make more contemporary choices, which established a stunning contrast in aesthetic between the rooms and the historical exterior facade. An elevator was installed between the first and second floors to keep the cultural property accessible.
To avoid changing the original structure too much, features like a cafe and a reception area for the whole little historical site were built in an extension right next to Rosa House. From here, a canopy was built that connects there to the museum, the future theatre, and a stairway to the park.
Overall, the goal of preserving the old while building the new was more than just achieved; it was done with beauty. Now, a sense of harmony and coexistence exudes from Rosa House and its new and historical counterparts alike.
Photos by Mário Fontanive
Net Marketing Offices created in Tokyo by DRAFT Inc. as a comfortable work environment for employees of a rapidly growing company
By Stefan • Mar 15, 2019
Net Marketing Offices, located in Tokyo, Japan and recently created by DRAFT Inc., are a shining example of design techniques in fostering productive, comfortable work spaces that prioritize employee experience, making their work day more enjoyable and benefitting their work ethic.
In this space specifically, designers and clients went out of their way to establish an explicit work and leisure balance. Perhaps the clearest example of this was their inclusion of an in-office relaxation spa that employees are encouraged to use as they need! This space even offers licensed acupuncture. Between that and the way the office presents versatile and creative options for workspace depending on one’s style, as well as easy access to calming natural light, makes working in this office feel a lot less like… well, work.
Net Marketing is a company that hit its stride and grew very rapidly indeed, which is part of the reason designers and clients wanted to incorporate an element of relaxation into the average fast paced work day. The work spaces of the office are divided across two separate floors, with a third floor above that hosting a space specifically designed to help employees unwind and refresh when necessary. Each person might choose where they feel best working that day.
The open space on the third floor is a versatile one. Some might use it as a quiet break area, but many others visit the space for personal working time or group work. The office occasionally hosts events there as well. In the event that an employee feels as though they need further relaxation to benefit their productivity, they can seek out the office’s acupuncture services or even use the spa area to take a short nap. Health and wellness are an explicit priority here.
Because the nature of the work done in the office requires a high instance of group work, designers aimed to created a space where meetings, large or small, can be conducted easily, comfortably, and efficiently. Communication was a huge priority as well. This is why the team established a layout that enables employees to switch simply and freely between places, working styles, and atmospheres.
In addition to their own personal desks, employees in this office are provided with and free to use a number of other work spots, such as sofas, modern seats in nooks and corners, and standing counters. This setup also lets people easily interact with each other, enabling a free flow of information between them and making for smoother group processes. Of course, in such a free space, there is always a sense of respecting each other’s work styles and need for quiet or conversation, letting people collaborate better but also opt out of engagement when necessary.
In order to let as much natural light reach as many of the office’s rooms and corners as possible, designers chose to divide what spaces are delineated using glass partitions rather than opaque walls. This allows sunlight to travel from room to room as the day goes on. Rather than framing these partitions with harsh black lines, the team opted for brown and neutral shades in their supports to make things feel more casual and less hardened and industrial.
To bolster the use of quite natural materials in the space (you’ll notice heavy accents of wood and mortar, for example, plant life has also been incorporated into the office’s decor scheme and aesthetic. Besides being proven to improve prolonged indoor experiences, greenery helps amp up that casual, spa influenced theme and sense of comfortability.
Photos by Katsuhiro Aoki
Sydney’s Raine & Horne Offices by PMG Group designed to encourage employees to embrace new ways of working
By Stefan • Mar 15, 2019
In the heart of Sydney, Australia, innovative designers PMG Group have created a fantastic office space for the real estate company Raine & Horne as part of an initiative to encourage their employees to embrace new ways of working.
From the outside of the project’s plans, one of the primary goals was to bring employees out of their offices and into more open spaces in order to facilitate a more flowing, collaborative work environment that cubicle style offices simply aren’t built for. Besides that, the team wanted to create a space that blends company history and a familiar, trusted brand with bright, modern spaces and aesthetics.
Upon entering, visitors can already tell that the office is bright and fun. Natural light reaches every corner and highlights a wall of prints featuring historical moments in local real estate, showcasing to clients that the business evolves quickly with the market but still knows its roots. Nearby, a lovely and casual deck area is available for staff and clients to enjoy in their spare time.
In keeping with the natural light and the way it brightens up the space, designers chose to incorporate a lot of greenery into areas of the office. These are dotted around the more formal workspaces and the slightly more casual meeting areas, including the window seating, break booths, and tiered group seating. Many different kinds of group meeting spaces are available depending on what the employees need for the task at hand.
In the areas that are actually designed for more private work, the colour scheme is neutral and natural in a way that is quite calming. This contrasts well with the pops of colour you’ll find in more public areas of the office. Wooden elements and reclaimed timber add a sense of warmth and familiarity. Some spaces have received a more dramatic update than others; the bathroom, for example, was once compared by an employee to the one at “grandma’s house” and now it’s one of the most modern spaces in the place.
The emphasis on keeping an historical aspect in the space continues beyond just the entrance in a beautiful way. Printed graphics, artifacts, and local memorabilia dot the social spaces and line the walls near the tiered seating, private work zone, and throughout several meeting rooms.
Photos by Oliver Ford Photography
By Stefan • Mar 14, 2019
In the lush tropics of Yakarta, Indonesia, The Upstairs House was recently completed by Wahana Architects to give its residents unique and modern living amenities in a truly innovative way. In a townhouse complex in South Jakarta, The Upstairs House occupies 560 square metres in a lovely, tropical townhouse complex. Because the house sits in such a busy and densely populated area, one of the main challenges for designers was to create a space that matches the impressive nature of the interior areas despite the fact that no real natural view exists around the building.
To do this, teams asked the clients what they’d desire to see most. It was decided that the creation of a natural environment and lovely green landscape would be a central priority. Now that it’s completed, the outdoor space around upstairs house is nothing short of stunning, chalk full of plant life that makes it resemble a holiday resort.
Besides greenery, the clients listed building a pleasant social space that friends and family will want to spend time in as being another high priority. This is actually part of how the house got its name! Rather than placing all of the private spaces upstairs and leaving public and social spaces on the ground floor, designers inverted the house’s format and place bedrooms below and entertainment spaces above.
This way, the busy family who owns the house is able to access their calm bedroom spaces immediately upon arriving home after a very long day. When they have guests over, however, a sort of house tour (which, thanks to the layout of the bedrooms and hallways, is minimally intrusive to the most private spaces) takes place on the way to the final destinations, living and dining rooms where chatting, eating, and other bonding activities take place.
One of the prettiest spaces in the house is actually located right near the entrance, greeting guests with its calm, spa-like atmosphere. This space is an indoor garden and reflection pool near an open staircase that leads upstairs to the group spaces. All around the entrance and stairs, you’ll find a stunningly natural finish created by the fact that reclaimed teak wood is featured heavily throughout the house.
The purpose of using teak in this way was multifaceted. It creates texture, harnesses a lovely natural colour scheme, creates cohesiveness with the lovely outdoor area, and allowed designers to put money back into the local economy because all of the reclaimed teak used was sourced locally.
Because the upper floor is made of only social spaces, designers were able to build a layout that is quite wonderfully open concept without interrupting or flowing into rooms the family would prefer to keep as their own rather than have quite so easily accessible to guests. On its borders, the upper floor is surrounded by glass and wooden lattices, a combination that provides floods of natural light and makes the space feel even more open while also providing a bit of privacy from the outside.
Those same wooden lattices we just mentioned are mirrored downstairs as well, this time used as delineators of space to create corridors towards the bedrooms. These lattices allow a natural breeze to flow through the downstairs area and even lets the bubbling sound of water from the reflection pond drift towards sleeping dwellers. These atmosphere elements calm the sense of those in the private spaces and lull them after the hustle and bustle of their day.
Furthering the sense that indoor and outdoor spaces are connected throughout the house, the children’s bedrooms downstairs each feature their own wooden deck style courtyard. These courtyards are filled with trees that are afforded the space to grow high towards the second level, where they provide some nice shade through the glass walls. The master bedroom, located on the other side of the house, has its own courtyard as well, and this features its own reflection pool, as well as a stunning vertical garden. The entire overall effect is wonderfully serene.
The wooden decks and courtyards we’ve just described are what really makes the difference between building a home in the middle of the city and building a spa-like tropical oasis in the middle of a densely populated area. These spaces and the way they extend into the semi-closed home areas of The Upstairs House are key in making it feel like a beautiful resort.
Photos by Fernando Gomulya
Résidence in Stoneham, created by PARKA by Architecture & Design, exemplifies modern cubic beauty in Canadian nature
By Stefan • Mar 13, 2019
In the luscious green areas of Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Canada, design teams at PARKA by Architecture & Design recently completed the beautifully modern housing space called Résidence in Stoneham.
From its conception, this house was intended to be a space that feels as though it’s integrating into its own landscape. Particularly because it was created for a young, busy family with an affinity for the great outdoors, the house has several features that help blend inside and outside experiences, creating an effective way to live in nature while also living in a modern abode.
Besides the emphasis on large, stunningly clear windows that flood the living spaces with natural light, there are two main features in the house that blend indoor and outdoor spaces particularly well. The first is the garden-level backyard which is accessed by fully opening patio doors leading to the swimming pool and a rolling, lush green lawn.
The second spot that gives especially easy outdoor access to the dwelling’s indoor areas is the large balcony style deck that sits off the master bedroom. This lets dwellers enjoy the fresh air from a raised point that gives them a particularly stunning view of the surrounding forest. It’s like you’re sitting amongst the treetops!
The cubic structure surrounding the balcony we’ve just described, which just out from the house, does more than just provide shade on sunny days. It also helps focus the view by framing the horizon in the distance perfectly and even adds a little bit of privacy from the surrounding area, just in case the owners feel like having coffee out there in their pyjamas on a warm morning.
In terms of materials, textures, and colour schemes, designers took a contemporary and natural approach all at once. The use of gleaming reclaimed wood and slate bring an element of decor that makes the house feel cohesive with its surroundings while star white and black surfaces and finishes give a slightly more stark atmosphere to certain rooms that seems to mirror the surrounding mountains of Stoneham while still looking quite modern indeed.
As it all of that wasn’t enough to really create a sense of indoor-outdoor harmony, the way designers included expansive, clear windows from floor to ceiling in most walls really ties it all together. These flood private and social spaces alike with sunlight and natural warmth no matter the season, providing a homey glow that makes some of the more modern shapes you see feel softer.
Photos by Jessy Bernier Photography
Mały domek 29, or Swedish “Small House”, created by HusmanHagberg, is a stunning example of cozy living
By Stefan • Mar 13, 2019
In the heart of bustling Stockholm in Sweden, the darling house called Mały Domek 29 was recently refurbished by creative design teams at HusmanHagberg. In English, the home’s name means “Small House” and that’s an incredibly apt description! Even so, this adorable little home is by no means too small to be a pleasant dwelling that offers everything a person needs. The spaces are simply a little cozier than those you might encounter elsewhere!
Upon entering, you’ll find a lovely little living space that is both warmed and decorated by a central heating stove. This is covered in clean porcelain tiles with ornate hand painted detailing near the top. To the right, you’ll find a small, casual seating area and directly across from that is a small, wood finished kitchen that features a surprisingly high number of cupboards for such a small space, meaning it’s easy to keep organized.
Across from the entrance, the master bedroom comprises most of the rest of the house on the ground floor, prioritized as the next important space to that where guests will be hosted. This space has a sense of rustic chic like the rest of the house but with a neat and tidy woodland feel. The master bathroom sits off to the side of the bedroom, tiled in clean white that suits the walls elsewhere and creates cohesiveness.
On the upper floor, you’ll find a relaxing work and entertainment space. On one side, a computer desk creates a bit of a home office area but the space is versatile. It feels quite large, as it spans the square footage of the whole bottom floor, so a secondary sofa, a spare day bed, and a reading corner all fit comfortably in the different corners of the room. The sloped roof that is so characteristic of smaller cottage living adds personality rather than making the room feel limited.
On the outside, the cottage is nothing short of classic and adorable. Its warm red facade stands out against the often wintery landscape surrounding it, looking like a bright, cheerful spot against the white backdrop of snow.
Photos courtesy of the designer.
Entirely wooden Kiyakabin by Atelier Riri is a perfect getaway that feels like a cross between an island and a treehouse
By Stefan • Mar 12, 2019
In West Nusa Tenggara, a part of Indonesia, the Kiyakabin was recently created by Atelier Riri in partnership with the government in order to give tourists an ideal experience of the deeply rooted local culture and mesmerizing tropical scenery in the area. Standing tall on Lombok, a small island near Bali, this house furthers the goal of enticing visitors and giving them the perfect experience, which has been the Indonesian government’s primary goal for that area since the 1980s. These islands offer both beaches and mountains, making them breathtaking to witness and extremely unique indeed to try and build on.
Besides being unique in terrain, the Bali and Lombok area in which Kiyakabin was built is also extremely unique in terms of local culture and ethnicity. While Bali is predominantly Hindu, Lombok’s local culture is rooted in the Muslim practices of the Sasak community. These two island groups have long lived harmoniously and side by side, forging a strong connection and allowing things like architecture and music to be influenced by one another in certain ways.
The Kiyakabin itself was designed and built in 2017. One of the primary goals in planning the project was to make it overtly represent the Sasak culture in terms of materiality, layout, function, visual decor, and overall lifestyle. Building materials, like the various types of wood you see all throughout the structure, were sourced locally, making the building very sustainable indeed for its environment.
Perhaps the most obvious thing this stunning island has to offer is a view that is practically unparalleled. This view can be soaked in from any of the Kiyakabin’s four separate building units, which for a randomly arranged compound that’s fun and interesting to navigate. Designers purposely structure the compound in this way to reflect the character of a typical Sasak village, which is developed at whim rather than along strict plan, but still in purposeful cohesiveness with the rest of itself.
Each cabin in this compound has a different view; for example, one cabin faces directly towards the beach while another is oriented so you wake up to the view of the fantastic swimming pool in the centre of the space. One of the cabins even has a slightly more distance heavy view because it is lifted from the ground on a platform, meaning it can see above the others.
The interior spaces in each of the four cabin buildings is different and unique to itself as well, giving guests a sort of experience shift as they travel from one to the other. Three of the cabins are private with sleeping areas and the fourth is a public space that features a kitchen, a storeroom, and even a restaurant. This cabin, which is the largest of the four, is often used as a communal space, kind of like an activity centre.
The fourth largest cabin is the spot in the compound that acts as a sort of connector between public and private areas. This and the other cabins were all completed using a construction technique that is typical of the local Sasak houses in the area. Adapted to withstand weather and the wear of guests, the Kiyakabin buildings were still created using a connected wood construction technique that can be seen all over the island in traditional Lombok homes.
Speaking of local material sourcing and sustainability, the wood that you see in the slightly darker facade cover on the outside of the cabins was actually taken from a lush garden that was created for and serves the cabin compound itself! This is golden teak wood, which is extremely strong and has been finished using a specific wood burning system that helps it withstand harsh tropical seashore weather and protect the structural wood underneath. In other places, you’ll see a lighter white teak wood, which designers used mostly as an interior coating inside the cabins. This makes things look quite modern and cheerful rather than dark or very rustic.
One of the most unique features of the Kiyakabin building compound is the swimming pool, which lies in the centre of all the buildings. This pool has lovely views of its own and is often used as a place for interaction with other guests, since its so easily accessible from all of the cabins. It has a unique layout, however, that stretches to different parts of the compound, so there are also pool sections that have some privacy to each cabin in the even that someone would rather drift in their own space for a little while. All around the outside of the pool is a wooden path that connects the cabins and the outer area despite the water.
The cabins themselves are kept quite simple in terms of shape and architectural style. They are modern and square, making them look very contemporary but in a way that will age well and last. This shape also pays ongoing homage to the culture, as that’s the layout of most of the local and more cultural homes as well. Additionally, the simple square buildings do very little to interrupt the stunning nature around them, which helps keep the view from surrounding areas beautiful and consistent.
Photos by William Suntanto
RIKAS, an ultra-modern family home created by 3DM Architecture, looks like the ultimate ‘slice’ of contemporary Heaven
By Stefan • Mar 12, 2019
In a sprawling land plot in a neighbourhood of Maliena, nestled in the heart of Swieqi in Malta, innovative designers at 3DM Architecture have created the RIKAS project, an ultra- modern home that looks like a feat of artistic but contemporary angles and shapes.
From the very conception of the design, the architectural team and the clients (a busy young couple with two lively and active children) aimed to create a space that looks pure and neat but incredibly bold and fun. This resulted in the decision to create a house with a shape that is, at its roots, basically a visual reaction to the plot of land it was built on! It mimics the overall shape and sturdiness of the land it stands upon.
Inside, the decor is one that is designed to build a relationship between aesthetic and function. Rather than just being incredibly modern like its shape and outer appearance but too rigid or cold looking for comfortable living, the team hit the mark between natural finishes and contemporary shapes and surfaces, creating a space that is no doubt very modern but also still suits a family lifestyle.
Because the very building itself plays with shapes and angles in such an interesting way, the opportunity arose inside for designers to play with light and shadow throughout. This gives the inside a slightly Renaissance period inspired element because much of the way lights and windows have been placed follow an old architectural style called the Chiaroscuro technique. By this, we mean that the ground floor of the house is flooded with natural light thank to floor to ceiling windows and apertures that create a sort of blended effect between indoor and outdoor areas, as though they are one.
Despite this open, well lit characteristic, however, designers still made sure that dwellers can be afforded more privacy and shade when they choose. They gave the well lit ground floor a bit of flexibility by installing remotely controlled fabric screens. When these are lowered the space becomes much more intimate. Of course, because of the way it’s raised and its peaked shape, all four floors of the house are most often flooded with natural sunlight, but the ground floor stays particularly naturally lit.
In terms of decor, designers had two distinct goals within the house (besides keeping a very contemporary yet livable feel) that, despite sounding at odds at first, actually work well together. Firstly, they wanted to use materiality and colour or decor schemes to differentiate between spaces. When the decor scheme changes, so does the function of the room.
At the same time, they wished to maintain some static elements that can be found all throughout the house so that some cohesion and decorative sense can me maintained from room to room. They aimed for securing a balance between the desired design aesthetic and what the clients’ daily needs might be living there with their family.
Finally, several features of the house were chosen for their sense of functional luxury. Sure, they were designed to be modern and impressive, but they aren’t frivolous details that a busy, social family wouldn’t use. For example, the indoor and outdoor pools and the sunken circular couch are fantastic spaces for bonding time, while the underground garage provides a space for family cards and activity supply storage that is secure and easily accessible.
Photos by Miguel Petrovic
Located in Morioka, a city in the Tohoku region of Japan, is the brand new Nagasawa Coffee, a shop that was designed by ARII IRIE Architects to incorporate the process of making its product into an actual part of the whole purchasing experience.
When the owners of the original shop came up with the idea of moving it into a bigger space so they could include a recently purchased 1960s vintage roaster in the decor scheme, a much bigger plan started to form. They ended up developing the vision of a whole new shop where guests become privy to the actual process of roasting and making their coffee from scratch, more like an open workshop space than just your average coffee shop.
When the designers came onto the project, they sought a way to enable the clients’ vision in the simplest, most space efficient way possible. A primary element of this minimalist but pleasing spatial concept is the big terrazzo table where most of the customer service is completed. This table is 6 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, making it quite sizeable indeed.
Despite being large, this service table is, in fact, space efficient because it is so multipurpose and so much can centre around it. besides being a service counter and a table to sit at, the desk is also an active tabletop where live roasting takes place, with packaged, unroasted, and roasted beans are all stored, displayed, and prepared within full view of the customers’ curious eyes.
The new shop, despite having a bigger square footage, is still decently small; in fact, it has a lower ceiling than the previous space. This doesn’t interfere with customers’ ability to enjoy the space at all, but designers still wanted to counteract that visually in order to keep the space feeling balanced rather than short. This is why they’ve kept them primary counter quite low.
The counter isn’t quite low enough to grab anyone’s attention for its lacking height, but it does create a sensical space between its tabletop and the ceiling, which is only 2.8 metres high. Situating the tabletop where most customers’ attention will be fixed lower draws their eye line downward and away from the ceiling. Additionally, the lower height makes the primary counter feel like a bit more of a stage on which a dance of some kind is taking place.
Across from the ever-important counter is where the vintage roaster we mentioned previously lives. It is on full display and curious customers are encouraged to look at it up close and take in all its mechanics and details. Between the counter and the roast sits a long, lovely smoothed granite table that guests might use as social and communal space. Slightly more individualized seating can be found at the front of the store, near the edge of the counter.
Thanks to the difference in look and aesthetic between the vintage roaster and the clean-edged, modern looking furniture, like the table and its accompanying minimalist stools, the whole shop is bathed in a stunning contrast between vintage and contemporary. The effect is nothing short of stunning and that, combined with the experience of witnessing the entire coffee bean process, really makes Nagasawa coffee stand out.
Photos by Kai Nakamura
Converted historic house becomes Belgian Bed and Breakfast Entrenous thanks to Atelier Janda Vanderghote
By Stefan • Mar 11, 2019
Next to the lovely green grasses of Citadel Park in Ghent, Belgium, a beautifully historic house was recently converted by innovative designers Atelier Janda Vanderghote. Now it’s the stunning Bed and Breakfast Entrenous!
This impressive and inviting B&B, which presents guests with a unique blend of classic architecture and modern lines and decor, features three sizeable guest rooms. On the outside, the home’s original facade has been restored with a sense of reverence for its historical aesthetic. The inside, however, has been entirely renovated in terms of style and decor, with several necessary updates for longevity, but the layout and general structure is much the same, giving the original historical aesthetic some ongoing presence.
In the same way that old meets new in this lovely B&B, there’s also a strong sense of public meeting private. The lower rooms where a family might usually meet to eat and bond are social spaces here, where guests share space and spend time together. On the top floor, however, large private bedrooms provide visitors with their own space to sleep and unwind.
Throughout the house, concrete plays a large role in decor and theme. It is exposed in the walls and beams, for example, contrasting well with wooden detailing and pops of brightly coloured paint in some rooms. The concrete involvement makes the inside of the house feel solid and safe.
Around the back of the house, another type of blending takes place. Here, a glass facade makes the public spaces near the back of the B&B and the sunny, inviting backyard feel cohesive. Here, a wooden exterior decorates the rear facade, giving the yard a different feel than its other side where the concrete is bare. This frame, which has an alternating window-like pattern to it, also provides a bit of extra shade and privacy to the exterior sides for the private rooms on the top floor.
In terms of decor, you’ll once again experience both contrast and blending. Firstly, you’ll notice that all of the floors on the ground level are smooth concrete but, as you move upstairs, you’ll find that the floors here are wooden instead. As far as blending and cohesiveness is concerned, the colour blue is what ties the whole home’s interior together. Whether it’s a chair, a shelf, or a painted accent wall, you’ll find at least one element in each space that centres the colour and ties the home together.
Photos by Tim Van de Velde