Author Archives - Courtney
In the lush, stunning countryside of Kennebunk, Maine, specialized design studio Caleb Johnson Studio has taken an old traditional farmhouse and its barn and beautifully transformed them into a smartly salvaged and ultra comfortable modernized farmhouse called- you read that right- the Salvaged Farmhouse!
As you might have guessed, this lovely, down-home dwelling is made entirely of… salvaged materials, of course! The original century-old building has been turned into a beautiful home that was affectionately nicknamed Ben’s Barn by the new owners after it was name. Thisis a spacious family home that combines the original cottage and the farm’s barn to create a new house that pays tribute to traditional New England style rural architecture.
As mentioned, Ben’s Barn was constructed from a unique mic of reclaimed materials. These were sourced from the local area, the immediately land, and even the original farmhouse getting updated itself. Additionally, some pieces were salvaged from a midcentury modern house that was torn down some miles away in Weston, Massachusetts and transported for repurposing. These well-worn but sturdy materials have been combined in innovative ways with sustainable, modern materials in order to create a home that’s fully functional, stylish, but still comfortably traditional.
Ben’s Barn was specifically created with the intention of last its new family a lifetime. The sun-filled dwelling span 4,425 square feet and includes four bedrooms, four baths, and even a loft of its own. Designers ensured that ample space was available because the clients have several young children. This resulted in an open, fluid-movement layout inside that at once offers lots of indoor play space but also makes the first floor bedroom very accessible for visitors or members of the family who intend to grow old in the house.
Organizationally, this beautiful barn-inspired house is organized into two structures; it has a bedroom wing and a kitchen and master space wing. Each wing has two stories and they are connected with a double-story hallway link made of glazed glass, which keeps things feeling open and bright.
The timber used in the roof, wall siding, interior wooden cladding, and interior doors was all salvaged from the original barn and farmhouse. Contrasting with this wood, visitors will find granite blocks that were also reclaimed from the first house, this time from the foundation. Today, they serve as porch steps and lovely stone seating in the garden and yard. The reclaimed timber from the mid-century teardown, on the other hand, can be found in the cabinetry and other detailed fixtures.
Although modern steel and lovely, contemporary amenities were added to the house for stability and comfort, the overall aesthetic of the space is that of rustic comfort and purposely unfinished countryside identity. The goal was to turn the old structures into something new without making things look too new, keeping the original farm’s charm alive longer.
Photos by Trent Bell
By Courtney • Mar 1, 2019
Close your eyes and imagine the ultimate relaxing villa escape, with water features gurgling peacefully amidst the trees. Now, picture that same concept but with a modern, angular aesthetic that fits a more contemporary sense of style. Chances are good that you just might be picturing something along the lines of the stunning Hanging Villa created by TWS & Partners!
Clinging to a stunning mountainside in Bandung, Indonesia, the Hanging Villa is easily accessbile from the city but sits far enough away from its bustle and traffic to feel isolated in a way that’s peaceful and freeing. The goal of the building’s layout is to give those who gather there space to bring the entire family with them in shared comfort, but also small escapes in which to enjoy time to themselves as well.
Just like you’ll find diverse private and social spaces inside, you’ll notice immediately upon arriving that one of the best things about the villa is its outdoor space, which is also multi-function. This area is fantastic for relaxing in the sun or hosting events. Its geometric shaping responds to the nature surrounding the house and mirrors the structure of the main volume in the shape of the balcony and even the pool.
The shape of the building was originally inspired by two drastically different things; its stunning natural setting… and stacked boxes! This combination lets visitors experience different parts of the home’s astounding view from different areas of the house thanks to the way each floor (or “stacked box”) is rotated every so slightly differently to those above and below it.
From the ground where the garage is located up into the second floor of villa, a “circulation” tower leads you upwards un the stack until you reach the main social area. From here, different parts of the villa can be accessed through smooth timber pathways. A stunning water garden follows alongside these pathways, enhancing the view even more thanks to its sunny reflection. Primary rooms like the living room, kitchen, and dining room are all accessible off the pathway.
In terms of colour scheme, designers kept things neutral both inside and out. This lets the villa blend in even more seamlessly with its surroundings, giving even the inside rooms a tranquil atmosphere. Large windows surrounding the outer walls let the view stay visible no matter where you stand, which is particularly magical at sunrise and sunset when the light changes. These windows also eliminate the need for constant use of artificial light, which makes the villa a bit more energy efficient.
On the first floor above the garage, the master bedroom actually has its entire own space. This was specifically intended to gift owners and hosts their very own escape while they host family and friends, which can be a busy process. From there, social spaces sit on the next floor up (the same level as the jaw-dropping outdoor space), with guests bedrooms above that.
The wooded terrace where the pool sits is perhaps the home’s best feature. Besides this area, which has a perfect balance of sun and shade, the villa also features a rooftop deck with lovely outdoor lounge furniture and even a private garden. Retracting insulated walls let dwellers play an active roll in temperature control, depending on the weather and time of year.
Photos by Fernando Gomulya
Hidden Cross Residence by Ntovros Vasileios Architects perfectly blends modern family needs with whimsical childhood elements
By Courtney • Feb 28, 2019
Located on a small hill in beautiful Chalcis in Greece, a brand new house by innovative design teams at Ntovros Vasileios Architects presents visitors with the perfect blend of modern family amenities and fun, whimsical details that would make any child (or kid-at-heart) feel right at home. The Hidden Cross residence, in the suburb of Chalkida is the perfect seaside spot!
In terms of its terrain, the plot of this house slopes downwards to the water, giving it an unparalleled view but also making it a unique challenge for builders. That’s part of the reason why designers chose a structure that’s neat and compact, letting the home be anchored properly and safely. The shape gives it a neat modern feel as well, which was an added bonus!
Thanks to innovative architecture, the slope only served to enhance what the house had to offer, rather than limiting it. Even with its angle, Hidden Cross features a beautiful yard, plenty of semi-covered and relaxing outdoor spaces, and several balconies on the south side, which faces away from the main road running along the plot’s edge to the north.
Inside the home, the rooms operate according to a vertical and a horizontal axis. The place where the two intersect is where the primary living space is featured, making it great for family and social gatherings. Along the vertical axis, you’ll find a delineation between areas of movement (this is where the main staircase is located, as well as an elevator) and spaces meant for function (like the kitchen, dining room and bedrooms).
Along the horizontal axis, however, you’ll encounter a separation between public spaces and private once. This creates a sense of flow in the house that, well, makes perfect sense! Even first time visitors can suss out where the room they’re looking for is quite easily without direction, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. This, in combination with the fact that several small novelty features were clearly created with children in mind (not the miniature cubby staircase leading to and from the playroom), really makes the house feel like an experience.
The layout and kid-friendly details aren’t the only interesting things about this space. Designers also included several facilities that make the home green, simple to work, and affordable to run. For example, it possess both active and passive solar heating systems, as well as natural cooling. This system includes a solar greenhouse by the kitchen, cool openings on the south side of the main volume, and vertical ventilation in the staircase that creates a cross-ventilation with the main skylight.
Equally impressive to the natural systems of cooling and heating was the designers’ natural approach to light! Of course, any home will include some artificial light, but this team made sure to maintain balance between that and effective levels of natural sunlight. A central skylight and impressively large glazed windows, as well as smaller ones placed strategically, play large roles in this. As a unique touch, the team also placed various shades over some windows, giving owners the option of casting shadows and filtering their light through covers that add some lit up colour to the room.
Photos by Dimitris Sotiropoulos
By Courtney • Feb 28, 2019
In the centre of a beautiful neighborhood in Cordoba, Argentina, APS – Pablo Senmartin has built the immensely impressive House in the Air, designed specifically to feel like a floating residence that’s not weighted down by heavy foundations or anchored to the earth.
This sort of weightless effect, which one can certainly feel in the main volume of the house, was achieved by building a sort of stilt system that’s actually also visually appealing from the outside of the house. Created for a family of five, the house is split into distinct areas of work and play; there are spaces intended for homework and study for both parents and children, as well as common areas designed to support lots of socializing with family and friends.
Despite sitting in a city, in a bustling and trending neighbourhood, the house feels anything but rushed and busy. Besides how it’s been organized according to work and play functions, the yard actually plays a role in this sort of calming atmosphere. This is primarily thanks to a large and very old carob tree that provides the green space and windows with increased privacy and a bit of relaxing shade.
From the very bottom, the house is clearly organized according to what the rooms are used for. More social rooms, for example, sit downstairs where guests will first enter the house. Private rooms and studies are located upstairs- in the “floating” volume that gives the residence its name- where visitors are less likely to roam. Rather than feeling divided, this organizational tactic just makes the house feel like it has a sense about it.
View in gallery
Despite the work areas of the home being separate, they feel anything but isolated. Stunning windows that feature adjustable shades give a constant view of the lovely tree and the world outside, making the house feel rather fluid. The whole space is, at its core, transitional; you start your day downstairs in the morning, work your way up where it’s quiet to work, emerge again for social time at meals, and retreat again for a quiet sleep.
In keeping with the organized and relaxed aesthetic, most materials used in the house’s construction are natural; you’ll witness a lot of wood, natural metal, and stone or concrete if you visit. The house also bears a sense of strength, however, which can be seen in the way the private volume does, in fact, sit in the air thanks to being cantilevered on strong beams.
Photos by Gonzalo Viramonte
Resources Publicis Russia office space created by VOX Architects to provide a true experience in design and texture
By Courtney • Feb 27, 2019
The company Resources Publicis Russia is a collaborative effort between several designers. Located in Moskva, the goal of their Resources office is to act as a media holding department for various teams and individuals. They recently decided that, for the sake of clients and employees alike, the aesthetic and atmosphere of their offices should complement the quality of their repertoire. That’s how they came to work with VOX Architects!
The first goal of the design team was to create something that could be both eye catching and also professional looking. Since this particular department often deals with matters of important business and finance, teams felt it was important to keep things serious and impressive looking, even as they aimed to establish a decorative and comfortable sense of space as well.
Situated in the Bolshevik business centre, this office occupies 870 square meters. Designers wanted to convey the eclectic and forward thinking minds and attitudes of the employees involved with the company on every inch of that space! They chose to do so using expressive textures and colours in unique, attention grabbing combinations.
Perhaps the thing the catches the eye the most upon entering the office is the front desk, which is shaped and painted to look like a solid gold bar. This was the central piece that the rest of the office was designed around. In the air around the desk, you’ll notice lamps hovering around the reception that are shaped like little clouds. This combination of images might seem random, but consistency is created by the fact that both of these things are mirrored in the drawings all across the walls.
Moving from the reception area into the working spaces, you’ll notice a fluid, open format. This allows employees of any kind- be they special departments, IT techs, or top managers, to collaborate and communicate freely. In addition to uniquely shaped lamps that give the space character, the open office spaces are well lit naturally thanks to large windows that are double glazed for good insulation.
Another unique feature of the office is the conversation area. This is a space generally understood as being a good break or collaborative meeting space, while the others are saved for quite or private work time. Noise is controlled despite the open format layout thanks to sound-absorbing panels built right into the walls. Employees often conduct meetings or video conferences by these panels.
Of course, any good workplace that truly values productivity and employee morale knows that break time is pivotal as well as work time! That’s why designers included several coffee points throughout the office. This way, brief or longer breathers can easily be taken between working sessions, actually helping to keep people on track when they’re at task. Besides the coffee points, employees also have access to a full kitchen and several informal or social areas that boast comfortable couches and even hammocks!
Despite all these impressively modern features, the original building the office is built in is actually an historical one for the area. For this reason, designers chose to preserve several original elements, like many of the walls and the already-built loft style of the office’s main shape. Many of the industrial looking functions on the ceiling are new as well; rather than masking or moving them, designers chose to simply paint them blue in order to mimic clear morning skies. This themed is extended beyond the vents and pipes by the presence of colourful columns and stripes on several walls that were inspired by the sunrise.
Photos by Sergey Ananiev
By Courtney • Feb 27, 2019
In Japan, design company Horma recently got creative with the shape of a small apartment building featuring space efficient units in an attempt to avoid disturbing a stunning old garden that runs down one side. The result was a stunningly organized little renovation that disturbs almost nothing around it but provides a lovely dwelling for those who love innovative layout and living neat.
Comprised of two main towers, this project contains 6 single story apartments in total. A central courtyard connects the towers, giving you access to any apartment no matter which tower you enter from. This lovely courtyard contains a circular shaped wooden deck that gives additional access to 4 of the units by their terraces. These lovely little outdoor balcony areas, one for each apartment, are afforded some privacy by a pretty lattice that separates the building visually from its neighbours.
Terrace access is hardly the best part of the circular deck, however! In the very centre of the circle sits a stunning Japanese guava tree that extends nine metres in the air, making it visible from all common areas and the windows of each apartment. The tree provides the courtyard with shade and gives the whole place a relaxing atmosphere. Benches circle the tree so people can socialize while they bask in its beauty. There are also plenty of planters featuring other fantastic greenery.
At the northern end of the courtyard, where you’ll find in the bend in the building’s L-shape, you’ll also find a centre “core” that features stairs and an elevator. These provide access to all floors and all apartments. Rather than being underground, the basement and parking garage sit at street level, making them very accessible indeed.
In order to retain focus on that relaxing atmosphere establish by the courtyard, the common spaces in each apartment (like the living and dining rooms) face onto the windows that overlook the guava tree. The windows in each apartment’s three bedrooms, on the other hand, face the picturesque street outside. To keep them private and quiet and let dwellers adjust light, however, they are flanked by an inclined facade wall.
Each bedroom in the apartment features greenery and some lovely vegetation by default with the unit. These are built into the facade and placed near the windows, increasing privacy and acting as a sort of natural sound barrier between the bedrooms and the sounds of the street below. The plants also simultaneously contrast and complement that natural wooden furnishings and features that comprise the rooms and storage spaces all throughout each unit.
Besides being afforded a feeling of spaciousness by impeccably organized storage cupboards that retract into the walls, these units feel like they sprawl thanks to the additional features they have access to. Each apartment has terrace and wooden deck access as well as its own balcony or patio, depending on which floor it sits on. Finally, tenants have free use of a lovely private rooftop garden as well, adding a further natural place to escape to for some calm.
Photos by Mariella Apollonio
Stunningly sleek Campbell Street by DKO Architecture + SLAB is a feat of vertical living philosophies
By Courtney • Feb 26, 2019
In the city of Collingwood in Australia, designers are starting to think about the shape of average houses and their architectural possibilities and little bit differently. DKO Architecture + SLAB‘s recent Campbell Street project is the perfect example of how many teams are taking the concept of “vertical living” to whole new levels!
This house is a multi-residential project, meaning that it features more than one apartment despite the fact that it’s not your standard high rise apartment building. The residence also harnesses vertical living philosophies by expanding upwards as you move room to room, rather than sprawling horizontally or taking up space with width. This lets neighbourhoods house more people without taking up so much land, fitting homes into smaller spaces.
In this particular case, designers worked with a small space almost ten times smaller than the average Australian city house’s plot. Even so, they managed to build a stunning three bedroom home (built like two vertical apartments attached side by side) that feels anything but cramped or small.
Despite the fact that Collingwood is a suburb that boasts a great amount of diversity, designers felt that gentrification has taken its toll on the area so they wanted to build something truly unique and authentic, bearing a sense of class but without being inaccessible and exorbitant in price. They also wanted to make sure the residence suited this eclectic street, which they felt was one of the few left with true variety and character in the area, so exterior design was an important element.
To make the multi-story building stand out, the team shrouded it in a cloak of pressed aluminum sheeting that was custom punctured for visual detail. This aesthetic makes it look bold and intriguing in the street’s fabric. This facade also has a functional use; it helps mitigate heat from the sun pouring down the elevated street in the afternoons.
In order to maximize on natural lightly in spaces that are smaller than usual in dimension (despite not feeling cramped), designers built these residence around central columns made from floor to ceiling windows encasing a staircase. This creates the effect of a column of light plunging straight through the centre of the building from the rooftop garden at its very highest point, all the way down into the basement, which is actually the smallest measuring basement in Melbourne.
Besides gorgeous floods of natural light, this central glass and staircase column also provides the vertical home with cross ventilation in each room, giving the whole house fresh circulation. This free movement of air but presence of sunlight helps with temperature regulation, making heating and cooling systems less necessary day to day so that the house runs a little more green than the average building.
Because they were working with smaller and more unique spaces than usual, design teams opted to concentrate on making rooms diverse and transformable so they could serve more than one purpose, rather than just making more rooms. They carefully considered and arranged layouts so that a bedroom might also become a home theatre or a spacious family kitchen might also be altered to comfortably seat six or eight people when guests visit. The key here was foldable features and flexibility.
Far from making the rooms feel crowded, their multi-purpose nature serves to break down traditional conceptions of space and merge functions in the home for a more blended lifestyle that, according to those already living in similar units, results in more time spent with family without having to sacrifice private space or alone time.
This sense of boundaries that exist but don’t confine is enhanced by the inclusion of mirrored decor, glass floors, glass dividers, and internal windows between rooms. The resulting perception is that plenty of space is available and there’s a room in which you can do anything you’d need to in a “regular house” and then some.
Angular Okada Marshall House by D’Arcy Jones Architects impresses with its sharp corners and wooden detail
By Courtney • Feb 26, 2019
Nestled in the wooded greenery of Sooke, in Canada, the stunning, Okada Marshall House was created by D’Arcy Jones Architects as a calming ocean escape that’s nothing short of intriguing.
The house is uniquely H-shaped, wrapping its exterior walls around two lovely courtyards. This creates the effect that all windows and doors face outwards, looking towards ancient ocean rocks and bright green moss. The house maintains a parapet height, varying very little in its verticality despite all of its angles and turns. A concrete element that seems to undulate actually serves to anchor the home to the rocks, which sit not far from the edge of the pacific ocean, rather than just to please visually.
With the exception of the way its thin wooden slats and pillars break up solid space, the home’s exterior appears quite solid and quiet, befitting of its water woodland location. These slats extend to create a lovely screen around certain parts of the inner courtyards, providing some privacy without blocking out sunlight or giving the area too much shade where warmth should be.
Inside, the wooden theme continues, rendering the house what designers referred to as “a comprehensive tribute to wood”. Besides the slats on the facade and making up the screen, wooden columns can be seen holding up the “dining roof” like a platform in the air, defining the far end of the outdoor courtyard areas. This also provides additional parking underneath in what feels like an inviting outdoor all-purpose “room”.
Inside and outside, facades, furnishings, and finishes are all created from wood supplied by innovative company Shou-sugi. This wood is hand charred according to ancient Japanese techniques, ensuring that it will never rot. It doesn’t even need any maintenance! These features make it the perfect choice for a damp and wooded Canadian seaside location.
The layout inside the home is just as intriguing, if not more, as the angles and sharp corners you see outside. This is because the owners requested a home without stairs! Instead, the daytime and social spaces are stretched wide to lead directly into sloping hallways that curve and lead gently from floor to floor.
These elongated halls give the house a feeling of massive expansiveness and also provide a quiet separation of space that actually cancels noise quite effectively without making rooms feel cut off from one another. In reality, the home is not actually as sprawling as it feels; it simply bears a fluid spatial organization that feels just about never-ending.
Now, the angles and curves that you’ll experience both in and outside the house are actually far from random, despite how they appear. They’re actually created to mimic and work wth the natural rocky topography of the site where the house sits! This angles windows and open spaces for a better view of Vancouver Island’s west coast, which is stunning in any season.
Despite the heavy emphasis on wood, there are some varying finishes elsewhere. The master bathroom, for example, was purposely finished in Japanese black tile in order to create a balance of light. No matter how grey the seaside skies, the outside will always appear brighter than the dark, black finished of that bathroom, letting dwellers start their day on a lighter note.
This subtle light manipulating theme extends into areas where stark white walls contrast with wooden furnishings as well. Here, light from the massive windows is tended to bounce and brighten the whole place. This, in partnership with the way the arms of the house’s H-shape encompass the courtyard in a way that keeps out morning fog, keeps the whole atmosphere feeling cozy and secure, rather than isolated or gloomy.
Photos by Sama Jim Canzian
By Courtney • Feb 25, 2019
On the water’s edge in Christchurch, New Zealand, innovative design teams at Ignite Architects recently finished a public project called the Woolston Community Library. This library is perched on an old, traditional transport route between the village or Christchurch itself and the old ferry terminal.
The aptly named Ferry Road was the home of the original Woolston Community Library, first built in 1871. After the severe earthquakes that took place in Christchurch over the course of 2010 and 2011, many buildings in the area were rebuilt, but the Woolston Community Library was one of the very last to receive its transformation.
In its transformation, designers aimed to keep the aesthetic and atmosphere of the new library in line with that of the larger area. Woolston is a working-class town with a cozy, residential feel to it that has been there seemingly since the beginning. The town used to be the epicenter of several of New Zealand’s industries, including rubber, gelatine, and glue. The library sits on the other side of residential growth from the factories that still remain there today. Designers on this project aimed to build a new version of the library that stayed authentic to the style and feel of the town and the original version.
The building’s design has three main areas: a stunning outdoor courtyard, the main library, and a diversely used community hall. Where a driveway used to sit, a pedestrian street has been established in order to connect the main road to the brand new carpark. There is also a pedestrian street connecting the library to a daycare centre, making the whole space even more useful for modern urban families.
In direct reference to the original building, the new library is made from clean red brick, like much or the current and remaining local architecture of Christchurch is. This new building’s facade, however, is a slightly more modern take on traditional craftsmanship in that it features intermittent protruding bricks for awesome visual detail. These designers made sure to source all their bricks locally, solely from brick manufacturers in the South Island of New Zealand.
The outer courtyard presents a stunning blend of asymmetric brick, exposed steel beams rising high over the benches, and a timber canopy that’s referential of the historic buildings still left in the area. Rather than being fully exposed, the seating area there is shaded by a singular Japanese maple, which extends its branches out from where it’s planted in the centre of the courtyard.
The two main internal spaces of the library are more diverse than they first appear. This is thanks to the way folding glazed doors are featured along the longest walls of each, allowing them to be section off from or opened onto each other and the courtyard. This creates a fantastic blending of indoor and outdoor space and gives group using the library for different things more flexibility.
Natural materials like brick, timber, and concrete follow you through the doors of the library and into its main spaces, but visitors experience more contrast here. That’s thanks to the bright pops of colour featured in the kids’ area! Even the regular adult sections bear some pops of their own thanks to wall art provided by local artists whose work reflects Woolston’s industrial history in vivid detail.
Perhaps the most diversely equipped space in itself, even before you move the walls around, is the community hall area. It’s an open room that featured peg-boards, its own AV system, and spring floors, making it great for events and community gatherings of all kinds. The hall even has its own accessible and fully equipped kitchen, as well as large, clean bathrooms.
Overall, the building is truly unique for the way in which designers managed to simultaneously pay homage to the history of both the site and the wider area while also keeping the project itself quite cost-effective despite meeting the community’s public hall and resource centre needs. The involvement of personality-filled style and employment of local craftsmen in the building and decor processes were a fantastic added bonus!
Photos by Stephen Goodenough
By Courtney • Feb 22, 2019
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy New York City streets in The Bronx, Concourse House boasts a stunning escape directed at children and their imaginations. Created by Michael K. Chen Architecture, The Children’s Library is designed to feel like its own little world, built like a colourful pod where kids can slip into fact and fantasy and learn about the world around them without feeling the pressures of it for at least a little while.
Concourse House was already a fantastic building and initiative even before this lovely little library was built. The House is a home for women and children that aims to provide women with young children under the age of nine a safe place in which to transition from homelessness. The shelter was established in 1991 and, since then, has been working tirelessly to try and eliminate homelessness in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
The shelter’s emphasis lies in safety, stability, and access to social services and programming that will help women who seek space there successfully transition into more permanent living circumstances, rather than just receiving temporary reprieve from life on the streets. Besides addressing the practical and functional aspects of escaping homelessness, however, Concourse House tries to provide the families under its roof with access to information and learning resources. That’s where the concept to build a Children’s Library came from; kids deserve access to knowledge just as much as adults do.
The new Children’s Library is part of a shift towards increasing educational programs. Besides just providing books that kids in these difficult circumstances might find helpful or enjoyable, teams working on the project aimed to create an actual immersive space geared specifically towards not just reading but experiencing the joys and benefits of books and reading. That’s why the space includes quiet reading alcoves and areas fit for various kinds of events surrounding books and learning.
The comfortable, safe, and calm feeling of the space was inspired by the relationship between reading and the cognitive development and emotional wellbeing of children. Designers wanted to provide a room that inspired a hunger for knowledge and a passion for exploration, rather than created an intimidating space that might feel like yet another institution. They chose unique colour combinations and shapes that feel playful and engaging in order to appeal to kids specifically.
Particular attention was paid to how designers might keep the space well lit and safe but also prevent it from feeling isolated and small. This is why the shelves are brightly illuminated and the external wall is made from a screen of wooden dowels. The rest of the House’s regular library and resource centre can be seen but the space is still a comfortable little world of its own. Kids can even write on the walls when they’re feeling creative thanks to the inclusion of erasable surfacing!
Perhaps the most beautiful part of The Children’s Library, besides the visual appeal of the space itself, is that it was completely almost entirely thanks to pro-bono work and kind financial and material donations. Something about this makes the library feel collaborative, inspiring, and very welcoming indeed.
Photos by Alan Tansey
On the edge of Lake Constance in Öhningen, Germany, the ultra modern looking and appropriately named Black House was finished by Benjamin Heller + Freier Architekt in early 2017. This impressive structure might look a tad imposing on the outside, but inside it’s anything but uncomfortable.
Standing out amongst the average architecture in its small village, the Black House differs from anything you’ll see in nearby neighbourhoods and anything you might encounter if you journey towards the close-by national border into Switzerland. The conspicuous building has become a sort of marker of where the village starts thanks to its easily recognizable look in the distance.
In fact, the shape of the building was actually specifically intended to mimic the look of a traditional, hand cut boundary stone. It features differing angles, geometric shapes, and a dark facade that is constant over the entire structure from foundation to roof. Despite its all black appearance, the various angles of different surfaces reflect the sun differently throughout the day, making the colour appear quite multi-dimensional.
Inside, the home’s rooms are organized in a way that is sensical and establishes a comforting sense of flow. First, you’ll encounter public or common spaces intended for socializing before moving onto semi-public spaces that might be used more by family rather than visitors, and then finally onto private spaces like bedrooms and bathroom suites. This gives the dwelling a lovely sense of camaraderie but also provides family members with calm, safe spaces to retreat to.
Within the rooms described above, materials, layouts, and heights vary from room to room. Some spaces are starkly white, others are a little darker and warmer because they heavily feature black finishes, and more still featured a lovely amount of dark and light wood, making parts of the house seem a little more traditional to a German village. Room heights vary too, making the journey through the house exciting and visually interesting.
Although some of its outer angles might seem random, the orientation of the Black House itself was actually chosen very carefully. It faces particular directions from particular rooms to ensure that a beautiful view of the landscape and nearby water is visible at all times. The emphasis on stunning windows makes these view almost panoramic.
Photos by Benjamin Heller
By Courtney • Feb 21, 2019
Occupying a spacious plot in the midst of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a stunning dwelling called MMS House was recently completed by Pascali Semerdjian Arquitetos to harness the beauty of texture and shape, all in one unique place.
First, designers decided they wanted to use the house as an opportunity to blend reinforced concrete with the shine of metallic structures. Because they were working on a time constraint, however, this basic theme soon also became the overall decor scheme and materials plan as well! Rather than meticulously planning out a firm and cohesive aesthetic, teams and owners opted to let loose, get creative, and blend shapes and finishes in ways that catch the eye and make people feel at home but also interested.
The house is divided into four floors that make functional sense from bottom to top, like you’re going on a journey as you move from space to space. While the basement level acts as a sort of service sector, bearing storage, laundry, and so on, the ground floor and top floor are reserved for social and communal spaces (family based on the top and hosting based on the ground). This saves the third floor, sandwiched comfortably in the middle of the house, for private sector areas like bedrooms and bathroom suites.
Throughout the house, you’ll find several entertainment rooms, both interior and exterior. Stylishly weather bricks serve as a border for a rooftop patio while nearly retro looking metal furniture adorns a ground floor patio that kitchen and living spaces can be opened right onto thanks to a retracting glass wall. The presence of glass in large windows and balcony or patio doors is also a running theme, keeping the house bright and cheerful no matter what floor you’re occupying at any given time.
The eclectic nature of the tropical garden in the backyard does more than just provide tranquility and privacy; it actually inspired the eclectic nature of the inside decor scheme too. Wood, stone, metal, textured fabrics, and bright, shapely art adorn each room, particularly in the common and social spaces, giving the whole place a sense of modern style without tying it down to a particular discernible theme. There is a sense of fluidity rather than strict uniform.
Although there’s a huge present of colour inside the home’s walls, the actual facade of the structure itself is quite neutral and pleasantly subtle. This is a positive thing because it blends the building into its tree and garden laden surroundings quite well, making the whole plot feel cohesive and sensical rather than looking as though a city house has simply been plopped in the miffle of a green glade.
Photos by Ricardo Bassetti
By Courtney • Feb 21, 2019
In the city of Juiz de Fora, in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, innovative design company Ateliê de Arquitetura Líquida recently completed an office transformation for nutritional company Loja Alimentar. This company provides nutritional supplements and natural food products to hospitals and the general public alike, concentrating on authenticity, ethical ingredients and production, and clean eating.
Originally, the two streams of product within the company were distinct from each other and the building of this office was the first step in sort of amalgamating the running of the two under one head. As a result, designers helped figure out the best way to brand and communicate the goals or two different target markets in the same physical space when clients visit for meetings.
The first part of the storefront and office space (this unique spot functions as both) is dedicated to products aimed at hospitals. Stark white finishes are featured heavily here, mimicking the medical atmosphere that hospital working clients might be used to. At the same time, more neutral finishes like wood and even a splash of colour here and there is included to keep things from looking too clinical and divergent from what the brand itself offers and represents.
Across the space, clients walk themselves through a transition from medically influenced atmospheres to the roots of where the company started; whole and natural foods and supplement products. A visual and material transition happens here as the white elements in the decor and furnishings become less and less and the wooden finishes take their place.
Besides establishing a dual aesthetic that suits each of the companies markets alike, designers aimed to maximize storage and make organized used of every single space available. This is evident in the lovely recessed shelving units visible on almost every wall. Designers chose to make these from a blend of metal and woodworking, using local raw materials wherever possible according to whichever suited each side of the store best.
Of course, colour and material wasn’t the only area of decor the team concentrated on. They also sought to create a sort of personalized mosaic that communicates the goals and focus of the brand by creating custom stickers affixed to white tiles on one accent wall. This whole section boasts the company’s signature colours, looking like an art piece and a branded display all at once.
Despite the element of medical sphere targeting, Atelier really did want to keep their space warm and friendly feeling. Two primary elements helped with this. Firstly, the wooden veneer traveling from the floor, up the walls, and straight across the ceiling served to warm the space up by leaps and bounds. Additionally, great lighting to highlight the products was provided by clean, white LED lights set right into the shelves, rather than shining down from the ceiling and making the whole space at large look a little too blinding.
Besides the storefront, the building bears some more private working spaces as well. Across the division of public and private, you’ll find a pantry, meeting room, office spaces for business workings, a private staff toilet, and storage. The aesthetic and decor choices follow the same schemes as you see in the public storefront, creating a sense of consistency between the two aspects of the business. Just in case this blended sense between the two becomes distracting on a given day, however, a set of recessed sliding doors can be pulled shut to create a sort of makeshift wall.
Photos by Bruno Meneghitti
By Courtney • Feb 20, 2019
In the peaceful forests of Karuizawa, Japan, innovative company KIAS recently completed the stunning Four Leaves villa to give owners and their friend and family a natural escape that provides maximum relaxation amongst the natural fragrant greenery.
The villa might only sit 150km away from the bustling streets of Tokyo, but to visit its tranquil setting is to feel like you’re entering a whole new world. Designers specifically faced different areas of the house at slightly variously angled orientations in order to harness the best light and scenery all the way around the building, no matter which room you’re sitting in.
On the brighter side of the house, designers built the living and dining spaces so that social areas might stay light and cheerful as long as possible for family bonding and friend hosting. This doesn’t mean, however, that the private spaces on the other side of the house are dark or dull. Instead, the master bedroom and bathroom to the west get a lovely glow through the leaves with the increased privacy of the forest cover.
Instead of making space for the house in the forest, design teams opted to work with what was already there and fit the home into the landscape. For this reason, the structure of the house is made up of three semi-distinct volumes that are connected by sunny hallways filled with windows.
To give the house character and style and blend it in with the stunning landscape around the building, designers built the roofs of each volume with a breathtaking curved quality that appears to swoop towards the ground and then up to the sky. Rather than building straight across for the inner ceilings, designers allowed the stunning curved beams of the roof to show through, making the rooms inside vary in height beautifully at different points, following the fluid motion of the roofs outside.
The decor scheme on the inside matches the atmosphere of the whole house quite seamlessly. Neutral colours, clean glass lines and natural concrete or stone finished, and a beautifully reflective water feature further blend the home into the landscape in a way that brings the peaceful sun and breeze right through the doors and into the living spaces. This is bolstered by the fact that floor to ceiling patio doors open wide, like a retracting wall, inviting a pleasant blending of inner and outer spaces that makes the whole house feel fresh.
Photos by Norihito Yamauchi
By Courtney • Feb 20, 2019
In the Chinese streets of Tangshan City, the Greentown Tangsham Blue Bay Town Life Experience Hall was created by GOA to blend luxury living areas with access to upscale commercial settings and fresh, new community settings and spaces.
Beside what the Hall actually has to offer, part of its draw comes from its architectural design and exterior decor schemes. Between the swooping arches and the wonderfully reflective water features out front, the building has a lot of draw and appeal before you even get inside. Triangles are a huge theme over all, both in the plot of land the hall sits on and in the shape of the hall and some of its peaked corners.
When designers first started considering how the building should look and be constructed, they decided they wanted to combine the concept of building a unique city landmark with the idea of following neo-Chinese styles. That’s where the eye catching multi-layered structural concept you see in the final product came from; it was the perfect shape and concept to combine accessible public space and contemporary urban life.
Besides simply looking pretty, the reflecting pool out front actually serves a spatial purpose in terms of space division. It is placed to create a sort of frontal courtyard space that is also a buffer between the regular city streets and the more elegant experience inside. The water is like a transitional area guiding visitors into the quieter zone inside.
Within its awesome structure, the building is split into three main “volumes” according to function. The largest of the three spaces, which faces the main city road, features a living space where units may be rented temporarily for different long or short term lengths. Perks of renting here include access to a specialty catering service and an activity centre that where several different community events take place per week.
The second volume, closer to the main entrance of the overall hall, feature the life experience hall. This space is used as a sales department. Even today it is still in its early stages of functioning and will eventually feature luxury shops, giving those who rent in the hall and those who visit right off the street outside an upscale shopping experience.
Finally, a third volume features services surrounding resources for more active living requirements. These include a supermarket, a restaurant, a fitness room, and a physical examination centre, among other services. The goal in this volume was to provide things that might be essential services for people living in the area but that also might be conveniently placed for those walking by not expecting to find such full service shops in that area of town.
From the entrance to the back end of the hall, lovely transitional spaces are situated between shops, activity spaces, and services. These spaces are designed to give visitors a break from their usual urban surroundings, letting them relax in courtyards that are lush with greenery between fantastic umbrella shaped arches that swoop over lovely social benches.
Photos by Yilong Zhao
By Courtney • Feb 19, 2019
In a busy but pleasantly suburban neighbourhood in Singapore, design teams at ONG&ONG Pte Ltd recently finished a multi-generational family housing project that uses a combination of sleek, modern lines and materials with wide open, nature filled spaces to meet all of the family’s needs.
37FC-House sits on a plot that has always been residential but that was cleared shortly before building began. Previously, the comfortably secluded spot of land featured an old semi-detached house. Upon purchasing, the new owners decided that a stand-alone structure would be much better for their family, since several generations of them live together at once. In order to maximize the space they could give the family without sprawling to close to the edges of the plot and thereby sacrificing all outdoor space, designers opted to build vertically instead. That’s why the new house has four floors!
On the ground floor, the style and aesthetic of the house are evident before you’ve even gone through the door thanks to the way granite tiles line the edges of the driveway. These balance well visually with the light concrete and mirror style glass that reaches floor to ceiling in the home’s outer facade. To add a comfortable, natural element, the house also features teak wood quite consistently both inside and out, particularly where storage spaces are discreetly added in each room.
Social and service rooms, like the kitchen, are featured right up front, making guests feel at home and part of the home’s running the moment they enter. Right from the front to the back of the house on this floor, grey finishes are balanced by lovely glass walls that pull back entirely to blend clean, modern indoor spaces with with the sunlight and greenery of the front and back yards, which are quite lush with local plant life.
Nestled amidst the garden at the back of the house, which the kitchen and living rooms can be fully opened too, sits a Sukabumi-tiled pool. This body of water is decorative and practical, smaller inside to make it more of a lap pool than a swimming pool but still enjoyable and relaxing. Rather than just serving as a space of leisure, this pool also acts as a barrier between the house and the sounds of the road that run behind the back yard. More lush greenery helps here as well, affording the yard more quiet and peaceful privacy.
In fact, greenery plays a huge role in the decor and atmosphere of the entire house overall. Pretty green spaces are actually built into each of the four floors in different ways, right from the front to the back of the house. Even in spots where there are no plants potted or set inside, long glass windows make the space feel green by showcasing the trees that flank the length of the house outside.
Unlike most houses, the second floor of the house is actually larger than the ground floor! This floor is primarily constructed of concrete and is rectangular in shape. This floor is where the bedrooms in the house lie, ended on each side with stunning sunny spaces that primarily serve just to give a quiet seating area with a good view of the garden and its greenery. The bedrooms are simply and calming, with the master featuring a walk-in closet and its own bathroom. Two other family bedrooms overlook the pool area, which catches the sun prettily in the afternoons.
Flanking the two floors we’ve already discussed are the basement at the bottom and the attic up on top. Each of these is accessible thanks to a black steel staircase that is clean and simple in its line but also somehow has a sculpture-like quality to it thanks to the contrast of glass banisters and smooth wooden stairs.
In the basement, you’ll find an artistic looking multi-media room that features a glass section in the wall that actually looks into the blue waters of the pool on the ground floor. In the attic, on the other hand, you’ll encounter a lovely attic skylight that allows light to flood the staircase and cascade down the centre to all the other floors. The attic also features a guest bedroom with its very own greenery element and small water feature.
As with most new homes in the area, 37FC-House bears a reduced carbon footprint. This is thanks to the inclusion of strong roof-mounted solar panels that reduce energy consumption, as well as a system that links lighting controls to a smartphone app, making lights even easier to turn off when they’re not necessary. This house is the perfect example of what’s become known as a “smart home”.
Photos by Derek Swalwell
By Courtney • Feb 19, 2019
Thanks to creative design and architectural teams at Suppose Design Office, Airbnb Tokyo’s head office officially has a new home on one of the busiest streets in Shinjuku, Japan. With its combined goals of created productive and functional workspaces that are also enjoyable, and tying in the company’s philosophy of being able to “belong anywhere”, the team really established a space with distinct personality.
In conceptualizing their space, even before they began building, designers decided to aim for making a space that feels a bit like a neighbourhood. From the friendly reception area that greets both guests and employees every day, to the break areas that are inspired by cheerful outdoor cafes, to the wooden paths that lead from meeting room to meeting room, the entire atmosphere is simple, fluid, and comfortable to be in.
Rather than simply establishing the floor plan and layout themselves as a design company, this team actually decided to get employees of their client company actively involved. To do this, they interviewed actual Airbnb Tokyo employees to get their take. From here, they chose what kinds of communal work tables, adjustable desks, project tables, and private or semi-private phone booths would be included. This makes for a space that the people working there feel truly comfortable in.
In terms of the actual productivity spaces, one of the primary features of the office is the Engawa, or the elevated platform in the centre of the office. This features tatami mats that are inspired by traditional Japanese culture, once again working on that theme of belonging wherever you are. In this space, employees are encouraged to remove their shoes, sit cross legged on their cushion, and face the spectacular view the platform affords them.
In adapting an already existing building to an office group that wanted a more diverse space, one of the biggest challenges was dealing with the very low ceiling that’s typical of Japanese architecture in that area. Rather than trying to build an entire new ceiling, which wasn’t possible, designers created the illusion of a higher ceiling by painting it black and dropping the lights a little lower, as though the space behind and above the lights extends much higher up.
As with all Airbnb offices, certain elements are inspired by different iconic cities that the company has well known listings in. In the case of the Tokyo office, several meeting rooms were actually themed after different cities, including Barcelona, Prague, and Tiajuana. This truly harnesses the sense of traveling the world but finding yourself able to work in any “city”.
Photos by Studio Periphery