Author Archives - Courtney
By Courtney • Jan 8, 2019
Right in thee star studded thick of Hollywood, California, SPF: architects has create a residential project called The Line Lofts in an attempt to facilitate a more community based and social space heavy living experience!
In total, the Line Lots building is home to 82 lovely suites in one of LA’s most active up and coming neighbourhooods. Sitting tall on Las Palmas Ave, just steps away from the renowned intersection at Hollywood and Highland, extending six storeys into the air, making it the tallest residential unit in the area.
Part of the reason the building stands so high is that the plot of land designers had to work with was quite limited at its base. Besides organizing space carefully, the crew aimed to make sure the apartments were particularly well lit. Traditional ideas of standard apartment floor plans simply wouldn’t do here, however, so designers got creative instead.
Scrapping traditional floor plans meant there was more space in the design for more fluid layouts. Rather than simply linking floors to the ones above and below, multi-floor links are built through vertical corridors that let residents skip floors or travel straight up to an open air courtyard on the top of the building. This also gives a visual variation inside and removes repetition of space as people move through the building.
This particular residential project offers a plethora of unique social spaces as well. These include a workspace and wet bar immediately located in the reception, a courtyard pool up top, and even a pool lounge with floor to ceiling glass walls so that guests can get out of the sun without interrupting their visual flow, creating a clear interior-exterior relationship.
The units themselves are also designed to optimized the amount of natural light in each room. In each apartment, walls are primarily made up on the exterior sides of oversized windows with sliding sections that lead to atrium shaped balconies, one for each suite. The balconies are are recessed into the face of the building to create a smooth face that offers some shade.
In addition to space limitations, there were certain budget restrictions that designers had to work with that required them to think creatively once more in terms of materiality. Here, off the shelf products could bring the cost of construction down but selections had to be very unique and specific to make sure things still looked quite custom.
In order to give the facade of the building a little more visual interest, designers made the front facade from a combination of corrugated metal and plaster alternated one after the other to create a pattern that appears animated and flowing of its own volition. This is thanks to the smoothness of the plaster sandwiched between the roughness of the metal pieces with their metallic finish. A cohesiveness with the environment around the building is created in the way the metal pieces reflect the sky at different parts of the day.
On the ground and second floors, the units expand vertically from one to the other, rather than being arranged as single-floor units on each. This lets the spaces appear more open and gather more natural light and also affords the rooms more privacy. Building upwards rather than horizontally accounted for the limitations in space at the base of the building.
ARTE S by SPARK Architects provides guests with a uniquely shaped residential escape and sunshine space
By Courtney • Jan 8, 2019
In the busy urban centre in Pinang, Malaysia, SPARK Architects recently created the visually stunning ARTE S building, a luxury residential building that resembles a spa and pool resort, giving residents a place to escape in the middle of the city.
Located in Jalan Bukit Gambier, near the better city of George Town, this project includes a pair of tall, undulating condominium towers that boast 460 residential units between them. The taller tower of the two is stands 180 metres tall and can be seen off the island from the mainland clearly in the distance.
Bukit Gambir is a lush topical mountain located right at the heart of Pengang Island, which lies off the Western coast of Malaysia. The towers are incredibly unique in the way their facade undulates at each layer. This lovely effect was intended to mimic the dramatic topography of the land surrounding the buildings, which varies between steeply rising hillsides and low coastlines.
Besides just undulating, the towers also appeared layered where the balconies sit. This mimics the mountainous landscape as well, with the graduated terrace effect mirroring the gradient of the rock faces. This effect was achieved using a construction technique called elliptical floor plating, which builders augmented with an added waveform birse-soleil that very carefully, subtly, and precisely rotated each floor a particular degree to give the buildings their twisted appearance.
Besides looking amazing in themselves, the towers are built with the intention of offering the best view of the ocean that one can find anywhere on the island. The taller of the two climbs 50 storeys high, while the shorter rises only 32. In each one, the penthouses at the top are sculpted from the final three floorplates.
On the very top of the highest tower sits a sky garden that incorporates two pebble-form recreational “resident club” pods. In the larger one, up to 60 people can be accommodated for events while the smaller hanging pod is home to luxury jacuzzi. Together the two pods create a wonderfully dramatic visual fro, the ground that acts as a signature for the building while also providing residents with an unparalleled view of George Town and the Straight of Pengang.
Inside, the units are entirely designed for flexibility and tropical living. They are open concept with no beams or poles, meaning they can be arranged in any way and at any time. The units are also specifically designed to bring in light and air naturally, eliminating the need for air conditioning and thereby saving hydro costs. In the common areas, the spaces are naturally ventilated and day-lit as well.
Around the building, several perimeter gardens have been planted at the base. These shroud the residential car park in lovely, local tropical plants that thrive in the area’s climate and would grow nearby naturally. This lovely green life contrasts beautifully with the modern appearance of the buildings and their shape, creating more texture for the eye to take in.
Of course, the pools at the base of the towers are an immediately noticeable primary feature. Their clear blue water attracts the eye and gives off a stunning reflection that mirrors the undulating visual motion of the buildings, enticing just about anyone who sets eyes on them and letting calming shapes set the atmosphere.
Photographs by LinHo
Architecture designs Tribeca Loft for modern professionals who need a place to live, work, and socialize
By Courtney • Jan 7, 2019
In the boroughs of New York City, innovative designers Office of Architecture has designed a stunning apartment called the Tribeca Loft, harnessing the visuals of simplistic living with the unique and swanky style of The Big Apple.
In some cases, living in a “bohemian style” means sacrificing space and embracing open concept past what’s comfortable until things feel cramped or disorganized. In the Tribeca Loft, however, these things are replace by a sense of singular charm and individual privacy. This is partially due to the fact that the loft is filled with natural light and uninterrupted views of the surrounding city.
To some, loft living is quite at odds with the needs of a modern family and their demands for private space and distinct personal areas. Thanks to careful and precise organization, however, all of the amenities of this apartment have been included into an open space that was recently transformed from a 19th century landmark warehouse. Now it’s a cleverly laid out and comfortable new home for a young family!
This apartment was originally built with a much more closed off design, featuring labyrinth-like hallways and small, divided rooms. In this renovation, designers first gutted the loft down to its barest bones in order to open the space up entirely. They kept only the key structural elements and primary service zones (like the kitchen). Their hope in opening the space up was to create a better flowing relationship between public and private sectors of the home.
Now, with the dividing walls removed and more creative structures in place to delineate space such as the wooden entertainment unit, the living room, den, and kitchen areas bask in waves of natural light during the day. Despite having been opened up, however, strategic storage and furniture placement has stopped this new layout from disturbing the peace and privacy of the sleeping areas.
The creative space definers that have replaced limiting walls were chosen for their function as well as their ability to break up the “rooms”. For example, designers differentiated between certain areas using built-in accessories like free standing multi-purpose cabinetry made of walnut, several full-height sliding accordion panels, and even a wet bar.
The overall effect of this loft apartment since its transformation is one of peaceful activity. The atmosphere embraces and axudes both privacy and calm solitude but also airiness and a small emphasis on social spaces for bonding within the home.
Photographs by Matthew Williams
By Courtney • Jan 7, 2019
Smack in the middle of The Arts District in sunny Los Angeles, California, stands a building that’s home to the Art District Loft, a recently completed project designed and carried out by Marmol Radziner.
Within this project, designers altered a 2000 square foot condominium that was originally part of the Toy Factory Lofts. These were a residential initiative created in a 1924 warehouse in Downtown LA’s Art District. Within the alterations, designers removed many partitions in order to combine rooms and create more open concept spaces. One such room combination resulted in a beautiful master suite.
Besides the bedrooms, the living room was also reconfigured and fitted with new casework. Additionally, the kitchen, bathroom, and powder room were all renovated, just to make sure the entire loft got a bit of a contemporary update. Although designers wished to work with a much more open floor plan, they also aimed to create distinct areas for entertaining and socializing, making it easy for owners to have guests over.
Builders chose to create a more flowing and cohesive feeling between the interior of the apartment and the street outside as well. This was done primarily through the installation of stunning floor-to-ceiling windows that are unlike anything the original lofts had featured previously.
In order to keep things open, airy, filled with light, and flowing but also still give different areas a bit of distinction, furnishings and built-in features were used like markers. For example, a custom bookcase made with three bays that rotate 90 degrees each was placed strategically in order to mark the border between the living room and the master suite. When the bays are turned to open, natural light floods both spaces, but turning the case back closes the bedroom off a little more privately.
The existing space is quite natural but industrial chic thanks to the use of concrete. This exposed material is used on the floor, walls, and ceiling, contrasting very well indeed with the inviting slightly more modern interior furnishings designers selected within the space. These are made up of an assortment of wood and metal finishes with interesting textures being prioritized. The contrast softens the space and warms the atmosphere up a little.
A primarily grey colour palette helps to warm the space up as well! Black is also heavily featured to create even more contrast with the concrete and the result is comfortable to look at but also quite streamlined and sophisticated.
Photographs by Jessie Webster
By Courtney • Jan 4, 2019
In the centre of the beautiful Germany city of Frankfurt, a pre-war residential building has been given facelift in order to not just update it but transform it into a piece of veritable street art. Main East Side Lofts by 1100 Architect attracts the eye and plays with visuals in a way that’s very unique indeed.
The Main East Side Lofts are part of a mixed-use building that stands high in a rapidly changing neighbour undergoing several update projects in the last few years. Originally, the building was intended to house a factory, but the design was never completed due to the outbreak of the First World War. Instead, it was used as a hospital first and worker’s housing later on.
In this updating project, designers work with Frankfurt’s Landmarks Department and settled on an acceptable plan that involved transforming the existing building, as well as creating a contemporary addition of equal size. To make the two parts look like a cohesive whole, the new addition matches the original building in volume, rhythm, and proportion but looks as thought that half has been reimagined in a modern language and with much newer materials, creating a beautiful overall contrast.
Now that the building has been finished, the facade makes the cityscape more interesting. Inspired by the original mansard roof, it was conceived and built like a continuous wrapped, meaning that the outer surface of the building seamlessly folds along the height of the structure’s face and stretches upward to form the roof.
On every surface, the facade uniformly features a cement fibreboard with brightly coloured reveals in the window insets that serve as a fun highlight from a distance. The panels of these coloured sections bend to reflect light and capture a range of visual tones all across the width and height of the building’s face. Because of its modern character and shape, this colour popping facade creates a sort of contemporary foil around the landmark structure it was added to.
Because it sits on the harbour, designers also wanted to make sure the new residential part of the building was sound proof and peaceful on the inside. This was partially achieve by careful material choices that help mitigate outside sounds. Acoustical double windows set deep into thick walls, for example, help deflect sound vibrations.
Inside, the apartments are structured like lofts that place a lot of importance of open space and flexibility. Of course, key characteristics of the original historic structure, like the high ceilings and the large double windows, were mimicked in the additional for lovely continuity, creating cohesiveness despite the non-traditional floor plans.
Photographs by Nikolas Koenig
The Gouse , a uniquely named residence by Marta Nowicka, is a beautiful houses where a garage used to be
By Courtney • Jan 4, 2019
In the heart of London, England, innovative designer Marta Nowicka has created The Gouse, a lovely three story residence that stands on the site of a former garage in Dalston.
The name of this project was chosen by combining the words “house” and “garage” but that’s not the only way that Nowicka decided to pay tribute to the plot’s original purpose. The exterior walls of the house are also glad in cedar shingles, similar to the way the old garage that once stood in its place would have been!
According to Nowicka, the site of The Gouse was a plot that she purchased online without ever even seeing it first. Something about it just emanated workability. The plot itself measures only 45 square metres and is surrounded on all sides by the back gardens of its neighbouring Victorian buildings with old fashioned terraces, except for the side where it faces onto a the road.
Due to the limited space the designer had to work with, teams decided to extend the building upwards, adding rooms vertically rather than horizontally. That’s why the house stands three stories from the ground rather than the more traditional two! This includes a basement featuring light wells to keep the bottom floor lit and bright.
The Gouse has several other extremely unique features as well. These include glass floor sections that show from one storey to another, as well as a “living wall”. This vertical plant display sits on the first floor and establishes a sense of an indoor-outdoor living space and a cohesiveness of the house with the environment around it.
When The Gouse was first being conceptualized, designers decided that they’d like to prioritize two goals: preserving the “end of garden character” the original garage had and improving the way that the new building meets the street and looks from the sidewalk to passersby. Character was established partially by including a few random treasures found in an old shed on the plot back into the new building, preserving the area’s history in a contemporary way.
Inside the Gouse, very large, carefully framed windows give lovely views of the neighbouring gardens around the plot. In the master bedroom, which sits just past the entrance and first corridor, an entirely glazed glass wall faces out onto a small exterior patio space that is enclosed for privacy and peacefulness by a perforated brick wall.
On the basement floor, guests will encounter a beautiful wood burner that adds to the already shed-inspired atmosphere of The Gouse’s decor. This burner creates a nostalgic warmth and smoky scent that reminds one of burning autumn leaves.
Photographs by Voytek Ketz
By Courtney • Jan 3, 2019
On the outskirts of Quito, in sunny Ecuador, the new Tacuri House was created by Gabriel Rivera with a stunning open concept living ideology in mind.
Besides its visual appeal, one of the most interesting facts about Tacuri House was that it was build entirely around the trees that already existed on its plot of land. Not a single tree was felled in its construction process. Instead, designers protected the trees that were already there intentionally and worked carefully between and amidst them so as not to disturb them or their roots.
More specifically, Tacuri House (known locally as Casa Tacuri) is located in a little parish called Nayon. This town is known far and wide for its absolutely stunning views of the Cumbaya Valley, as well as for its flourishing Algarrobo trees, which are native to that area specifically. These trees attract an abundance of singing birds, making the town feel like a natural getaway despite the fact that it’s actually only a few minutes away from a larger, more bustling city.
In addition to working around the trees that have always called its site home, Tacuri House also slopes along with the land, continuing the ways in which it was built to respect the natural environment it was nestled into. Its unique U-shaped floor plan consists of three volumes in total, arranged very precisely around a central courtyard. These volumes are connected with covered glass walkways.
The exterior walls of the house create a lovely colour and texture contrast because of the way they’re made from concrete and honey-toned wood. An additional but slightly less stark contrast lies in the parts of the house that are made from beautifully clean glazed glass framed in black metal.
In the first wing of the house, which is the tallest, the ground floor provides dwellers with a parking garage tucked subtly behind a fence near the street. Up a flight of sturdy concrete stairs, designers placed the dining area, living room, and kitchen together on the first building’s upper level. Here, a part of the roof is lifted and a clerestory window is inset for lots of natural sunlight.
Perpendicular to this first building is the wing of the house containing all the private areas. The sprawling master suite sits on the top level here, while the bottom floor of the second volume provides space for two slightly smaller bedrooms and a cozy den. The master suite up top features lovely glazed walls all around which open onto a sizeable terrace. Because it sits higher in the house, the windows of the suite gives it the impression that you’re actually sleeping high up in the trees.
The third and smallest wing of the house sits at the back of the courtyard. Here, you’ll find a small but pleasant and well naturally lit studio. The atmosphere here is simple yet warm. Like the other rooms, it has a concrete ceiling, wooden accents, and a few contemporary decor pieces place strategically to catch the eye. The floor to ceiling window theme carries on all throughout the house.
Photographs by Bicubik
By Courtney • Jan 3, 2019
Perched beautifully on the coast in Nova Scotia, Canada, Teph Inlet house was created by Omar Gandhi Architect as a sun filled family holiday home for enjoying warm summers in once that notorious Canadian winter melts away for the year.
One of the most notable features of this home is the entirely glazed glass ground floor. This visually open structure gives guests an unparalleled view of the Nova Scotian coast. Built specifically for a young family, the house sits right besides the ocean in the small Eastern Canadian village of Chester.
Two separate buildings sit on the property of Teph Inlet house. The first is a two storey main house with full amenities and the second is a smaller guest house. Both buildings are cuboid in their shape and each one faces onto a stunning swimming pool with a paved outdoor space surrounding it and spots where guests can enjoy both sun and shade, depending on their preference.
A little further back from the pool house, a garage lines up along its side, creating another outdoor space. This is a linear shaped sports area where guests and family can enjoy a whole plethora of fun outdoor activities, the most exciting of which is definitely the zip line! Beyond that, a rear terrace is open to the harbour filled with boats while tall trees give a neighbouring grassy plot some cool shade from the sun.
As if the house didn’t feature enough outdoor space already, the fantastic floor to ceiling glass panels we mentioned earlier, which make up the walls of the whole ground floor in the main house, actually slide back to open that storey entirely to the fresh air. A lovely stone deck sits right on their other side of those sliding doors, blending with the living and dining rooms and kitchen.
Also on the ground floor is an en suite bedroom and bathroom that’s perfect for guests because a pocket door can slide out and separate that part of the house entirely, almost like an additional private volume. There and in the main stairwell, more double-height glass walls give the house plenty of natural light no matter the time of year.
Up a set of floating white oak stairs, which sit underneath some stunning sky lights, is a master suit that features a walk-in closet and its own bathroom. Three more bedrooms and two additional bathrooms call the upper storey home as well, making Teph Inlet house a fantastic place for hosting plenty of summertime guests.
The colour palette and decor schemes are both clean, calm, and befitting of a coastal holiday home. Teph Inlet house features herringbone patterned light oak flooring, countless stark white surfaces throughout, and details made in stone and natural tile. These keep things looking clean and simplistic without being void of decorative style.
Photographs by Ema Peter
Slovakian Mountain Hut by Matika Architecture Provides Thoroughly Wooden Experience Both Inside And Out
By Courtney • Jan 2, 2019
Nestles at the foot of the Mala Fatra Mountains, deep if Slovakia, the Mountain Hut by Matika Architecture is a conetmporary cabin that was specifically design to embrace, blend into, and pay homage to its natural habitat.
Although the cabin is quite modern in its shape and structure, it suits its spot nestled amongst the pine trees, next to a small creek, rather well. This is because the home was conceptualized with nature in mind right from the beginning. It’s a cabin that spans 1130 square feet and it’s made almost entirely from organic materials like pure wood, stone, and glass. This helps it blend into its environment more than just visually.
On the ground floor, guests encounter an open-concept area that features a cozy living room, a sizeable kitchen, and a master suite. To one side, a large storage area makes the perfect home for outdoor recreational equipment, like sports supplies or snow shoes for the winter.
Throughout the cabin, floor to ceiling windows are strategically placed to harness as much natural light as possible. Perhaps the most impressive view is through those found in the living room’s south facing wall. Here, a nearly panoramic view of the property and surrounding forest can be taken in. This window also vastly reduces the need for artificial lighting on the ground floor.
One of the most notable features of the first floor social area is the fireplace. This is made from a stunning stone facade and features its own bench just adjacent. Besides heating the home well from the middle when the winter days get cold, the chimney of this fireplace also warms well water along with the regular heat pump, ensuring ample shower time for all guests.
The lovely blonde wood exterior that you see before you enter the house continues in a stunningly consistent way that’s so pervasive it’s nearly artistic. the floors, walls, and ceiling all feature the same lovely polished wooden finish, giving the whole cabin a peaceful colour scheme that’s neutral and earthy, just like the woods outside its walls.
On the second floor, you’ll find two guest bedrooms and a bathroom. In each cozy bedroom, the window sills double as lovely little nooks where guests can read a book or simply soak in the stunning woodland view. If they prefer to sleep in, the windows can be sealed off by folding wooden shutters that, from the outside, made the already smooth wooden facade look absolutely seamless thanks to the way this sit once they’ve been shut.
Also on the second floor is a large deck with another fantastic property wide view. Here, the cabin features a green roof that has been angled to mirror the natural slope of the plot’s terrain.
Photographs by Matika Architecture
By Courtney • Jan 2, 2019
Casa Bedolla, a lovely little house designed and build in a rather complex terrain between mountains and trees by P+0 Arquitectura, calls Nuveo Leon, Mexico home.
Nestled amongst the cedars and oaks, this home spans only 200 square feet despite the sprawling land around it. This is because the rocky topography presents building challenges that these particular designers were innovative enough to work around wonderfully here, but didn’t want to tempt too hard by making the home too expansive.
From the outset, designers of Casa Bedolla aimed to work with the land, respecting the terrain and working around the existing trees in order to preserve them. The rocky house sits two storeys high, with two separate areas featured on the ground floor; one for private areas and another for social spaces.
These areas appear to float over the ravine below thanks to the way the structure has been firmly anchored into the mountainside. The angle it sits at allows for the collection of water runoff near where beams support the main wall, which is a monolithic slab of concrete with a local stone facade.
Although the house appears quite sturdy and thick walled, two of the walls are actually perforated. This lets warm, fresh air ventilate the house naturally at the same time as it affords stunning views of the mountains and forest through the holes in the stone. You’ll see the walls we mean upon entering the courtyard out front.
Another slab extending from the roof neat the courtyard provides the area with a little bit of shade down below. This is where you’ll find the garage and parking area. Close to the high extension, a terrace is formed at the top of the house, turning the hard roof into a social space akin to a solarium that sits at the top of a linear staircase.
Inside, the rooms are actually quite open concept on each floor. Rather than building more thick walls to divide interior spaces, designers strategically placed furniture to delineate between rooms of differing functions. This makes the home’s interior quite customizable as the family’s needs a personal tastes change in the future.
Throughout the house, generous windows provide natural light and dissolve the separation the thick walls provide, creating a better indoor-outdoor relationship. This co-existence mimics that of modern and traditional construction techniques that are clearly present in the house itself; there’s a sense of dialogue between all facets of your surroundings while you’re there.
Photographs by FCH Fotografia
By Courtney • Dec 28, 2018
At the base of the Swiss Alps, a local designer and building company have created a stunning winter escape called The Heinza Julen Loft. Inspired by fashionable decor schemes typical of bygone French eras, yet still with a slight twist of modernity, this love getaway, located in Zermatt, Switzerland, is at once grand and cozy.
The loft is decently conservative in size, spanning about 300 square meters, and yet the classic wooden chalet style of most features blended with contemporary shapes and lines when it comes to furniture and fine details works in combination with floor to ceiling windows to make the space feel quite open and airy indeed.
The element of “fashion” that comes into play is evident in the more unique features, like the loft stool seating facing the window or the curtained jacuzzi tub situated to one side of the second social seating area are what gives things an unconventional twist. This is particularly true in contrast with the chopped firewood case and other wooden elements, like railings and wall paneling, throughout.
Impressively, the loft boasts three quite spacious bedrooms, each with its own breathtaking view of the Swiss village beyond where it stands. This view is thanks to additional floor to ceiling French windows, just like those found in the living room. A cozy relaxation room, filled with contemporary but comfortable couches filled with cushions, is fortunate enough to have a similarly lovely view.
Besides the sheer stylishness of its aesthetic, the actual atmosphere within the loft apartment makes it stand out as well. This is thanks to the outstanding amount of light that floods each room on lovely, bright afternoons all year round. Together with the refined nature of how the apartment has been styled, an unique environment of sheer cheerful sophistication has been established.
La Ferme du Lac Vert renovation takes historical farmhouse from rustic to inspirational luxury in South-Eastern France
By Courtney • Dec 28, 2018
Near Morzine, in South-Eastern France, lies a small, picturesque village called Montriond. This is where a local French design and architectural company recently renovated a beautiful old farmhouse into a luxurious home that preserves all its beautiful history despite impressive and necessary updates.
The original wooden farmhouse, most of which has been incorporated into and preserved within the new design, was built in 1842. In 2010, however, it underwent a lovely transformation that turned it into the stately and distinguished (yet somehow still homey) Savoyard Farmhouse you’d see if you visited Montriond today.
Having repurposed and continued to use most of the original wood, in combination with locally sourced timber where new or additional wood was needed, designers kept much of the home’s original rustic aesthetic. This is bolstered by the inclusion of antique or ethically sourced furs and animal hides, much like you would have seen in the original 1800s home.
At the same time as this rustic aesthetic has been preserved, the decor team aimed to update the interior slightly to provide all the comfort of a more contemporary style of living. Social spaces boast large fire places and bar stool seating, while the deck features a large hot tub that provides a stunning view of the mountainous French countryside around the house.
In some of the best spots in the house, which are primarily those with a clear eye line of the hugely picturesque windows, the views are nothing short of breathtaking. Thats why some of the most impressive handmade furniture pieces are situated so they face towards the windows. The rooms are a lovely blend of vintage pieces, upcycled furniture from local places, and original furnishings that have a history in that very space, which adds and extra layer of character.
Breathtaking Lochside House provides off-grid highland haven and wins RIBA House of the Year for 2018
By Courtney • Dec 27, 2018
While Lochside House by Haysom Ward Miller Architects provides an undoubtedly unique highland experience thanks to its off-the-grid location and its breathtaking surroundings, it’s not the traditionally rustic experience you might be expecting!
As the winner of the RIBA House of the Year for 2018, this lovely house gives you a natural neutral experience that simultaneously combines into the landscape of the wild Scottish Highlands and provides a cozy yet modern escape inside its wooden walls, all at once. The effect is truly a feat in blending aesthetics and atmospheres!
Lochside House looks like yet another humble cottage on the edge of a lake, but you know there’s more to it the moment you learn that it was awarded the title of being the UK’s best house in 2018, winning out over a shortlist of seven other rather impressive projects.
Lochside House was created for a ceramic artist who desired private space amongst nature in which to create and seek inspiration. The house consists of three humble buildings and is hand crafted using traditional techniques and natural materials that perfectly complement the home’s beautiful surroundings.
In order to create the proper aesthetic, designers used charred Scottish larch to clad the building’s exterior, complementing sections that are shielded by traditional drystone wall. The wooden theme continues inside but in a slightly less intense way, providing a natural but lighter and more airy aesthetic. High ceilings are lined with oil timber, for example.
In the centre of the living room, a beautiful painted stone fireplace serves as a toasty focal point for guests and family gatherings. Large windows, running almost floor to ceiling, perfectly frame a vivid and wonderfully positioned view of the lake and the mountains outside.
Although the materials inside sound rather rustic and natural in their nature, the scaled back approach that designers took allowed for smoother lines and colour schemes that somehow make things appear more streamlined and contemporary inside, despite the consistency in materials.
Beyond the charm provided by slightly more contemporary colour schemes and shapes inside the home, there is beauty in the more detailed decor and layout as well. Remember that this home was created for a ceramics artist and then view how the home’s shapes and spaces merge with the artist’s own works and wider art collection. This establishes a thorough sense of cohesive style that is all at once impressive, comforting, and effortlessly homey.
Now, when we say the house is “off the grid”, we don’t just meant that it’s rural; we literally mean it’s off the power grids provided by local municipalities. Instead, Lochside House produces its own electricity using solar panels. It also sources clean water from its very own independent borehole.
Part of what influenced RIBA judges to choose this house as the UK’s best home of the year was the beauty and efficiency with which it was built despite the nature and weather challenges presented by its remote location. Not even the often harsh weather of the Scottish highlands during the winter prevented the team from achieving their vision.
By Courtney • Dec 27, 2018
Using the seemingly regular concept of stacked boxes as inspiration, Brazilian studio Bloco Arquitetos has designed a wonderfully spacious family home that is, in essence, a series of stacked “boxes” itself. These form a series of courtyards and terraces that provide private and social spaces almost unparalleled in its beauty.
The House of Courtyards is located in the capital of Brazil, in a residential neighbourhood in the city of Brasilia. Totalling 950 square metres, the home sits on a flat plot that lacks a bit in vegetation. Designers built and stacked a series of “boxes” or volumes that sit at angles such that they appear to push outward and pull inward at once, all from their place on the home’s base.
The angles of the volumes and how they’re stacked do more than just look directionally intriguing! Parts of certain “boxes” also protrude over the edges of the parts of the house they sit on, creating a sort of covered porch area or shady shelter from the sun at different spots around the house.
Besides the unique shape, the first thing people often notice about House of Courtyards is how incredibly stark white it is. The exterior walls of the volumes and main house are made of carefully white-painted ceramic brick, which contrast quite well with vast, inset glass. These expanses of glass are provided some shade thanks to a recessed window structure. Short eaves, also formed by the edges of the stacked volumes, give the windows a bit of shade so the rooms inside don’t take on too much solar heat on long Brazilian summer days.
From the main windows and doors, a lovely view of Brasilia’s city centre can be enjoyed. A little closer than the city, which lies 10 km away, a pretty view of the house’s own yard with its stunning swimming pool can be seen with ease. The neighbourhood the house sits in has undergone a bit of a green overhaul to counteract all the flat land and the abundance of paved surfaces. Residents have fostered large stretches of lush grass, young trees with space to grow, and lovely flowering shrubs; all plants in species and types that are native to the local area.
Inside the house, public rooms where guests might visit or where the family might work from home are all located on the ground floor for easy access. Private rooms, like bedrooms and bathrooms, on the other hand, are built across the upper level, distributed throughout the stacked volumes or “boxes”.
The volumes where the bedrooms are located are positioned according to what’s best for each area specifically. By this, we mean that there is no hierarchy of rooms; no “master bedroom” or “small guest room” that might have more or less value in experience. Instead, each room has a perfect level of view, privacy, and orientation according to sunlight based on where it sits in the stack.
In addition to fantastic views, most of the rooms are also afforded direct access to one of the house’s six courtyards. On the upper floors, this is through lovely patio doors that open onto grassy terraces. The top of the home even features a rooftop “sightseeing terrace” accessed by a beautiful white stone, open air staircase.
Following the stark white theme, the interior decor scheme also includes white walls, light wood flooring, and white cabinetry. Though the furniture was brought from the owner’s previous residence, most of it also fits the white theme quite nicely, rounding out the whole visual experience well.
Photographs by Haruo Mikami
By Courtney • Dec 24, 2018
Fig Tree House is a stunning example of how longstanding city buildings can be updated and modernized without losing their old fashioned, more traditional appeal. Located in La Haya, The Netherlands, this tall home recently underwent a small transformation in the back in the form of a beautiful open concept extension designed and created by by Bloot Architecture.
Because the house is located in an historic area, namely The Hague’s Vogelwijk district, the style of the house extension was kept a minimalist, making it contrast sharply but beautifully with the slightly more rustic red brick of the 1927 house.
In the front, the house maintains its original structure while, around back, the lovely old fig tree it was named after stretches its branches across the yard. Previously to the extension, however, that namesake wasn’t actually visible from inside the house, something the owners lamented. This is why owners and designers agreed that a full glass extension, with floor to ceiling window walls, was the best solution!
Because the new section extends beyond the perimeter of the original house into the yard, and also because its glass walls can be slid back to open the room entirely into the open air, it appears to create a more cohesive relationship with the house, the fig tree, and the environment around the two.
In conceptualizing the extension, designers aimed to bring sharp contrast to the old building. The brick house, which hearkens back to older elements of Art Nouveau styles and the Amsterdam School, stands out masterfully agains the black and glass of the new section, outlining its stunning minimalism.
The new structure is built from seamless glass with subtle framing, meaning that there are virtually no visible barriers between the house’s warmth and comfort and the natural space around the fig tree if one looks out from inside the house. This means that daylight is given free reign throughout the bottom floor, keeping spaces bright and cheerful. When the walls are slid back and the sun shines in the evening, dinner at the regular dining table can feel like a picnic outside in the fresh air!
Perhaps the most stark meeting of old and new aesthetics and materials takes place in the kitchen. Here, the concrete floor of the original house meets the new kitchen walls that the extension frame is rooted in, creating a beautiful blend of materials and design styles.
Photographs by Christian van der Kooy
By Courtney • Dec 21, 2018
Nestled in the countryside of Highlands, North Carolina, design professionals at RMT Architects have transformed an old, weathered, and rustic barn into the breathtakingly comfortable Timber Frame Barn House. Built in partnership with Ronnie D. Waller Construction, the vintage looking farmland home features 3,587 square feet of inviting living spaces and down home comfort.
Upon walking into the great room, you’ll encounter a stunning open concept layouts and an impressive metal spiral staircase traveling upward to the mezzanine. Rather than being airy, the great room stays warm and cozy despite its layout thanks to a beautifully placed stone fireplace that covers the full height of the room from floor to ceiling. The floor is kept warm as well in the home’s current decor scheme by a spacious area rug. This cushions the feet of guests while also adding pattern and texture to the room. The rug also marks a visual separation between the living room seating and the dining room without actually cutting off the nice open space between the two.
Besides having an open-space aesthetic that creates a sense of harmony between the rooms and makes hosting guests easy, this barn house also features pocketing glass doors in the dining room that open right out onto a comfortable patio seating area. This helps create a sense of cohesiveness between indoor and outdoor settings as well. Dwellers and guests can flow easily from room to room and from indoor areas to fresh air seamlessly.
In contrast with the warm, pleasant interior, which is undoubtedly rustic vintage influenced but feels whole and new, the exterior of the house is quite clearly the actual facade of an old barn. The original timber is still in place, but safely bolstered by frame updates and renovations.
The barn house’s exterior isn’t the only place you’ll find wood! Inside, the floors are actually a unique combination of wood and concrete, keeping things solid but natural. First the wood was installed and then the concrete was poured, using the wood as a framework, and stained to create a cohesive colour story.
In terms of decor, you’ll encounter all kinds of homey touches throughout the house that really drive the whole “rustic farm” aesthetic home in a way that’s beautiful and explicit rather than tacky and overdone. Cowhide rugs and homemade patchwork quilts in the bedrooms are the perfect example of this. These are things you might have seen in any old farm house, modern or vintage, but they make particular sense here in the way they play off the rustic wooden interior that follows from the floor, up the walls and supports, and right across the ceiling.
The part of the home that perhaps makes the “barn house” concept most explicit and whole is the authentic remaining barn door itself. On the outside of modern doors with glass insets and safe locks, an actual set of large, wooden barn doors closes just like they might have when the barn housed farm animals and farming tools and supplies originally. Once the barn doors have swung open, the glass doors can roll like sliding panels to disappear entirely on warm days, giving the entryway and even more authentically rustic feel when only the big barn doors remain.
In oder to stop the large, wooden home from feeling too dark at any point, bright ceiling lights abound all throughout. Designers place inset lamps and stylish pendant lights in each room and on the porch to make sure guests and dwellers are never in the dark, even on days that are too chilly for indoor-outdoor experiences and leaving the barn doors open for a nice breeze.
Mimicking the beautiful fireplace and seating in the great room, this barn house’s porch also features fantastic rustic inspired seating and a beautiful stone fireplace! This lets guests enjoy the surrounding woodland area any time they please without getting too cold, making the fire both functional and great for ambiance. This setup sits on a beautifully solid cedar deck that overlooks the yard bordered in natural greenery.
Photographs by Eric Morley
Stunning Swedish Home Villa Wennerström Blends Wood and Natural Granite Thanks to Max Holst Arkitektkontor
By Courtney • Dec 20, 2018
In order to create the breathtaking Villa Wennerström, designers and architects at Max Holst Arkitektkontor harnessed the beauty of the topography Stockholm, Sweden. The result was a grand home structure that perfectly blends and contrasts natural granite and woods like oak and pine; a combination which is reflected in the scene around the house as well.
The goal in building and decorating this house was to draw guests’ eyes to the similarities and differences between not only the natural materials used in building, but also between the house and the land it sits on. Clear, strong architectural shapes were also used, making the house stand out from its surroundings despite being built from those very things. The stone coloured wooden facade and the way the building splits into two distinct looking but connected structures are the perfect examples of these goals being achieved with great beauty.
In the first portion of the house, you’ll find the more functional aspects of a home and the areas where you’d typically do things together as a family or host guests. These include the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Moving onto the second “volume” of the home, you’ll encounter spaces that might be used for more independent things, like sleep, work, and media or private relaxation. The rooms and parts of the house are far from cut off from each other, and yet the areas remain distinct in a way that makes sense. After all, separating public and private areas offers a logical change in atmosphere from room to room!
In terms of the home’s physicality, each of the two volumes of the house is angled slightly in a way that not only simplified the construction of the house, but also gives guests and dwellers a better view of the lovely natural topography surrounding the home.
Besides the granite flooring and the wooden walls and furniture, Villa Wennerström incorporates nature in a way that feels almost cohesive between interior and exterior thanks to stunning floor to ceiling windows. This gives one side of the house what essentially looks like a glass wall, which in turn allows sunlight to spill into the central living and eating areas. This is also partially thanks to the way the volumes of the house are angled, as we mentioned before.
Overall, the entire project is a stunning example of how functional and whimsical elements can be blended un innovative ways to create experiences in all kinds of manners, including architecturally!
Photographs by Lars Grafstrom