Author Archives - Courtney
Estúdio BG + LVPN Arquitetura create fluid, contemporary new office space for Silveriro Lawyers in Brazil
By Courtney • Sep 26, 2019
In the bustling urban area of Porto Alegre in Brazil, innovative public space designers at Estúdio BG + LVPN Arquitetura have recently complete an office overhaul for leading firm Silveiro Lawyers.
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From the very beginning of this office renovation’s conception, the main inspiration for its style, shape, and even its core energy was the idea of fluidity. Designers and executives alike wanted to create a space that fosters the fluid flow of energy, information, communication, and ideas, but also that has a fluid sense of style and atmosphere, making all who are present very comfortable.
More specifically, the space was built with the intention of putting fluid working practices, like collaboration and mobile workspaces that fit different scenarios, into action in a way that simultaneously reflects the fluidity of working practices and lifestyles in contemporary life.
The very basic sense of something being “fluid” is visually apparent immediately upon entering the office. Even before you’ve passed through the welcoming area with the reception desk and waiting room, you’ll already have witnessed several structures, furnishings, shapes, and details that put the word into practice. The desk, for example, curves smoothly across its front without sacrificing flat and effective working space on the top, while the walls around and behind it undulate in smooth waves behind it, leading smoothly further into the office.
As part of the goals in fluidity, executives asked designers to make a space that feels as though it’s not limited to modular places and closed off rooms. Instead, they wanted to concentrate on flowing lines and continuity that flows easily through the whole office in a way that makes sense in terms of organization, function, and interactive flow.
One of the most unique aspects of the space is the emphasis on knowledge and learning within the fluid inspiration! This is embodied in the presence of an extensive library that permeates the entire office, traveling through it on waving, softly curved shelves that follow the path through from the lobby and inward, from space to space.
The chosen theme and atmosphere is actually so prevalent throughout the office that you’d be hard pressed to find a sharp right angle just about anywhere. Even the staircase was designed in a sculpturesque fashion, adopting a rounded shape all the way up that feels balanced between the lightness of its curves and the weight of its wooden materiality.
The very wood that you see in the staircase is actually another key element of the whole wider space as well; the wood is present right from the welcome lobby and on into every other aspect of the space in the walls, bookshelves, and custom and luxury furniture pieces. The combination of fluid lines and naturally stained wood gives the place a sense of organic comfort.
In order to make the shine of the wood really stand out in all its glory, designers chose to combine it primarily with white surfaces and details to really give it sensical contrast. The wood is able to pop without enveloping the space or making it feel too dark and rustic. The sense of modernity is preserved and things remain light and fresh looking.
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In terms of the furnishings specifically, designers opted to complement the combination of wood and white materiality with a sightly mod aesthetic, choosing pieces that look specifically like what you might have seen in modern homes and leading offices. This adds a sense of style and charm to the impressive and reassuring presence of knowledge sharing.
Photos by Cristiano Brauce
By Courtney • Sep 24, 2019
Located on a stunning country road, in a “ribbon” of houses in Everdingen, The Netherlands, creative designers at Walden Studio have recently completed a beautifully modern rustic addition called the House Extension Along the Dike, intended to give a young family a little more space and better views of the beautiful pastures behind their home.
Near Utrecht is a beautiful river called the Lekt. It is on the banks of this river that a stunning old house was originally built along a row of others in 1910. Now, however, the house is owned by a young and still-growing family who needs a little more space than the house had to offer.
The house is situated outside of the winter dikes, meaning that is only safeguarded on its sides by a lower summer dike. These water variances, of course, influenced and determined certain choices in the building of the original home, as well as in how the new extension might be built.
The first houses built in the area measured a modest 70 square metres, making them a perfectly comfortable home for two. When the new owners’ family began expanding beyond two, however, they realized that they’d fallen too far in love with the stunning floodplains around their house, as well as the gorgeously friendly atmosphere to leave.
That’s why they decided to stay and simply adapt their little house to accommodate their new clan! They wished to do so, however, in away that would respect the integrity and history of the original house, rather than interfering with or overpowering it.
From the outset, the owners wished to expand two rooms and also add two. They wished to increase the size of their already existing dining room as well as their living room. Besides that, they also wished to add an extra bedroom and bathroom on the first floor of the little house.
Because of the beautiful natural land that the house sits on and next to, there were several environmental limitations that the designers and construction teams had to work with. For example, the maximum possible width that the extension could possibly be was only four metres because a very important natural reserve exists just past the home’s borders and respecting that was crucial.
On top of that, designers also wanted to leave “flood space”, or a slight border of land around the house between the solid land and the marshy areas around the dikes below the house in order to protect the house from flooding. This space acts as a buffer between the potential rising waters and the foundation of the house. Accounting for this space determined a very small available area in which to create the addition.
Although this little house sits in a “ribbon” of homes that are arranged along the main road like a strip, there are several openings between the houses that were intentional in their original conception. Even decades ago, architects valued the scenery around the neighbourhood so much that they knew it was integral to keep the houses from pressing up against one another in order to give the inhabitants of each one the space to take advantage of their beautiful setting.
The designers of this new extension took inspiration from the setup of this row of houses and opted to include open spaces that show off the view within the house itself. This accounts for the inclusion of large glass windows and sliding glass doors. The intent here is to provide a seamless feeling experience between the bright, cheerful feeling inside and the stunning outdoors, which the owners wanted to let their young children enjoy whenever possible.
Another unique element of this extension that sets it apart ever so slightly without interrupting the rest of the neighbourhood’s visual aesthetic is the fact that it was built on columns. This makes the extension look as though it is floating above the dike slightly, which the designers hoped would add a sense of extra suspense to the overall visual.
Putting the extension on columns also created a lovely sheltered area underneath. This provides a small patio like space where the family can enjoy an outdoor area with some cool shade and protection fro, the sun. At the same time, the jaunty asymmetrical gable roof stretches towards the sky and accentuates the view of the stunning floodplains.
The roof is actually more than just an angular structure meant for modern style. In reality, designers included it as a nod to the shape of historical barns of the local region, re-incorporating a bit of rustic charm that makes even more sense in the immediate context and environment,
In the interest of preserving as much of the original house as possible in its first form, since it was good and whole outside of the need for more space, designers used the existing stairwell as a base for anchoring it to the side of the home. At the top, they added a skylight that helps keep this previously slightly dark space bright and cheerful, making things feel even more open.
On the outside of the house, you’ll notice a charmingly dark facade that suits the environment rather than making the structure appear too dark. This is black pine wood that actually did come from the old barns in the region that we mentioned before. These reclaimed pieces get their colour from tar that is applied to protect the wood and increase its durability against weathering.
The reclaimed wood isn’t the only sustainably sourced material that went into the building of this extension. Pieces of the wooden frame and the steel columns and beams of the “table” it was placed upon to make the shady overhang are also locally reclaimed. Inside the walls, renewable materials like flax insulation and accoya wood window frames have been used. On the underside of the extension, where a roof over the patio has been created, naturally stained Douglas-fir planks make things feel durable and cozy at once.
Inside, the spaces within the extension vary ever so slightly from the rest of the original house. The older spaces are slightly more historically inspired in their details and furnishings, while the new rooms are cleanly detailed and a little more fresh and minimalist looking. They are styled with a materiality that suits the rest of the house for cohesiveness, but designers didn’t hide the refreshed, updated nature of the spaces. Instead, they let them shine, seeking beauty in the contrast and how the space marks the lovely little village as one that’s still ideal for raising families in decades after the neighbourhood was built.
Photos provided by the architects.
By Courtney • Sep 20, 2019
In the midst of the beautifully sunny wooded areas in Keowee Springs in South Carolina, innovative design and architectural teams at Dillard-Jones Builders have recently finished a grand and comfortable luxury family retreat called Rustic Home!
More specifically, this beautiful home is located in a small, quiet community called The Cliffs. It is a spacious building comprised of two storeys and it was specifically designed with the prioritization of outdoor living experiences, guest entertaining, and family bonding in mind, as well as seeking out the calming peace of nature.
One of the main structures that enables a seamless indoor-outdoor living style is a sprawling upper floor balcony with a beautiful view, the floor of which creates a lovely, shady covered patio underneath. These areas each offer space to store supplies for all kinds of outdoor activities, as well as comfortable lounge spaces fit for the owning family and any guests they might also be hosting.
Whether you’re spending time on the top or bottom floor, you’ll notice that each one has a stunning view thanks to the slight elevation of the plot the house was built on. These lovely outdoor spaces overlook the lakeside setting that was the original draw for designers and owners alike, letting guests see a boat dock and invitingly clear waters below. The whole scene is very picturesque indeed!
Inside the house, the living and social spaces are just as sprawling and comfortable as the outdoor ones, but with an added sense of warmth and luxury. The goal was to blend a rustic sense of style with all of the modern amenities of modern living in a way that feels cohesive and makes sense, rather than making a jarring or nonsensical contrast throughout the house. The finished product is rustic chic but also elegant in a way that creates a rather soothing atmosphere.
Just like the outdoor living spaces, the home’s interiors are afforded lakeside view that are nothing short of breathtaking. In nearly every room, large windows made from glazed, UV resistant glass (which stops the home from heating up too much) provide all kinds of cheerful natural light but also positively idyllic views of Lake Keowee’s beauty.
Around the other side of the house from the covered patio, another covered outdoor lounge area that’s even more specifically designed for relaxation sprawls luxuriously outward. This bluestone space is covered with large area rugs to add comfort and warmth and define its borders. To one side, a full outdoor dining set incorporates even more of the family’s daily routine into their impressive outdoor space and brings even more draw to hosting guests for dinner.
Throughout the social spaces and also in the private and guest bedrooms, vaulted ceilings sit high above all the furnishings and create a sense of increased spaciousness than the home’s impressive square footage actually already offers. The furniture choices, which alternate between wooden, grand, and very stately looking and more rustic and homey things like vintage wicker chairs, build a sense of comfort and variance.
Both inside and outside, fireplaces play a large role in the comfort the home provides. These beautiful central pieces become the focus of several lounge spaces, creating cozy central hubs that help the seating areas surrounding them withstand more seasons than they might if they didn’t feature an extra heating source. These also add another sense of rustic grandeur.
Two primary elements of the home in both the bedrooms and social spaces contribute to the irresistible blending of indoor and outdoor spaces. These are the consistent inclusion of stonework on all of the walls throughout the inner spaces and that facade alike, as well as the presence of large sliding doors that retract to remove physical barriers between the inner home and the fresh rural air on warm days.
Photos by Inspiro 8
Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects creates modern art inspired Striking Contemporary Home in Texas
By Courtney • Sep 18, 2019
In a lush suburban neighbourhood in Dallas, Texas, creative design and construction teams at Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects recently completed a beautiful rustic modern home inspired by art and the beautiful natural area surrounding it. The house was dubbed Striking Contemporary Home for its unique shape!
The house puts a particular unique spin on the idea of “rustic chic” in the way it unconventionally combines style and materiality. Each room and the home’s structure itself was created using strikingly contemporary shapes and layouts, but also done so using organic, natural, and raw materials, which builds a relationship with the land and grounds the space in that whole concept of rustic living.
The home also puts a huge emphasis on the idea of blended indoor-outdoor living experiences. Because the home’s chosen plot is lucky enough to have a stunning natural setting, designers wanted to ensure that the family living there gets to enjoy it as thoroughly as possible. Large glass walls and expansive windows break down visual barriers between interior and exterior spaces, while several sliding glass doors actually physically open most of the rooms onto beautiful decks, balconies, and patios.
These seamless elements in combination with the fact that the main social rooms feature gorgeous soaring ceilings makes the home feel even more spacious that its generous square footage already accounts for. The presence of stone in the mantels and structural details, as well as natural wood elements in the beams and furnishings, ties in the beautiful view outside the large windows, once again visually blending the home’s inner features into its surrounding environment.
All of this, of course, takes place in a home that has quite a modern cubic shape to it. This shape and the presence of polished and stained concrete floors (which is a natural material but looks high end with this shining finish) creates a modern vein throughout the rooms that the more natural and rustic influenced elements contrast with and stand out against beautifully.
In addition to being stylishly appealing, the home’s materiality is also unique in the way it was gathered and sourced for building. Rather than importing fabricated and synthetic goods or using only things they procured elsewhere, design teams did their best to use locally sourced natural goods and reclaimed things wherever possible, keeping things in the immediate area.
The layout of the home was another intentional element designed for the comfort and bonding of the family. Besides keeping colour and decor schemes consistent, the way physical and visual spaces flow fluidly into each other gives the sense a comfortable atmosphere of connectivity and accessibility. Here and there, pops of colour in the form of the very kinds of art pieces that inspired the modern aspects of the home’s shape briefly pull a pleasant, interesting focus as one passes from room to room.
No matter where in the house you choose to sit, a stunning amount of sunlight can reach just about every corner in a way that’s cheerful and uplifting. The high quality UV resistance of the glazed glass windows and doors stops the rooms from heating up too much, but the open concept of the spaces lets the light spill through the house beautifully.
Perhaps our favourite feature of the house is the pool. Rather than just building a standard shape and size of pool like you’re probably used to seeing in friends’ backyards, designers opted to make this one resemble more of a water feature, giving it a stone border and unique steps at once end leading either into the main pool or a hot tub and relaxing spa section. The pool is built into a lovely deck area that has plenty of seating for hosting guests.
Photos by Nathan Schroder Photography
By Courtney • Sep 17, 2019
Located on a stunningly green and natural camp property on the edges of Truckee, California, creative designers at Sandbox Studio have recently completed a gorgeous ranch style home called the Cozy Farmhouse.
The home sits prominently at one end of a quiet cul-de-sac in the quiet greenery of Martis Camp. It spans a total of 5,414 square feet and boasts five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and panoramic views of the valley that can be seen from nearly any room in the house.
The house was conceptualized and designed for a young family that still has intentions of growing and expanding. This influenced the size, but also the aesthetic and atmosphere as well. By going with a comfortably rustic and traditional farmhouse style, the family hoped to build a sense of coziness, spirit, and appreciation for family bonding and nature for their kids as they grow.
The mountain setting in which the house is built actually influences just about every aspect of the home’s style, layout, and function. The view and atmosphere is simply so naturally exquisite that designers and owners alike wanted to harness its beauty, comfort, and everything else it has to offer as extensively as possible. That’s why the house clearly prioritizes a blending of indoor and outdoor spaces, both visually and physically, so highly.
In all rooms, gorgeous high windows extend from floor to ceiling, giving nearly uninterrupted views of the surrounding scenery and giving each room plenty of natural sunlight. In most rooms, these windows are accompanied by full height glass sliding doors that work like a moving wall, physically breaking down barriers between indoor living spaces and the fresh air and outdoor living spaces.
Part of the home’s biggest draw is actually the extensive outdoor living space it offers. Designers wanted to be sure that the family really could take full advantage of their gorgeous chosen setting. They built a full BBQ space, a sunken hot tub in the sprawling wooden deck, and a fire table surrounded by lounge seats that are perfect for hosting guests on warm evenings.
The outside deck isn’t the only space that offers a lot of opportunity for hosting and entertainment! Inside, ample space has been included for guests, social gatherings, and family bonding time as well. Spare bedrooms, kids’ bunk rooms, and plenty of cozy seating space are plentiful. The house also boasts a media room for movie nights and an indoor gym. The master bedroom even has its own indoor-outdoor shower, taking that blurring of spaces and boundaries we mentioned earlier to a whole new level.
The inclusion of modern amenities is something that helps with the whole blended nature of the house itself. Sure, it has a rustic atmosphere and a more traditional materiality, but owners still wanted to provide their kids with all the cutting edge amenities of modern living. The finish result is, therefore, comfortable and accommodating almost to the point of decadence; an undoubted forever home that the couple will eventually retire to permanently.
Photos by Vance Fox Photography
By Courtney • Sep 16, 2019
In a quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs of Kyoto, Japan, innovative design teams at 07BEACH recently completed a beautifully wooden and naturally peaceful feeling residential project called House in Kyoto.
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The house was not only built but also completely conceptualized from the beginning for a couple and their three small kids. Although the house is surrounded on all sides by other houses in its residential neighbourhood, designers worked to create an inner space that feels all its own. Rather than feeling isolated, however, it feels quiet and relaxing, like a retreat.
Besides a peaceful home that would provide the family with a safe, calming space in which to live their lives and recharge from their busy days, the owners’ requests were few and simple. As the planning process progressed, more desires and home goals became clear, like an open concept floor plan and lots of space for the kids to move in.
This added goal was what really influenced the blueprints for the house in the end. In fact, it’s what responsible for the complete open main interior chamber. By placing the living room in the very centre of the house and making it double height so that most spaces are easily accessible to one another if one tries, without sacrificing all privacy, designers created a space that’s ideal for keeping an eye on kids (but also family bonding, movement around the house, and energy flow).
Besides the wide open layout of the house itself, the most notable aspect of this home is absolutely the fact that there’s a tree growing right in the middle! This feature was multi-purpose. The first reason for including the tree was for aesthetic and energy purposes; the green leaves add a colour pop to the otherwise primarily natural wood scheme and the overall presence of the tree helps establish an almost spa-like atmosphere in the primary room and anywhere with a view into it.
The other reason for putting a tree smack in the middle of the house was actually slightly more practical. Rather, it was a practical way around the limitations presented by the plot of land the house was built on. You see, the only place large enough for a parking area to be built was at the front of the plot. By the time this was completed and the rest of the house was built to a satisfactory size behind it, very little space for a garden (which was one of the owners’ late arising desires) was left.
Instead of leaving the house devoid of plant life in the absence of a garden, or simply including many plants in the decor scheme, design teams opted to treat the very centre of the main interior room like a courtyard. They even included skylights and plenty of natural lighting through large windows at the top of the house, ensuring that beautiful sunlight pours down over the tree in the very centre of the house.
This kind of natural lighting actually helps keep the home a little more energy efficient than the average dwelling as well, rendering the house green in some of its functions and systems. Green systems and a green tree, which the family expects to grow in the middle along with the family in order to create a very real bond between the members and nature, really drives home the whole natural feeling theme that reaches into every corner of the house.
Of course, just by looking at the house, one can tell that materiality is quite important to the over all integrity and atmosphere of the house. The clearly notable presence of natural wood is actually where designers took the opportunity to get creative in blending aesthetics. Here, the modern structure of the very squared house meets the traditional Japanese style of homes, which fit with the family’s own history. Most wooden aspects of the home are of the classic architectural style that has been seen in the area for centuries.
Since relaxation and peace are paramount elements of the whole home’s experience, we doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that even the bathroom placement, with its sprawling bath tub, was intentional and geared towards building a spa-like atmosphere. The idea behind placing the bathroom in the centre was that its placement in combination with the big windows that give a high up view of neighbouring trees gives off an “open air” feeling, as though one is perhaps bathing outside in a nice breeze and sunshine.
Photos by Yosuke Ohtake
By Courtney • Sep 13, 2019
Amidst the dips and mountains of a rocky area called Paradise Valley in Arizona, Creative design teams at Kendle Design Collaborative recently put the finishing touches on an expansive, angular house called Rammed Earth Home.
This home was born from the unique goal of combining modern, almost minimalist architectural and decor styles with a celebration of the awesome natural environment surrounds it. Through creative shapes and organic materiality, design teams were able to create a stunning blend of elements that, thanks to a breaking down of borders and colour palettes that mirror the valleys and mountains, pay tribute to the very ground on which the structure was built.
The house itself spans 6,100 square feet and every last inch of it is inspired by the rolling desert around it. The materials used in the building process itself were sourced locally, letting things that are actually indigenous to the land provide dwellers and guests with not just home comforts and amenities, but also unparalleled mountain views.
True to its name, the walls of the house are actually made of layered rammed earth in combination with metal, concrete, and glazed glass. The large number of expansive windows, sliding glass doors, and transparent walls helps break down visual and physical barriers between the home’s interior and the natural environment around it. At the same time as the home almost feels like a cohesive part of the beautiful desert, the glass walls also allow it to stay bathed in cheerful uplifting natural sunlight for most of the day (without overheating, thanks to UV resistant glass coatings).
Upon approaching the house, the most notable feature is clearly its roof. This angular structure, which appears to float above the house, is a canopy roof. The underside of this roof is made of a tectonic-like plates which are inspired by both the local geology and how the rocks historically formed, as well as how the monsoon clouds form in certain seasons.
Besides just looking decorative and interesting, almost sculpture-like, the canopy roof actually serves several practical uses as well. The angle at which each part sits provides weather resistance against the occasionally harsh desert climate changes. It also provides shade to certain outdoor living spaces, giving those lounging there a bit of protection from the hot afternoon sun.
The roof is also a place where, in the owner’s goal of harnessing both coziness and grandeur within the house, grandeur briefly takes centre stage to welcome guests. The roof’s structure rises dramatically towards the mountains in a way that’s almost as breathtaking as the natural view in how it mirrors the rocks, crags, and cliffs themselves.
Both in and outside of the house, designers made the choice to conceal all lighting, figures, and mechanical devices smoothly within the walls, ceilings, and built-in structures unless they were chosen and included to be purely decorative within themselves. This allows the shape and form of the roof, facade, and interiors, as well as the materials used in building, to remain the focus.
Another notable element of the structure lies in the way several interior living spaces are arranged carefully around a central outdoor atrium. This lets daylight and fresh air (when walls, doors, and windows are opened) to pass simply and easily from room to room, providing maximum comfort.
In fact, light was intentionally considered within the design of each room and in the placement of the swimming pool. Designers wanted to harness the beauty of how it might bounce off reflective surfaces and water, light dark corners, and change the look of certain spaces as shadows move about the house during the day’s progression. The entire pool area, for example, is dynamic but also remains zen-like throughout the day.
From the modern, almost minimalist bathrooms to the home office, this home is so clearly inspired by and blended into its surroundings that the overall sense is one of pleasant cohesiveness. Despite its contemporary nature, no warmth or coziness is lost in the home’s interior; in fact, it is quite the opposite.
Photos by Alexander Vertikoff
By Courtney • Sep 12, 2019
Along the shoes of a beautiful seaside setting in Vietnam, creative design teams at Nemo Studio have recently finished a beautiful housing project called Bienhouse for a leading rental company in the area.
More specifically, the beautiful new property is located in Ha Long Bay. Originally, the house was built and finished in an unfurnished way, as all houses for the company, Vinhomes, are. On the outside, this house is grand, modern, and stunning, but it does bear a brand recognizable resemblance to many of their other properties in the area.
In this case, it’s the interior that really sets the home apart and brings out the character of the place itself and the influence of the area surrounding it. Now that new tenants have moved in and added their own personal touches, the character of the home shines even more brightly and some of the best features are really showcased.
Of course, one of the very best things that the house has to offer is a stunning, broad view of the beach and its surrounding magnificent landscape. This view can be enjoyed from countless windows in the house and also from a lovely rooftop deck that provides plenty of fresh air and a veritable boat show of the boardwalk and yacht activity just a short way from the house.
Inside the house, the design is clean, neutral, and neat. The spa-like palette was chosen very intentionally in an attempt to make the atmosphere inside the house just as centred on relaxation as the one outside on the beach. The shapes and dimensions of the furnishings, structures, storage spaces, and so on, were created with calculation and great consideration because, at the same time as designers wanted the house to feel like a retreat, they also wanted it to be optimally arranged, organized, and efficient, minimizing clutter and making sense in order to reduce daily stress.
Another very intentional choice was the placement of large windows and big sliding doors that feel as though a barrier between the interior and the stunning beaches outside is being removed. The purpose of these many openings was to let residents feel as though they have access to the beach from essentially anywhere in the house.
For those places where beach access simply wasn’t possible, designers wanted to at least build a thoroughly beach atmosphere within the home, but not the stereotypically kitschy kind you’ve probably seen before. They aimed for more of an upscale, calming atmosphere communicated primarily through fluid shape and natural materiality. This theme continues through bedrooms, bathrooms, corridors, and even simple stairways, extending right from the entryway all the way up to the rooftop.
Executives also wanted to keep the house feeling light, airy, and even more spacious than its generous square footage already grants, which is a central theme that they try to keep throughout all of their different properties. This is why designers chose to create an artistic looking steel staircase in the very centre of the house with a sizeable open space void around it, creating a highlight space that really feels like a focus. The uniquely curving shape and bright red colour of the staircase really draws the attention of guests, which is sensical in the space because those stairs allow access to so many important areas.
If we had to choose an area in the house that we thought designers might have prioritized the most, we’d say the bedrooms were treated as the most important! They were created with the most possible space they could possibly be allotted within the home’s overall square footage, but they were also intentionally made with a softer sense of structure, line, and style.
The bedrooms are where the spa-like sense we mentioned before really hits home. The furniture chosen is curving, natural looking, and extremely comfortable despite also being stylish. The materials were chosen intentionally for their organize nature and matching warm neutral tones and other details, like the rugs and curtains, were opted for to match that aesthetic.
If you ask us, easily the best part of the bedroom space is the master bedroom’s impressive concrete tub. Because it is polished and green in colour, it almost looks like it’s made of jade, making it resemble something you might have found in the royal quarters of an old castle. It ties into the rest of the house cohesively even as it stands out because designers included other decor pieces and details made from concrete and potteries elsewhere in the house as well.
At the vert top of the house, of course, is the stunning fifth floor patio. This was intended for family bonding, social gatherings, or peaceful solitary reading time in the fresh air. The space is set up well for groups or those looking to enjoy a bit of outdoor time alone and, no matter one’s company, it’s the perfect place to enjoy those beautiful beach sunrises and sunsets.
Photos by Vu Ngoc Ha
By Courtney • Sep 12, 2019
In the heart of the city in Toronto, Canada, innovative designers and architectural teams at Kilogram Studio have recently completed the repurposing of a beautiful historical space as a retail spot called the Down the Rabbit Hole Store.
The first step in the project was to strip down the space that was already there. The intention of this was to reveal and showcase the beautiful 100 year old masonry walls and copper plumbing systems that were hiding behind a rather bland plaster walling. This exposed aesthetic brings the authentic history of the building much more to the forefront in the new space.
Despite the fact that this spot was already being used as a retail space before and is being renovated to serve as the same thing now, the nature of the project is still slightly unique in that the use is dual-purpose. Rather than housing a singular company, the space is actually now a co-location shared by a plant shop and a cold-pressed juice store all at once.
This means that the space had to meet some unique goals in order to satisfy the needs and requirements of both halves of the store. Within that, teams installed millwork fixtures, overhauled interior finishes, swapped out lighting, constructed a new storefront, and even did a little bit of landscaping. The overall goal, besides meeting functional requirements, was to create a space that fits the brand and identity of both clients, each of which melds and meshes well with the other.
The typical layout for retail spaces in the small downtown store spots of Toronto is often narrow, long, and a little bit dark. designers for this project, however, wanted to flip that around, brighten things up, and re-imagine it. To do so, they used Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole, from the classic Lewis Carroll story Alice in Wonderland, as their inspiration.
The store and the layout of the building is actually more of an experience than the average retail space already just thanks to the building and how it sits. Rather than having the classic street level storefront and immediate entrance combination that’s typical in most areas, this space features a small frontage leading to a laneway that leads to a rear garden that’s removed from the sidewalk level.
In this way, the choices and designers of store owners subverted the regular customer experience. This is actually indicative of a small and slow but very presence shift by small local businesses to actually get away from the classic storefront all together, reducing competition for space and taking advantage of newer and unique spaces by paying more attention to alternative opportunities just like laneway networks.
The fact that the store lies at the end of a laneway worked perfectly with the designers’ and owners’ fantasties and their Wonderland inspiration. The idea was to create an enticing little display at the street mouth of the laneway, leaving the actual storefront to emerge along the journey away from the sidewalk like a destination at the end, drawing customers into the space out of sheer curiosity if not actual desire for the quality product.
The Victorian-era brick building in which the store sits contributes to the old fashioned but intriguing Wonderland fantasy as well. The old brick facade along Queen West is patterned with natural visual texture and repetition but with the occasional contrastingly coloured brick or inconsistency that looks natural, interesting, and authentic to the building’s history.
The entrance to the retail space is a little bit tucked away, but not in a way that hides the store from customers and makes it hard to find. Instead, taking the path up is part of the experience. The garden outside, which meshes well with the plant store at the end of the lane, lets people pause for a moment in appreciation even as it draws people inside. There is even a lovely shaded bench here where people and their dogs are welcome to relax before visiting the store or when they come out with a juice.
The way the new store was renovated ties once more into the green world in how sustainable it is. Large inset doors take advantage of sun, shade, and breezes and create a fantastic cross-ventilation that reduces the need for powered heating and cooling systems for at least parts of the year (besides during Canada’s harsh winters).
Inside the space itself, the design was specifically conceptualized to address the needs of a food-based and a plant-based business. In fact, attention was paid to these requirements all throughout, with designers fully integrating those needs into the space overall. The teams opted to do what they could to deconstruct the spatial division between customers and staff, weaving the shop and the community that is fosters together so it’s more like a space to be enjoyed and less like a service place.
In every element possible, locally reclaimed, natural, and sustainable materials were chosen. This is true for the structures that actually makeup up the store’s layout, the furnishings, and just about every detail incorporated. This is part of what reflects and ingrains both clients’ ethos and values throughout the customer space and experience.
The space inside is fluid and accessible. The plants and drinks available for purchase are simply to reach and peruse but are also displayed in a way that makes them look like part of the decor scheme. The space feels fresh and new but at once somehow homey and old fashioned, perfectly paying tribute to the fact that the building itself has been standing in that spot for literally 100 years.
Photos by Scott Norsworthy
By Courtney • Sep 11, 2019
In the quickly changing city of Fengxian, China, innovative construction and design teams at AZL Architects have recently completed a residential project called Song House that serves as a caring, supportive home for several branches of old and young within the same extended family.
Although the modernization of certain areas of China has been largely positive in terms of an increase in average wealth, it has certainly contributed to the unfortunate disappearance of innumerable very small natural villages throughout the country. This has impacted the cultural heritage in many of these areas as well. In response, many architectural teams and homeowners are aiming to once again take advantage of all that these abandoned rural areas have to offer, going back to some of China’s home and cultural roots while adapting modern living systems for those locations.
Song House is one of these homes! Originally, the home’s location was chosen by a family looking to escape ever-rising and increasingly unaffordable living costs in the nearby city of Shanghai. Instead, they opted to invest their money in creating a home that has all of the modern immediate home conveniences of their city home but in a more peaceful place.
The owner also had the large consideration of his elderly mother’s need for care. Already a resident of the Fengxian countryside, the mother needed the support of family but would not thrive as well in the hustle and bustle of the city as she would in the calmer rural setting where all of her needs were already convenient and available. This influenced the family’s decision to move back out to the village where their roots lie.
In returning to their hometown of Nansong Village, the family made the decision to demolish their first house, a dilapidated little cottage that they left behind for the big city but still owned. They aimed to rebuild a new house that was much more modern and more suitable for generations both young and old, all at once. In fact, the house was planned to be so accessible and suitable for all generations that a set of in-laws who were also in need of health assistance were invited to live with the family and receive mutual are and support within the home’s welcoming walls as well.
Designing and building the home was no small feat. As an average working class crew, the Song family invested all of their savings into this space with the intention of making it everyone’s forever home. Since the intention was always to built it for a full family of at least eight, the family also put extra money towards meeting the needs, desires, and styles of each person to ensure it truly feels like home for every single person.
The new house is southward facing with an open-concept layout, enabling sun and fresh breezes from that side to enter the inner and outer spaces and maximizing lovely views of the surrounding area. At the front, the house opens out into a spacious atrium, which the family uses in myriad ways.
In keeping with the focus of re-adding traditional rural home elements to the space that have been lost from local architectural practice in recent years, designers built a large courtyard into the home’s outer spaces, centring it in the layout in order to establish it as the main hub of daily family and social activity.
Inside, the home boasts five bedrooms, each of which was custom designed for the actual family members using them. These rooms and the various shared spaces are arranged around the house’s central inner atrium in a way that creates easy flow, good accessibility, and interconnection but without sacrificing privacy and peace. The goal in arranging the rooms this was was to create an easy sense of daily ritual and a sense of belonging, as though the family and home are its own community.
On the ground floor, just off the lowest point of the atrium, designs built a lovely, welcoming living room filled with lots of light. Next to that, within easy reach, is Song’s mother’s room, giving her a short distance to travel from bed to another comfortable place for a change of scenery. A bathroom was place to the other side of the bedroom, with a high toilet and a specially designed shower large enough for two people, making it accessible and simple for personal assistance.
Across the atrium, on the north side, a large dining room and open layout kitchen feature plenty of seating room for the whole family. This kitchen was designed as an informal social space for family bonding or meal prep, chores, and regular daily routines. This is another space where updated pieces and tradition meet; the kitchen features both a gas stove for modern cooking and an earthen stove as was once traditional in the area, allowing older family members who have never used a gas stove before and would prefer not to use one to be just as involved in cooking family meals. There is also a small kitchen garden out back where the oldest grandmother grows vegetables for the family, as us customary.
The central location of the atrium has a spiritual function as well as a practical and convenient one. The room is built around a stainless steel rendering of the Chinese character for the family’s last name that has been inlaid into the floor. This positions the rest of the house as though it is embracing the family’s symbol, creating a true sense of belonging.
On the home’s second storey, two bedrooms have been customized for the two older couples in the family. These are placed near a beautifully open family room, letting the couples bond without having to go downstairs. A specially built accessible restroom is placed near by as well. The bedroom of the youngest couple, the owner’s daughter and her husband, is placed on the far side of the second storey, giving them their privacy to the extent of relatively independent living.
Although it does not have an elevator, the house is accessible for the in-law’s wheelchairs. There is a ramp that extends from the top floor, near their bedroom, outside the house and gently, safely downward, allowing not only accessible movement from one storey to another but also between indoor and outdoor living spaces, making sure everyone in the house gets fresh air and sun.
A unique system of openings, intentional holes in the walls between rooms, and mirrors creates almost seamless continuity between the rooms, ensuring that no elderly person ever feels isolated or cut off from the social spaces of the house and the rest of the family. The whole purpose of the home’s design truly is to enable young and old alike to care for one another fully.
Photos by Li Yao
Wyoming Mountain Home created by KAM Designs as a perfect blend of modern and rustic style and living
By Courtney • Sep 10, 2019
Nestled onto a stunningly green mountainside area on the edge of Teton Village in Wyoming, KAM Designs has recently completed a sprawling and beautiful holiday home called Wyoming Mountain Home.
This impressive looking house is lovely through and through for more than just its location (which is undoubtedly breathtaking). From the outset, the goal of both the owners and the design teams was to create a space that perfectly blends modern living and amenities with rustic styles and settings as seamlessly and comfortably as possible.
The actual mountainside plot that the home itself sits on is part of a beautifully rural housing community called The Shooting Star. The whole area, which is quite exclusive in an attempt to preserve its quiet, peaceful nature, is positioned at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
On one side, the plot sits next to an award winning golf course, which only bolsters the home’s already unbelievable view of the Grand Tetons, as well as the Gros Ventre Range. The home itself encompasses a whopping 8,000 square feet, boasting five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and stunning open concept shared living spaces.
Inside the house, the rooms are open concept and spacious. In an attempt to keep the modern and rustic blend of styles and functions consistent all throughout the home’s experience, designers used mixed materiality. A perfect example of this is the mix of antique hardwood flooring that contrasts beautifully with glazed stone and skip troweled walls.
The floor isn’t the only interior feature that involves wood. The formal dining room, for example, also features large, locally sourced reclaimed timbers across the ceiling, which extend downward to frame the great room next to it as well. Similar themes, with the addition of wooden furnishings, are found throughout the kitchen.
Rather than succumbing to a bit of darkness as so many rustic, heavily wooden houses seem to do, this house accounts for the abundant inner shade provided by its sturdy structure by also boasting expansive windows. This lets dwellers and visitors enjoy mount and valley views that are nothing short of mesmerizing.
The area of the house with perhaps the veery best view is the master suite. Here, a large window in the social wing on the edge of the bedroom provides breathtaking views while dwellers sit in comfort by a gorgeous fireplace. This space also includes a home office, a luxury bathroom with a spa sized bath, a boutique walk-in closet, and even its own exercise room! Should the owners wish to enjoy the sunrise before they’ve even left the bedroom in the morning, the master wing also has its own beautiful (and impressively sized) porch.
Besides being a place where one can seek the convenience of modern amenities alongside the comfort of more rustically traditional settings, the house is also a retreat. This puts relaxation, social and familiar bonding, and entertainment at the forefront of its functions as well. Designers made sure it had plenty of special features to offer as a result.
For example, the Wyoming Mountain House is home to not only a stunning stone deck with a secluded outdoor seating space for quiet personal time and a home office just in case real life does come calling, but also four cozy fireplaces, a wet bar in the great room, and even a home movie theatre, fully equipped with HQ surround sound.
Photos provided by the architects.
Modular dwelling called House in the Orchard creatednby LDA.iMdA architetti associati as a unique interpretation of shape and minimalism
By Courtney • Sep 10, 2019
True to its name, the House in the Orchard, located in San Miniatio, Italy, actually sits nestled amidst the trees in a real orchard! Design teams at LDA.iMdA architetti associati built the little home to explore space, shape, and natural context in unique, minimalist, and efficient ways.
Although the building is, indeed, a private home, certain aspects of its structure are built to mimic more public spaces’ function and shape, like its focus on open concept layouts and its transparent walled ends that create a visual blending of indoor and outdoor space, creating a feeling of increased square footage despite its actual modest but efficient size.
Speaking of efficiency, the actual systems used to power the house and make it run are highly efficient as well! This includes the hydro, the heating and cooling mechanisms, and even the home’s facade. The external coating around the whole house, which gives it quite a monolithic look, creating stunning continuity, was made by covering a wooden frame in an ecologically protective polyolefin sheet, which has a high solar reflectance, preventing the interior from becoming overheated.
The shape and structure of the house actually inspired by that of a classic greenhouse meant for plants, but wildly re-imagined and invigorated. As you might know if you’ve ever worked with plants, the average greenhouse (exception those used on high production farms and so on) is not a place fit for anything but a plant to inhabit. Here, however, the shape, level of natural light reaching the interiors, and temperature control technology has been updated and adapted for actual living in a permanent home.
The exterior of the house isn’t the only space that got a little bit innovative and green with its materiality. Designers ensured that the home’s interior followed suit as well! For example, the flooring of the main room is covered in a material that uses anti-infiltration, water resistant protective products to coat a prefabricated wooden floor. This is great for improving insulation and energy emissions and conservation. The floor is also built from “self-supporting” panels, making it sturdy and resistant to weathering or wear and tear; it is layered with larch wood, polystirene, and then fir wood.
The emphasis on plant life that surrounds and inspires this home doesn’t stop at its shape and location. Designers also wanted to integrate and enable the dweller’s favourite hobby as best they could. You see, the owner absolutely adores vegetable gardening! This is part of the reason the house was kept modest in size and green in function; they wished to make the most of the available plot as far as gardening space was concerned.
The emphasis on smalltime agriculture and modern home technology creates a beautifully blended home experience both within and directly surrounding the house itself. The whole place has a sense of green prioritization, as well as a strong relationship between energy conservation and natural production.
Originally, designers briefly considered a much larger design that would have included an extra interior gardening space that was intended as a winter gardening plot or greenhouse. Upon reflection, however, they opted to create just the little house you see here, basing it in part on classic children’s drawings of houses in its bare shape. Cutting out the additional building process and square footage stopped the structure itself from leaving too big a footprint on the land. After all, clearing natural land to create indoor spaces for gardening, instead of just gardening the land, seemed counterintuitive on this small scale.
Speaking of reducing impact on the land, designers found another way to make this happen physically as well! Instead of building the house so its entire ground floor lays flush on top of the earth beneath it, building teams created a raised frame in which the house appears to sit on solid, strong stilts. This allows natural growth right underneath and minimized the amount of clearing that had to be done in order to erect the building.
Over all, the house exists as an example of the design team’s ongoing study and prioritization of the way that architecture can build and maintain relationships with the land, as well as how fluid combinations of modern technology and the natural world can benefit home and societal experiences.
Photos by MEDULLA Studio
In the stunning city of Lisbon in Portugal, architectural design teams at Atelier 106 have created a stunning apartment called Apartment in Rua do Arco to São Mamede as part of the city’s attempts to reinvigorate gorgeous historical buildings in the area and bring a new wave of residents and businesses to its oldest neighbourhoods.
The building in which this particular apartment now exists was originally built in the 19th century. It is located in a beautifully older part of the city called Principe Real, which is well known for its old fashioned partition walls and towering stone buildings. This building even still has its recognizable glazed tiles in the facade and entry features and its original floors have withstood the test of time.
In the apartment renovation itself, the kitchen received the biggest overhaul. Although the entire apartment was updated and refreshed quite thoroughly, this is where the most tangible work was done, while the rest of the spaces were pained all over and had their doors and frames recovered. In certain spots, the floors were also replaced, despite the originals holding up in the more public spaces in the building like the lobby.
Within the kitchen’s modernization, several new pieces were installed that improve its functionality. First, it was fitted with a wall-to-wall bench. Next, a generously sized stove was placed under the chimney where smoke and steam filter out with ease and effectiveness. A big modern fridge now stands between the two meal preparation areas to make reaching supplies and moving from space to space easier. A family sized dining table was placed in the middle, making the kitchen kind of a social hub or focal point within the apartment.
Although designers were certainly intent on keeping the integrity of the original building’s layout, materiality, and history, they still wanted to update the apartment enough to provide new residents with a fully equipped and modern living experience in terms of amenities and conveniences. As a result, the aesthetic actually quite opposes the look and style of the rest of the building, but in a way that is interesting rather than clashing.
Now, the apartment’s inner layout is a little more open concept than the one that originally stood there. It is also a little more streamline and minimalist looking in its fine details, with neutrally coloured palette consisting primarily of whites and creams, natural wood, and the occasional black metal feature for balance and contrast.
Despite the fact that the palette of the overall apartment is quite calm and neutral, there’s actually a specific intentionality to it. They involved two different types of ceramics with slightly varied colours and textures. These light differences mark certain delineations of space based on function and style between, say, a practical room like the kitchen and a social room like the living room.
Storage and organization was also paramount within the new apartment. It is by no means a micro-living situation, but it does have the slightly more modest sizing of an older apartment, even in its new open concept layout iteration. This need accounts for the presence of new shelves above the kitchen island and the diverse storage options of the island itself. The combination of metal and wood gives the space a sort of modern-rustic, lightly industrial influence.
At the same time, the apartment is cozy and takes advantage of all its little niches and corners. A little wooden bench by the window makes the perfect morning time reading and coffee spot, for example, but it also features cupboards underneath the seat that provides another additional little storage space. The house is full of convenient little spots like this.
Finally, lighting was made a large priority within the new space as well. Firstly, large windows were installed to get lots of bright, natural sunlight into the space in order to make it feel more cheery. Clean, white overhead lighting was included in every single room as well, giving the room a good brightness from above that keeps things bright on into the evening as well while the family finishes their routines before bed.
Photos by do mal o menos.
By Courtney • Sep 9, 2019
On the Lofoten archipelago in Northern Norway, creative designers have teamed up with esteemed local architects at Stinessen Arkitektur to conceptualize and complete the unique holiday home called Efjord Retreat Cabin. Located in Narvik in Norway, the actual plot on which the cabin sits on a small branch of water right off the Ofoten fiord. It is nestled onto a little island called Halvaroy, on a natural ledge that affords the little home breathtaking views in essentially every direction and from every room.
The natural terrain of the island presented both challenges and opportunities to the design and constructions crews working on the project. In the end, they opted to orient the cabin to the west, giving it a primary view overlooking the wider fiord itself and stretching on towards two of the country’s most challenging climbing peaks.
This particular location might seem a little too far out there for some, but this was precisely the intention of the designers because it was actually the primary goal and desire of the owner. From the outset, the whole concept of the cabin was to provide them with a retreat experience that truly feels as though it has transported them into a place of peaceful isolation and total quiet privacy. As a person whose life is often engulfed by the bustle of big cities and the hectic nature of full time work days, the owner wanted a complete and drastic deviation from that experience for total healing relaxation.
In order to create that atmosphere, designers created a building that has a truly unique shape. The concept here was to build certain parts of the building so they feel as though they open and close in different directions, giving each area within those parts a different feeling, atmosphere, or experience, depending on the owner’s mood or needs at any given point.
For example, the eastern section of the cabin tapers and “closes” towards some neighbouring buildings not far in the distance, limiting views of those buildings (and those buildings’ views into the cabin) for privacy. At the same time, the cabin opens to a large glass wall towards a swooping ridge and some stunning close by terrain right across, creating the feeling that other structures and humans are truly far off the cabin is simply existing amidst calming nature.
The same tapering and expanding, or “opening” and “closing” techniques were built in elsewhere in the cabin as well. Magnificent views are established as a focal point of the main rooms by the way the front end of the cabin appears to open up towards the dramatic sight of the mountains and the flowing fiord below them to the west.
In terms of its layout, the cabin is split into two cohesive volumes that, despite being oriented differently, don’t actually feel cut off from each other. The two volumes do sit slightly offset from one another in order to let their angular edges provide a bit of shade and shelter to some outdoor areas that exist on their axes and ends. This also gives each volume its own end on all sides, letting designers incorporate more large windows with more extremely impressive views for a panoramic feel from anywhere inside the house.
The incorporation of outdoor spaces that blend nearly seamlessly with the indoor ones, as well as the way the cabin sits atop a high point in the terrain but has a clear view of the different surrounding peaks and valleys, makes it feel and look as though it truly fits with its natural setting. The cabin’s particular orientation and height also works well with the movement of the sun, which rises towards the open functional spaces and sets towards the private sleeping areas, letting the owner’s routine flow well with the natural course of the daylight.
The cabin also blends quite well with its surroundings in terms of its materiality. The exterior consists of primarily only two materials: core pinewood and structural glazing. For durability, the wood was treated with iron sulfate; this also gives it an even, pleasant appearance that suits its environment well.
The cabin’s exterior isn’t the only place where wood appears! Inside the house, many of the surfaces are clad in birch veneer, which contrasts beautifully with the granite tile and stone across other details. Inside the sauna and the bathrooms, which were built with relaxation and body healing in mind, the floors and ceilings are also clad in aspen slats.
Photos provided by the architect.
By Courtney • Sep 6, 2019
In the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, creative design teams at Hufft have recently completed an overhaul and redesign of the full office space occupied by neighbourhood leasing company Mac Properties.
Part of the goal with this office redesign was to set the company apart from others in its field. What marks the real difference in terms of their actual work is that they are much more dedicated than many other multi-family property development agencies to preserving what’s already there and working.
Where other companies might start from scratch and implement what they think is best in place of what exists, Mac Properties would rather improve existing infrastructure and enhance the potential of neighbourhoods they already think are beautiful. In their office redesign, executives opted to apply the same values and principles; rather than moving entirely or totalling and restarting with the entire space, they opted to work with what was already good about the spot they had.
This decision to honour the old space and simply reinvigorate it was partially due to the spot’s history and a desire to preserve some elements of that. Before it was inhabited by Mac Properties, those same office spaces were used by IBM. There were, therefore, all kinds of great things about the rooms and what they offered that designers wanted to work with rather than abandon.
From the outset, the whole concept the new office’s design was based on was centred around and focused upon the idea of fostering community. The building’s residents are top priority in all the plans for the office, which revolves around connectivity and fostering a welcoming and interesting but homey atmosphere that makes them comfortable.
The office sits on the first floor where it is easily accessible to everyone who might need to visit. It is wrapped on nearly all sides in glass in order to create a sense of seamlessness between the exterior street level where the neighbourhood the building is in lies and the interior lobby space is. This is just one element of the office that puts the whole central idea of connectivity into actual action.
Although executives wanted to build a space that looks impressive and upscale, reflecting the quality of product and service provided by the company, they also wanted to make sure the space is an inviting one. That’s where the playful use of colour came from! The waiting space by the front desk features comfortable lounge seats and boasts a sense of warm hospitality designed to give potential new residents having their first meetings get a taste of the comfort and friendliness that might become used to living in the building.
Having been in the business for so long, Mac fully understands that some conversations surrounding new home leasing can be sensitive, so certain spaces were built with this in mind. Now, the usual process for potential residents is to visit the “property bar”, a casual and friendly public space where photos and information outlining different rental options can be laid out and perused in a way that is fun and feels low pressure.
After the options have been laid out, when it’s time to have more serious conversations about finances and contractual elements, designers built a separate space that gives small parties a little more privacy and a sense of quiet formal intimacy. Past the property bar lies a series of booths with break room amenities, specifically catered to discussing personal details and expectations.
After the options have been laid out, when it’s time to have more serious conversations about finances and contractual elements, designers built a separate space that gives small parties a little more privacy and a sense of quiet formal intimacy. Past the property bar lies a series of booths with break room amenities, specifically catered to discussing personal details and expectations.
These two spaces are actually beneficial for and available for use by current residents already living in the building as well. The break services and lounge area, in particular, are advertised throughout the building’s inner community as an after-hours social space where people can come to meet their neighbours and get to know other residents.
Perhaps our favourite visual element of this dynamic office’s space is the artistic ceiling feature in the lobby space and welcome area. This custom feature is build from pieces of wood trim that are anchored individually above the property bar and painted different bright, beautifully contrasting colours on their cut end. This piece helps define the space and contributes to a cohesive colour scheme that flows nicely throughout the entire space.
Photos by Michael Robinson
Ultra modern Guaratinguetá House created by Ricardo Abreu Arquitetos using the beauty and durability of ceramic as the inspiration
By Courtney • Sep 6, 2019
In a lovely, quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs of Vila Paraiba, Brazil, Architectural innovators at Ricardo Abreu Arquitetos have recently completed a modern housing project with a slightly more traditional inspiration, dubbing it Guaratinguetá House.
At its very conception, the house was inspired by the idea of using ceramic, a material that can be both quite beautiful and quite strong. That idea was honoured all throughout the planning, designing, and building process, so it we’re sure it will make as much sense to you as it does to us that many different surfaces in the finished house feature or are made entirely from ceramic.
For the most part, a beautiful ceramic technique is used to cover a wide range of surfaces and facades within and outside of the house. Parts of the home’s facade feature ceramic in the details, as do the interior floors, walls, and some furnishing and decor details. Because there are so many different types of ceramic and ways to use it, incorporating this material so well allowed designers to explore all kinds of different textures, finishes, colours, and characteristics in each situation within this home.
Of course, the exterior facade of a durable home that will withstand weather can’t be entirely made from ceramic! This is why designers also chose to construct much of their structure using light bricks and dark bricks, alternated and grouped in ways that not only benefit the house in terms of which were placed where for density and durability, but also creating colour interest across the home’s facade and on several accent walls inside too.
In terms of its physical layout, the house is composed of three volumes. The first one is largely constructed of light bricks, with the next volume on top of that featuring the darker brick facade we mentioned before. The three volumes are distinct looking but still have good flow and cohesiveness between them inside, stopping any part of the house from feeling too cut off. The way they’re arranged in a staggered manner downplays how tall the residence actually is, keeping it low to the ground and modest looking.
The largest example of ceramic tiling in the house is undoubtedly on the floors, and this feature is consistent between all of the rooms in the house. The tiles look nice and uniform but also actually have a practical function as well; they help keep the house feeling nice and cool throughout the day, reducing the home’s impact on the environment in terms of heating and cooling systems by enacting a bit of passive cooling.
As you move through the house, you might notice that there isn’t actually a hard, limiting material barrier between most of the rooms. Of course, privacy was absolutely provided in the sleeping and personal areas, but the rest of the house is quite open concept and seamless feeling. A perfect example of this is between the living room, dining room, kitchen, and veranda.
There is a clear visual delineation of space based on style and function, of course, which helps the layout of the house make sense and keeps things in order. Overall, however, there is very little physical separation between rooms and spaces, in hopes that energy flow, movement, communication, and sunlight will travel through the house well, making just about every experience had there more pleasant for family members and visitors alike.
If you’re still following the presence of the porcelain tiles, then you might as well follow them right outside the house, through a set of wonderfully large sliding doors, and on into what designers describe as a “gourmet terrace”. This is a lovely outdoor lounge and social hosting space on the external top of the first volume, laid out like a patio in the air. The tiles in question continue across the floor out the door and all across the terrace, once again creating a dialogue between spaces inside and outside of the home’s walls.
The two floors (there are three volumes, but two sit on the same upper storey level) are connected by a concrete but modern looking floating style staircase described by designers as being “monumental”. This staircase has cantilevered steps and, across the facade of the concrete stairs, features a combination of black and white marbled porcelain tiles. The finished product was so satisfactory to everyone involved in the home’s creation that it has actually become recognized as a standout piece in the home!
Outside, the home has its own backyard space with a modest but lush green lawn. Here, designers built a beautiful swimming pool that, though sizeable, was primarily included for relaxation. The tiled theme continues even here, outside the house, where the edge of the pool is tiled in cool grey stone squares that add a calming but luxurious effect.
Photos by Andre Mortatti
By Courtney • Sep 5, 2019
On the edge of a windy but gorgeous ravine in Matanzas, Chile, creative design and architectural teams at Cristián Izquierdo Lehmann have recently completed the beautiful, view rich vacation home called House in Matanzas.
The orientation of the home is key to its enjoyment thanks to its cozy little spot near the ravine. The structure is actually purposely situated to face towards the Pacific Ocean, but its elevation above the water gives it a view from just about any direction that’s nothing short of breathtaking!
In terms of its layout, the home was built with a nice, wide open and centralized pavilion. This makes it feel bright and spacious, but it also places the hub of the house in the centre of the home for harsh oceanside weather days when one wants to take refuge from the landscape outside and, say, curl up with a good book. Large, gorgeous windows ensure that no natural light is lost even on days that one chooses to enjoy the cozy areas inside.
At the same time, designers wanted to give residents as many opportunities and spaces as possible to enjoy the stunning environment around the house on the days where the weather is welcoming and warm. This accounts for the stunning terrace that’s situated perfectly towards the ocean, as well as the way the central pavilion can be fully opened to the outside, blending indoor and outdoor experiences thanks to sliding doors and a series of sprawling patios.
For the most part, the house is a beautifully exposed wooden structure that brings together organic and rustic aesthetics without losing any of the feeling of modern living with fully convenient amenities. The central focal point of the house, that pavilion that makes up the hub, is arranged on a raised circular base that elevates the beautiful views even more.
From this central room, four rectangular spaces emerge, making up the rooms in the rest of the house. The social and functional portions of the house remain in the centre while the bedrooms and private spaces exist in the spokes. These are almost entirely encased in glass walls and windows, keeping every room in the home well stocked in stunning oceanside views and natural lighting.
Outside, the spaces between the four rectangular spokes form a series of courtyards. Designers opted to turn these into useful and enjoyable outdoor spaces, even building a continuous outdoor pathway between those spaces so residents have no problem moving between them. This mimics the wooden path on the upper level of the house that leads to and from the rooftop terrace where residents often sit to watch the sun set over the water.
One of these courtyards acts as a beautiful welcoming spot adjacent to the entryway. Another is a lovely stone patio that has a view of the water below that is nothing short of breathtaking. Finally, another courtyard hosts a beautiful blue pool with plenty of space for lounge chairs. The placement and orientation of this pool gives an equally stunning view, making it an irresistible place to float.
In the primary living space, where that central focus lies, perhaps the most interesting detail is the wooden grid all across the ceiling. This is partially decorative, but it also services a practical lighting function as well. You see, within each of the squares featured in the grid is a small skylight window that keeps the whole inner space feeling free and open.
Photos by Roland Halbe