Author Archives - Courtney
Innovative Aercoustics Offices created by iN Studio to inspired collaboration and productivity in employees
By Courtney • Sep 3, 2019
In bustling city streets of Toronto in Canada, creative designers and interior decor specialists at iN Studio have recently completed an office overhaul project on the Aercoustics Offices, a working space for a leading sound engineering firm. The company itself is Toronto-based, so it only makes sense that they’d want their physical representation in their home city to be top notch and of the highest quality! They aimed to create a new space that might showcase their standing as the go-to option in their industry, locally and otherwise. With 10,000 square feet to work with, the goal was certainly achieved!
Aerocoustics is most prominently known for their work in workspaces, architecture, and performance halls, having established themselves as the perfected option for sound engineering throughout the past 40 years. Now, they wanted a workspace that might show off their leading place in the world of industry relevant creative thought as well. Executives hoped that these new offices might better communicate the brand’s dynamic nature and range of services.
In addition to reflecting their eclectic business in terms of its multi-faceted services, executive also wanted the new offices to represent and cater to their relatively young workforce, providing them with a daily work experience that feels progressive. In an ever-growing company culture and an industry that’s always changing and updating, it’s important for the office spaces in which that work is completed and coordinated to “keep up with the times”.
Immediately upon entering the offices, visitors are greeted by the hustle and bustle of the office. This does not, however, occur in a manner that is overwhelming or unwelcoming; instead, the office feels like an exciting and inviting hub of activity, much like the city it was built in. The atmosphere is one of constant innovation and creation happening just beyond the threshold.
For the sake of balance and atmosphere, designers ensured that cutting edge technology and an emphasis on differing workspaces were balanced out with natural elements as well. Green integration was paramount in the plans from the beginning, with lots of plants and leafy displays set prominently through the entrance, collaborative spaces, and private offices.
The materiality of the office might look quite modern upon first sight, but it actually contributes to the natural elements of the aesthetic and energy flow as well! Much of the walls and surfaces within the office’s interior are transparent, giving the office a feeling of openness and connectivity, but also letting views of greenery and natural sunlight from the large windows pass through from office to office and space to space. The light flow from the windows feels bright and cheerful!
In order to let the greenery and sunshine really take centre stage, a rather minimalist colour scheme has been maintained throughout the office at a base level, like a sort of blank canvas. Complementing the plants, inspirational art and graphics have been hung throughout the space to foster creativity and stimulate productivity on a daily basis. These also create a sense of colour popping, which keeps things visually interesting without being distracting.
Of course, given that the company operates in the acoustics industry, sound was a priority in the office’s conception as well. This inherently influenced the appearance of the office as well; executives and designers alike decided that having an office with great sound quality for auditory work was more important than looks or adhering to the industry-wide idea that that good acoustic design is often invisible.
Instead, Aercoustics opted to let all the inner workings of good acoustics show! This gives the office an aesthetic that is at once casual and fresh but also quite industrial influenced. The double height ceilings, for example, have exposed piping and systems running across the tops that are visible in each room. An acoustical sprat was also applied to the ceiling all throughout the office in order to create ideal acoustic environments.
In terms of its spatial organization, the main floor serves primarily as a workspace. This floor features active meeting rooms, which are sizeable enough for large groups and boast state of the art industrial technology. Given that the company’s work involves sound, each meeting room is built to the company’s top specifications for optimal conditions, rendering the board rooms on the first floor almost like a testing lab for different services and products provided to Aercoustic clients.
On the upper floor lies perhaps the most unique element of the office. Called “The Bridge”, this piece is a cutting edge piece of technology that is a sound simulation studio and total industry game changer. It combines ambisonics audio with virtual reality video, allowing Aercoustics to create three-dimensional experiences from static data in new, unprecedented ways.
In work-specific practice, The Bridge allows the company to accurately reproduce all kinds of different acoustic scenarios. This, in turn, allows clients to hear and understand precisely how their prospective space would sound in terms of acoustics and sound quality upon completion. This is ability is something that sets the new offices apart and establishes them an industry leader.
Photos courtesy of the designers.
On a stunning waterside plot in the beautifully rural cottage country around Lake Tahoe in California, creative design teams at Sandbox Studio have recently completed a stunning, sprawling family holiday home dubbed the Lakefront Mountain Cabin.
The plot itself is located on the calm, peaceful waters of a little community called Carnelian Bay. The impressive home spans 6,168 square feet and also boasts 200 feet of its very own beachfront. The property is just as impressive on the outside as it is on the inside, with a facade that looks just like a traditional, old fashioned lodge.
The mere fact that this beautiful home is made almost entirely from reclaimed materials is unique in itself, but that’s not actually the most interesting part. Much of the timber upcycled from the local area to build the structure was actually taken from cabins that once housed athletes who were cimpeting in the 1960 Winter Olympics at nearby Squaw Valley!
Primarily thanks to these reclaimed materials, the lodge harmonizes very well with its natural rustic surroundings. It was also intentionally built to take stunning advantage of nearly panoramic views of not only the lake but also the Sierra Nevada foothills. In fact, designers specifically oriented windows so that some kind of breathtaking nature view is afforded to guests from every single room in the house.
Another very intentional element of the house is how certain spaces were both sized and organized. For example, smaller social living spaces were included in the centre of the home with the intention of giving a home to intimate immediate family gatherings while much larger living spaces were built adjacent with more seating and an atmosphere of slightly increased grandeur, where larger gatherings of extended family and friends might take place.
The theme of reclaimed items continues throughout each of these social spaces and doesn’t actually stop at the timber taken from the Olympic cabins. Various items and materials were also sourced far and wide, from naval shipyards right in California to rural barns all the way across the country in Pennsylvania. Some of the heavier timbers were even imported from British Columbia in Canada!
Of course, with a natural outdoor space like this one, the house already comes with an abundance of available outdoor activities practically by default. Designers equipped the home with plenty of deck and patio space to take full advantage of the warmth and fresh air, including seats and open air lounge spaces for family bonding and hosting guests.
Naturally, if one is going to have guests, they’ll need somewhere to sleep, particularly since just about everyone who visits this gorgeous space ends up wanting to stay and enjoy it for as many days as they can. That’s why the house was specifically equipped to handle plenty of overnight visitors. On top of the primary master bedroom and a stunning room for the owners’ children, the cabin also boasts five additional guest suites that rival the master in size.
Perhaps the loveliest of the outdoor lounge spaces is the upper level sun deck, since it gets the most natural light an a gorgeous 360 view. Inside there are plenty of relaxation spaces too, built to include every member of the family no matter their age. Designers even built a kids’ lounge space and a shockingly cozy and unique reading loft with views of its own.
All of these different elements combined in one place have a very particular kind of charm to them. They might be various things ramshackled together, but that’s precisely the intent, and they’re combined in a sensical way that tells a story and has plenty of charm. Designers used the house as an opportunity to find beauty in the rough and discarded and they succeeded to such an extent that the whole place now has an aura of rustic sophistication to it!
Overall, the house welcomes people to each room, from the expansive kitchen to the kitschy guest rooms, with an air of traditional, down-home, old world Lake Tahoe warmth. Every detail is planned and executed in such detail that, even in the most haphazard and reclaimed look parts of the cabin, things fit just right as the lodge itself appears to grow right out of the land it fits so well on.
Photos by Vance Fox Photography
By Courtney • Aug 30, 2019
In the stunning and sunny seashore town of Inverloch, in Victoria, Australia, creative architectural teams at JDesign Group have recently finished a bright and airy holiday house called the Modern Beachside Home.
Besides an emphasis on lots of natural sunlight and a comfortably airy atmosphere, just like one might imagine in a seaside home, a carefully blended aesthetic made up from mixed materials and mixed colour palettes is perhaps what makes the home stand out most in our minds. The home’s exterior facade is the perfect example of what we mean here! It is made from not only timber, but also cemintel cladding and careful blockwork.
The previously mentioned cladding is more than just a design choice in its materiality. It was actually selected based on a desire for energy efficiency and green home systems as well. Cemintal cladding is a lightweight material manufactured in Australia. The process of making and installing these panels is low-waste and efficient and their effect is to increase passive temperature control and reduce energy waste in homes. They also paint well for colour customization!
This particular beach home puts the cladding to good use across its top level. The house has two storeys with several cubic looking sections and volumes stacked on top of and fit efficiently around each other in a way that is most pleasing to look at from street level. The shape gives it a sense of modernity even while certain decor elements add that more traditional seaside charm.
Rather than concentrating solely on colour scheme, which is undoubtedly important within the home and balances natural woods with a full spectrum of blue, teal, and grey shades, designers chose to establish decorum using texture as well. Clean lines and harder materials like glass, metal, wood, and tile are contrasted with comfy window nooks and floor cushions.
Perhaps the most appealing part of the house, in our opinion, is the fact that outdoor space was built with just as much care and consideration as the inside living areas were. The large deck boasts stunning views, welcoming seating spaces designed for entertaining guests, and a pool for cooling off between lounge sessions. The coated wood keeps things warm and typical of the beach-y setting, but doesn’t heat up to the point that it hurts your feet!
Given that the pool and deck are such central spots in the home’s social spaces, designers wanted to ensure that dwellers and guests could access them easily from just about anywhere in the house. This accounts for the presence of several sets of floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, which help blend indoor and outdoor spaces very well. This is also why the winding staircase, which also adds interesting visual detail, was included, giving direct deck access to the bedrooms on the top storey!
In the spots that are painted grey, there’s actually an intentionality behind this as well. Designers strategically placed grey painted walls in spots that might visually reflect or beautifully complement and contrast with the rocky elements of the natural settings around the house. It’s primarily sand, water, and greenery, but the occasional rock face and crag within view lets they grey colour ground the house well.
Photos by Warren Reed Photography
Brazilian Campinarana House created by Laurent Troost Architectures with the need for climate protection in mind
By Courtney • Aug 29, 2019
On a beautifully green plot of land in Manaus, Brazil, a stunning, almost treehouse-like residence was recently completed by innovative teams at Laurent Troost Architectures, dubbing it Campinarana House!
Building a home in the Amazon’s surrounding area comes with its own unique set of challenges. Firstly, it is absolutely necessary for environmental protection and climate change purposes that architects and building teams use low impact strategies in the construction processes in order to protect the crucially important natural landscapes around the plots they’re working on.
Additionally, the actual local climate present in places like Brazil, and Manaus specifically, makes it important for design teams to account for the possibility of extreme weather conditions, since the whole area sits in an equatorial zone. Impressively, the teams working on Campinarana House achieved both of these goals and prioritized all of the needs covered by these challenges!
Throughout the house, the architectural practices and building techniques used and featured are all ones geared towards effective thermal comfort and passive (and therefore “green”) sustainability. Campinarana House is built from an unique and cutting edge combination of protective eaves, cross-ventilation openings, and preservation mechanisms for the local ecological systems surrounding the house itself.
In fact, the entire house was actually inspired by, and not just named after, local environmental elements. Campinarana is actually a type of small tree found in the Amazon, known for growing in shallow, clay-like soil. The concept of preserving these trees and the soil they thrive in was central to the whole design of this housing project!
The minimization of deforestation required by building this project was absolutely paramount to both the design teams and the owners. Instead, they wanted to preserve as much of the surrounding forest as they possibly could. This is partially what determined the shape and layout of the house; designers wanted to build between, around, above, and through the trees rather than clearing them out to build in the space where they once stood. The effect was that they aimed to work with the space that was naturally provided rather than making any new space.
In practice, this resulted in a sort of “layout flip” to what’s typical, or a reversal of more classic housing typologies. Within the 20 x 40 square metre plot, the house grows upwards into the trees, rather than outwards through their trunks and roots. The private and sleeping rooms, which are more typically put upstairs, are located on the ground floor, while the shared living spaces, outdoor seating areas, kitchen, and swimming pool are all located on the upper deck, where they could be created a little more spaciously without interrupting the natural and crucial landscape.
The house, which exists as two distinct but cohesive volumes, was strategically divided to harness the power of natural heating and cooler powers offered by the climate it exists in. For example, the top portion of the house was purposely built to house functions that benefit from sun exposure, like the pool, the entryway, and the laundry. The lower volume, however, was built as a refuge for those places that would do better with protection from harsh sunlight. This keeps the bedrooms, for example, cooler, quieter, and more private.
Effective cross-ventilation is also essential to the passive heating and cooling systems of the house. This accounts for the strategic placement of closed and open-air spaces on the top level, as well as the presence of large windows or glass walls and how they move on the lower floor. This keeps thermal elements of the house under control, which in turn keeps the house as a whole very low in its energy consumption levels, and therefore enables it to have a lower impact on the environment.
The decor scheme of the house is simple, natural, and clean. Glass is used heavily in order to create a visual blending of indoor and outdoor spaces, letting the house exist in and around the trees in a way that feels and looks impressively seamless. Polished concrete, black marble, and wood make up most of the rest of the home’s natural materiality. Decor is quite minimalist, but not in a way that feels cold or under done. Instead, it lets the lush greenery right outside the glass walls feel like a part of the home and take centre stage in establishing the colours and aesthetics of the home’s experience.
Photos by Maira Acayaba
Coburn Design Build creates the rustic inspired Fishing Cabin as a multi-generational holiday retreat
By Courtney • Aug 28, 2019
In the lush green woodland areas of Gunnison River in Colorado, creative design teams and architects at Coburn Design Build have recently completed a beautifully rustic and authentically constructed retreat home called the Fishing Cabin for a large family to share.
The cabin, which is nestled snugly right onto the bank of the Gunnison River, is actually shared between three different generations of the same family. It spans 2,100 square feet and boasts three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and all of the modern home amenities a person could hope for despite its quit rustic aesthetic and materiality.
From the beginning, the primary goal of the team was to create a place where modern comforts and local architectural history might meet and blend as seamlessly as possible. Although the cabin is new, it was specifically designed to look and feel as though it has existed in that very spot for centuries, becoming part of the scenery.
Besides offering a relaxing retreat space on its interior, the Fishing Cabin also boasts luxurious outdoor living spaces that give dwellers and visitors all kinds of fantastic opportunities to enjoy the landscape and the rushing river. This is partially thanks to how the cabin is organized like a classic ranch, with large common spaces inside and a degree of blending with outdoor spaces as well.
The cabin’s name is actually a practical inspiration and not just something designers put on for style purposes. It was built specifically with the needs and functions of fishermen in mind. For example, the cabin includes space to store one’s waders and gear safely on the porch to dry, just steps from the rivers edge, where there are plenty of spaces to cast a fly rod from.
That same porch area even boasts its own outdoor shower! This was included so that family members enjoying all the outdoor spaces has to offer can come in from the woods and the river, clean off the sweat and dirt, and immediately feel fresh before they even get back inside. There’s even a porch cooler for cold beverages right there in the shade and breeze.
The cabin is quite large, but it’s built specifically with large groups in mind beyond just its mere size. The way it’s organized and built with open-concept structures in mind is also conducive to the way the family enjoys their time in the space, sometimes visiting separately in smaller groups and other time gathering all together there at once, occasionally even with extra guests as well.
For those periods where everyone gathers together and the two main bedroom suites fill up, there’s the third guest bedroom which boasts enough bunk beds to comfortably accommodate up to eight people. These aren’t, however, the skinny, less than ideal bunkbeds that you might remember from camp. The cabin was built with luxury in mind, after all! These stacked beds are cozy enough that any member of the family would be happy to use them (even though the kids usually still claim them first).
On the outside of the house, designers opted to really prioritize the idea of making the cabin look like it has been standing on that land for many generations. They wanted it to look stylish and beautiful but comfortably natural and weathered. This influence their choice of beautiful stained cedar siding, which can be found on most, though not all, of the facade.
The red section of the house, where the stained cedar ceases for a visual moment, is comprised of reclaimed barn wood. The same is true for several posts and beams all throughout the cabin, both inside and out. This reclaiming of local materials adds an additional element of authenticity to the cabin’s materiality, aesthetic, and over all building process.
The cabin’s facade and structure also features a beautiful stone section, which encompasses the master bedroom and suite on the inside. For extra contrast (and also durability), the roof over this suite is also made from reclaimed metal, which is actually consistent with and resembles the older architecture typical of the area surrounding the cabin.
Inside the rooms of the house, designers wanted to continue the historical rustic feel, but in a way that feels well put together, with great attention to detail. Rather than appearing too weathered or simply “old”, the decor pieces and furnishings feel authentic and handmade, rather than simply rough or unfinished.
A perfect example of the team’s indoor design and decor goals can be seen in the living room, which is open concept for the sake of accommodating the large multi-generational family that spends time there. In this room, a grand and impressive traditional fireplace warms and anchors the room, but that’s not actually all it does. It is also double sided, meaning the family can enjoy the same gorgeous piece from the other side, sitting out on the patio in an open air lounge area!
In addition to doing some local reclaiming, the team on this home also did their best to hire locally for not only their crews on the ground, but also their artisans and handy workers as well. The custom metal railing outside the bedrooms upstairs, for example, was hand crafted by a local blacksmith.
Photos provided by the architect.
Stunning beach house called Point Lonsdale House finished by Edition Office in Australian city of the same name
By Courtney • Aug 19, 2019
In a sunny neighbourhood, on a quiet street in Point Lonsdale, Australia, design teams at Edition Office have recently completed a beautiful beach house, aptly named Point Lonsdale House. From a distance, Point Lonsdale House looks very linear in its shape and basic structure. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the house is the way designers built it as four distinct pavilions that are all interlinked, making them simple to move between but clear and organized in overall layout.
Each pavilion is clearly defined by its own vaulted roof, each one sitting at a jaunty angle that at once keeps the attention of onlookers but also suits the natural ebb and flow of the land the house sits on. These roofs mark out the different parts of the home, each of which has a separate function of its own.
The site upon which the house sits allotted a space for it that runs east-west. The front of the house runs along and sits close to the property’s southern border in order to leave space behind for the enjoyment of the long, lush gardens that sit towards the north side. Each of the four pavilions that make up the larger house features its own in a series of private courtyards.
In these courtyards, visitors find smaller gardens and decks designed for outdoor relaxation and escape. Each of these decks is part of an extensive relationship that the house has with blended outdoor spaces; designers intentionally built several different access points to the beautiful outside environment from each pavilion, making the beach-y outdoors easily accessible at all times no matter where you are in the building.
When the beach house was first conceptualized, designers pictured it as an island in the midst of their chosen coastal landscape. From a distance, it does, indeed, look a bit like its own floating piece, elevated above most other houses in the area. Part of the house is cantilevered slightly over the ground in an effort to level out the terrain while doing minimal damage to the natural area.
Although building teams avoided clearing the local land in order to build the home, previous loss of brush and plants from weather and other changes to the area took place in a small, non-permanent way. As such, designers created the home with the expectation that, in coming years, the natural gardens from outside the plot will grow back up to its perimeter and blend visually with the gardens that belong to the actual home.
The house itself, which appears slender thanks to the way the four pavilions are situated along the linear plot, looks monolithic on first view. The use of rough timber establishes a particular aesthetic suitable to a beach house. While viewers from the street can certainly get a sense of the home’s style from the street, most of the dynamic spaces that are used by the family living there now sit amongst the gardens towards the back of the plot, hidden from view by the angled roofs we mentioned previously.
The house boasts two separate sleeping zones, each slightly removed towards the calming gardens at the back in order to establish them as places of respite. These two zones are linked by a central common area that draws owners and any overnight guests visiting into a more public living space together towards the beginning and end of each day.
This common living space is entirely covered in timber boards, continuing that monolithic sense from the exterior of the home right on inside the doors. The central placement of this room serves to spatially define the different functions of the building, besides just facilitating bonding with family and friends, helping the space make sense.
Rather than having its own deck and courtyard, like the rooms in the two sleeping zones do, the living room joins seamlessly directly into the wider back gardens through sliding glass patio doors. From there, the heart of the house has easy access to the coastal scrub and wider landscape beyond the home’s own lawn.
On the other side of the central room is another outdoor space, but one that is much different. Rather than leading straight into the gardens and greenery, the longest timber wall on the western end of the room opens right up, thanks to a pivoting wall panel, into an actual outdoor living space that’s more like an open air room than just a patio or deck.
Designers organized this space to intentionally feel like the interior of the house is spilling right out into the sunshine and towards the beach in a way that’s free flowing and informal. The aesthetic overall, both inside and out, is traditional, rugged, and suitable to a beach house, shedding most of the separations and limitations of urban housing so that it feels almost more like camping out in a tent, despite the fact that it has all the amenities of modern living.
Further down from the outdoor room is another pivoting wall that leads from the common room into a slightly more private deck than the others that sit on the edges of the house. This deck sits between the kitchen and the lounge space, providing owners and visitors with a space for shade and quiet that isn’t visible from elsewhere on the land. Throughout the house, this whole system of decks, patios, and outdoor rooms link up the four pavilions of the building.
Besides just providing great flow of movement physically from room to room, the linking of indoor and outdoor spaces also facilitates good airflow thanks to coastal breezes, as well as great flow of natural sunlight. This actually makes the home more energy efficient, eliminating the need for an air conditioning system.
Photos by Ben Hosking
Concrete and iron SB House built by Pitsou Kedem Architects as a modernist, open concept escape home
By Courtney • Aug 12, 2019
In a beautiful suburban neighbourhood on the edges of Tel Aviv in Israel, creative and modernist design teams at Pitsou Kedem Architects have recently completed an industrial inspired family home called SB House that was specifically designed to blend minimalist, contemporary living with outdoor spaces.
From its conception, the SB House was always intended to be an experience. It is a blended space that combines interior and exterior spaces, industrial materiality with natural elements, and open concept public spaces with private resting areas designed as singular places to seek peace on one’s own.
The walls of the house rise up from the ground like a concrete envelope, wrapping around the interior spaces even as those flow through the spatial delineations in a way that feels sensical and very free. On the bottom floor, you’ll find social and public spaces designed for hosting family and friends while the more meditation and rest driven areas where one might like to escape to exist upstairs.
Of course, just because a space is designed to be private doesn’t mean it has to be dark or enclosed! Privacy can be opted into in the form of lovely curtains, but otherwise the bedrooms are surrounding on at least one side each by stunning floor to ceiling windows that open entirely to lead to a concrete balcony with an iron railing for each.
Most of these balconies can be walked along from one to the other, like a series of hard stone paths in the air, looking down onto a lovely backyard that features its own swimming pool. Here, the public spaces downstairs open onto seated patio areas around the pool as well, contributing to the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces.
Although the decor is intentionally minimal, which was a choice made to let the wonderfully simplistic materiality of the house stand out, there are several details inside that are both functional and eye catching. The bright red side tables and shelves dotted throughout the space are a great example.
Elsewhere in the house, wooden surfaces and furnishings are used to sort of ground and create contrast with the concrete and iron that generally rules the space. This wood is stained slightly darker than its natural finish to keep the colour palette consistent in a way that is earthy and comforting. This can be seen in in the floors, coffee tables, and many window shutters.
All together, the slightly industrial and slightly open concept style dotted with contemporarily shaped furniture takes on a rather mod feeling. The spaces looks as though the 1950s underwent a suburban modernizing of some kind, but in a way that is more organized, typical of more contemporary buildings and homes.
Photos by Amit Geron
By Courtney • Aug 9, 2019
Located in the Coghlan neighbourhood of Argentina’s city Buenos Aires, a unique apartment structure called the Pedraza Building was recently completed by A3 Luppi Ugalde Winter with the goal of making the most of a small urban space in order to benefit several families at once.
From the time of its conception and original plans, the Pedraza Building was intended to house an entire set of multi-family homes right in the same space. By challenging traditional ideas of who can share what kind of space, how homes might be organized, and how private and public spaces might coexist in more shared context than usual, these designers built a home building that’s contemporary in many more ways than just how it looks. Despite being home to more than just one family, creating an interesting blend of dynamics in an already unique home space, this building is actually incredibly homey. It is simply an adjustment when it comes to transitionary spaces and participatory relationships outside of just the standard family unit, but not so closely co-existing as live-in roommates might experience.
The building is organized and conceptualized around ideas of community. Its structure rises up around a common space in the middle that serves as a sort of nucleus, with transitionary hallways leading from there like circulation spots. At the ends of these is where the private areas, those where the different families sleep and customize their own spaces, can be found.
This unique organization makes one feel as though they inhabit more than just heir own small apartment. Instead, they joint occupy the entire building together. This is true from the welcoming lobby space on the ground floor all the way up to the shared leisure space at the very top of the building, on the sunny terrace.
The space we’ve touched on that sits on the ground floor is organized into two essential areas. There is a main shared housing block at the front bottom of the building, with an individual house for a single family at the back. The main house portion extends upwards, splitting into seven different units, comprising the varied “multi-family” element of the residence.
The first, second, and third floors feature two units each, but the fourth floor is slightly different. This floor is shared by two units that face each other with a building-wide shared terrace sitting in between them. Back on the ground floor, the individual house portion is designed with maximum space efficiency in mind.
The reason for this part of the home’s conservative spatial footprint is that designers wanted to leave as much space in the plot for outdoor spaces to be enjoyed by all of the building’s residences, The space that is not taken up by units and the individual house is now home to front and back courtyards that offer an impressive amount of privacy and respite.
The placement of the courtyards, which sit as a kind of inner portion of the building despite actually being outdoor spaces, is modelled after classic ideas of colonial housing from the beginning of the century. In these old houses, courtyards were the heart of the house, acting like a sort of central hub around which the daily lives of all members of the home were organized.
Because this building was erected much more vertically than those old houses, however, designers saw a need to maintain easy connections between units and all other common spaces. This is how the upper floor bridges came about! These bridges pass over the lower courtyards, acting like transitionary open air spaces that let copious amounts of natural light into the building’s core.
The materiality of the house is just as unique as the way it was built and organized. Keeping things natural looking but appropriate for its urban context, designers chose to create balance in the space by playing strong, opaque shapes against glass walls and transparent spaces that increase easy visibility and the flow of air and light.
All combined, the unique elements of the house provide a sense of fluidity throughout the building, both in terms of atmosphere and social interaction and spatial understanding. The building truly is an example of humankind’s ability to adapt their habits and lifestyles around and in partnership with each other to best suit the spaces they have available and make them feel the most like a comfortable home.
Photos by Alejandro Peral
By Courtney • Aug 8, 2019
On a peacefully secluded site in Amagansett, in the United States, creative and building teams at Jerome Engelking have recently completed the Wuehrer House; an impressively sized residential home that is surrounded on most sides by stunning nature preserves. Nestled into a clearing in the small Stony Hill Forest, sat away from view of the street, is a large house that can only be accessed by a private gravel path. The plot on which the building sits has a slight natural incline that slopes gently downward. This entire slope, and most of the land at any height surrounding the house, is covered in tall white oaks. The area also, however, features a number of eastern red cedars and even some pines.
Photos by Nic Lehoux
Casa Fantini Boutique Hotel created by Lissoni Architettura as a triple stacked, modern escape inspired by rectangular shapes
By Courtney • Aug 8, 2019
By the stunning waters of Pella in Italy, a beautiful triple stacked boutique hotel was recently completed by innovative modern designers at Lissoni Architettura. The stunningly unique and linear looking Casa Fantini Boutique Hotel combines contemporary indoor spaces with sunny outdoor spaces for the ultimate Italian holiday experience.
The three storey hotel is situated in a beautifully green spot that sits right on the shores of Pella’s Orta Lake, not far down the little European street from the ferry landing stage where boats dock or set off into the beautifully rippling waters. In the middle of the lake, right across from the hotel itself is the island San Giulio, which provides a great view from the lovely balconies on the upper floors.
Rather than simply being a hospitality site, this little boutique hotel is actually also an architectural project designed to bring an artistic element to the lakeshore without interrupting it so far as to distract from the already beautiful natural views. The designers’ goals were to create a building that harmonizes with the local topography and that creates a dialogue with the local history and traditional buildings surrounding it despite its more modernized style.
Designers achieved this primarily through materiality. The use of traditional stone provided by local artisans and things like typical metal and reclaimed wood seen in other houses in the area balance out more modern surfaces and shapes on the outside and ground the design so it feels cohesive even in its impressively unique style.
The hotel is the kind of building that, despite being close to all possible local amenities, has certain parts of it that feel pleasantly secluded. Rather than cutting guests off from the beauty of the village, the hotel provides beautiful views from elevated heights or from behind beautiful green hedges and gates that feel like a part of the experience but provide a calming screen against the hustle and bustle of daily routines.
The physical materiality of the building and how it was build isn’t the only thing that links the hotel to the village and its various traditional elements. Water actually plays a huge role as well! The tranquil, sunny waters of the lake beyond the hotel’s wall reflects light the same way and along the same plane that the hotel’s pool does, as if the two are paired or mirroring one another; a complete pair.
Upon closet inspection, the hotel is actually comprised of two different buildings; one older and from an original old hotel that once sat in its place and the other newly built in its entirety. Although one has been standing far longer, it was refurbished and updated when the newer building was erected, so they visually appear to complete the landscape in the same way.
The relationship between the hotel and the local landscape actually continues as visitors approach the front entrance. This is because the main entrance is accessed through a stunning private garden that was specifically designer be landscaping professionals to blend with, look typical of, and look as though it has a visual relationship with the natural greenery of the area and gardens elsewhere in the village.
In this garden, a grey beola stone typical to the area has been used to create a geometric path. The slightly modern shape of the stones is softened into a slightly more classic Mediterranean look by the way it’s surrounded by local herbs, flowers, and other vegetation. This continues around the back to the swimming pool, the edging of which is clad in the same stone.
Varying slightly but following the same sober aesthetic of materiality, despite its slightly more contemporary shape, the exterior of the hotel features a surprisingly natural facade. Particularly prominently on the new building, the facade is comprised of thin slats made from Accoya wood, evenly spaced to create a geometric effect.
These slats are paused only for large windows featured on the lakeside of each room, where the balconies sit. From the inside, these stunningly picturesque windows keep the rooms extremely light and also quite spacious looking, in addition to providing a breathtaking view of the lake and the mountains beyond it.
Besides the simply contemporary and very comfortable rooms within the hotel, a lot of visitor time and attention is given to the lounge. This is a shared public space that sits at the heart of the hotel’s newer building like a central hub. Although it is another contemporary space, it has a calming atmosphere and colour scheme that make it feel like a place of peace or meditation.
In the older building that comprises the hotel, a more lively space connects the aspects of the structure; The Blu Lago bar! This particular place has been functioning and well known in the community for longer and then revamped hotel, so it was already a part of the local identity and social fabric of Pella when the new iteration of Casa Fantini opened.
Overall, the hotel bears a thorough sense that it is a unique place where history and style blend with success. It is generally regarded by locals and visitors alike as an “intimate oasis” both inside and out.
Photos by Giovanni Gastel
Simply rectangular Draindot guest house created by STARSIS + ilsang workroom as a uniquely shared island living space
By Courtney • Aug 7, 2019
On the stunning, calming island of Jeju-si in South Korea, contemporary design teams at STARSIS + ilsang workroom have created a unique and interesting shared living guesthouse called Draindot, intended to provide a peaceful living space for those seeking a sense of community and a lifestyle of collaboration.
The concept for the house was simple; the client visited the island and positively fell in love with the area, deciding that they would like to live there one day. Originally, a much larger building space that might house more people was desired, but analysis of the local area, lifestyle, and what might suit the location best resulted in that idea being scrapped in favour of a smaller guesthouse.
Even with this change in plans, the original concept of creating a shared living space was upheld and prioritized throughout the new plans, even as the plans were defined better and whittled down into a tangible idea that designers could actually work with and that the new owner of the plot felt good about.
Despite the way the house is built and the beautiful views and sense of the island it gives off, harnessing the stunning landscape and local culture of Jeju Island was never actually named as an explicit priority for the team. The simple fact is that the island’s terrain and local customs are so inherently present and important in the area that they are always present as influences and within experiences any time someone visits the island. The clear association with and respect for its local setting within the building was sort of subconscious, like a happy accident.
The effect is one that designers described as a “silent blending”. The living spaces provided by Draindot, despite being unique in their shared space set up, are organized in a way that is beautifully and almost imperceptibly typical of the area. Each unit within the little compound feels wholesome and is organized around ideas of relaxation and peacefulness.
The units might sit within close range of each other and share common spaces between them, but the intention of each rest area was to create a place that feels entirely private and personal; a space where one doesn’t feel pressured to interact with others when it’s time for rest and self care, no matter how close by they are. That’s what the rest of the day is for!
In its infancy, the owner of the plot actually intended to make this building a private home. The thought was to live in parts of it and rent the other units out to family and friends for a close knit collaborative living system. As time went on, however, the owner opened up to the idea of renting it out to others, which essentially creates an entirely new close social system that might not have existed otherwise.
Just because there is an inherent sense of the local area and culture woven into the very fabrics of the Draindot building doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few elements of outside influence. There is, for example, a sense of vintage appreciation in the details that came with the influence of the owner’s personal tastes outside of their appreciation for the island. This gives the interior spaces a sense of classic style within its concentration on clean peacefulness.
The style of each room, in both the individualized resting units and the shared spaces, is coziness personified. Contemporarily shaped furniture made from very natural materials creates a spa-like atmosphere that’s heavy in lovely stained wood and neutral colour schemes. The living spaces are small, but with a layout and configuration that has fantastic flow and makes good sense. The overall feeling in the building’s interior is clean, nearly minimalist, and quite relaxing, with interesting details.
On its exterior, the building is actually quite reserved, not standing out much from the surrounding landscape in any way besides its very clean, linear shape. This is intentional, allowing the structure to blend in quite well with the terrain of the island and amplifying that feeling of quiet coziness.
Photos by Hong, Seok-Gyu
By Courtney • Aug 7, 2019
In the central London neighbourhood of Paddington, in the UK, an old brickwork townhouse was recently refurbished and revitalized as a beautiful office for an investments business in the sustainable agriculture industry by creative design teams at Edward Williams Architects.
Aptly named the Office in Paddington, the building sits in the quiet mews, a traditional looking building in a row of similar structures. While parts of the original building were restored, other parts where years of weathering had taken their toll were rebuild entirely. This is particularly true on the inside as designers wanted to keep parts of the old home authentic while still updating certain aspects to account for the needs of a modern office.
Although the company is growing, it is still quite small in the grand scheme of things, making the house the perfect size for a boutique office of this kind. Because the company’s focus is on sustainability, it only makes sense that the revamped building and the office inside also function along ideas of sustainable systems that have a low impact on the environment. Besides being best for the needs of the office itself, this also displays a real world commitment to the values of their business.
From the outset of the project, a zero carbon sustainable strategy was established for the building, which encompasses 210 square metres. This was achieved by replacing the original gas systems leftover from the house with 100% renewable electricity purchased from an ethical and sustainable local source.
Within their attempts to keep the building as authentic as possible to its original structure while also modernizing the inside, designers chose to work primarily with natural and locally sourced materials. This was where the decision to put so much effort into restoring the original brickwork facade came from; the goal was to make sure the office still looked like part of the street level fabric, fitting in as seamlessly and impressively as possible.
Inside, the office rooms maintain a lot of the original style as well, continuing the brickwork theme and working in some natural oak in the linings, as well as grey painted steel throughout the furnishing and details. The office is fully equipped in terms of technology with more open concept layouts than is typical of these townhomes on the inside, but the lead roofing and height of the windows make sure the building fits right in at the front, from street level.
Inside the building, where beautiful oak wood is prevalent on the floors, walls, and ceiling, there are certain parts of storage, partition, and spacial division that were simpler to build the bases of off-site, bring into the space, and construct there, rather than working from scratch in the small space and risking damaging original aspects of the building that the designers were actually aiming to preserve.
These partitions are minimal, as a sense of collaboration and community is essential to the goals and values of the office, but they do help to provide a sense of delineation and privacy for the few meeting areas that require such a thing or benefit from a little less noise. Elsewhere, the office is a space that feels intimate, friendly, and even a little bit domestic.
In terms of its functional layout, the building features all of its public spaces, or spaces where clients would usually be met, on the ground floor. This leaves the upper floors for private offices, which are all linked by an open stairway. At the back of the ground floor, where clients might be spoken with on a sunny day or where staff might take their breaks, a pair of collapsing doors can fold back, revealing a patio space that makes the cobbles feel like they lead right up to the picnic table style common spaces.
These doors do more than just give access to the outside world from the floor of the office. It also lets natural sunlight and fresh air flood the common spaces, reducing the need for powered light and temperature regulating systems in certain seasons. A view of the neighbourhood and the mews beyond the home’s little plot provide atmospheric context to the refurbished interiors that create a stronger relationship between the modernized indoors and the more traditional exterior.
Photos by Agnes Sanvito
Wood and concrete Box House created by Caio Persighini Arquitetura to blend nature and a passion for music in a family home
By Courtney • Aug 6, 2019
In a residential neighbourhood in the town of Araraquara, which sits about 260 km outside of Sao Paulo in Brazil, creative designers at Caio Persighini Arquitetura have recently finished a uniquely shaped home called the Box House, which combines natural materiality and actual pieces of nature, both inside and outside of the house, with a family’s passions and personalities.
The very basis of the Box House is rooted in the concept and shape of the cube. It has a poetic air about it in the way the building sits so linear, contrasting with the shapes of the houses around it like a paradox, but somehow still suits the local landscape thanks to its materiality, which is primarily rooted in concrete and wood.
In its essence, the house is quite simplistic in its layout and shape, despite clear style and personality coming through in the details. The layout is quite open with the exception of resting and work spaces that require a little more privacy and quiet, rendering a notable difference in shapes and details from room to room and between shared and closed spaces.
The idea of keeping the basics of the house very simple is clear throughout the whole structure. Spatially, the home is organized in a classic cubic way, with a sort of spiral access way vertically up the middle. The stairs lead up the centre, giving way to hallways that give access to the rooms on the upper floors, which are located all around the outers edges of the house, with the most important rooms settled near the corners.
Easily the most notable aspect of the house is the fact that a very real and sizeable Jabuticaba tree grows in an in-ground garden surrounded by wood, right at the heart of the home’s central spiral. The stairs leading from the ground to the upper floors appear to wind around the tree as they lead upwards, with bright shafts of light pouring down from a glass ceiling.
This central area is where most of the light accesses the public spaces of the house. At one side of the kitchen and dining area, more light pours in from a fully openable patio wall that slides back to blend a lovely patio and walled yard space with the interior shared rooms. Air circulation is increased when this wall is pushed back as well as light, increasing the home’s sustainability.
The private bedrooms and resting areas feature large windows as well, but these are shaded at the front by a wooden slat facade above the front door and garage access entryway. This not only creates a beautifully natural looking contrast between wood and concrete on the outside of the house, but also gives the bedrooms behind the slats a spa-like glow and privacy.
The bedrooms aren’t the only resting space dotted around the house. There are actually several reading nooks, calm and meditation oriented spaces, and throw pillow clad benches in the hallways, public spaces, and around the stairs. These are made of the same lovely stained wood you see elsewhere, placed on top of a base of concrete, as is the situation with most of the house.
Besides the tree and the materiality, the home’s most unique feature is the presence of a home office that is also a music and recording studio. Here, the wooden theme continues, but this time used strategically and functionally in order to provide the correct acoustics and sound insulation to the room, as using only concrete on the walls like in the other rooms would create too much reverberation for proper recording.
In places where the decor, furnishings, and details deviate from the natural concrete and wooden atmosphere, designers opted to include interesting shapes and slight colour pops, as well as material variances. Gleaming white tiles adorn the backsplash while bright red metal stools sit along the wooden kitchen island, while chairs, tables, and other furnishings provide depth in their slightly mod shapes.
Photos by Favaro Jr.
By Courtney • Aug 6, 2019
On a bustling central street in Amsterdam, in the The Netherlands, design teams at Standard Studio have recently completed a new franchise of the well known restaurant SLA Salad Bar in order to account for how successfully the company has grown in recent years.
The original salad bar was launched in 2012 and has seen nothing but positive growth since. The latest evolution is the opening of this new location, which is the eleventh of those built all across The Netherlands since the first. With this new bar, designers were specifically tasked with not only making the new restaurant itself, but also creating an entirely new design for the store’s interior.
This goal goes above and beyond just giving the building a new look. Instead, the priority was to established a recognizable atmosphere and look that customers might consider typical of the brand, associating it with the products and services it provides and the values its staff put forward with the company name. This aesthetic will continue onward as even more new locations arise.
Of course, even within the process of building a brand and typical, consistent look, it is essential to do so from elements that might be catered to specific spaces and applied flexibly to ensure that each new location functions and looks its best. After all, having each space be an organized, positive experience is still the most important thing beyond sticking to a particular look, even when the store is trying to convey a comfortingly well known identity.
As you can probably imagine, the process of putting together and making individualized salads is, in fact, the central function of the space. This is why the salad counter, which features spacious prep surfaces and storage spots for many different fresh ingredients, sits at the heart of the space like a hub.
Once they’ve moved the length of the salad counter and have their meal in hand, the space is set up intuitively in terms of space, so customers easily understand to move onward to choose where they’d like to sit and eat in several different seating arrangements laid out around the shop.
The seating spaces are flexible and have been designed to accommodate all kinds of different customers and their needs, depending on who their party consists of and what kind of day they might be having or what kind of dining experience they might be looking for. These range from individual stools at a bar for singular people grabbing a quick bite to comfortable, more intimately placed corners suitable for couples who want to take their time together.
Since the central point of the stores themselves, no matter location or style, is the food, the SLA salad bars are always built at central spots in the urban places the company choses to put them in. This makes the tendency of the space to feel diverse, accommodating, and flexible even more important, since people from all different backgrounds and experiences are more likely to be customers in busy urban centres.
Precisely because of those city locations we’ve talked so much about, however, designers made it a point to establish an aesthetic that is also sort of calming. In short, designers wanted this particular Amsterdam location to feel like a momentary escape from the hectic contexts right outside the doors, like a slower paced place where people can come together.
Overall, the space is quite open concept, making it feel contemporary in its calming, peaceful style and sensical layout. Wooden walls inspired by fins delineate space according to function, outlining where staff work versus where customers are free to spend their time. Large windows provide both natural daylight and a view of the bicycle heavy streets outside.
One of the most interesting aspects of the space that is intentionally consistent from location to location is the inclusion of greenery right inside the restaurant (beyond the presence of salad leaf options, of course). Plants play a huge role in the decor scheme; some are live and potted while others, like moss and fern leaves, are dried and framed. Green tiles and other details included around the space tie the plants in well and make the space feel and look cohesive.
One element that’s unique specifically to the new Amsterdam location of the SLA salad bar is the “show kitchen”. This refers to the way the functional kitchen and all food prep stations are built with glass walls so that there is still a delineation of space, but one that lets customers in on all of the work that goes into their meal, providing what becomes an almost entertainment moment. This space is also used for cooking workshops that customers can sign up for in the store’s off hours!
Photos by Wouter Van Der Sar
By Courtney • Aug 5, 2019
In a stunning seaside neighbourhood on the outskirts of Matanzas in Chile, creative designers at Worc Arquitectos have custom built a stunning beach house called House 222 for a young couple and their two young children.
The placement of the house was chosen very specifically; they wanted to ensure that their kids get a beautiful coastline upbringing while still being close enough to a city to enjoy all of the amenities of urban living when they want to. That’s why Matanzas was the perfect location! It sits just outside the bustling city of Santiago.
For the sake of privacy and a beautiful 360 degree view, designers and owners chose a beautiful north facing hill, building on an expansive plot of land right at the top. From here, the beaches below can be seen from just about anywhere in the house, as can the cliffs surrounding the hill and the village of La Boca de Rapel at the water’s edge.
Building on the top of a hill that peaks towards the north naturally involved several challenges when it comes to building and accommodating for the location in the space. Designers used certain vaulted architectural techniques to keep the floors of the house level, for example, creating the space they need rather than cutting into the hill and disturbing the landscape.
Additionally, it was essential for designers to work with the often strong south winds blowing up the hill towards the plot. This determined the placement and angle of the outdoor terrace and was also the reason that the raised patio seating space was inset within the centre of the building, sheltering it from both sun and wind depending on the season and the time of day.
The location of the terrace, which is wooden like most of both the facade and interior, also serves to give it privacy, which makes it feel somewhat like a natural looking place of peace. The unique shape of the space and the way it sits in an open air spot that also sits back nearly inside the house makes it a sort of blended experience that can be used all year round.
This terrace space is only one of three volumes that make up the total house. There is also a private volume that includes the bedrooms and resting spaces, as well as a public volume that is filled by shared and common spaces like the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. These three volumes all converge onto a central space that runs alongside the terrace, which is a corridor lined by glazed glass windows.
This hallway not only provides natural sunlight to the inner spaces of the house thanks to those windows, but it’s also the main structure that blocks wind and gives privacy to the central terrace we talked about earlier. The windows, which extend from floor to ceiling, can be slid back entirely to merge indoor and outdoor spaces, making the terrace an extension of the kitchen and dining areas.
From the outside, the shape of the house is quite square and linear with the exception of one area; the second bedroom in the private volume detaches diagonally from the main shape in order to give it a much better view than it would otherwise be afforded. All of the bedrooms feature shutters that can be pulled over the floor to ceiling windows in order to turn the spaces into private havens when necessary.
In terms of its materiality, the entire house features wood as a nearly monochromatic feature that dominates the decor scheme. The fact that this is true for both the interior scheme and the facade of the house creates a sense of cohesiveness. At the same time, the overarching wooden presence helps blend the house into its surrounding landscape even as the somewhat contemporary and interesting shape makes it stand out.
Photos by Amanda San Martin
Angular Bentes House built by CoDA arquitetos to take unique advantage of all of its spaces in creative ways
By Courtney • Aug 5, 2019
In a quiet and sunny neighbourhood in Para, Brazil, innovative design teams at CoDA arquitetos have recently finished a uniquely contemporary family home called the Bentes House that aims to take advantage of every little inch of space it was afforded in unique and pleasant ways.
Besides the goal of giving the family wide spaces in which to enjoy time together, as well as with extended family and friends, designers also built this house with the goal of integrating it into the suburban landscape. The location they were afforded was subtly unique in that it appears strangely natural despite technically existing in an urban space.
Besides being built like a modern looking house, the space was also designed in terms of its layout to feel social, alive, and full of references to local art and culture. Between that and the materiality choices that were intentionally made to blend the building with its terrain, the house has this overall sense that it is simply supposed to be there.
Part of the reason designers aimed to take advantage of all possible space was precisely because the family they were building the house for is so young. This means their needs and numbers might change over time based on whether or not they choose to have more kids and what their interests become as they grow.
Within their aims to make a diverse and adaptable space, designers created a single family home that is so well organized in terms of space that it almost resembles a condominium in the way the spacial flow makes complete and natural sense. At the same time, the open concepts of those same spaces and the fact even the top of one roof is put to good use makes the home feel free, open, and part of its surrounding area right to its very essence.
From almost anywhere in the house, residents and visitors are afforded stunning views of the nearby valley that sits to the north of the plot. Nowhere is this more true, however, than on the rooftop terrace, where the second floor of the house leads clear onto the extended roof of the bottom floor like a secondary patio.
Perhaps the next most notable feature of the house besides the rooftop is the way that greenery is incorporated into just about every room in unique ways. For example, rather than just potting some plants on the ground floor patio, designers surrounded the space in a concrete cubby wall that gives some privacy but also creates a perfect opportunity for a plant wall.
This cubby plant wall surrounds a small gravel yard that leads to a back lawn with its own swimming pool. The space with the rocks, despite not looking like a comfortable place at face value, has actually been catered to form a relaxing outdoor space. It features a nest of cushions in the centre and two hammock style seat swings placed perfectly together for conversing.
This green theme follows you inside the house as well. In one transitionary space, there is actually a “living wall”, or vertical garden that entirely spans the space from floor to ceiling. This, in combination with the open concept layout and open air feel when all window walls are slid back, contributes once more to the blending of interior and exterior spaces.
Inside, the ground floor of the house features all of the public, social, and common spaces, just like a condominium building might. This is where you’ll find the kitchen, dining room, living room, and even a home theatre, making this floor all about family bonding and hosting extended family or friends, depending on the day.
On the upper floor, bedrooms, bathrooms, and resting spaces are laid out in a way that feels slightly removed and private without being cut off or sequestered, which is once again thanks primarily to the open concept layout we mentioned before. This space was imagined like units in a condo as well, but with a slightly less harsh delineation of space since it is, in fact, a private family home that is not shared with strangers.
What really makes a distinction between the upper and lower volumes is that outdoor rooftop space itself. It is left intentionally empty and open in order to make it feel like a diverse activities space, intended for use however the family prefers in the moment. Sometimes it is a place to sit with friends and others it is a quiet, solitary place for one to seek solace and read.
Photos by Joana Franca
Californian San Vicente935 Housing created by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects as a modern adaptation of classic courtyard architecture
By Courtney • Aug 2, 2019
In the vibrant and exciting neighbourhood of West Hollywood, in Los Angeles, California, innovative designers at Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects have recently completed a uniquely open air shared housing project called the San Vicente935 Housing. Even before this project arose, this particular design and architectural team was already working on a general commitment to creating buildings and spaces that promote thoughtful design, even in cases where older, pre-built spaces are simply being overhauled or adapted, as is the case here.
The original building was erected along classic courtyard housing, which is quite typical of the area. This is where an open air courtyard sits in the centre of the building, like a shared, open air heart, while the individual units rise up around that funny column, providing individualized housing around the outer edges.
The building stands tall and square on San Vincente Blvd, nestled conveniently between Santa Monica and Sunset. Without spilling over the limits of the plot and the original building’s limits, designers restructured the inside to allow for maximum living space in each unit while also leaving as much space in the centre as possible for a large, beautifully sunny shared courtyard.
This outdoor common space is quite a common feature in Californian apartment style homes, particularly in this area. What distinguishes this particular building is the way that designers chose to open up the hallways entirely while still using creatively placed wooden slats to provide a bit of visual privacy from the street as each person approaches their own unit door.
The way the house rises vertically and amalgamates shared space rather than giving each unit cover a sprawling individual square footage arose from the need to get creative with how space in housing is used in densely populated urban areas. The units are by no means too small, but they are more personalized and geared towards good resting areas than the average apartment.
Quality outdoor spaces have also been prioritized highly within the building’s refurbishment. Building an open air spot in the middle of the building takes advantage of space that would otherwise be filled regardless, melding the indoor and outdoor experiences rather than having to extend yards and patios into the outdoor spaces around the building. It’s really all about space efficiency!
In addition to taking advantage of outdoor space in an interesting way, designers organized the units around that central outdoor space in a manner that puts large emphasis on social connectivity and access to the street and culture right outside the gates. Sure, privacy is important and is no doubt provided, making the courtyard feel like its own unique getaway, but the excitement and hustle of West Hollywood is never far off, with all kinds of fantastic amenities very close by.
Part of the social connectivity of the space is that the courtyard is more than just a place to relax; it’s also a space of convergence where people pass through to get all manner of places within the building, making it almost like a meeting hub, but one that is much less busy and overwhelming than, say, a public square or park. Instead of feeling like a place outside of one’s home, it feels like a spot for a very small community to interact with other residents and their visitors.
The courtyard and the building’s open-air hallways do more than just look good and make room for unique outdoor space. They also play a role in reducing the need for powered heating and cooling systems; the natural sunlight and breezes do most of the work in the climate control department, making the building a little greener and less impactful on the environment.
While the individual units are certainly geared towards rest, the courtyard extends that idea outward and continues that theme thanks to its layout. It is presented like a place meant for meditation, featuring a water feature, natural stone seating that varies from individual and cozy to versatile and socially grouped, and lots of beautiful local greenery.
When it comes to the units, the building has two different types of apartment. This prevents things from feeling too repetitive and cookie cutter from space to space. The units appear to envelope the open space, which is undoubtedly the nucleus of the building. They benefit from its natural light, which spills into every space between the uniquely cut slats that form the “hallway”, making the building in general feel just about as limitless as a place with private residences can be.
The building is organized so that the apartments have plenty of space each thanks to the way they fit together like puzzle pieces behind the walls. on the ground level are the entrances to three walk-up style homes. The middle storey makes space for a series of two-story homes, while the upper floor features four single-story apartments. No matter its type, every single unit in the building features impressively large windows for natural lighting on at least three outer walls.
In keeping with being low impact and green, the building is actually made of primarily recycled materials, providing an aesthetic blend that is partially industrial influence, partially natural looking, and very unique indeed. In fact, designers actually had a special powder coated fibre cement board created custom for this building specifically because they needed it to be light in both colour and weight for the structure they wanted.
Photos by Paul Vu