Author Archives - Stefan
New learning centre of youth course providers Coding March completed by XuTai Design And Research to reflect the company’s values
By Stefan • Feb 4, 2019
In the bustling city centre of Shanghai in China, a company called Coding March, which provides young people with extensive coding courses, recently opened the doors on their new learning workspace courtesy of innovative designers at XuTai Design And Research.
Amongst their topic repertoire, Coding March provides lessons in basic programming language, scientific research, competition counselling, and even robotics! Designers wanted to ensure that the theme, atmosphere, and style of this newest workspace provided students with everything they could need to succeed in these fields while also meshing with other buildings on the Pudong campus, like the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.
This particular learning centre in a two storey, rectangular building that features a Japanese barber shop on the ground floor. The entire second floor, however, belongs to Coding March. The goal was to create a flexible and fully equipped space in which students will experience the best possible learning conditions. Designers created spaces that could transform their function depending on the needs of students, making several multi-purpose rooms that might be lecture rooms one hour and then student exhibition rooms, reading and study rooms, or staff offices later in the day.
In terms of aesthetic, head designers felt inspired by stars and the way you can trace patterns in the stars when you look at the sky, but they sky is still always changing, evolving, and interesting to look at from different angles. They decided to make a space that, while familiar and easy to use enough to be comfortable, was also adaptable and exciting, with plenty of visual interest. That’s why they chose to use mixed materials, glass, and light with pops of bright colour.
One of the best parts about the space is that the use of shape feels almost more experiential than it does purely visual. These pods, hallways, paths, and criss-crossing spaces aren’t just designed to look cool; they’re actually meant to change how you feel and what you use your space like when you encounter new, differing areas throughout the building. The use of contrasting materials and bright shades keeps things fun and lively, helping people feel productive in their learning.
Because designers wanted to incorporate the outside facade of the building into their overall experiential vision, the barber shop has actually been included in the recent update as well. The first floor of the learning centre besides that includes a reception desk, a waiting area for parents of students, and some storage. It also features an impressive looking staircase that leads you upwards to the classrooms. The shape of the grandiose stairs greets you when you enter past the interesting pattern of the building’s exterior.
The children targets by the programs at Coding March are quite young; grades one to six, in fact. It is the hope of the designers that they visual stimulation and the immersive feel of the adaptable classrooms, as well as the way the bright green scheme mimics the lush spaces outside and other pops of colour grab attention, will encourage the kids to use all of their sense while learning. If nothing else, they’ll experience the beauty of design in their breaks between studies!
Photos by Hao Chen
By Stefan • Feb 4, 2019
Much to the joy of all of its new owners, no matter their age, Jost Architects recently wrapped the last few finishing touches on an amazing new family home project called Kew Ease House! This space was created for a family that opts to live together multi-generationally in Kew East, Australia and designers wanted to make each and every member of the group feel comfortable and accounted for, from the grandparents right down to the kids, including the family dog.
The first challenge designers faced (besides accounting for the needs and likes of such a diverse age range of people) was the angle of the chosen plot. The site where the house sits slopes steeply down towards the street, meaning the house had to actually be recessed into the slope to sit safely and evenly. Once they’d safely anchored the house using architectural foundational techniques akin to braiding, the turned their attention to materials.
Rather than concentrating on sleekness or modernity, designers chose materials with shades that gave the space a sense of robustness and tonal hues, suiting the plant life around the house. The structure sits not far from the Kew Billabong and the Yarra River, so the flora and fauna on the plot are lush and plentiful. Inside, in the interest of keeping things quite natural and textural, some surfaces have been finished with fabric rather than shiny, synthetic materials.
Besides the bodies of water we mentioned above, the house also sits right across the road from a sprawling park and the Yarra Trail. Its proximity to these things actually made it less important that the home boast its own private outdoor spaces because its afforded such incredible access to these quiet, natural features. These also provide the house with stunning views from just about any room.
In order to take full advantage of the fact that this home is nestled into such lush nature, several cross-ventilation features were adding, as well as massive windows that draw in bright sunlight (but with smart glazing to keep them from heating up). On the ground floor of the house, visitors encounter a garage and internal flat for visitors, as well as several private areas that are separated from public social ones by a main corridor. Those include the master suite and a formal family living room.
On the higher level of the house, two children’s bedrooms are featured with a private bathroom. Down the hall, you’ll find access to a stunning rooftop balcony with simple, stylish seating and a breathtaking view of the park and even the city beyond. The idea of having the kids’ bedrooms at the top is to give them some privacy and space, giving older generations more accessibility downstairs.
The overall sense of the house bears an atmosphere of relaxation, neutral calm, and space that is easily shared. It’s a place that is simple enough and yet diverse and adaptable, letting it easily appeal to people of any age or need level so that everyone can co-exist with joy.
Photos by Shani Hodson-Zoso
Montauk home Hither Hills gives residents stunning views and poolside relaxation thanks to Bates Masi + Architects
By Stefan • Feb 1, 2019
In the rolling seaside dunes of Montauk, in the United States, Hither Hills holiday home was designed by Bates Masi + Architects to afford its owners a quiet weekend respite away from the big city.
One of the primary ways in which this lovely retreat home keeps visitors calm is through its clear visual and spatial ties to the land its built on and the stunning nature surrounding it. The house is located in a planned beach community that was built post-war, on a small plot perched in some steep but lovely topography. Because the plot of the house lacked the typical smooth and level surfaces one would normally build such a holiday home on, these designers opted to literally nest the different volumes of the house into the hillside itself.
Because of this nearly stacked building choice, Hither Hills is built in six distinct level, sort of like a set of steps. Each of these spaces connects almost seamlessly with the landscape around the house for a beautiful and copacetic effect. The relationship between the building and its setting is bolstered by the fact that the resources used to construct it were specifically chosen to support local infrastructure and harness local supplies that can actually be found in the immediate terrain.
Locally sourced bluestone, for example, makes up the walls surrounding some levels of the stacked home, running parallel to the natural shoreline and comprising the framework for some interior spaces and most of the shared exterior living spaces as well. In a unique spatial twist, the public and private spaces in this home are inverted when compared with what you’d normally find and where things might typically be situated.
By this, we mean that primary living spaces sit high above neighbouring rooflines, appearing to loom over the trees. In each bedroom, glass walls help residents take advantage of that height by pulling back entirely to let the whole view into the room along with the ocean breezes and abundant natural sunlight.
View in gallery
Even higher than these private living spaces, however, sits the swimming pool. This spot is actually set into a naturally level section of earth, rather than being settled on top of a bluestone wall. The way the house protrudes from the slope’s face closer to the bottom (thanks to the support of cantilevers) and levels into the actual earth near the tops provides a bit of an optical illusion, making it appear from a distance as though the house might actually be upside down.
In contrast to all the stone used on the outside of the house, the retreat’s interior is clad primarily in stunning natural wood. These surfaces are mostly naturally weathered mahogany, which has been used in the roof, wall, floors, and ceilings in each living volume. In order to bring the sense that the house is one with its surroundings inside as well, oak louvres hang from canvas hinges below a huge skylight, swaying slightly when the home is opened up to ocean breezes and casting shadows throughout the house and on the ground, just like a tree might do on grass.
Above the dining room table, these louvres extend to form a sort of chandelier above the dining room table. Also in this space, lightweight curtains line spaces where the walls open to the outside, giving the space some privacy but still letting natural light glow through while beach breezes play in and out.
These movable, open-air, and contrasted elements, as a whole, achieve more than just letting the house communicate and blend with its natural surroundings. They also provide a sensory experience, both inside the house and out, letting visitors feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Photos by the architects.
In the heart of Melbourne, Australia, design teams at Field Office Architecture have built the lovely and sunlight filled Clifton Hill House in order to bring a small Victorian terrace home into the modern century without losing its traditional charm.
Through the strategic incorporation of a few slight additions and alterations, this time was able to create an updated space from a 19th century terrace that owners wished to make look new, simple, and modern. At the same time, however, they wished to preserve some of what made the original house beautiful initially while also avoiding losing any of the already abundant natural light afforded by the house’s double-wide space on its residential block!
Inside the house, the original structure features a living room, kitchen, dining area, master bedroom, and studio. Because it was an older building, it had actually had several small renovations already over the years, so the first step designers decided to take was to strip back all of the additions that had been made and get the house a little closer to its most original state. By the time they were finished, the only remaining features that the house retained were two front bedrooms.
Because the house sits on a double wide plot, designers did decide to make one addition that wasn’t there before; they decided to build a stunning private courtyard! As if that wasn’t nice enough, the new dining and living rooms they rebuilt into the spaces they’d cleared out now open entirely onto that courtyard’s patio in a way that blends interior and exterior spaces beautifully.
For stunning multi-functionality, the dining room in this new version of the house actually also acts as a gallery. Here, you’ll find a series of original paintings completed by the house’s current owner, hanging on the walls or sitting on displays bathed in sunlight. This is partially thanks to the courtyard we mentioned, but also aided by several big skylights in the interior ceiling.
Rather than being a singularly situated space, the living room actually wraps around its surrounding spaces. It’s made to feel even bigger thanks to the double glazer timber sliders that open it entirely into the sun-filled outdoor space, giving it a lovely view of the house’s own rolling lawns, recycled brick planters, and even an elegant Japanese maple tree amidst several other trees that are native to the local region. Besides being visible from the living room, this maple tree also serves as a visual focal point from the kitchen, as well as most of the rooms upstairs.
In addition to the living and dining rooms, level one of the house is also home to the master bedroom, with its own walk-in robe. This level is also where a stunning studio sits, giving the owner, who is a passionate artist, a stunning space in which to create their most inspired works. This room is intentionally north-facing, meaning that the owner has optimal and controlled lighting conditions in which to work. The bedroom balconies upstairs also face this direction, meaning they can be left open on hot nights to harness the lovely breeze without having to wake too early with the sunrise. Instead of piercing the windows, it trickles gently over the treetops.
In terms of visual aesthetic, the house features a combination of dark timber framing and recycled brick work, creating the primary palette of the building’s exterior. This is primarily original materials that were used to build the old heritage building, but sections that have been added or repaired were matched to follow suit and create continuity.
Inside, materials were specifically chosen to look soft, calm, and understated. This allows the artwork that is featured throughout the home take centre stage alongside the natural light that pours beautifully into most rooms. The materials chosen to create this effect include matte polished concrete, soft white eiles, and more dark timber that is balanced out by black lighting fixtures. Brushed steel in the bathrooms and kitchen add a bit of punctuation.
Rather than adding modern air conditioning to heritage building that’s was never really intended to host such a system, the house has been well insulated to keep in warm or cool air, depending on the season. The wonderfully large windows throughout the common spaces and bedrooms have been strategically placed to create cross-flow throughout the house, giving all inner spaces comfortable ventilation. In order to make the idea of throwing these windows open whenever necessary more practical, recessed insect screens have been built into the sliders on the windows and patio doors.
Photos by Kristoffer Paulsen
Transparent Townhome built in Bangkok by Black Pencils Studio, intended to live up to its name without sacrificing privacy
By Stefan • Jan 30, 2019
Right in the centre of Bangkok, in the stunning and fragrant country of Thailand, a residence called the Transparent Townhome was created by Black Pencils Studio to provide the illusion of an entirely transparent home without actually taking away the privacy needed for comfortable family living.
This project involved the renovation of an old townhouse that had actually abandon for 30 years and was quite run down indeed. The basic frame of the existing structure was preserved from the original, but designers essentially started from scratch besides that. For example, the basic square footage of the home mimics that of the original but the inside and even parts of the exterior were entirely remodelled because the roof and central staircase had collapsed.
Because they were starting almost entirely from scratch, the owners were able to choose their main priority. They instructed the design teams to put a huge emphasis on light. The existing structure was, in local fashion, quite narrow and deep, so they desired bright, natural light-filled rooms to counteract that structure and make things feel a little more open.
To achieve the desired amount of light, designers built a middle segment into the structure that acts as a light-well, cut clear through the newly placed metal sheet roof. Besides flooding all extending rooms with light, this bright volume also acts as a central courtyard, making it a sort of household hub that connects, defines, and separates other spaces in the house all at once.
Within the light-well, a steel staircase links all of the interior spaces that lead off of its central location. This creates great flow throughout the home and makes just about everything easily accessible in a way that feels very streamlined. Most rooms leading off the central volume are similarly open concept and lightly defined, so more closed in areas, like storage spaces and bathrooms, are built into the perimeter frame of the house instead.
Just because the rooms are very open concept, however, definitely doesn’t mean that the family sacrifices privacy all together. Thanks to a series of hidden pocket doors and roller blinds, each room can be closed off when necessary and then re-opened and reconnected with the other rooms and the almost entirely glass facade of the house’s front with ease.
At the front of the house, the goal was to create the effect that the rooms are opened right out into the street, letting light and shadows spill through, without actually preventing the family from seeking solitude when they want it. This is achieved thanks to a series of layered screening elements, including a fence, several different types of shrub, and a series of frames affixed to the townhouse’s facade.
Photos by Spaceshift Studio
By Stefan • Jan 29, 2019
In the heart of Sydney, Australia, one architectural and design company has gone out of their way to create the most comfortable home possible for the city’s hot climate thanks in huge part to unique climate control efforts! Anderson Architecture specifically built Waverley House to give a young family their dream space without having to worry about feeling too hot during the days or too cold at night.
Designers based their plans for this home around the widely accepted tenet that any home can feel like a relaxing retreat if the climate control is only done right. That’s why they aimed to create a space that’s light-filled and bathed in the sun’s natural rays, but without heating up intensely during summer days like some home’s that get lots of sunlight do.
This presented unique urban zoning challenges, particularly on a plot that actually directly faces the intense Aussie sun. Furthermore, the owning family also very much desired easy and open access to their spacious backyard and nature elements, meaning less division than usual between interior and exterior spaces would take place to keep temperatures constant.
First, designers sought to really maximize their opportunity for sunlight by working upwards in order to counteract the towering homes around theirs and prevent the new structure from being overshadowed. They also included a double-height living room space that lets sunlight spill in from a sort of vertical void leading straight up into the sky. In fact, the slanted room at this point of the house actually folds open entirely for days when sunlight and breeze are particularly desired.
For those particularly hot Australian summer days, designers incorporated a series of hanging louvres that are temperature triggered to self-adjust. These can pull across and screen the vertical “sunlight void” when necessary in order to reduce heat and keep the home a little cooler all around, since the living room is central.
Of course, the folding roof can’t stay open all the time, since it does rain in Australia! That’s why designers conceptualized and included a moving roof form, high above the living room and even the terrace, that can be closed remotely using a smartphone or tablet. This basically puts the owners in complete control but takes the pressure off remembering to make adjustments when they’re busy, since automatic triggers will account for those times.
As you can see from the photos, most of the house features impressively high windows. These are made from Low-E window class that was cost-effective during building and makes for an eco-friendly choice. These windows are high thermal performance and are featured all throughout the home, helping to regulate temperatures and keep them a little more constant no matter the time of year.
In the event that the colder months dip below average, the house also features solar powered, hydronic underfloor heating. This can add a little extra warmth to the home centrally, but it’s rarely needed thanks to the other temperature regulators in place. Thanks to the concrete flooring and reverse brick veneer, the indoor temperatures in Waverley House actually remain stable in all but the most extreme weather conditions.
Photos by Nick Bowers
By Stefan • Jan 28, 2019
In the lovely, lake rich area of Wentworth-Nord, in the French countryside of Canada, the stunning TRIPTYCH residence was built by YH2 Architecture to maximize the owner’s experience of the Laurentian Mountains.
These Montreal based designers chose a three-pavilion structure in order to simplify the process of quite literally nestling the residence into its lush, wonderfully natural lakeside surroundings. Built on a small slope that overlooks a darling lake, the house features crisp lines and neutral, conservative colour palettes in order to prevent it from interrupting its own plot’s peaceful landscape.
As we’re sure you can guess, the designers actually held the building’s namesake in mind as they designed their new structure. Like any classic triptych, this residence features a primary central structure. In this case, the central pavilion is afforded starlingly direct views of Lac St-Cyr. On either side, two additional pavilions were created in smaller sizes in order to make them feel more intimate and in contact or connection with the nearby trees. In this way, the buildings simultaneously communicate a sense of fragmentation and a feeling of cohesiveness.
With each of the three pavilions, designers were very smart with shapes. They aimed to create as natural looking a tableau as possible within the trees by adjusting each building’s geometry to mirror, complement, or contrast the scenery around it. This is why the roofs slope upward in three directions from the very centre of the house, accentuating and framing the views around them rather than blocking or detracting from them.
In the central block of the house, you’ll first encounter a kitchen and adjoining office. Each of these features an opening wall facing the gorgeous lake. Beyond those, the living room can be accessed through a glass corridor that’s most often flooded with natural sunlight. The master bedroom sits directly below the living room on the natural slope, resting firmly where the terrain naturally evens out. This bedroom is accessed through a unique, decorative staircase that looks as though it’s floating thanks to the way the last step has been suspended.
To the west of the main building, the second pavilion is set higher on the slope and sits at more of an angle. This building serves as a sort of separate quarters for friends and guests when they visit, affording them some privacy and space of their own. It still sits in close proximity to the main building’s entryway, however, which saves it from feeling cut off. Even so, a delineation of space is created in this building thanks to the sift in flooring material from smooth, stained hardwood to polished concrete.
Below that on the slope, further down still, is a secondary entrance to the linked buildings, as well as an interior garage, which takes up the bulk of the space in the third pavilion. To save guests and dwellers from journeying outside to travel between buildings, the three pavilions are linked together by glassed-in passageways. The front door to the main structure is subtly located in one of these passageways, making any point in the house quite convenient to get to. These halls and their glass walls serve to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces in a beautiful way.
Perhaps the most unique part of this home is that the living and dining rooms, which sit quite separately from the main pavilions, are most often completely open to the outside! Here, all light in the space is natural and electric lights haven’t even been featured. Instead, sunlight pours in through a suspended aluminum ceiling that has been cut in a pattern to create the sensation that you’re sitting under a leafy forest canopy.
In an impressive feat of builder’s skill, the TRIPTYCH house was constructed almost entirely of natural materials. The house’s facade, for example, is entirely sheathed with cedar planks from Eastern Canada that have been treated to appear naturally weathered over time (which they would eventually do anyways). Inside, various features are made of gypsum board, white cedar, white oak, or polished concrete.
TRIPTYCH features mostly natural materials. The façades are sheathed with Eastern cedar planks, treated to appear weathered by time. Interior walls and ceilings are either gypsum board or white cedar while the floors are white oak or polished concrete. Wide patio doors, with black aluminum casings, frame the ever-changing views. A patio area extends from the kitchen and dining spaces towards the lake. The building’s geometry creates a theatrical stage for the surrounding nature.
Photos by Maxime Brouillet
Dutch loft apartment, called Loft Buiksloterham, created by Heren 5 Architects for maximum ease and space efficiency
By Stefan • Jan 25, 2019
Loft Buiksloterham is a high efficiency, low impact home created by Heren 5 Architects for total ease in living and bonding!
Located in Buiksloterham, Amsterdam in The Netherlands, this lovely, light wood loft provides a natural looking and smoothly functional space where dwellers can rest, socialize, or bond while living without wasted space or home related costs. The loft is a single-side design, meaning all functional features face outward from one primary back wall. Even so, the dwelling makes such full use of the width its afforded that the space isn’t nearly as limited as it sounds from that description!
Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the loft is the entirely glass outer faced that acts as a door, window, and sky light all in one thanks to its expansive height ad width. Spaces designated for cooking and eating, and therefore public spaces where dwellers might often socialize, are angled such that they can always see a stunning view of the canal outside as they go about their day.
For the sake of privacy, the living areas that would naturally see less social and guest hosting time, like the bedroom, bathroom, and storage area, are located at the back of the house, behind and above the kitchen and dining spaces. In fact, the sleeping area (which comprises the feature that actually makes the home a true loft) is located directly above the kitchen, extending towards the high reaching ceiling. This lets each of those spaces, the bedroom and the kitchen, take up a maximum of space without encroaching on each other in essentially any way.
Because overnight guests are always a possibility, designers made sure to account for their need for comfort as well. A wonderfully soft extra bed can be pulled out from under the “living platform”, or the comfortable area featuring the sofa and seating space. This creates a sort of miniature bedroom below and to the side of the master bedroom loft.
Besides the way that all the living spaces fit together in this loft, which is thanks to an inventive architectural technique based on the concepts of switching and stacking, its beauty lies heavily in its materials. The interior unit, for example, is made from a gorgeously natural birchwood that is surrounded by accents (in the kitchen, for example) or white Corian. Together, the two give the interior of the loft a neutral feel that contributes to its surprising openness right along with the large window facade.
The function of the lofts you see in these photos are the perfect example of the kind of lifestyle the structure fosters. This owner moved into their ground floor loft with his daughter and mother, hoping for a home where three generations might comfortably share a life together without wasting money and space. They also purchased the loft next door so that the daughter, once grown, might have her own space and privacy without being too far or paying too much. Until then, the second loft is rented out to tenants. The ease with which the compact space can be both shared and divided is astounding!
By Stefan • Jan 24, 2019
In the centre of Tangerang Selatan, Indonesia, a stunningly modern family dwelling with a dual purpose was recently finished. MO House was created by DFORM as a space for a pair of newlyweds to enjoy and grow into their new life together in a comfortable way that accounts for their busy lives. At the same time, the house was designed and built with the knowledge that the couple has plans to build a family in the home in the not-so-distant future as well!
Besides being an ideal space where a family can grow and change together, owners and designers aimed to make MO House both affordable and space efficient. Ease and comfort were running themes throughout the entire process and they’re easily identified in both the layout and decor now that the home is finished.
Mane Austriono, the architect and also the owner of the house, values a minimalist style in terms of both lifestyle and decor. MO House embodies that concept well by presenting a beautifully stripped down space that puts quality and essential functions at the forefront of every room and structure without sacrificing visual pleasure.
These minimalist driven goals keep the spirit of the home (efficiency and family) at the heart while also keeping the spaces within very clean. Only the things that are necessary are kept, while clutter and things that do not have a productive purpose are eliminated in order to reduce discontent discomfort.
Because the space inside MO House is so open and clean of unnecessary structures, the need for a storage room is eliminated. Of course, this is partially because the owners also practice a minimalist style, but the house itself presents sleek and efficient storage that gives everything a place, making it easy to avoid clutter in daily life.
Because the owners do not currently have children but plan to have a family in the neat future, the house takes the idea of change into account. They have no immediate need for a baby’s room, for example, but they know they will one day. That’s why several spaces are built multi-purpose but still functional. What is currently a casual room for relaxation and entertainment can easily be transformed into a nursery with little to no cost and minimal effort.
In order to keep the rooms in MO House space efficient rather than sprawling but also keep things feeling open and airy, designers strategically placed rooms and structures such that some act as barriers and others are left to be open concept. A bathroom on the ground floor, for example, creates a delineation between the living room and the pantry, while a high vaulted ceiling keeps the master loft bedroom from feeling small despite its conservative square footage.
The staircase is another great example of how MO House uses space very well indeed. The floating structure not only looks minimalist in its decorative style but also creates additional space for storage and avoids taking up either too much wall or floor space at once.
Currently, the house boasts a large backyard that contrasts in its spaciousness compared to the conservatively built rooms inside. This is because the owners and designers built MO House with low effort change in mind. In the event that need arises for a second child’s bedroom, for example, the glass wall windows at the back of the house detach and an extension can easily be built onto the back of the house without losing yard space all together.
By accounting for the possibility of horizontal structural change, rather than simply building vertically “just in case”, designers avoid wasting space now by creating rooms that are currently unnecessary and might not be used with only two people living in the home. Expanding horizontally later will also mean that the owners can still live in the house during future construction, since it won’t take place near their bedroom or primary functional spaces.
On the outside, MO House appears quite stark and solid. This is intentional, not to close the house off from the outside but rather to create a purposeful separation of public and private life. Dwellers can use the backyard in peace if they want to enjoy fresh air on their own without using shared public spaces and the inner private and functional spaces remain just that; private. This makes social time with neighbours a conscious choices, which gives it more value. The points is not to cut oneself off from public ares but rather to create an open haven all one’s own.
Like the rest of the house, the colour scheme within the living spaces in MO House remain minimalist in their style. Besides wooden surfaces, which are light and natural, most things (including all walls) are kept a clean, bright white. This, in partnership with a large central sky light, keeps the spaces inside the house feeling even more big and open despite their square footage by letting sunshine and natural light bounce off the white walls and play across other light surfaces. The overall effect is raw but inviting.
Photographs by Mande Austriono Kanigoro
Stunning rehabilitation of Coura House by Luís Peixoto blends fresh wood with rustic stone in unique ways
By Stefan • Jan 24, 2019
Last year, designer and architect Luís Peixoto took on the invigorating challenge of renovating an old but beautifully charming stone home called Coura House. Located in Paredes de Coura, Portugal, this structure was weathered but inspiring, offering a traditional rock face on the outside that designers knew would only be bolstered, rather than devalued, but a lovely new interior.
Photographs by Armenio Teixeira
Arquitectonica designs a stunning example of architectural genius for the University of Miami in the Thomas P Murphy Design Studio Building
By Stefan • Jan 23, 2019
There’s something so satisfying about a prestigious school’s design building existing as a stunning example of architectural ability itself, which is exactly the cases at the University of Miami! Located in Coral Gables, Florida, the breathtaking Thomas P Murphy Design Studio Building by Arquitectonica serves to enable and inspire students to learn and work hard in their field in order to make their grandest visions a reality.
Designed by a local firm for the University’s school of architecture, the Thomas P Murphy building was built in tribute to the father of a notable local construction company’s founder. Coastal Construction, Arquitectonica, and the architecture school at the University of Miami are no stranger to working together, so it only makes sense that the partnership resulted in something so beautiful. For example, the Arquitectonica partner in charnge of the project was also faculty at the University once upon a time, as were his parents who also originally founded his firm. The personal touch and level of care that went into this building is evident.
The first thing you’ll notice walking towards the building, before you’ve ever even taken a step inside, is the roof. Here, a massive, wonderfully curved slab of concrete covers the study spaces and their occupants. The look of the piece seems to flow in a way that’s surprising for such a large piece of such heavy material.
On one side, the edge of the lovely concrete wave extends past the edge of the building in order to provide shade for students studying and enjoying a break outside. It creates a covered patio area that runs alongside the floor to ceiling windows set into the walls for maximum natural light and sunshine where the students inside work.
The apparently raw and rather minimalist appearance of the structure itself is not unintentional. Besides the way it looks rather industrially stylish instead of unfinished, the building’s unique combination of visible glass, metal, and concrete serves as a teaching tool! Professors are able to point out some basic examples of modern architectural techniques, as well as examples of solid construction and sustainability strategies, right there in the building surrounding them.
The building itself is nestled in the centre of campus, right at an intersection where a pathway connects students to the Metrorail. Despite its quite busy location, it doesn’t appear crowded or unwelcoming; instead, it provides some sunny outdoor seating on its grassy plot on nice days.
Inside, a lobby extends right into an open concept student area intended for work, study, and group meetings. Uniquely shaped tables and chairs provide differently structured but comfortable spaces that serve all kinds of purposes, depending on the students’ needs. Throughout the rest of the space, red curtains hang from the high ceiling, letting students and profs create more private group spaces for learning and discussion.
For more formal but also hands-on projects, a square module provides students with a studio space that’s wide enough to accommodate a large variety of desk configurations. This means students can break the tables up into individualized work stations or bring them together for tasks that require more group-based seating.
The intention of creating such a diversely laid out and multi-purpose space was to create a sort of interconnected and yet specific space; a “campus within a campus”. Designers wanted to cater specifically to the needs and strengths of design and architectural students without making them feel segregated from the rest of the campus, hence the open concept spaces, outdoor social seating, and glass walls.
The Thomas P Murphy building might be pleasant to look at and functional to operate in, but its more than that as well. It’s actually a shockingly durable building for all its visual appeal! Besides the obvious strength of its concrete floor, frame, and ceiling, the building provides additional protection against Miami’s hot and wet climate in the form of hurricane-resistant panels built into its glass facade.
Additionally, this stunning building is also energy efficient! Despite the way the undulating roof wraps around one end in order to protect those inside from the heat of direct sunlight at certain points of the day, the rest of the glass facade ensures that no artificial light is actually required by those studying inside during daylight hours, making it a greener building than most.
Photographs by Robyn Hill
Salariyeh Residential Building created by Heram Architects to provide private but inviting urban living space
By Stefan • Jan 23, 2019
The Salariyeh Residential Building, located in Qom, in the Qom Province of Iran, is a residential project recently completed by Heram Architects.
In order to work with the aesthetic and values of the city itself, the Salariyeh Building was built according to several specific points of criteria and regulation. These fell in line with requirements set out by the municipality based on wider social values throughout Iran. For example, private spaces are very highly valued and open connection between interior living spaces and outer public ones are not generally built.
Rather than letting these requirements limit their design and vision, however, the creators of the Salariyeh Building simply created beauty within those regulations. Rather than building something with no visual appeal that makes dwellers feel cut off from the rest of the world, their designers used interesting but minimalist shapes to create a modest facade for comfortable, welcoming private spaces that really feel like home.
As such, the apartments inside Salariyeh Building feel like a cozy escape from the hustle and bustle or urban life, even if the intention of their privacy is rooted in something a little different than just relaxation. Wooden slats placed over windows, for example, provide maximum privacy without stifling out sunshine and natural light or even really inhibiting dwellers’ view of the world around them.
Those panels and slats are mirrored inside the building’s lobby and in the units themselves, creating a sense of cohesiveness even where the point is really delineation of space. The wood is also in line with wooden panelled ceilings in some areas, giving the otherwise bright and clean looking surfaces and spaces a slightly more homey atmosphere in good contrast.
Despite the emphasis on that ever-important central tenet of privacy throughout the building itself, the apartments inside Salariyeh Building are quite open concept, making them feel spacious and airy. The intent, after all, is not to create a space that is secluded or stifling, but rather one that provides the utmost privacy from the busy world without losing any comfort in one’s home life. That’s precisely what these lovely, neutral units achieve!
Photographs by Deed Studio
Beautifully linear MX581 residential building built by HGR Arquitectos to surround circular Japanese-style garden
By Stefan • Jan 22, 2019
Located in the heart of Mexico City, a recently finished residential building perfectly encircles a lovely Japanese-style garden, creating a beautifully green central focus that feels like a haven in the midst of urban life.
HGR Arquitectos built the MX581 apartments around a circular courtyard that, from the outside, can hardly be detected. This keeps the Japanese guava tree and surrounding greenery blooming there almost like a secret that residents can enjoy privately or share with visitors and friends.
Besides the garden, which is undoubtedly the main attraction for visitors, the MX581 building also boasts a parking garage, a convenient location near the Autonomous University of Mexico, and a series of 12 spacious apartments spread across four vertical levels.
In choosing the layout of the structure, designers opted for a rectangular base shape. This left room for the circular courtyard in the centre, where the guava tree grows. An L-shaped access point, also featuring lovely greenery, leads visitors to the more private area, away from the street.
Inside the Japanese-style garden, residents can sit on benches to enjoy the scene or lounge on lush grassy patches. In the very middle, a pool filled with gravel, like a simple rock garden, surrounds a large planter where the guava tree grows like a featured art piece. Each apartment in the building has windows and balconies facing inwards so the tree’s beauty can be viewed from inside the units as well.
At the front exterior of the building, you’ll notice several porch-like spaces marking each unit. This is where the apartments are built into a back base structure. On the inner side, the balconies surrounding the tree are black and curved around, creating a contrast in shape an experience depending on where in the apartment you choose to sit in order to take in some fresh air.
Continuing the theme of wonderful shared and open concept space, the ground floor apartments also feature semi-private patios next to the inner courtyard. This is where residents can open up their kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms for more sunshine and fantastic air flow, with free movement between the rooms and the social areas.
The inner courtyard isn’t the only place that features a luscious green element in MX581. The side of the building where the bedrooms are situated, away from the courtyard for more privacy, has been planted with various local shrubs. This lets residents enjoy a bit of nature no matter where they choose to spend their time. The plants also act as a sound barrier for noise from the street outside! At the top of the building, penthouse units have access to a rooftop terrace, where the theme of lush greenery can be taken in as well.
Inside the units, MX581’s apartments present a stark but wonderful contrast to both the exterior of the building and their own features. Compared to the concrete exterior walls, the finish inside is a clean, pale white offset by gleaming wooden floors and fine details. The effect is to give neutral, natural atmospheres that play well off the prevalent plant life.
Photographs by Diana Arnau
By Stefan • Jan 22, 2019
Amidst the lush trees on the edge of the Washington forest, nestled in the greenery at the base of a mountain, PBW Architects recently finished a stunning but simple holiday home project called the Lot 6 Cabin.
Lot 6 Cabin is the kind of place that countryside lovers who are still caught up in the hustle and bustle of city living might use as a goal for their eventual dream home in the far future.
The architectural team, which is local to Seattle, built it with the idea of offering serenity, calming forest views, and welcome, quiet seclusion in mind. The area is intended to be idyllic and sweet rather than remote or isolated and it really hits the mark.
The outside of the small home, already striking for its light and dark wood colour contrast, is intriguing for the way it harnesses an “open-ended living” approach. By this, we mean that it utilizes design elements that feel limitless and spacious, even if they’re not actually particularly large of sprawling.
That feeling of openness continues throughout the home thanks to the way large glazed doors and wonderfully wide floor to ceiling windows run the entire length of the structure. These can be opened entirely, letting fresh breezes drift through the house on warm days and making it easy for guests and dwellers to follow suit, drifting from interior rooms to outdoor spaces without interruption.
The cabin is rooted to its natural foundation at the mountain’s food by a lovely wooden deck that gets the sunlight just right. Its primary feature is an outdoor fireplace surrounded by comfortable seating, making it the perfect place to curl up in late into the evening almost all year round.
Compared to the rustic wooden exterior of the cabin, the inside rooms are quite modern in their aesthetic and atmosphere, but no to the extent that things look mismatched. Wooden frames, features, and fine details provide a bit of continuity while more contemporarily shaped furniture keep things looking more updated than your average cabin in the woods.
Like the deck, the living room boasts a stunning central fireplace as a primary feature. This is actually the same one as you’d have encountered outside on the deck. The piece is dual sided, meaning that guests and dwellers can enjoy the warmth of the same flames inside and out!
Unique and interesting Survival Bunkers created by Vivos xPoint offer efficient long term living in the wake of disaster
By Stefan • Jan 21, 2019
Not everyone has put thought into how they’d survive if society as we know it changed drastically, but one company has invested time and significant skill into creating purchasable structures that will have you covered in the event of certain disaster!
The Survival Bunkers, which are living modules designed, created, and sold by innovators at Vivos xPoint, are a series of ultra-durable, highly efficient dwellings located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Although they’re retailed at a relatively steep price (which depends on the model you’re interested in purchasing and which features you choose), these Survival Bunkers are a dream solution for anyone who wishes to be genuinely prepared in the event that the world becomes less hospitable more quickly than we’ve ever anticipated.
Their location in the Black Hills was not chosen randomly. Designers specifically picked that area because it is non-seismic, meaning the hardy swellings won’t be disturbed or damaged by earthquake tremors. Additionally, the plot the bunkers are built on is far away from surrounding metropolitan areas and outside the range of tsunami submersion zones. These features reduce risks of most natural and human disasters that would exacerbate an already treacherous situation.
In fact, the plot of land purchased by this company for the development of their survival bunkers has actually been deemed one of the safest places to dwell in all of North America.
Safety in location isn’t the only selling feature of these quite genius bunkers. Each unit gives owners 2,200 square feet of space, which is quite significant when you think about the purpose of the structure and how these kinds of shelters are generally formatted. Purchasers can customize their floor plan and choose various LED simulations to have built in that will mimic natural outdoor sunlight. This accounts for the possibility that the actual natural environment may become inhospitable and will save dwellers a little bit from the effects of lacking sunlight exposure.
These survival bunkers even come with several local amenities that aren’t dissimilar to the average gated community you might be more familiar with. These features include constant onsite security as well as less safety based things like a members-only restaurant with its own bar and a gym. The community surrounding the bunkers even has its own medical centre!
To start, basic pre-fabricated units cost around $35,000 American dollars before customization. Prices rise as features are chosen (although even the most “basic” bunkers are impressive in what they offer). Be warned, though; there is a stringent application process that takes quite a bit of time to complete!
Uniquely shaped and literally named Parallel House, created by En Route Architects, provides perfectly framed seaside views
By Stefan • Jan 21, 2019
Unlike some seemingly randomly named homes, the relationship between Parallel House’s name and its structure is wonderfully clear! Built by En Route Architects, this unique home located on a Greek island provides perfectly framed views of the sea that are nothing short of breathtaking.
More specifically, the house is located in the Cyclades Islands, a cluster of small, stunning islands just off the coast of mainland Greece. It sits beautifully above the water, perched just so on a quiet hillside.
The intent of Parallel House’s shape and orientation was to pay direct homage to the seaside that surrounds it. Its beauty, however, is not the only thing this home has to offer. This contemporary, concrete residence is also actually completely self-sustaining. A collection of solar panels, a complete rainwater collection system, and some energy-efficient insulation allow the house to run independently and completely off-grid.
Even though it looks extremely modern, the building techniques employed by the architectural teams were actually very traditional. Because the house sits on a very sloped surface, the unique topography of the area needed to be accounted for in order to keep the building stable and safe as well as lovely to look at.
Designers achieved this by partially embedding the backside of the house into the actual landscape it sits upon. This afforded it some resilience, holding it in place like an anchor. It also gives the house a bit of extra natural insulation, protecting it from strong winds and rain during storms typical of islands and seasides.
Because the back of the house is so well anchored and insulated, designers were able to keep the front side, or that facing the beautiful sea view, much more open. Here, the house’s main volume is broken up into various sections shaped like large squares. These sections help to frame the view of the water differently from each room in the house.
As you can see, the house is made almost entirely of exposed concrete. Besides being a welcoming but slightly industrial looking aesthetic choice, this material usage serves a practical purpose too when it comes to reducing energy and water consumption.
Because the walls and floors are both concrete, a tight thermal insulation is created, which reduces the need for electricity in heating during colder months and helps the space maintain a more controlled temperature all year long, no matter the weather outside.
Keeping warm isn’t the only concern, particularly when Greece has such intensely hot summers and mild seasons between that and winter time. To help regulate the air even on the warmest days, a recessed corridor exists in the back of the home. This creates some cross ventilation that helps keep the spaces cool when the concrete does heat up more than usual.
You might think you don’t see the rainwater collection system we mentioned before in these photos, but we promise you it’s there! This system is actually installed on top of the house in the roof, where it can drain grey water (or fallen water that has yet to be purified) down into tanks submerged under ground. There, the water is filtered to be re-used.
Nearly the same subtle installation process is true of the solar panels we mentioned as well. In order to prevent large panels cramping the style and aesthetic of the home, designers chose to situate them adjacent to the house itself. The panels are actually hidden in the landscape and rigged accordingly, generating sufficient independent energy to power the entire house.
Structurally, you’ll also notice the way the floor-to-ceiling glass walls face the see in order to frame that stellar view. To make things even better, however, those walls actually open back all the way, transforming most rooms in the house into lovely open concept spaces at whim. This lets fresh seaside air play through the home on warm days and makes the spaces inside the home feel even bigger and brighter than they already are!
Photographs by Yiorgis Yerolymbos
Gorgeous Villa in the Palms designed and built by Abraham John Architects wraps gently around towering 80-year-old coconut trees
By Stefan • Jan 20, 2019
In the heart of Bombay, India, the recently finished Villain The Palms has been expertly crafted by Abraham John Architects to sit carefully around a spray of 19 tall and impressive coconut trees that have been rooted on that plot of land for the last 80 years.
This sprawling private residence is nothing short of expansive, covering approximately 6,500 square feet between all of its volumes. Because the house is broken up into several different smaller buildings, however, it takes on the feeling of a small village. Designers and architects chose this unique layout at the very conception of the project in order to ensure the safety and preservation of every single tree on the plot.
In fact, they did such a good job of this that not a single tree was felled during the building process. Particular care was taken around the original 19 coconut trees that had called the land there home for so many years. In order to complement and display the trees, designers chose to model the home after a traditional Goan village.
In order to keep things really on track with that style choice, builders made sure to use historically accurate Goan built techniques and materials. The exterior walls, for example, are clad in laterite stone, which is extremely durable and also gives the home an earthy quality that helps it blend into its natural surroundings. The stone also creates a sort of thermal envelope throughout the buildings that regulates temperature in colder months.
The roofs and the angle at which they sit are also functional as well as decorative when it comes to climate! These roof surfaces are pitched at varying sloped angles so that rainwater runs down to be harvested for reuse. These angles also help the roof of each building withstand the strong winds that blow through the area during monsoon season a little better.
Between the different small buildings of the home runs a series of outdoor decks, passageways, and bridges. These paths wind through the trees, which have wonderfully reflective pools and gardens winding between their trunks. From the primary living are, located in the largest building, these pools, trees, and paths provide a gorgeous view through large windows that flood the rooms with natural light with the help of a beautiful skylight.
Beneath that skylight, an absolutely lovely interior garden blooms in the sunlight it provides. This garden serves to blend inner and outer spaces throughout the whole area of the house. To further that sense of natural settings, designers also used 100 year old reclaimed teak wood to build the outer frame area that features large screens.
Within the rest of the main module, the living room, kitchen, and dining room look out over the pools that wrap around the trees. The pool that provides this lovely view is actually made up of three distinct bodies of water that run between, around, and into each other. These pools are covered with teakwood bridges that lead back and forth between the surrounding land and little islands that were built amidst the pools to protect the ancient trees at their bases.
Photographs by Alan Abraham