Author Archives - Courtney
By Courtney • Dec 11, 2018
Located in the heart of Algemesi, Spain, Carmen House is an inspirational structure that was conceptualized, planned, and brought to life by teams at Carles Faus Arquitectura.
Directly inspired by a gorgeous Ibizan country house, this fantastic swelling features simple, clear lines, plenty of light, and a largely white colour palette among its prime features. Located in a desert-like setting, the goal of the house’s aesthetic was to stand out and look like a piece of art against the dry background, without looking entirely out of place.
To achieve this, designers featured cacti around the grounds and in the decor scheme, incorporating something that’s naturally found in that setting to create cohesiveness between the building and the land. This was bolstered by the building of a lovely rock garden, but the house was complemented in this piece as well by sticking to stark white rocks that matched the home’s exterior.
During its conception, designers aimed to build the house so that the path of someone’s day through the structure would follow the way the light hits it. By that, we meant that the light starts in the kitchen where you’d eat breakfast in the morning, spreads over social spaces throughout the afternoon, and ends high in the sky by the bedrooms on the top floor in the evening. The house, the natural sunlight, and the lifestyle of the dweller play of each other to tell a daily story.
Following the path of sunlight isn’t the only way that this lovely house builds a connection with its environment. The ground floor features sliding glass doors that open an entire wall to the back leisure space and bring the breeze right into the home, while balcony spaces built into the step-like structures higher up in the home give more private outdoor areas for relaxation near the master and guest bedrooms.
The way the structure of the house fosters a seamless interior and exterior relationship does more than just let a light breeze travel from room to room. It actually also works with the seasonal cycles by giving guests and dwellers a place plenty of places to go elsewhere in the house that stay cool and shady during the hottest month while the sun hits a very specific place, rather than seeping in all over.
In addition to letting fresh air and targeted sunlight pour into the home, designers chose to extend the rock and cacti gardens we mentioned earlier from the back leisure space and right into the home, tying the nature surrounding the house right into the faily experiences of those who live inside.
Upon entering the house, you’ll notice that most of the practical and social rooms are located in a central, open-concept space that makes everything one might need on an average day easy to move between. From there, the house extends upward in a nearly stacked fashion, with private and leisure rooms set at points that feel almost like platforms. Each one features a lovely window that showcases the view, but also clean, white curtains that will protect the interior from intense sun when necessary.
In addition to having an entirely white exterior outside of the presence of those green cactus plants, the house features a nearly entirely white interior as well. This is designed to mimic the fresh crispness of the kind of blank white canvas an artist might work on. In this context, it lets light play in each space, increases the brightness in each room, and keeps things bright and cheerful, making each piece of furniture and decor stand out in its own right.
Photographs by: Mariela Apollonio
Ultra Modern Swiss Mountain Hut by Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes Provides Winter Haven on a Rocky Ridge
By Courtney • Dec 10, 2018
Atop a rocky ridge in the Swiss alps, New Mountain Hut gleams in the sun, catching the eye of any adventurer willing to tackle the slopes. Designed and build by Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes, this unique housing project is located in Tracuit, Switzerland and boasts incredibly unique features that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
The New Mountain Hut sits high up, at an impressive altitude of 3256 metres. It belongs to the Chaussy sector of the Swiss Apine Club and is nestled into the rocks at the heart of the Valaisan alps. Besides affording it 360 degrees of stunning mountain views that are nothing short of utterly breathtaking, the Hut’s uniquely central spot makes it the perfect starting point for climbing expeditions up the Bishorn, the Weisshorn, and the Tete de Milon.
Originally built in its first iteration in 1929, this mountain hut has been enlarged and restructured several times throughout the years. This was largely done to cope with a constant increase in guests seeking its peaceful, unique accommodations and the surprising level of comfort it offers. Now, the hut has had to be changed in a big way once more in order to meet lodging requirements based on health and safety, staffing, facilities, and environmental protection.
Because of the drastic requirements the club had to meet, the decision was made to abolish the original structure and start again in its place with an entirely modernized and refurbished version that pays homage to its predecessor. This was actually a cheaper project than outright transformation would have been and it also gave the club a chance to hold a riveting architectural competition to choose a design and professional team.
Working at this site presented several unique challenges, since the plot of land intended for building sits between a cliff and a glacier. This defined the shape and position of the new, more modern hut, which fits perfectly along the ridge above the cliff, settled right into the natural topography there. On the south side, the upper facade of the shining new building extends further from the cliff and functions as a solar panel, collecting clean energy to power the whole building.
All around the rest of the building, the metal facade reflects the stunning landscape around and glints in the sun in a way that makes it nothing short of stunning to look at. Out front of the building, guests can stand in an area called the Refectory, a flat social space where they can enjoy an “uninterrupted and plunging view” out over the Val de Zinal.
Because the building sits at such a high altitude, constructions method had to be adapted slightly from how they’d be performed elsewhere. This was also influenced by adversely cold and occasionally harsh weather conditions during the process of transporting building materials to the site. Even so, the structure was completed flawlessly and with impressive modern style.
Many of the wooden frame pieces, floor components, wall supports and insulated beams that went into building the house were actually prefabricated and airlifted to the site by helicopter. The outer panels of shining stainless steel arrived the same way, but the protection they provide the inner structure from weather and wind was entirely worth the trouble.
Between the compact shape of the building and the efficient way it’s insulated, the Hut has a hugely reduced rate of heat loss compared to its predecessors. A special low-tech ventilation system has also been put into place, letting the building recover heat emitted by the people staying in the building. This system also makes the inner environment more comfortable and, additionally, it prevents mould growth during the annual months when the lodgings are closed for the season.
Photographs by: Thomas Jantscher
Swiss Holiday Home Designed by alp Architektur Lischer Partner Gives Visitors Unbelievable Hillside Views
By Courtney • Dec 10, 2018
In the mountainous countryside of Vitznau, Switzerland, a stunning and space efficient hillside cabin, dubbed Holiday Home by designers alp Architektur Lischer Partner, has captivated locals with its simplistic beauty. From the beginning, the client’s primary desire was to live in a homey timber house reminiscent of the holiday cabins of their childhood memories. Because of the topography of the area they fell in love with, which sits on a hillside surrounded by exceptionally natural environment, designers had to get rather innovative in their approach.
First, teams designed and built a hard shell of concrete that would eventually become a durable facade, encasing and protecting the timber inside which exists within it like a soft core. Next, they built a the inner house from a pre-fabricated timber frame, which was erected, sealed into place, and insulated on site. This method is referred to as a “house in a house” approach.
The outright cubic shape of the Holiday Home helps anchor the structure down into the hillside’s slope. From the edge of the land’s plot line, a small bridge leads from the entryway into an open courtyard. This features a garage and the entrance to the home itself.
Because the concrete facade we mentioned before was created from a Wesen gravel found locally, it adopts the same sort of graininess and reddish tone that you’ll see on the natural rock face situated directly behind the house. In contrast, the wooden floors, walls, and ceiling are all made from light larch wood. Thanks to several open insets in the concrete where the large, view-framing windows placed to look out over Lake Lucerne, the timber can actually be seen from the outside of the house as well, creating lovely contrast.
Inside, the common spaces and most practical rooms, such as the dining and living rooms and the kitchen, are positioned a little bit differently to the average houses you might have visited before. That’s because they sit on the top floor instead of the ground floor!
On the two lowers floors, you’ll find bedrooms that are accessed by staircases on opposing sides of the main entrance. This unique structure creates a central corridor off of which various rooms can be found, sitting in different orientations to give each one a view that’s entirely unique to that particular space.
Moving into the common spaces, you can see how island style units (also built in larch wood) have been used to provide storage and also divide the space according to function, zoning out the main rooms. This space features a cloak room near the rear of the kitchen, as well as a comfortable living room that boasts both an impressive fireplace and a media cabinet.
The compact storage theme continues down towards the bedrooms, with each one containing its very own en suite unit with a built-in clothes cupboard. The way the rooms are divided but still afforded access to everything a guest needs resembles an adorable, private holiday hotel experience.
Photographs by: Roger Frei
By Courtney • Dec 7, 2018
In the heart of Beijing, China, the brand new Modern Functional Apartment by Atelier Alter reflects the characters, values, and personal styles of both the design team and the young, professional family it was completed for.
The intent of the apartment was to specifically cater to the wants and needs of the contemporary Chinese family. Designers strove to include shapes and layouts that might satisfy the requirements of a busy working family with kids who wanted to preserve style and streamline functions in their household.
Additionally, the clients wanted this to be a place where their kids could not only live, but also learn and gain quality family based experiences. Social spaces are driven towards bonding and productivity with their interesting shapes, free flowing movement capabilities and lack of clutter. At the same time they wanted it to be welcoming, warm, and comfortable.
Because the family also has an elder living with them, designers strove to make the house simple to care for. The goal was lots of space for storage, but in discreet places. They also prioritized low maintenance surfaces for simple care. Surrounding all of these other goals, sunlight was regarded as paramount. The family wanted bright, cheerful spaces where all generations of the family could come together and equally find what they need.
In the kitchen and living rooms, countertops are abundant. This is intended to give members of the family ample space to do any kind of activity they please. In fact, even the window sills have been transformed into usable, productive counter space! This balances the abundance of stack, cubic storage that gives the family plenty of space to keep their supplies for those activities in. Great examples of this can be seen in the cupboards in the kitchen and also in the entertainment system and media unit area in the living room.
Moving towards the bedrooms, you’ll find the space linearly arranged off a primary corridor. This structure ensures that kids have private, comfortable spaces of their own but still within easy access to parents. The children’s rooms have things like magnetic drawing boards built right into the walls for the multifaceted purposes of playing, learning, and creating.
Though the apartment is average in size, designers ensured that the family has plenty of space by following that linear structure throughout the entire home. Storage is piled high, doors and walls slide back into pockets to divides spaces can be expanded for easier flow and access, and smooth materials like wood and marble provide a colour scheme and aesthetic that suits those linear shapes.
At the same time, the team sought to create some contrast and balance in terms of shape by adding the occasional accented curve where space allowed. Certain waving features stand out against the otherwise linear shapes found in rooms and hallways and give the home visual texture and interested without interrupting function and flow as the family goes about their day. The idea, after all, was for furnishings and units to appear streamline, not sharp and intimidating.
Photographs by: Atelier Alter
San Cayetano Mountain Residence Provides Stunning Stone Haven Thanks to Paul Weiner and DesignBuild Collaborative
By Courtney • Dec 7, 2018
San Cayetano Mountain Residence, conceptualized and brought to life by Paul Weiner and DesignBuild Collaborative, is a beautiful, industrial inspired home located in Santa Cruz County, United States.
This unique home sits on a bedrock formation that’s anything but even. Designers and builders were presented with unique challenges in navigating jutting rocks and outcroppings all over the plot, but that became part of the appeal in creating a home that suited the area. It’s not often one gets to build a haven in a place so remote, particularly one that is elevated above an actual desert!
The team sought to built a home that bore colours and materials suitable to blend with the dry grasslands. These lands are filled with oak trees, mesquites, seasonal wildflowers and lush riparian areas. The goal was to make a home that stood out artistically and had a lot of visual appeal without detracting from the natural surroundings or looking out of place entirely.
At the same time, elements in the desert and grasslands are harsh. The area at once bears a sense of calm and chaotic, expansiveness and intimacy, hard elements and soft plant life. The house needed to complement its lush surroundings but also withstand monsoonal storms, intense heat and sun exposure, and cold temperatures in the dead of night. In the end, each of these things is worth it for the view the area provides.
In the first part of the well anchored house, guests encounter a spacious living room pavilion. This room centres entirely upon capturing a view of the phenomenal landscape the house sits in. Out the impressively sized window, and also from the adjacent outdoor “room” that gives additional social space, Mount Wrightson is framed in all its magnanimity. Guests can soak up the view from the comfort of sinking couch cushions or a patio chair that sits between ocotillo and natural jagged rock faces.
The outdoor room isn’t the only exterior space designed to balance the comfort of the house’s indoor social and private rooms. Designers included an additional space in the form of a rooftop deck with a full 360 degree view. This space connects distant views and night skies with more immediate outcroppings on the house’s own hillside.
In choosing their materials, designers decided to keep things local and use things that complement and even come from the surrounding nature they intended to nestle the home right into. The frame is built from locally sourced stone, pigmented plaster (for colour consistency), and oxidized steel. This establishes a sort of industrial aesthetic that suits the environment so well that it comes off as surprisingly homey rather than intimidating or cold.
In total, the house is composed of three separate buildings. First, guests enter the main house, which bears all the primary social and functional spaces of your average home. Next, you’ll find a detached studio and a separately build carport, which protects the family vehicle from the harsh desert elements we mentioned previously. These structures are built to extend the space and the shape of the entire house towards the plot’s bordering rock spine, serving to further blend the house with its environment.
Shape and materiality aren’t the only methods of blending space that designers used to keep the house cohesive with its habitat. Dwellers can move almost seamlessly between interior and exterior spaces thanks to the pairing of outdoor components in almost all of the main rooms (including the living room, dining room, and kitchen), as well as secluded outdoor sitting areas for every bedroom and even an outdoor, rock built shower paired with the master bathroom!
Because the house exists in an area that experiences intense sun, designers made sure to built the house such that plenty of shade is accessible to family members and guests. This only further their goal of simultaneously embracing and building a distinct haven within the plot’s rugged terrain. First, they built angled or cantilevered roof planes that cast shadows strategically on certain outdoor social areas. They also affixed trellises fro shade and definition in each outdoor “room” and adjacent to the calming lap pool in the back of the house. Finally they installed horizontal shade screens that fold down and secure across glass surfaces for privacy, shade, or home care in the event of long absences.
What’s our favourite feature of the house, you ask? The impressive fireplace is actually rendered from crushed lava! This is unique in materiality and aesthetic and pays direct homage to the geological origins of the land, making it a central piece within the house’s overall decorum.
Photographs by: Liam Frederick Photography
The innovative design process that went into Kino House, a project brought to life by Le Atelier located in Moscow Oblast, Russia, is nothing short of inspiring in the way it plays with shapes and visual textures.
This house, which is surrounded on all sides by ancient Russian pines and sits on a steep slope, was specifically designed to blend into its natural landscape rather than interfering with it. Designers vowed not to fell any trees, not to dig too far into the hillside, and to only source natural resources that can be found in the local terrain for maximum cohesiveness.
The overall goal of the house was to create a natural place of rest while still bringing a sort of sleek, modern aesthetic to the area, rather than working within typical woodland design frameworks that look more down home and rustic. This isn’t simply a countryside retreat; it’s a modern home experience established atop the hillside.
The house features three semi-levels, with an entrance on the middle level. In the entryway, guests encounter a hallway with a ceiling height of only 5 metres. Right in the centre sits a “black column”. This is the interior element in almost all rooms throughout the entire house; it’s the feature that creates consistency. The entrance level also features bathrooms, storage and utility rooms, and nursery rooms. Within each room, particularly the nurseries, you’ll find sizeable windows offering lovely forest views.
In the master bedroom, which sits on the lower semi-level, a lovely window nook offers a similar chance to take in the surrounding scenery. A king-sized bed spans the middle of the room for comfort. Inside the central “black column”, where the stairs run up and down, a cloakroom and a bathroom are situated.
On the highest semi-level, the last of the three, a private work or study room with a lovely fireplace and perfect forest view rests above the master bedroom. The kitchen also exists here, with a breathtaking view similar to the one from the entrance hall, since the kitchen sits right over it, but from higher up. Parts of the kitchen extend into the “black column”, making it spacious and giving it plenty of storage space.
On the exterior of the house, a large balcony wraps around above the bedrooms. Placing the balcony here rather than level with the sleeping quarters raises the outdoor space high enough off the ground to keep it from interfering with the environment its meant to facilitate appreciation of. This balcony is still accessible from all three areas of the house thanks to the centrally placed winding stairs.
Although the house is hardly visible from the road, its beauty is known for miles around. People express appreciation for the way the black parts of the structure are linear and angular, which perfect balances and plays off of the blonde wood aspects which are smooth, curving, and light. Much like the rock and wood in the natural terrain strikes a lovely balance, so do the parts of this innovative home.
Photographs by: Ilya Ivanov
Sprawling Desert Home by the Name of Lava House Gives Cool Shelter Thanks to Paul Weiner and DesignBuild Collaborative
By Courtney • Dec 6, 2018
Lava House by Paul Weiner and DesignBuild Collaborative is a stunning and expansive oasis home located in the heat of Pima County, United States. Locally known as the Tucson Mountain Lava House, this dwelling is situated within the rocky terrain of the Tucson Mountains that falls gently to the east, down towards the Santa Cruz River. Looking out across the vast landscape surrounding the plot, and even within the home’s direct area itself, you’ll find low-lying bedrock outcroppings, various types of towering cacti, and desert dwelling plants like palo verde, ocotillo, jojoba, and creosote.
Like many houses in the area, this structure was designed to be anchored into the natural terrain without interrupting it as much as possible. The house exists between weaving natural water sources and desert vegetation without drawing attention to human imprints on nature. It provides a lovely panoramic view, show dwellers the Tucson Mountains on one side and the Santa Catalina Mountains on the other.
The house features several very intentionally placed primary walls around which the rest of the house is built. This anchors it safely to its natural slope. Around these, public or social and private spaces are arranged. These are also carefully situated within the house to balance the need for lovely, natural sunlight in every room and the fact that Lava House can experience intense sunlight in some seasons that dwellers might want to seek shade from.
In a further attempt to control heat and also maximize views, this house is actually built quite low. It features horizontal roof planes and several overhangs, giving dwellers little shady havens throughout the property. This structure makes outdoor spaces like the deck and several rock and cacti gardens pleasant to sit in.
In terms of materiality, we’ve already spoken about attempts to blend the structure into the landscape in innovative ways. Perhaps the most notable and impressive tactic designers employed for this is in their use of a material called scoria. This is a mixture of crushed volcanic cinder hailing from the San Francisco volcanic fields in Northern Arizona. This material is cheaper than traditional concrete and also has a lower rate of heat absorption, keeping the home nice and cool on hot desert days.
Photographs by: Liam Frederick Photography
By Courtney • Dec 5, 2018
Recently the stunning Fairmont Penthouse Apartment was overhauled and renovated by Inhouse to give a notable recording artist and musical entertainer a stylish, comfortable new home in Cape Town, South Africa.
The goal in establishing the aesthetic of this apartment’s transformation was almost entirely centred on modern sophistication. The penthouse is a double story apartment with three bedrooms, giving designers plenty of space to create impressively classy ambiance while also maximizing stunning views of Sea Point, in the heart of Cape Town.
The Fairmont building overlooks the Atlantic seaboard, so the original apartment that needed transforming was centred around the idea of offering dramatic seaside views and perfectly framing stunning sunsets from as many interior points of the home as possible. This characteristic was kept in the new project, but designers sought to drive the atmosphere more towards elegance than classic masculinity.
Stripping everything decorative (and even some functional things) down entirely on the inside, Inhouse began their project with a preserved basic structure but an otherwise blank canvas of bare concrete. They built an open-concept living space with a dark colour palette intended to feel deep and striking. Entertainment spaces are the first thing guests encounter upon entering the space, making it immediately feel welcoming and social.
On the apartment’s top floor, where the private areas like bedrooms and bathrooms lie, lighter tones were used to established a slightly more delicate aesthetic and decor scheme. Recessed LED light fixtures are featured both here and downstairs, giving the whole place proper illumination to offset dar decor tones.
In choosing which materials to work with, designers aimed for a balance of modern and natural, creating a unique blend in their sophisticated atmosphere. Walls, counters, and furnishings are made from upcycled timber, glass, steel, mirror, and marble in various combinations and colours. The end result is a feeling of sustainable luxury throughout.
One of the central features of the apartment is the circular stairwell. This makes all parts of the home simple to access, meaning anyone can enjoy the exceptional views the building has to offer. Black marble and strongly curved steel in the areas aim to make the journey from space to space feel profound and like a bit of a transformation between colour palettes. The furnishings and strong themes throughout the rooms make the entire home feel strikingly individual and unique.
Photographs by: Inhouse
By Courtney • Dec 5, 2018
The wide open and ultra modern Revolut Offices, created by Thirdway Interiors located in London, England, are a stunning example of how shared productive space can boost morale and facilitate better teamwork between office members.
Due to a redirection of brand and values, Revolut decided to overhaul entirely by transforming their London offices into a fresh new space that better reflects their refocusing. The new offices, perched on a bustling street in Canary Wharf, resides on the same street as branches of the architectural firm hired for the project, so they were wonderfully equipped to build a space that was cohesive with the atmosphere of their area and the other innovative businesses that function there.
To begin, teams decided to encompass the space with an overall Italian-chic style. This was focus more closely on the desire to create spaces within that the appeared raw yet sophisticated. Colour schemes were kept rather simplistic (spaces are largely black and white), which enhanced a sense of industrial influence, but occasional pops of colour throughout that overall palette saved the area from look too cold or minimalist.
Furnishings were chosen on their ability to be unique yet comfortable, refining the various spaces and delineating their function without calling for actual physical separating, which would have interrupted the open-concept space and worked against the wishes of the clients. Exposed ceilings spray painted in black match the rest of the decor scheme in its dark but not unfriendly industrialism.
Incorporating a subtle sense of fun into the shapes and decor schemes was paramount to the clients because it fell in line with the new direction of their rebranding efforts. Eye catching neon signs stand out in various places, lighting up against concrete blocks with catchy or motivational sayings that provoke thought rather than feeling cheesy or stereotypical to read. Newspaper based collage art provides employees with an inspirational view when they’re feeling distracted; a subliminal reminder of the goals they’re there to achieve through their admirable work.
Besides the elements of fun and pops of colour, two key features keep the office lively, cohesive, and open. These are the wonderfully large windows that allow plenty of uplifting natural light, as well as the fact that there’s free flow between private work stations and more casual break, social, and entertainment of group work areas. This prevents anyone from feeling isolated within their work environment, but still gives them access to less distracting areas on days where their concentration is crucial. Many of these spaces are multi-functional, making them diverse and useful for all kind of different things, depending on the daily needs of the office’s teams.
Photographs by: Tom Fallon
By Courtney • Dec 4, 2018
Golfo de Darien House, designed and brought to life by Cristobal Vial Arquitectos in the heart of Las Condes, Chile, is stunning mixed-materials residence that provides guests with a beautifully green golf course view.
This project was one of rehabilitation and expansion on an old house that was originally built in 1970. The house is nestled into the commune of Las Condes in the city of Santiago, Chile. It is part of a grouping of 25 one-story houses that are arranged in an adjoining structure. This was an innovative idea for its time because it made better use of available land, left space for each house to have two independent garden patches of their own, and created a walled yard thanks to the direction of the arrangement.
Now, Golfo de Darien house specifically is owned by a young family with three children who wanted to adapt the space to their particular needs a little better. First, design teams took down several extensions that had been added to the original house in all different materials that bore some natural wear and tear thanks to weather and the passage of time. This stripped the structure a little and gave them more of a blank starting point.
Next, builders took down the connection walls that adjoined this house to the ones around it, thereby opening the space up to a stunning view of a golf course on lands below where the house sits. This also increased visible sky and the amount of natural light coming into the yard at any given time. Removing a chimney and replacing that with a singular separating wall made sure the house is still afforded some privacy without feeling closed off as it did before.
In order to increase the amount of natural light in the interior space (as well as to offset the heavy masonry of the house’s concrete frame), designers added several lovely skylights into the ceiling. Several monolithic walls, like the one near a newly installed extra bathroom, were also replaced with thick glazed glass paneling, making the home feel airy and more spacious without sacrificing too much privacy in personal areas like the bedrooms.
Just because the house has been largely disconnected from its original adjoining fellows doesn’t mean it no longer shares any space with them at all. A curved wall of exposed concrete leads from the door of the house and straight into a new parking sector and a defined barbecue area that is purposely placed to invite the presence of neighbours and guests, like a more public space.
Within their update, designers made the house more efficient and eco-friendly overall in their process. This happened thanks to the installation of a high efficiency aerothermal heat pump and a radian slab system, as well as the incorporation of thermopanel crystals. This lets the house be heated and powered without making a huge impact on its surrounding environment.
In its private outdoor space, the house features a lovely wooden deck that was built in the place three original divided courtyards used to stand. This area combines wood, stone, glass, steel, and exposed concrete but also bears a heavy green presence, making the seating area feel contemporary but also well integrated into the green space surrounding the home.
Photographs by: Cristobal Vial
By Courtney • Dec 4, 2018
A new and innovative miniature cafe called the coffee has been designed by Studio Boscardin.Corsi Arquitetura to give busy city workers in Brasil a quick but enjoyable place to stop for their favourite beverages.
The goal of this ultra tiny cafe was to take advantage of very small urban spaces while also providing urbanites with something they want and enjoy. the coffee, a micro-cafe in Brasil, is built using ideas of space efficiency and eco-friendly materials to establish a place where baristas have what they need in minimum and arranged accessibly, letting them provide customers with their orders in record time thanks to the walk-up window style service that doesn’t even require them to stop and open doors en route to their next meeting.
In packed city centres where there is essentially no room for expansion, there is often also very limited room for new businesses. That’s why this project team decided to make full use of what tiny space does exist in the nooks and crannies of old urban architecture. They transformed a small service door that was formerly unusable, edged without grace or style between two restaurants, and turned it into a business with a lot of potential.
The design and space organization of the coffee was based on Japanese values of simplicity and minimalism. Sure, there are plenty of places that will make you a quick takeaway coffee, but this particular business takes that idea to the next level. Simply walk up to the indoor-outdoor window with your cash and leave with a coffee without even having to walk across an inner foyer!
Just in case you actually do have a moment and you want to take a seat, however, the coffee has strategically placed itself in an area that’s rich in public benches with nice city life views. It’s the ultimate example of a business integrating itself into an already-existent space.
Despite the physical space of the coffee being minimalist and leaving room only for what’s absolutely functional and necessary, the business’s facade is not lost on the street. Part of what makes it fit so well into the tiny urban space is the designers choice to visually build upwards, rather than expanding outwards. As such, the window and the signage reach high, making them visible and interesting from the sidewalk regardless of the narrow space.
Ultra modern styling also helps the business stand out from the other buildings. Designers used stark white colour schemes and light, as well as metal, wood, and acrylic, to create a space that is very well lit and visually delineated from the abundance of grey concrete and smudged glass most cities are home to.
Inside, the coffee exists in a space of only three square metres, leaving limited possibilities for a functional layout that actually provides customers with a quick, quality service. Designers were careful to place the barista’s tools and requirements just so, making sure very little movement is required. Everything is always at hand and the barista rarely even has to turn their back on the window and their customers!
Orders are placed on a tablet, meaning that customers are always in motion while they choose their beverage and wait, rather than getting caught in long lines while the barista rings up, processes, and makes their order. The barista concentrates on their tasks and the quality of their product while customers enjoy the urban space outside the coffee’s window. This renders the business more than just an innovation in architecture thanks to its unique use of small spaces; it’s also a unique experience!
Photographs by: Eduardo Macarios
By Courtney • Dec 3, 2018
The innovative and interesting Split House is a two-volume but interconnected home experience designed and built by hsu-rudolphy in the lovely countryside of Chile. Because the clients wished for the adult and children’s spaces to be as separated as possible while still residing together, a connected two-volume structure was proposed and used. The adult wing and the youth wing are connected by a gallery hall that also features a joint “main house” area where shared social spaces can be enjoyed all together, regardless of age.
The project is a vacation house on the edge of Lake Rupanco where a family of parents and young adults spends leisure time together. The main requirement put forth by the clients was that the home be formulated to at once created a place the family can retreat to together but also distinct areas where they can enjoy themselves separately on occasion while they’re there.
Once the separate spaces were planned, the owners requested that the stunning view surrounding their plot be treated as a secondary priority. Each volume, hallway, and enclosure should have a clear view of the lovely lake below the house. Because the house is situated on a very narrow strip of land that actually juts out into the lake itself, the owners were afforded a bonus view of the Osorno volcano from the main house as well, thanks to huge picturesque windows.
Guests often notice that the volumes of this house are wrapped in such a way that they face intriguing angles from the outside. Although this was beneficial to the view, it actually had a different motivation originally. This layout was intended to created a home with lots of space while also taking up as little of the natural land on the plot as possible. The wrapping layout you see is a successful attempt at space efficiency without sacrificing square footage in the home.
Because the remote location of the home’s plot is actually quite difficult to access, the project was kept very local. Crews from the immediate area were hire and locally sourced woods and steels were used to provide durability, quality, and also height in order to allow maximum light into each room in both volumes.
Here, you’ll see the cozy seating areas and light, welcoming decor schemes of the adult volume, as well as the smooth, spacious, and roomy aesthetic of the youth volume that leaves plenty of open space for activities and play.
Photography by: Gabriel Rudolphy and Ian Hsu
By Courtney • Dec 3, 2018
The innovatively built and relaxing Box House, created by Flavio Castro and teams, is located in the sunny hills of Sao Paulo, Brasil, where it gives guests a blended indoor-outdoor experience unparalleled by the homes around it.
This home, located in an average residential neighbourhood, was designed and brought to life by a young architect for himself and his loved ones. He opted to work with the size of the existing plot rather than applying for expansions, building upward and blending interior and exterior spaces in order to create a sense of spaciousness and airy, free movement.
The effect of having zenith openings (or sliding pocket doors in each wall of the house, no matter the floor) is one of blurring the lines between property and home, making indoor spaces feel like open patios and vice versa. This is a unique quality afforded by the stellar weather in the city, and Castro didn’t hesitate for a moment to take full advantage of that warm, sunny quality.
From the street, the house appears just like its name suggests; it’s a modern looking, cubic box made primarily of metal! This was intentional because the facade is slightly intimidating and very secure in the public side of the structure that faces the street. On the private side, however, you emerge from a hallway into an area that contrasts intensely from the opaque box you thought you were entering. Pops of colour and floating stairs amplify the playfully modern quality one can sense immediately upon entering.
On the private sides of the house, on both floors, the metal materials are replaced with pristine glass walls that slide open to create an entirely open-concept and blended area of the kitchen and living room. This structure is mimicked on the top floor as well, without opening the walls entirely and rendering the elevated space unsafe. The overall effect from the outside is that the house appears to float, particularly at night!
The way the living spaces are integrated with the outdoor area is particularly lovely thanks to lush greenery and abundant gardens at the back of the house. On days where the weather isn’t conducive to enjoying the open air, the glass walls and the metal facade can be closed, one at a time or together, making the space extremely customizable.
On the rooftop, an entire additional outdoor space provides a unique inner city haven where guests can lounge in the sun on uniquely shaped modern furniture (not unlike the pieces you’ll find inside the house as well). The garden on the rooftop completes the theme and establishes a distinct relationship with Box House’s surroundings. This idea is bolstered by the fact that the whole house is heated and powered using low-impact, energy efficient systems and solar panels.
Photographs by: Pedro Kok
Located in Auckland, New Zealand, the Herne Bay Hideaway by Lloyd Hartley Architects is a breaktaking refurbishment project inside a 1960s brick and tile home.
The original building is nestled amidst a row of neighbouring houses, but slightly removed into its own space at the end of a long, winding driveway. Surrounded by Pohutukawa trees, the home is sat quite squatly and stubbornly smack in the middle of its plot. Before refurbishment, the building was functional but it failed to blend in any manner with the lovely surrounding landscape, giving designers a sense that it wasn’t taking advantage of its stunning view of Cox’s Bay in Waitemata Harbour.
Lloyd Hartley, head architect at his own firm, was asked by new owners to redesign this old house into a modern home that, according to his briefing, “…responds to its context and provides a private city oasis for a young family”. Hartley settled on several major design goals, one of which was the idea of creating a covered entry courtyard with a bridging to the house in order to provide the family with a pedestrian friendly entrance.
At the same time, this transformed entry space aims to provide visitors and dwellers with a sense of release once they’ve passed the end of the long driveway (where they can appreciate an exciting borrowed view of the neighbour’s impressive private tennis courts).
In terms of the house itself, Hartley’s desire to create the illusion of extra space and extra height while also increasing natural light was a huge driving force. Designers believe this would entirely enhance overall experiences in the building, so they opened a stairwell to draw in light from above. They also extended ceilings in the main living areas to fully embrace natural light and stunning outlooking views from the back.
Perhaps our favourite feature of the house is the way Hartley’s and teams linked indoor and outdoor spaces through the use of relaxing deck space. Visitors and family members can take in the beauty of the rear landscaping by sitting on ground level or upper decks, giving the house a much more free-flowing atmosphere, like you can move about the space and between indoor and outdoor areas without interruption.
In order to give the house a more timeless interior aesthetic than it once had (and to avoid the outdoor brick structure becoming dated looking all together), designers carefully selected a palette of neutral shades and natural materials. The clean detailing featured in every single room ties the house together, creating a cohesiveness that might not have been present had the chose to leave some rooms untouched while heavily modernizing others.
Photographs by: David Straight
The HKS Singapore Office is a wonderfully productive, unique office space created by the HKS Architects architectural team themselves. Located in Singapore, the offices are built into a classic shophouse that has been transformed.
Traditionally, the shophouses of Singapore combine materials like Chinese porcelain tile with foreign design elements like Portuguese shutters. They are pre-World War II structures, primarily built between the 1840s and 1960s, that make up a lot of the urban fabric of Singapore. They are some of the earliest examples of “live-work” spaces in that country, often containing merchant’s shops in the lower levels and family quarters on the floors above.
This social and economic history is part of the reason architects chose the specific building they did. They wanted a place that was as unique as the city itself, and they found that in the shophouse they chose to transform! Their particular finding is located right in the heart of the Duxton neighbourhood, on one of the most historic streets in Singapore. The building was the perfect selection because it was already an integral part of the area’s cultural, social, and economic fabric, making it easy to centre the company’s philosophy, which is to represent and integrate themselves respectfully into the neighbourhoods they inhabit.
Because there are only 6000 shophouses left in all of Singapore, these buildings are protected by strict regulations that were put in place for purposes of historic preservation. HKS, therefore, felt a heavy responsibility to make their shophouse redesign as green as possible, seeking out the most energy efficient systems and materials in the country in order to have as little impact as possible on the structure and surrounding environment. This worked two-fold because the way designers went about their plans also helped maximize the wellbeing of their staff in the finished product!
Now that it is completed, the HKS Singapore office meets all historical protection and environmental impact guidelines, prioritizes the wellness and sustainability of the space, and has a productive, comfortable atmosphere that is friendly and approachable. This is helped by the existence of comfortable break spaces, quiet research areas filled with books, private meeting areas that are still accessible without feeling closed off, and common work spaces that facilitate communication and mutual support between employees.
In terms of decor, the office is light, natural, airy, and filled with natural sunlight. Certain walls and windows fold in and out, letting employees choose when they want to interact with each other or the outside world and when their work would most benefit from some privacy and quiet. This gives the office a fluid feeling, letting spaces accommodate people rather than the other way around.
The colours present in the office only contribute to the atmosphere. While start white and black details keep the place feeling professional, a balance is created using pops of bright, friendly blues and teal tones. Additionally, greenery and plant life is incorporated into the break spaces, adding to the peaceful setting. The break room’s rest space, for example, has an entire “living wall” made of luscious green leafy plants!
Overall, the staff working in these refurbished offices are encouraged to eat together, work together, and have fun even though they’re at their jobs. HKS Singapore’s main goal is to positively contribute to the cultural identity of the city, and they understand that workforce morale is important in that. They also understand that workplace conditions and quality of spaces are directly linked as well!
Photographs by: David Yeow
Located in Altos del Maria, Panama, Cabin 192 is a vacation complex that JiA designed to feel like a utopian escape centred around relaxation and getting back in touch with yourself!
Throughout the design process, architects prioritized the idea of creating a comforting space for people of all ages. The 192 cabins are a family driven project conceived for long term stays. The project consists of three smaller cabins for privacy and a shared main house for social interaction.
Perhaps the most unique detail of this project is that the lead architect actually design the whole space with his own parents and his two brothers (along with their families) in mind. He did not intend to make the project luxurious or ostentatious, but rather a space where he can meet his family for quality time together. He hoped to create the cabin complex in a simple, low-cost way while also making something impressive, enjoyable, and of the high quality one would of course wish for their most loved people.
The cabins are build in a beautifully mountainous area of West Panama. Upon visiting the building site for the first time, designers noticed a large number of pine trees, which are not a species that is native to the region. They made the decision to clear out and reforest their new plot with local tree species that would produce shadows for the homes and also breed more native trees in the land naturally. The goal here was sustainability and environmental comfort.
Rather than simply doing away with the pines, designers opted to keep things green and upcycle their wood within the building process itself. The pine was used to build the perimeter fence around the plot and also the main cabin.
The cabins are intentionally quite small. Each of the three smaller spaces contains only a bathroom, a bedroom, and a kitchenette. The purposed of this is to provide each visitor with their own space while also encouraging them to spend time all together outdoors or in the main house. View in gallery View in gallery
When it came to choosing actual structure styles, designers felt inspired by topical buildings. The cabins are raised about the natural soil level like more traditional huts found throughout Panama. This helps keep the humidity of the tropics out of sleeping areas, letting them feel more cool and ventilated.
Cabin 192 undoubtedly feels like it has a personal touch along with its sense of simplicity, peace, and tranquility. This is probably because the head architect’s father, brothers, and friends actually helped complete its construction! The care that went into these buildings is evident and can be felt all around.
Photographs by: Alfredo Martiz
By Courtney • Nov 27, 2018
As if the location name of this house (which is nestled amidst the greenery in Carmel-by-the-Sea, United States) wasn’t adorable enough, Feldman Architecture named the structure Butterfly House, rendering it perhaps the most welcoming sound home we’ve ever heard of before we even set eyes on it!
Butterfly House was designed for an aging couple who intended to use it as a retirement retreat after a lifetime of hard work, as well as a relaxing escape for their grown children to give them a break from the everyday demands of work life. The search for this spectacular piece of land took two whole years, which motivated the designers to really do the area justice. When the clients found the plot, they noted countless butterflies fluttering through the meadow, which is why architects took that concept as inspiration and namesake for the house itself.
As part of doing the landscape justice, designers and the client agreed that the house should strive to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces. They aimed to keep the aesthetic modern but simple with separate spaces for everyday living and visitors who want to rest. This is why the house was built with three distinct pavilions, each with their own impressive butterfly inspired roof.
Each pavilion of Butterfly House has its own function. The central pavilion, for example, contain the main living, dining, and cooking spaces. The other two provide everything residents and guests need for sleeping, bathing, and relaxing on their downtime. Though each pavilion is modest in size, all three feel free and sprawling thanks to the way each one opens out at the back into a lovely outdoor space set up like a room, giving visitors a stunning view of the canyon below the house and the Californian hills surrounding it in the distance.
One of our favourite facts about this house is that the butterfly inspired roofs aren’t just decorative! Although they do give the house an artsy feel that’s both modern but also cohesive with the natural landscape, they also harvest rainwater. This is an important “green” architectural feature in California, where water is an increasingly limited resource. Each roof funnels water into landscape integrated collection pools, which then funnel it into cisterns used to irrigate the natural landscape.
Particularly in the stormy season, the butterfly roofs are an innovation because they work with the natural topography of the area to carry water to parts of the land that need it. This creates what designers called a “seamless transition” between nature and building, a concept this mimicked throughout the home and each of the three pavilions. This is thanks in part to the inclusion of plants in the indoor and outdoor decor schemes, letting greenery move through the building the way water moves through the land. These elements inspire a calming sense of quiet and naturally artful awareness.
Keeping with the theme of enabling a natural flow of all things between indoor and outdoor areas, the colour scheme of the house is quite neutral as well. This is reflected in the concrete floors and walls, large glass windows and opening doors, plywood ceilings, and steel supports. These natural surfaces also keep the space cool without running systems that put a strain on the environment; concrete and glass absorb much of the sunlight and heat during the day and releasing it at night when things cool down. The house uses very little energy as a result of this and a hidden solar panel system that runs nearly everything inside.