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Author Archives - Courtney

Franz Designs creates Fraktio Offices to feel like a second home but with a motivational atmosphere

By • Jun 3, 2019

In the bustling city streets of downtown Helsinki in Finland, a company called Fraktio has chosen to work with design and architectural teams at Franz Designs to create a new office space that will make their employees feel right at home while they work.

Fraktio, a company that designs innovative web services and mobile applications, made the decision to renovate with the goal of offering their employees a quiet space that comes across just cozy enough for them to feel like they’re right at home but still engaged and motivated enough for productive work.

From the beginning, designers oriented their focus around the concept of creating a space where people might actually want to spend time. The office is supposed to feel less like a place where people have to be and more like a place where they might actually enjoy hanging out with the people around them.

In their industry, the concept of overtime work is no stranger to any employee. Hours are fluid and schedules change frequently, so people often find themselves working at varying times of day. This was the primary motivation behind making the brand new offices feel like a place of comfort and easy socialization as well as work. Ideally, no one will feel “chained” to their desk and people might perform better because they enjoy their job and the space they’re working in.

In order to achieve their homey end goal, designers gave the office all kinds of thoughtful but quite low maintenance extra features, choosing to create spaces that might provide either relaxation or mental stimulation between tasks. In short, the Fraktio Offices have just about everything you could possibly need, right there near your work station!

Among these unique and frankly awesome special features is a panorama sauna where employees can seek quiet and calm, a DIY space where they can explore their creative side, and even an old fashioned style movie theatre where they can get a bit of inspiration or simply give their brains a break through sheer entertainment right there at work.

In order to keep a sense of balance in the space and build an environment that fosters productivity at the heart of things, designers also made sure to provide Fraktio with all kinds of diverse and thoughtfully put together spaces geared towards work itself. These include several different meeting places large enough to comfortably gather the entire staff at once for meetings and collaborative efforts.

The main group meeting space is the kitchen and dining area (which, like most other spots, are fully equipped with just about everything your own home might offer). The kitchen area is spacious and communal, fully equipped for any type of cooking or meal prep. The dining area, on the other side of the kitchen island, blends seamlessly into a lounge space. This means that a speaker can be heard all around while employees sit in comfort no matter where they’re situated.

Perhaps the most widely used unique feature of the whole office, in terms of those spaces designed to clear ones mind and give them a fresh start part way through their day, is the sauna. This is a fully functioning steam room, sitting in the centre of the office building on the 8th floor. Its position here means that, besides warmth and relaxation, the sauna also offers a breathtaking view!

Photos by Vuokko Salo.

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Candy Loft by StudioAC

By • Jun 3, 2019

Amidst the bustling streets of Toronto, Canada, StudioAC has created a contemporary apartment that is nothing short of darling. The Candy Loft is the perfect space for anyone whose tastes fall somewhere between cutesy and sophisticated.

The loft is situated in the second story of a hard loft conversation project, with lobby access that exits onto a busy city street in the middle of Toronto’s West End. Beyond just being wonderfully decorated, the loft was created with the foal of providing its owner with an escape space that feels private and calm within the big city and all the demands on city life.
Upon entering the apartment, visitors experience an entrance space that, besides welcoming friends and family, serves to provide more private spaces in the home a bit of delineation, away from the front door. The aim of this corridor was explicitly to buffer the owner’s living spaces from the rest of the building outside its limits.
While this separation already increases a sense of tranquility throughout the home, it also situates the living spaces perfectly at the back of the apartment so as to afford them the best view. Throughout the living room and kitchen, beautiful floor to ceiling windows overlook not just the city skyline, but also a canopy of green trees directly below the apartment.
Within the living spaces of the apartment, designers sought to hit a perfect balance of spacial layout. While the overall aim from conception was certainly to create a feeling of tranquil privacy all throughout, they also wanted to give the most commonly used rooms good flow without leaving them entirely open concept.
To compromise between all of these goals in a way that contributes to the decor, designers opted to build a series arched hallways leading from room to room. These are open and inviting but still create visual buffers between one space and the next. These arching halls are what lead dwellers from their public, common, and hosting spaces into the private areas of their home.

Down each of these hallways, floors made of smooth, solid douglas fir are warmed by and reflect the light of soft LED lights featured all along the base of the walls. These create a sense of tranquil comfort and made the transitions from room to room feel almost ethereal. The upward flow of the light spans around you towards the curved ceiling of the archway like a fairytale spot.

Overall, the Candy Loft was a foray into exploring materiality and blended aesthetics for both owner and designer. It at once achieves a sense of formality and of whimsical comfort. Copper is added to the light wood and clean, white surfaces in places like the kitchen for a contemporary sheen that contrasts well with the playful glow found elsewhere throughout the home.
This copper was actually chosen intentionally to add a sense of planned change over time. After some use, copper begins to show charming signs of weathering over time. Rather than looking like unappealing wear and tear, it can add character to a room, which is precisely the goal here, in this space where aesthetics and atmospheres are blended in unique ways. The Candy loft exudes intimacy, a sense of the natural, and an escape from city life, all in one place.

Photos by Jeremie Warshafsky

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Romanian Evening on the Hill designed by Fabrica de arhitectura to provide owners with a private haven in an urban setting

By • May 31, 2019

Just past the city centre of Bucharest, Romania, a lovely family home called Evening on the Hill was designed and built by Fabrica de Arhitectura to provide a family with more privacy, calm, and quiet despite their close proximity to the excitement and convenience that city life provides.

Because the area chosen for the house, though slightly removed from the downtown core, is still so densely populated, the designers on this project took several measures with the primary aim of giving the family a more intimate environment in which to live. At the same time, they sought to built a home with an efficient eco-design and smart energy use in order to keep costs down.

Part of the work in making the space feel slightly more secluded than it really is was already achieve in the fact that the plot sits on a small private road, set away from the main drag. Here, only five homes have been built, with no plans for more. On that road, a sense of community is built within the privacy and peaceful seclusion, almost like those neighbours are their own little full community.

Besides sharing a road, the homes surrounding the new house also share a courtyard (which is central for socializing but has been divided into smaller units to portion fair space to each family), an indoor swimming pool, and a relaxing communal spa area. Access to these stunning features is reserved for residents of the road and their guests only, keeping things clean and making it feel like an extension of one’s actual home.

As a result of these fantastic shared amenities, a unique blending of semi-public and private space is established. This enhances the residents’ sense of community with each other but, thanks to the foliage surrounding each house and every shared space, still restricts the area from the wider world enough that one might also feel closer to nature and the quiet that green spaces offer.

Inside the new house, as is true with the others, that sense of shared space but easy access to private calm is continued. The homes are carefully decorated down to the smallest detail, featuring traditional Romanian motifs within the interior design scheme of each one. Visual patterns and local natural materiality are combined in each home’s living spaces, creating an aesthetic that is carefully balanced between local cultural living and contemporary lifestyles.

As if these features weren’t enough, the houses themselves were actually even placed and situated with strategy. Each one sits in a direction, with a very intentional room arrangement, such that one might enjoy their morning coffee while watching the sunrise from their living room and then, later in the day, witness the sunset from the comfort of their bedroom on the other side of the house. Serenity and nature combine once more in this unique element.

Photos by Cosmin Dragomir

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Multiple Courtyard House by Poetic Space Studio features almost as many private outdoor spaces as interior rooms

By • May 31, 2019

On the outskirts of Bangkok in Thailand, a stunningly bright and open family home called Multiple Courtyard House was specifically designed by Poetic Space Studio to take advantage of the beautiful weather through, as its name suggests, multiple lovely outdoor courtyards!

The house was commissioned by a family looking to resettle themselves in the calmer edges of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core where they’d lived previously. Their standard city-style row house simply wouldn’t do for their seven multi-generational family members any longer, particularly since they all had different needs based on their different ages.

Besides just needing more physical space in general, the growing children were also finding a need for more personal space of their own inside the home as well. Additionally, the family and designers alike wanted to prioritize an increase in common and social spaces where family members might do activities together and bond despite the increase in private time and areas.

Although still quite agricultural, the area the new house was built in is afforded all close by amenities by virtue of the fact that is sits in a sort of small, calm suburb of Bangkok. This means living is still urban and convenient while room is afforded for the house and family to spread out. Dreams of having their own kitchen garden for example, might finally come true!

The home’s angled and stacked looking exterior features impressively tall glazed windows and smoothly wooden slatted doors that make it resemble a sort of spa. Even from the outside, onlookers can see the blinds that one might pull down when the summer sun becomes too intense and the abundant natural daylight that spills in from every direction can be spared.

Inside the house, six bedrooms and a large shared bathroom make up the private wing, while the half of the house across from it, through the front hall, houses the common spaces. Although not small, the bedrooms are quite modest. They give each family member that much needed privacy without taking up too much space in the house so that shared family areas can still be prioritized as far as layout is concerned.

This is the first way that the home’s multiple courtyards serve a functional purpose. The smaller courtyard extends such that it creates a small spatial division between the private and public sectors, making the bedrooms feel even more like one’s own without actually secluding them or closing them away. the sunny little courtyard with its small water feature is simply a visual demarcation of function, as well as a place to relax. It also sits in the centre of the layout, anchoring the house.

Besides that, two other courtyards can be enjoyed. The largest main courtyard features a cool, serene swimming pool and a luscious green garden. The two together create a space of relaxation and calm where one can always seek sunlight and fresh air. Because of the way the interior living spaces open right onto the courtyard’s patio, it becomes the central hub of most family activity and social time.

The third courtyard, which is small like the first, is home to a lovely flowering tree to the size of the bedroom wing. Inset into the home’s structure between the two sides of the wing, it simultaneously increases privacy from one set of rooms to the other but also presents another common space in which family members might spend quiet time together.

Photos by Songtam Srinakarin

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Contemporary Project #3 created by Studio Wills + Architects to provide a visual “break” on an old city street

By • May 30, 2019

On an fairly new, busy street in Singapore, architects and designers from Studio Wills + Architects have completed Project #3 in an interesting looking and impressive attempt to break up the visual line of standard, similar townhouses all along the sidewalk so the eye’s palate gets a little something different as the public passes by.

The Project #3 house is a lovely, spacious bungalow in an exclusive and calm residential enclave. The neighbourhood consists of 106 semi-detached homes and three bungalows. The intention of including these bungalows along the street from the very beginning was to break up the repetitive look of the many semi-detached homes in each row with a big of height and width difference.

The image designers had in mind placing so many nearly identical homes together and then breaking them up periodically with the three bungalows was that of a necklace with different kinds of beads strung periodically to break up smaller repeated ones. Think of big rounded beads string between smaller pearls!

The area of land that the enclave occupies is a long and quite thin, keeping in a straight line all the way down in a linear manner. This is another place where alternating lower standing bungalow houses with taller semi-detached houses was a purposeful design choice; the difference in levels between the houses helps stop the street from feeling like an opaque wall all the way down.

Amidst the semi-detached homes, several courtyards were built into the ground covered by the smaller dwellings to ensure that each home gets some kind of outdoor space, as well as lots of light. The courtyards present increased surface area for bright windows in both the back and front, keeping all of the houses, no matter their structure, comfortable and well lit.

The courtyards serve several other purposes as well. Adding more window space provides additional ventilation along with the abundant natural light. The convenient outdoor spaces between the technical plots of the semi-detached houses also make the space that belongs to each feel more distinct, autonomous, and independent of each other despite their close proximity.

In terms of their style, both the bungalows and the semi-detached houses were specifically designed with a combination of features that might make them suit multi-generational families. The homes are fully equipped but also quite open concept, with diverse spaces that might be used for all kinds of communal or private activities. This theme extends into the outdoor courtyards, which feature relaxing patio spaces, greenery, and small swimming pools.

Between the intentionally differently levelled houses and the additional visual breaks provided by the sunny courtyards, the taller semi-detached houses appear like small towers. The skyline of the street takes on a prismatic quality that creates a stunningly interesting silhouette from a distance.

In terms of materiality, the towers are constructed from 2-stone sand shades, with surface textures akin to that of a rock face full of crevices. This contrasts with the bungalow’s black, slightly more sleek appearance. In the low home’s interior, the intention of the decor was to create a balance of void spaces and solid spaces, which naturally creates contrasts in dark and light.

Photos provided by the architects.

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MOIA Offices by Laik.Design

By • May 30, 2019

In the city centre of Hamburg, Germany, a subsidiary company of the iconic Volkswagen brand recently commissioned architects at Laik.Design to redo their primary work spaces. That’s how the MOIA Offices got their bright and innovative new look!

MOIA is the branch of the larger Volkswagen company that provides on-demand mobility services to the surrounding area and internationally. From the beginning, the goal was to provide an open, bright, and engaging space with all kinds of diverse, comfortable, and motivating places for employees to choose from to work.

The office at large occupies a 1,400 square metre space in the centre of the historic Stadthöfe building in Hamburg’s downtown core. Referred to as a “work home” rather than just an office, the space is known for its cozy, comfortable layout and amicable atmosphere, as well as its incorporation of cheerful, motivating bright colours, decor, and themes that change from spot to spot.

In total, the office is “home” to 120 employees. Designers took great care and put thoughtful effort into making sure the space offers flexible meeting boxes for smaller (one on one or in teams of four) collaboration situations, individual study spaces, kitchen and break areas, and common spaces for visitors to wait or meet with employees in.

The kitchen, which is fully equipped just like a kitchen in the average home, lies in the very heart of the office like a central hub. In the corner, a fully functioning cafe station sits for smaller break when an employee simply needs a walk around and a coffee to fresh themselves before getting back to work.

Larger meetings and full office presentations are accounted for in the layout as well. To the side of the kitchen is a spacious communal seating area for workshops and meetups. Acoustics around the office at large were improved from what the building originally had to offer in the way LAIK.Design conceptualized and installed a tailor-made wooden ceiling.

Besides improving sound quality and travel power, the custom ceiling is actually also quite decorative. It is made from wooden triangles, circles, and battens that have a sort of intriguing visual quality that easily catches the yes of visitors. This plays off the presence of bright wall murals and art pieces by local artists that depict and play off of themes of social movements and networking and other things interlinked with the company’s business and industry.

Photos by Sarah Rubensdörffer

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Virginia House created by Lucas Amione from local social housing to repurpose local historical homes

By • May 29, 2019

In what used to be a social housing neighbourhood in Santiago, Chile, Lucas Amione has created the Virginia House, a refurbishment project designed to create a modern, stylish, and comfortable home from a piece of local history.

The neighbourhood where the house sits newly transformed was established and built in the early 1960s. The dwellings there were all created using prefabricated designs involving concrete panels and wooden trussed roofs with a saddle shape. Over time, the economic growth in the city influenced its social and architectural fabric, generating continuous change and improvement in the area, particularly in recent decades.

This particular dwelling was actually one of the last on the street left in its original state by the time designers selected it for renovation. Teams arrived on site to find a building in its precise old construction, one of only a few that hadn’t yet had any type of intervention to its interior or exterior.

In order to give the modest original dwelling a little more expanse, designers began reconstruction by expanding its limits to the edges of the plot horizontally, stretching to the east and west. The house received a vertical expansion as well, this time from light steel rather than the same heavy materials originally used to build its foundation.

These expansions make much better use of the plot than the original design but still leave space in the front and back, as well as to the sides of the house. On one side, owners are afforded access to parking, leaving the other side for a stunning garden that wasn’t there before. Bringing additional greenery into the scene brightens the whole plot and helps bring it to the level of those houses on the street around it that have already been updated.

Inside the refurbished home, the same goal of expanding and using space more effectively continues but designers also heavily prioritized the amount of natural sunlight that might reach the interior spaces. Now, a double story vertical void of freeing space right in the centre of the house lets light permeate just about every corner. A light staircase connects the home’s two levels through this space.

While the vertical space gives a sense of openness and freedom to the bottom floor, it also provides a sense of privacy and intimacy to the bedrooms upstairs; building them to be closed off along the side of the void’s top creates a border and makes them feel cozy instead of dark.

The way the windows are placed in the house does more than just let sunlight in, even though that was top interior priority. Where the windows are situated in the house also plays a huge role in heat regulation, which is important in Chile’s hot summer afternoons. Windows are purposely placed towards the north while solid walls are built along the west side, letting passive heat control work in partnership with various ventilation systems.

Speaking of ventilation, the wooden cladding on the facade of the home’s upper floor is, besides being decorative, actually a ventilated wall system! This portion of the house helps reduce thermal transmittance through the walls. On the ground floor, the exteriors are painted a dark, neutral colour that contrasts well with the much brighter interiors. The transformation that takes place when guests enter into the colourfully accented interior after witnessing these darker neutrals establishes a sense of modern sophistication.

The final huge priority in transforming this house was to create a better relationship between the dwelling (even in its interior spaces) and the outside world, blending indoor and outdoor experiences. The first step towards this was taken when a glass wall made from floor to ceiling sliding doors was installed in the warm but shaded back of the house, allowing the living room to be opened onto a patio full of fresh breezes.

The final (and perhaps most pleasant) effort in creating a better relationship between the house and its surrounding outdoor area is the small courtyard to one side, near the garden. It sits in an indentation of the home’s wall, which affords it some privacy, and enjoys the shade of a small green tree. Rather than green lawns like the rest of the yard, this place is more of a serene rock garden.

Photos by Pablo Casals Aguirre

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The Chalet du Bois Flotté built by BOOM TOWN to mimic the first homes every built along the St Lawrence Valley

By • May 29, 2019

Amidst the stunning waterside greenery of La Malbaie in Canada, innovative designers and architectural teams at BOOM TOWN has created The Chalet du Bois Flotté in the image of the first homes originally built all along the St Lawrence Valley.

In English, the home is aptly named The Driftwood Chalet. It sits delicately on a gently sloping terrace of land, overlooking Cap-a-l’Aigle and the Malbaie River. The view provided by this vantage point affords the home a breathtaking view of the river’s winding shape and slow tides. The chalet features the traditional gabled roof and rectangular structure of those original historical homes it’s intended to emulate so closely.

The chalet consists of two clear but seamlessly connected volume. These are joined at right angles to each other in order to create a full structure that looks refined even as it appears rustic. The roof, which is made of locally sourced steel, extends in certain places to provide coverage over the edges of the walls, contrasting well with the cedar of the gables.

The chalet was built with not just the possibility of wear and weathering in mind, but rather the purposeful intention of accommodating it and letting it become part of the building’s character and aesthetic. Designers used cedar partially for the way that contact with the fresh sea air will gradually oxidize it, giving it that particularly lovely silvery quality that is so characteristic and notorious in seaside dwellings.

The way the chalet is nestled into the land terrance on which it sits lets the indoor spaces it provides merge seamlessly with the outdoors for a stunning indoor-outdoor blending experience. This is particularly true where the two volumes of the house meet. All around the outer walls, large windows provide unparalleled views and give the interior spaces abundant light.

The strategic use of metal contrasted with light cedar wood undoubtedly gives the home a sense of authenticity, but also a sort of charming pre-worn quality, almost like it’s actually made of driftwood that has been carried by the currents of the water it overlooks. It is impressive but modest nestled into the landscape, contributing to the beauty rather than interrupting it.

The inside of the house is similarly modern and rustic at once, providing all the amenities of contemporary living with that same authentic looking rustic character. The decor scheme is typical of Scandinavian approaches to interiors. The floors are polished concrete from the entrance all the way to the full hight glass wall that makes up the entire Western face and opens the communal living spaces into the outdoor environment surrounding the house.

Set below the main public spaces, lower down the slope, lie the children’s rooms. These are not, however, just bedrooms for sleeping. This portion of the house is an entire level meant for play and relaxation. From here to the main living room, a moveable ladder leads onto the mezzanine level, giving little ones a fun way to scramble upwards for meals or school.

Photos by Maxime Brouillet

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Unity Headquarters by Rapt Studio

By • May 28, 2019

In the sunny but busy streets of San Francisco, California, Rapt Studio has created a company headquarters in a historic old building with plenty of character both inside and out. The Unity Headquarters uses a stripped away aesthetic to impress visitors with visual sophistication worthy of their shining reputation in their industry.

Unity is a 3D development platform company and creator of the world’s most widely downloaded platform for developers looking to create interactive 2D, 3D, VR and AR experiences internationally. The company’s employees were in need of an innovative, flexible, and contemporary workspace that matches the level of forward thinking found in their product and service.

The goal from the beginning was to create an office with an atmosphere and framework that feels comfortable and accessible to everyone but also like it was built for the next generation of developers and industry leaders. Like the software they create, Unity executives wanted their head office to harness flexibility and transformation.

This is part of the reason designers chose to make the most of available space by building the office across two existing buildings, joining them as a single complex in the process. The full expanse of the office occupies a three-storey atrium that boasts individual and group workspaces, places for events and full dining experiences, and areas for screenings and tech assembly.

As might be expected from a leading tech company, the office is cutting edge in the way it uses modern electronic devices to make office processes, both individual and group, feel simple, fast, and streamlined. Employees can both attend and participate in mass meetings from any floor without even getting up from their individualized workspace.

At the same time as the office allows for fantastic individualized productivity thanks its tech accessibility and layout, it is also decorated in a way that fosters togetherness and encourages collaboration. A calming, neutral colour scheme and natural palette of materiality makes the space feel relaxing even as it enables a fast paced work day, making the work day feel like a gathering rather than a staunch and lonely process.

Besides being created to foster collaboration and productivity, the office’s interior was put together with the specific goal of harnessing the beauty of the original building in an authentic way. Many of the materials now featured in the decor scheme, furnishings, and details were original elements before teams arrived on scene.

The materials preserved in this way (which were almost all locally sourced) were primarily natural ones. Brick walls were left exposed all around the office, concrete columns remain uncovered, and salvaged wooden beams were move from their original places and transformed into the facade of the new reception desk, as well as the canteen bar. Upcycling played a huge role in balancing the new with the historical all across the office.

The canteen bar is a social hub within a hardworking office. It is a comfortable space designed to help employees relax, get to know one another, and give their brains a break so as to avoid losing steam during the day. It is understood here that any employee is welcome to make themselves a coffee or even pour themselves a beer.

The central atrium of the building, around and above which various workspaces in the office are built, is another place where authentically old fashioned looking elements are incorporated into a high tech place. Here, an industrial staircase provides access to every floor with a bright, open atmosphere that gives views into different collaborative rooms as you travel up or down.

Overall, designers wanted to provide Unity’s employees with a space that might be as fast paced and simple to use as the technologies they create. The office’s floor plan includes phone rooms, cafes, lounges, conference rooms of different kinds, and even a well stocked library full of relevant reference materials. Employees are enabled to work from almost anywhere in the building with full access to what they need, set up comfortably enough that they feel right at home.

Photos by Jasper Sanidad

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Fujitsu Offices by Billard Leece Partnership blend Japanese company’s values and local Australian influence in Melbourne

By • May 28, 2019

In the heart of Melbourne, Australia, a new international office for the Japanese company Fujitsu was recently completed by design teams at Billard Leece Partnership with the goal of blending visual, spacial, and decorative elements from both countries.

The well known global technology firm wanted to build a space for their employees that bears recognizable details from each nation’s style, culture, and history, but also feels cohesive within itself in order to keep things comfortable and easy to concentrate in. Designers wanted to create a scheme that harness’s the company’s international value of “One Fujitsu” while adding a bit of an Australian flavour into the mix for the sake of familiarity.

Melbourne is a city that is already quite known for its slightly European influence architecture and styling, which gave designers something quite unique to work with already. The result of this and Japanese concepts of tech access and clean minimalism was a clean, crisp, and slightly understated sense of contemporary styling. Readily apparent quality can be seen in every material detail and finished surface.

Another point of decor inspiration from Melbourne itself was the way that city is organized. Laid out in a grid-like fashion with notorious laneways interspersed alongside main streets, the city’s structure motivated the way designers incorporated pops and streaks of colour throughout different activity zones that other was look quite urbane, refined, and neatly organized.

Fujitsu and their Japanese roots are heavily featured right alongside the decor elements that were inspired by the office’s location. The company’s signature red hue is woven through out the space like a highlight in a fabric, accenting furniture, decor details, and joinery. The presence of bright red serves as a link to the brand’s international status while still keeping the headquarters’ space authentic to its local character.

At the same time as designers aimed to keep Japanese roots and local Melbourne influence enmeshed into their office layout, they also wanted to incorporate the key values of the company itself (beyond just the colour red). The offices, therefore, pay utmost respect to environment through the use of sustainable materials at the same time as they exemplify leadership in innovation through the seamless and accessible integration of cutting edge technologies in the workplace.

Overall, the finished offices present a flexible and adaptive workplace that offers employees of all kinds spaces that are optimized for collaboration, independent focus, client engagement, and workplace community, depending on one’s needs. Each space is equipped with the latest technology, making the office a space of good information flow and interpersonal connectivity.

Photos by Ian Ten Seldam and Damien Kook.

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Kane World Food Studio by Bogdan Ciocodeică created in Bucharest with a mixture of materials and an emphasis on greenery

By • May 27, 2019

In a lovely up and coming neighbourhood located just outside of Bucharest’s downtown core in Romania, Bogdan Ciocodeică has built a beautifully blended looking and nature inspired new space for Kane World Food Studio.

Besides just providing great food to the locals in the area, the restaurant actually aims to become a landmark within the city’s social fabric. You see, this newly transformed building space is just one part of a wider effort to regenerate areas of the city;s boroughs that have become worn and distressed in terms of their buildings and spaces over time.

The approach designers opted to take in terms of aesthetic and materiality was kept quite simply and clear, establishing a sense of atmosphere that might appear minimalist were it not then embellished with lovely abundant greenery. Without doubt, the priority for everyone involved was atmosphere and not image, with acknowledgement for the fact that each improves the other.

Now that it is complete, it feels like an urban oasis the moment you walk through the door. In contrast with the concrete streets outside, the restaurant presents a lush jungle within the steel frame of the building housing it. In a way that fits its diverse, fusion style menu, the restaurant provides a space that feels relaxing but also somehow exotic and worldly.

The plants serve a functional purpose as well as a decorative one! Not only do they create a strong outdoor connection from within the restaurant’s main room, but they also define some of the inner space and provide a bit of privacy to different parts. This is far more pleasant and sensical with the place’s overall values than building, say, solid booth separators. Guests sit within and around pleasant, fresh “screens” of greenery instead.

The plants serve a functional purpose as well as a decorative one! Not only do they create a strong outdoor connection from within the restaurant’s main room, but they also define some of the inner space and provide a bit of privacy to different parts. This is far more pleasant and sensical with the place’s overall values than building, say, solid booth separators. Guests sit within and around pleasant, fresh “screens” of greenery instead.

In some places, fully mirrored walls reflect the space to make the room look open and spacious while brass details contrast beautifully with smooth marble and stunning wooden furniture, adding a sense of the high end to all of that otherwise natural materiality. These metallic details aren’t actually the only place that uses balance and contrast to perfect things.

The seating areas themselves and they way they’re laid out also differ and a well laid out way that creates a sense of balance and contrast simultaneously, making the spaces practical but also enjoyable to use. This lies in the existence of both a higher seating area with a harder perimeter, making it seem a little more fast and formal, and a softer, more fluid seating area in the centre of the room that feels quite shared, organic, and relaxed.

Artwork throughout the space serves both decorative and practical function as well. Besides adding local character and depth to the space through their mere colour and beauty, the art gives the restaurant a sense of depth and volume through the way it was purposely positioned to be reflected across the room in the various mirrors.

Lighting is very intentional within the space as well. Most of the perimeter of the restaurant is floor to ceiling windows, flooding the whole space in stunning light. To work with this, the installed lighting varies between soft, dispersed light that adds a glow to the whole larger space and more direct lighting that focuses on specific tables, adding to social and dining experiences.

In total, the restaurant spans a space of 180 square metres inside. The main dining room offers 74 seated spots, most on custom made furniture or pieces selected from brands made by local designers.

Photos by Andrei Margulescu

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Escala Partners Offices by Molecule Studio

By • May 27, 2019

In the financial district of Sydney’s downtown core, in the sunny streets of Australia, Molecule Studio has recently completed a significant office transformation for prestigious wealth management company Escala Partners.

Besides just physically expanding the square footage of the available office space for those working there, this brand new office project marks an interstate expansion for the company’s overall growth, making it a bit of a tribute as well as a workspace. This office is a sibling space to the primary head office in Melbourne, which was also completed by Molecule Studio in 2013.

This new office is, in a number of ways, influenced by the design and aesthetic present in the previous office, but designers still wanted to give the space in Sydney its own distinct character. They used this updated project as a chance to re-investigate and refine some of their basic design ideas, customizing them to a brand new context.

The goal here was balance between related spaces; the company wanted to see that the new office space had some design and function aspects that were all its own, but without deviating entirely from what they know already works for the same team in another city.

In the new Sydney office, most spacial plans centre around the already grand entrance and the stunning harbour views provided naturally by the location. Why not take advantage of what’s already there and doesn’t need changing to be beautiful? Now, clients enter into a wide and impressive reception area with its own lounge. This greeting space is quite flexible and is therefore also often used for informal client meetings during the day and sometimes even functions in the evening.

The reception area is not, of course, the only space where meetings might take place. There is also a large and fully tech equipped boardroom for office wide meetings and conference calls as well as several smaller meeting rooms for quicker proceedings with less people. These are all positioned adjacently to the building’s facade, giving peeking views of the harbour and skyscraper laden landscape below, a pleasant thing to gaze upon during long meetings.

Joining the reception area to these other spaces, as well as collaborative and individualized work spaces, is a nine metre long hallway-like space that displays stunning materiality. The floor and walls are clad in a smooth, light timber veneer while marble gives the place a sense of sophistication. This stretch also serves as a bit of a divider between the reception and the primary workspaces.

At the end of the office, you’ll find a set of pivoting panels that let employees control whether certain parts of the office can be viewed or given more privacy. Behind these panels sit the full equipped staff kitchen and a case. Each of these boasts lovely timber floorboards and veneering, continuing the front area’s rich and slightly formal looking colour palette.

Although overall colour schemes in the office are quite neutral, there’s still a sense of luxury all throughout the space. This is in the fine copper and metallic finishes, the teal green upholstery, some dark stained timber veneer contrasting with the light, and even some smooth, caramel coloured leather. In some spaces, you’ll also find sandstone inspired marble, which is a direct called to the Melbourne office, where it is paired with navy blue, tan, and rosewood colour schemes.

The finished product is a pair of spaces in different city borders that share a sense of principle and philosophy but each bear that own distinct atmosphere even so.

Photos by Prue Ruscoe

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1960s home updated to create the contemporary Bent Annexe by BENT Architecture

By • May 24, 2019

In the mid-century neighbourhoods of Melbourne, Australia, a lovely old 1960s home called Bent Annexe has received a stylish updating by BENT Architecture that has brought it into the contemporary age in terms of architectural design and style.

The primary change in the home is an extension that was directly inspired by the layout and concept of a traveling caravan. The home is fortunate enough to already be surrounded by lush greenery from the natural environment around it and the installation of wonderfully large floor to ceiling windows draws in abundant amounts of natural light. These are partially intended to provide light and lovely views, but they’re also part of an energy efficient system in the home based on passive solar principles.

The extension was built for the new owners who recently purchased the original home; a young family of four with two dogs and a huge love for all things outdoors. This partially influenced designers’ choices to incorporate as much sunlight and blending of indoor-outdoor space as possible. They also prioritized an improvement on ventilation than what the original midcentury home had to offer.

In the new iteration of the home, the primary living spaces of the house now sit in the addition or new annexe. This left increased space elsewhere in the house for more diverse and flexible use, so designers took the opportunity to update parts of the existing dwelling to take better advantage of that space.

As a result of these updates, the finished house now has much larger bedrooms than before, a large family bathroom, and a whole second living space that functions more as a casual family and media room than a formal living room. The larger, new living spaces sit further towards the original backyard and garden, but the annexe doesn’t take up so much space as to consume the home’s entire available outdoor area.

Instead, designers put in great effort to make the annexe actually feel like part of the garden. They blended it, rather than just popping it in the middle, by creating new green spaces on both sides around it. Now, the green space down one side of the annexe juts inward to separate the original building from the far wall of the addition, creating a sort of calming inner courtyard.

This courtyard is an enjoyable place to spend time together outside for the owners and their family, but it also serves practical functions for the home. Now, the master bedroom has an extra outer wall with large windows that give it much more natural light, as do both of the living areas. These huge windows create the illusion of continuous space, which lets them feel blended with the greenery outside, making them feel spacious and welcoming.

In order to make sure that the house doesn’t let is so much light as to get too hot, designers also installed a built-in shading system over several of the largest glass encasements. This is where the caravan inspired element is perhaps the most visually apparent; these retractable shading devices create cool spaces on the deck and outdoor dining area while also working with the louver style windows and thermal mass concrete floors to passively heat or cool the house at large.

Photos by Tatjana Plitt

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Beautifully named and decorated House of the Winds created by Leo Romano to combine natural materiality with open spaces

By • May 24, 2019

On a stunning green plot on the edges of a city in Brazil, Leo Romano has recently created a stunning L-shaped house called House of the Winds with the explicit intention of creating a relaxing atmosphere through natural materiality and blending indoor and outdoor spaces into one lovely living area.

The house was built on a lusciously green plot of land that provides a lot in terms of views and garden spaces already. Designers chose to create a building that clearly uses contemporary architectural principles despite its very natural looking setting in order to create some beautiful contrast right off the bat, before visitors have even entered through the front door.

The shape of the house creates a fantastic recessed area in the inner yard where the walls provide some shade for a lovely balcony. The way the house dips inward also gives a feeling of increased green space, contributing even more to the already nature-filled views that same balcony is afforded.

The L of the house is formed by two separate volumes with varying floor plans. The two box-shaped volumes overlap at one end, which is where the differentiation between public and private spaces inside the home takes place. Social and shared living spaces lie in the front volume where the main entrance is, while intimate spaces like the bedrooms and a master bathroom sit in the volume that sits further away from the public entrance.

The base of the volumes on both sides is formed from reinforced concrete which, all around the top half of the house, is surrounded by a screen. This screen is made from steel rebar, which creates a visually interesting effect and makes the structure look rather grand and noble indeed.

In stunning contrast, a smooth wooden partial facade wraps around the side of the house with more windows facing towards the best natural sunlight. Large wooden shades here can be pulled closed for inner shade, temperature regulation, and privacy, as you see in most photos here, or the screens can be pulled back and fully opened to welcome the sky into the room.

A similar fully opened feeling can be achieved downstairs in the primary living rooms and social spaces. Here, the full floor to ceiling patio windows that protect the inside of the house from weather without sacrificing any light can be retracted fully into the solid walls surrounding them, almost as if the barrier between the living and dining areas and the sunny patio has dissolved.

To give the inside of the house as much character as the outside provides viewers from the street, designers on this project chose to furnish and decorate the space using pieces created primarily by artists from the local area. Brazilian made furnishings made the spaces comfortable and stylishly useful while stunningly colourful paintings and impressive sculptures created by local artists make the home feel every more inviting and uniquely contemporary.

Photos provided by the architects.

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Sleek, open concept Business Center Binet created by AZC Architectes using minimalist values, concrete, and wood to create a multipurpose space

By • May 23, 2019

In a historic neighbourhood located just northwest of Paris’s 18th arrondissement in France, AZC Architectes has finished the stunningly minimalist Business Center Binet, presenting those who use it with nearly endless spacial possibilities.

The centre is located in the Porte de Montmartre neighnourhood, bordering the stunning town of Saint-Ouen. Freshly renovated in several areas and capacities, the place where the new business centre sits is part of an extensive urban renewal project taken on by the city of Paris in order to better facilitate modernizing changes to its historical local architectural fabric.

In fact, this is actually one of the several projects that were named priority in its particular location! This business large complex was created to provide a brand new home for up to 59 businesses. Alongside those premises, it also features shared spaces like communal areas, a large multi-purpose hall, a fully equipped conference room, and a cafeteria. There are even 33 easily accessible underground parking spots!

Besides providing new (or newly moved) businesses with flexible, modern, and diverse spaces to work out of, the goal with this business complex was to provide a structure for local businesses that is actually sustainable. The building’s solid facade and simple but sophisticated interior communicates a certain quality of life and business and takes fantastic advantage of available space.

Most spots up for grabs to businesses are generously open in their arrangement and concept. Many offer terraces and uniquely shaped workspaces, with spots for individualized tasks and collaborative efforts. At the same time as it offers several things that are practically useful for a workplace, the building also gives employees and clients there breathtaking views and carefully landscaped green spaces that contrast in a lovely way with the still quite urban setting in which the building sits.

In terms of its actual layout, the building turns at a right angle into a sort of L-shape, letting it run parallel to two different roads. This shape affords it more window spaces in each business premises, making the rooms bright and well lit no matter where they’re located within it. Large, spacious hallways are featured right from the ground floor upwards, with elevators easily accessible, central, and simple to find on each floor so that movement through the building is simple and flows well.

The building also offers a certain level of welcoming, contemporary transparency throughout the floors, where the fronts of most office and work spaces are comprised of stunning, glazed floor to ceiling windows just as tall as those on the outside of the building letting daytime pour in. This lights flow throughout the whole building itself, traveling through the rooms rather than hitting them all individually and differently but then being collected and left to sit still in the interior of each.

In fact, the emphasis on natural sunlight and its flow was so high on the designers’ lists when they began planning the new business centre that it was actually listed as being inspired by the concept of building a “daylight factory”! The clean, simple materiality inside lets sunlight bounce off polished concrete floors and warm smooth, light wood in a way that gives each space plenty of character before they’re even occupied and furnished by a business.

This heavy emphasis on maximizing the amount of sunlight that reaches an interior space is actually one of the main ways the business centre displays its little bit of Westernized influence, since that’s actually a North American architectural priority. In other places, however, the building is still distinctly European, as can be seen in the fact that it’s topped by a sunny, quiet rooftop terrace, something that isn’t as common across the pond from Paris and its outlying towns.

Photos by Sergia Grazia

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Shipping Container Carpark by Archimontage Design Fields

By • May 23, 2019

In a suburb of sunny Bangkok in Thailand, innovative designers at Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated have thought inside the box in order to create a unique parking garage built entirely out of upcycled shipping crates!

In total, the carpark is made of eight very large shipping containers that were deemed too old for their original use. Instead of letting them be thrown out, this company spruced them up, made sure they didn’t bear any weak spots, and transformed them into a building! This building looks shockingly elegant considering its recycled nature, sitting in the centre of the suburb of Nonthaburi.

Within those eight containers we mentioned, the building is made up of two different sizes of container;  four large and four small. The four smaller modules make up the wonderfully bright, light filled front building while the larger ones make up the places to the back and top where cars are stored when they’re parked. The containers are arranged purposefully and strategically to fit effectively into the narrow, compact little corner lot in which they sit.

Originally, this plot was home to another building. This building also featured a car care business but it was simply too old and run down to continue housing the service in a way that gave the owners what they truly needed. Designers immediately began strategizing better ways to organize and take advantage of the 3000 square foot lot, with its unique long and narrow shape.

In order to expand on the space the owners might have available without trying to fill the lot too heavily, designers chose to build things upwards rather than outwards. This is how the stacked looking vertical design that you see in the photos came about. Growing the building to boast three stories provided more flexible, multi-purpose space without cramming too much onto the ground level and overwhelming the look of the street around the structure.

The bottom level of the finished carpark as it is now was designed to let the business it houses grow. The spaces that aren’t currently being used serve well for storage until the owners get back into the swing of things with clients post renovations and overflow of car service moves into that space instead.

On the second floor things are actually entirely open and empty right now, but they won’t stay that way forever. The owners actually have plans for building a restaurant and bar there above the carpark! The third floor is and will remain a lovely, light filled office space with an outdoor staircase that lets visitors access it without crossing the work floor where the cars are serviced.

Speaking of spaces being light filled, the level of natural sunlight was actually a huge priority in this project and partially determined how the shipping containers were arranged! The goal was to create as much window space as possible but, due to the intense Thai heat in the summer, designers still chose to install metal sun shades in certain places so the level of sunlight can be reduced when necessary in order to avoid overheating.

The final touch on the building’s completion was to paint the exterior in as aesthetically pleasing but subtle matte black. This helped the building itself blend into the urban landscape around it while also reducing solar radiation. To contrast this and keep things from feeling too dark and closed off, the carpark’s interiors all remain a clean, bright white that looks very modern and impressive indeed.

Photos by Chaovarith Poonphol

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Literally named Trentham Long House created by MRTN Architects to exemplify contemporary rustic design principles

By • May 22, 2019

In Trentham, Australia, a uniquely shaped and very long house that was recently finished by MRTN Architects has been appropriately dubbed the Trentham Long House. This stunning structure combines contemporary interior decor and slightly rustic building all in one seamless and interesting place.

The Trentham Long House sits comfortably nestled atop the Great Dividing Range on the edge of the sleep town of Trentham, about 100km outside the city of Melbourne. Once upon a time it was a gold mining town, but now it’s a calm, quiet country escape. The dwellers of Trentham value their home for its country air, which is crisp, cool, and incredibly fresh, and also for its quiet streets, which are most often free of traffic.

It makes sense, then, that this relaxing town is the perfect setting for a home that’s intended to feel a little bit like you’re stepping back in time, even though it still has all the sleek amenities of contemporary living. The house is a delicate balance of the simplicity of times of auld and the conveniences of modern home technology.

The house is more than just a semi-traditional throwback to simpler living. It’s actually part of a partially rural development that sits on the periphery of the small town and prioritizes low maintenance, energy efficient homes. The Long House in particular was build for an older couple who often have their children and grandchildren stays for visits. They requested a home that would harness the historical elements of the area and its local context but also provide a comfortable dwelling with easy living all year round. They also wanted to be able to host large family gatherings!

Though the house has several nearby neighbouring properties, its situated so as to feel serenely on its own. It bears expansive garden in both the front and the back, giving it quite idyllic views no matter where in the house you’re seated. The actual structure of the house is very unique indeed; rather than being one solid piece standing within shared walls, the Long House is actually a collection of contemporarily styled farm buildings that have been gathered under one very large gabled roof.

This sort of semi-attached building collective is actually typical of the traditional farming houses in the local area’s history. In fact, the goal to be authentic with the house was so well met that parts of it are actually upcycled buildings from real surrounding farms that were not longer in use.

The garage, for example, was once an old machinery shed. The main farmhouse, which is organized around a central and traditionally laid out farmhouse kitchen with its own wood burning stove, is new but several elements of it were built with reclaimed and locally sourced wood.

In terms of materiality, the house maintains a naturally subtle colour palette in the way it uses things that were sourced directly from the surrounding environment. The house is actually built with natural wear and tear over time in mind. The facade, which is made of gum wood cladding, will gain a natural patina as it weathers, which is specifically intended to add to the home’s historical character. This will blend it even more effectively into its natural surroundings than has already happened.

In the home’s interior functions, the buildings are divided according to function, so that the needs to low impact country life all make sense as you move throughout the space. There is also a blending of function in certain places. For example, there is a carport at one end of the long house that provides shade and coverage to the area directly next to it, which is a guest house. The overhand provides a buffer to the hot Australian sun.

Towards the far end of the house from the meandering driveway, you’ll encounter a row of mature eucalyptus trees. These are stunning to look at and provide shade, but they also have a functional purpose in the way they separate the relaxing home spaces from the parts of the land plot that actually feature more functionally working farm aspects.

In the main living spaces, the warm hearth is the centre of the house around which most things are arranged. It creates a lovely focal point that is also a clear and comfortable gathering place and delineates the seating and meeting area from the eating area. Because the interior decor scheme is so sleek and simple, actual architectural elements of these spaces are given more visual space, speaking to the home’s traditional senses.

Perhaps the most contemporary element of the home- the place where the contrast is most stark- is in the kitchen. Here, life seems more high tech with modern cooking facilities and glazed floor to ceiling windows with movable screens that can blend indoor and outdoor spaces. Moving towards the private sleeping spaces of the house, things feel more local and traditional again.

Photos by Anthony Basheer

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