Author Archives - Stefan
Concrete House MC2 created by Gastón Castellano to stand out strongly without interrupting the surrounding landscape
By Stefan • Feb 8, 2019
Besides the structure itself, perhaps the best feature of the House MC2 land plot is the sprawling carob tree in the centre of the yard. This tree was native to the land, so designers opted to work around it and incorporate it into the layout of the new building project, disturbing it as little as possible. Designers aimed to wrap the house around the tree’s natural space while still building closely enough to it that a cohesiveness is created between the two.
The house itself is built in two primary volumes in order to account for the space the carob tree needed. The first volume sits at the ground level and houses the public or common areas of the house, where visitors might be entertained. Keeping these rooms on street level was intentional for giving the house sensical flow. The perpendicular orientation of this floor was intentional as well, making it a sort of dividing wall between the private yard and where the plot beings at the street.
The second volume, which sits up top in the concrete building, is where the private areas of the house are located. While the ground floor volume is quite open concept, with openness due to wooden slatted screens leading into the yard, the private areas up top are much more closed in. Even so, they remind quite bright and calm in their atmosphere thanks to emphasis on lovely windows and some skylights.
Because the building itself is made of such heavy materials, designers put some concentration into making sure a cohesion between inner and outer areas existed in full bloom, complete with greenery and plants throughout. One of the loveliest features that falls into the vein is the screened off area that serves as a patio when open on warm days and a sun room when it’s closed off in colder weather.
Besides atmosphere, designers also put a lot of emphasis on incorporating entertainment right into the home by building certain spaces specifically intended for hosting, socializing, or hobby time. The basement, for example, is noise insulated for music and recording. There is also a fully equipped entertainment room for movies and television and a wine cellar to give owner lots of options when guests come over.
Now, we’ve talked a lot about the concrete nature of this home but, believe it or not, it actually had a practical and functional goal as well as a stylistic one. Thanks to its solid materials and shape, the house is actually anti-seismic, making it safer in the event of an earthquake. By default, the house is also lower maintenance, which is a perk for new owners.
Photos by Gonzalo Viramonte
By Stefan • Feb 8, 2019
In the quietly developing urban area of a small Portuguese village, contemporary design and architecture company Gonçalo Duarte Pacheco has built the gorgeously sprawling SP House to stand out amongst the local buildings of Salir do Porto.
The house sits close to the wonderfully mesmerizing Bay of Sao Matinho do Porto, affording it breathtaking views from all sides and any room. Thanks to its plot on the outer fringes of the village, the house also benefits from the slightly more peaceful atmosphere of the rolling orchards that lie to the south of the residential spaces.
Because it leads down towards the rolling orchards we’ve already mentioned, the land plot of this house itself also slopes and varies. In fact, one end has a height difference of 3m to the other. Rather than trying to work against this unique terrain, designers opted to work with it instead. They did this by dividing the house into two main levels, each with its own volumes; one upstairs and three downstairs on the ground level.
Besides featuring the public and common spaces of the house, the lower floor also boasts two impressive outdoor spaces that are perfect for hosting guests, including a lovely swimming pool on the side of the house that gets more sun. These are levelled to a certain extent to keep the pool and patios functionally even but they still blend well into the terrain.
Leading up from the ground level into the private volume that houses the bedrooms, you’ll find a smooth, gently sloping ramp that acts like a bridge from the bottom of the plot’s slope to the top. Breaking off from this bridge, you’ll also find the spot that gives main access to the street, where cars can pull in and drive slowly downward to access the parking. You’ll also find another outdoor space in the form of a sunny terrace.
Besides the slopes and bridges, perhaps the most notable part of the house’s layout is the inclusion of clear glass. SP House is rife with picturesque, sprawling windows, terrace fences built from glass, and skylights that help keep the inside of the house just as bright and well lit as the stark white finishes you’ll see all throughout.
Photos by the architects.
Panache building created by Maison Edouard François as a stunning example of uniquely conceptual vertical living
By Stefan • Feb 7, 2019
In the incredibly unique city of Grenoble, France, design teams at the innovative company Maison Edouard François recently created the unique and stylishly industrial looking high rise apartment building called Panache. Within their exploration of vertical rising, these designers created a sense of spatial evenness and fairness that’s almost unparalleled in the buildings surrounding Panache.
All together, Panache contains eleven apartments and six differently levelled terraces. These sit staggered at the top of the building, affording those who sit on them all different views of the city depending on which way they’re angled and which side of the building they’re oriented towards.
In the building process of this project, one of the main challenges was figuring out how to effectively power and heat a building so thin and tall, which isn’t typical for the area. They also wanted to be careful with the layout of each apartment because, even though the primary concept was vertical living, teams wanted to avoid sacrificing living space as much as possible.
Part of this was done by creating a sense of cohesive blending between indoor and outdoor space thanks to personal balconies, which give a sunny outdoor space on top of the common terraces. Opening the balconies provides effective air circulation and cooling properties throughout the units but, at the same time, will maintain a high level of nice, natural light when the doors have to be closed off for warmth in the winter.
Inside the apartments, designers opted to created spaces that, despite not feeling closed off or closed in, still have some distinction within themselves when it comes to division of public and private space. This is why all of the social, hosting, and bonding rooms sit closer to the balcony, where the energy and focus of the house really draws people, while the private spaces sit slightly further away and more removed, where some peace and quiet can be sought.
Because the apartments are on the smaller side (despite being fully equipped and not quite little enough to qualify them as micro-living spaces), the terraces really were marketed by designers as additional living spaces akin to being second homes. That’s one of the many reasons that the view from up at the top of the building is so pivotal. Few things in the area are as beautiful as the looming image of the Belledonne mountain chain in the distance.
Photos by Sergio Grazia and Luc Boegly
In the spirit of upcycling to preserve historical buildings and traditional styles, California based design company Walker Warner transformed an old barn and expanded on its space using entirely local upcycled oak salvaged from buildings and structured in the immediate area.
Located in Northern California, this large, authentically rustic house consists of various gabled sections supported on the inside to resist the weather but carefully wrapped in reclaimed wood from all over the local area. Known as the Portola Valley Barn, the house is built on a four acre property with more than enough space for its main house (which is the part that was transformed from an original old house), the newly built guest quarters, and a back space with an office and space for entertainment and relaxation with family and friends.
The house is nestled in the centre of a grove of trees, in a natural clearing that didn’t require building teams to clear anything at all. Within this clearing fits each volume of the house and a sunny terrace built off the edge of a beautifully green stretch of lawn. Both the main seat (which is subtly luxurious and even features its own home theatre) and the guest house turn onto this lawn for some easily shared time outdoors between owners and visitors.
Although the design teams wanted to give the new owners a contemporary family space filled with modern amenities, they still wanted to pay homage to the rustic aesthetic and down home atmospheres of the area. That’s why they kept the look and materials of the structures authentic, using stylishly weathered features and giving the buildings a tin roof. The reclaimed oak we’ve referred to is featured all across the outsides, having been harvested in part from old Kentucky barns. Teams alternated this with ebonised mahogany and standing-seam metal that was painted to resemble zinc.
Inside the house, you’ll find a great contrast. Designers chose to built a crisp, clean feeling, modern aesthetic in the rooms to create a transitional experience as you move inwards from the rustic yards. White walls and polished surfaces gleam neatly while large, clean glass windows and walls showcase the scenic terrain and provide a view. This also keeps the house bright through long periods of the day.
Besides the great room, which features a large TV and entertainment system because it was specifically built with the intention of throwing charity events and hosting large family gatherings, the house also features a pool table and a garage that houses a vintage roadster. Entertainment is a surprisingly large priority for a house that, at first glance, looks like a barn! Outside, a stunning concentration on plants and greenery takes centre stage, including local species from the area as well as California lilacs, coffee berry, and strawberry trees.
Photos by Matthew Millman
Stunning La Dacha Mountain Refuge built from blackened wood for rustic mountain atmosphere in Chilean Andes
By Stefan • Feb 6, 2019
In the mountainous area of Las Tancas, in Nevados de Chillan, a Chilean home design and architectural studio called Del Rio Arquitectos Asociados has built a wonderfully tall V-shaped cabin retreat home called La Dacha Mountain Refuge.
In order to get just the right mountainside feel to the home’s aesthetic and atmosphere, designers opted to wrap the subtly luxurious cabin’s exterior walls in charred wood. Far from making the place look too dark or closed off, however, the team ensured that this look was broken up enough to stay light using large glazed windows that give dwellers breathtaking views of the rugged terrain and stunning natural surroundings right outside.
Las Trancas, the lovely little ski town that the Refuge sits on the edge of, is nestled in the heart of a mountainous area that boasts a number of active stratovolcanoes. The multi-story cabin sits below these, jutting gently from a slope and blending quite well into the natural scenery of the area. Looking at the seemingly simple cottage, you might not guess that it was built with several internal water and energy systems that make it run more eco-friendly than the average home.
The development of these systems, which include high-thermal efficiency, stemmed from the fact that this cabin was a site-specific design. This means that teams developed the whole concept, layout, and so on with that very plot in mind, as opposed to some scenarios where the plot is found afterwards and simply used as a site for a previously conceptualized design.
The loosely V-shaped cabin spans an area of 140 square metres within a half-hectare plot of land that is generously studded with trees. Designers specifically oriented the cabin to take advantage of the sun for as long as possible on its path over the mountains. This helps keep the outdoor areas and sports by the window quite warm, but the main energy efficient warmth in the refuge comes from a thermal core and a high insulated perimeter.
Masking this outer insulation are the purposely blackened wooden planks we mentioned earlier. These planks are long cuts of pine that have been charred using a traditional Japanese method called shou sugi ban. Burning the wood in this way is more than just aesthetic; it also helps to increase its resistance to natural weathering, insects, and decay typical of wooden buildings.
The cabin’s exterior walls are clad in pine planks that are charred using the Japanese technique of shou sugi ban. Burning the wood helps increase its resistance to insects and decay. This makes the cabin quite low maintenance to stay in and care for, all while also helping it blend beautifully into its location and natural terrain.
Contrary to the style of many houses, the private zones of this house (like bedrooms and bathroom suites) are situated on the bottom floor of the house, while the public and common space areas where dwellers might entertain guests are located up top. The main entrance to the cabin is located in a sort of middle floor space, which is accessed from outside by a charming wooden bridge.
On the same level as the main entrance, before you’d move on to the bedrooms or the kitchen, living, and dining room, is a small transitional space. Here, you’ll find a wood-burning masonry stove (also known as a kachelofen). This stove helps safely store heat in the thick, insulated walls, generating a whole day’s worth of warmth from a single load of wood.
The use of this stove is quite innovative, despite looking simply traditional and cute. It’s actually an ancient housewarming technique from Europe that is making its way more commonly into certain places in Southern Chile as an eco-friendly response to crucial issues like pollution and high wood consumption.
The outside of the cabin isn’t the only aspect of it that has a welcoming, rustic feel! Inside, you’ll find wonderfully earthy tones as well as stunningly natural materials that once again reflect the beautiful terrain outside the cabin’s walls. These include stone and wood in kinds that are native to the local region.
By Stefan • Feb 6, 2019
Bragança Paulista in Brazil is officially the home of a new kind of housing put forward by innovative design and architectural businesses like Belluzzo Martinhao Arquitetos. Their latest project, called Quinta da Baroneza House, is the starting point for an ongoing goal to take advantage of what stunning natural landscapes have to offer while disturbing the terrain, plant life, and surrounding eco-system as little as possible.
In this case, the natural topography of the chosen plot slopes slightly down the street. Designers solved this by building a monolithic volume that extends as the ground slopes, rather than trying to tear up and change the ground to match their design’s needs. This gave them the opportunity to actually use the slope to their advantage in order to create not only a lower level garage, but even a bit of extra space for a home sauna and spa!
In building the house itself, this team kept several central tenets as their primary goals. They opted to communicate a contemporary style by working with clean, straight lines wherever possible. They also aimed to integrate the various environments the home would contain in order to establish cohesiveness, as well as to pay homage to the natural topography around the finished house by carefully choosing pure, local materials.
In a lovely transitional move, designers chose to line the path to the house’s main entrance with stone cobbles featuring lush green grass between them. This path leads you to a social entrance near the lower garage. From there, guests are greeted with a pleasant pergola and walk through nice wooden doors into the living room, which is furnished intentionally with cozy couches and plenty of seating space intended to encourage bonding with family and friends.
The living room isn’t the only social space in the house! Designers also provided owners with a gorgeously sunny balcony that is integrated fully into the indoor spaces thanks to recessed doors, as opposed to look like it was slapped onto the side of the house like an afterthought. The intention of featuring the living room, balcony, and pool on the same level was to increase the dynamic way in which family and guests might spend time together.
To get to more intimate areas of the house, you’ll travel down a long corridor made entirely of glass that is supported and protected by aluminum slats. Regardless of the weather outside, the journey down this panoramic hallway is stunning. At the end, you’ll find four identical bedroom suites which all face the pool. Past those, a master suite with its own exclusive balcony faces a view of the skyline below the street’s slope that is nothing short of breathtaking.
Although designers put a lot of emphasis on entertaining friends, family, and guests with their wide open social spaces, they also understood that sometimes different members in a family want to spend time or entertain themselves in different ways. That’s why you’ll find an additional private living room and even a home theatre featured in the private wing of the house, past the bedroom suites.
Drifting back out to the home’s more private sector will take you to the kitchen if you move past the impressive living room we discussed earlier. The kitchen is actually quite large, but it’s closed off for the privacy of a resident kitchen staff hired on when owners entertain guests, giving the employees their own more stress free place to work without interruption. The kitchen is spacious, fully and professionally equipped, and even has a nice view of a lovely enclosed garden, giving it great light and ventilation. Guests and family members can access the garden directly from the living room rather than traveling through the kitchen space while people are working away.
Photos by Mariana Orsi
Modern, eye catching Ox’s House created by Leo Romano Arquitetura to push the boundaries of shape and colour
By Stefan • Feb 5, 2019
Located in Goiania, Brazil is a fantastic new project called “Casa do Boi”, or Ox’s House. Recently completed by Leo Romano Arquitetura, the house sits in a stunning valley where the custom tiled panel all along the greeting side catches the eye of anyone who passes it.
The goal in building this unique looking house was two-fold. Firstly, the owners wanted a house that would have as little impact on the land as possible, so designers decided to take that an extra step and make a space that not only revered the land but also incorporated it and blended with it as much as possible.
On the ground floor of the house, social rooms greet visitors with interestingly shaped furniture pieces, fun use of colour, and lots of space for people to sit together and bond in conversation or eat. Perhaps the best part of these spaces, however, is that each one opens alone one wall thanks to huge glass windows and doors, letting the breeze flow in and making the lush green plants outside feel like part of the inner decor as well.
In fact, the greenery (both local and introduced) actually does spill into the house itself; many plants are featured between the dining room and the kitchen. They also dot the balcony and make the swimming pool, which reflects the sun right outside one of the glass doors off the main social space, feel more like a relaxing lake than a man-made water feature.
The house brings local customs and tradition into its decor scheme in two ways besides just native flora and fauna. Many of the stylish and unique looking furniture pieces you see in just about any room were made by local Brazilian artists in styles typical of the region. There’s also a huge presence of wood in the furnishings and finishes and all of this wood was actually sources locally and repurposed by designers throughout the home on both levels.
Throughout the house, you’ll find works by local artists featuring bright colours and angles that play with the angles of the unique furniture to make the whole place feel lively and eclectic. Even the outside of the house features art! The tiled outer facade we mentioned previously, for example, was inspired by the work of Athos Bulcao. Designers began creating the pattern using a sketch of a stylized ox for inspiration (hence the home’s name) but deconstructed the shape of that original image as they conceptualized it, leaving things a little more interesting and abstract.
Because designers incorporated so much colour into the space, the atmosphere is an interesting combination of simultaneously being able to blend cohesively with the surrounding natural area but also visually stand out from it in a really bold way. This is thanks to the use of almost exclusively primary colours against natural finishes and furnishings, making the pieces still catch eyes and make sense when the doors and walls of the house are thrown open so that people can see the brightest standout pieces even from the yard, patio, or poolside.
Photos by Edgar Cesar
New learning centre of youth course providers Coding March completed by XuTai Design And Research to reflect the company’s values
By Stefan • Feb 4, 2019
In the bustling city centre of Shanghai in China, a company called Coding March, which provides young people with extensive coding courses, recently opened the doors on their new learning workspace courtesy of innovative designers at XuTai Design And Research.
Amongst their topic repertoire, Coding March provides lessons in basic programming language, scientific research, competition counselling, and even robotics! Designers wanted to ensure that the theme, atmosphere, and style of this newest workspace provided students with everything they could need to succeed in these fields while also meshing with other buildings on the Pudong campus, like the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.
This particular learning centre in a two storey, rectangular building that features a Japanese barber shop on the ground floor. The entire second floor, however, belongs to Coding March. The goal was to create a flexible and fully equipped space in which students will experience the best possible learning conditions. Designers created spaces that could transform their function depending on the needs of students, making several multi-purpose rooms that might be lecture rooms one hour and then student exhibition rooms, reading and study rooms, or staff offices later in the day.
In terms of aesthetic, head designers felt inspired by stars and the way you can trace patterns in the stars when you look at the sky, but they sky is still always changing, evolving, and interesting to look at from different angles. They decided to make a space that, while familiar and easy to use enough to be comfortable, was also adaptable and exciting, with plenty of visual interest. That’s why they chose to use mixed materials, glass, and light with pops of bright colour.
One of the best parts about the space is that the use of shape feels almost more experiential than it does purely visual. These pods, hallways, paths, and criss-crossing spaces aren’t just designed to look cool; they’re actually meant to change how you feel and what you use your space like when you encounter new, differing areas throughout the building. The use of contrasting materials and bright shades keeps things fun and lively, helping people feel productive in their learning.
Because designers wanted to incorporate the outside facade of the building into their overall experiential vision, the barber shop has actually been included in the recent update as well. The first floor of the learning centre besides that includes a reception desk, a waiting area for parents of students, and some storage. It also features an impressive looking staircase that leads you upwards to the classrooms. The shape of the grandiose stairs greets you when you enter past the interesting pattern of the building’s exterior.
The children targets by the programs at Coding March are quite young; grades one to six, in fact. It is the hope of the designers that they visual stimulation and the immersive feel of the adaptable classrooms, as well as the way the bright green scheme mimics the lush spaces outside and other pops of colour grab attention, will encourage the kids to use all of their sense while learning. If nothing else, they’ll experience the beauty of design in their breaks between studies!
Photos by Hao Chen
By Stefan • Feb 4, 2019
Much to the joy of all of its new owners, no matter their age, Jost Architects recently wrapped the last few finishing touches on an amazing new family home project called Kew Ease House! This space was created for a family that opts to live together multi-generationally in Kew East, Australia and designers wanted to make each and every member of the group feel comfortable and accounted for, from the grandparents right down to the kids, including the family dog.
The first challenge designers faced (besides accounting for the needs and likes of such a diverse age range of people) was the angle of the chosen plot. The site where the house sits slopes steeply down towards the street, meaning the house had to actually be recessed into the slope to sit safely and evenly. Once they’d safely anchored the house using architectural foundational techniques akin to braiding, the turned their attention to materials.
Rather than concentrating on sleekness or modernity, designers chose materials with shades that gave the space a sense of robustness and tonal hues, suiting the plant life around the house. The structure sits not far from the Kew Billabong and the Yarra River, so the flora and fauna on the plot are lush and plentiful. Inside, in the interest of keeping things quite natural and textural, some surfaces have been finished with fabric rather than shiny, synthetic materials.
Besides the bodies of water we mentioned above, the house also sits right across the road from a sprawling park and the Yarra Trail. Its proximity to these things actually made it less important that the home boast its own private outdoor spaces because its afforded such incredible access to these quiet, natural features. These also provide the house with stunning views from just about any room.
In order to take full advantage of the fact that this home is nestled into such lush nature, several cross-ventilation features were adding, as well as massive windows that draw in bright sunlight (but with smart glazing to keep them from heating up). On the ground floor of the house, visitors encounter a garage and internal flat for visitors, as well as several private areas that are separated from public social ones by a main corridor. Those include the master suite and a formal family living room.
On the higher level of the house, two children’s bedrooms are featured with a private bathroom. Down the hall, you’ll find access to a stunning rooftop balcony with simple, stylish seating and a breathtaking view of the park and even the city beyond. The idea of having the kids’ bedrooms at the top is to give them some privacy and space, giving older generations more accessibility downstairs.
The overall sense of the house bears an atmosphere of relaxation, neutral calm, and space that is easily shared. It’s a place that is simple enough and yet diverse and adaptable, letting it easily appeal to people of any age or need level so that everyone can co-exist with joy.
Photos by Shani Hodson-Zoso
Montauk home Hither Hills gives residents stunning views and poolside relaxation thanks to Bates Masi + Architects
By Stefan • Feb 1, 2019
In the rolling seaside dunes of Montauk, in the United States, Hither Hills holiday home was designed by Bates Masi + Architects to afford its owners a quiet weekend respite away from the big city.
One of the primary ways in which this lovely retreat home keeps visitors calm is through its clear visual and spatial ties to the land its built on and the stunning nature surrounding it. The house is located in a planned beach community that was built post-war, on a small plot perched in some steep but lovely topography. Because the plot of the house lacked the typical smooth and level surfaces one would normally build such a holiday home on, these designers opted to literally nest the different volumes of the house into the hillside itself.
Because of this nearly stacked building choice, Hither Hills is built in six distinct level, sort of like a set of steps. Each of these spaces connects almost seamlessly with the landscape around the house for a beautiful and copacetic effect. The relationship between the building and its setting is bolstered by the fact that the resources used to construct it were specifically chosen to support local infrastructure and harness local supplies that can actually be found in the immediate terrain.
Locally sourced bluestone, for example, makes up the walls surrounding some levels of the stacked home, running parallel to the natural shoreline and comprising the framework for some interior spaces and most of the shared exterior living spaces as well. In a unique spatial twist, the public and private spaces in this home are inverted when compared with what you’d normally find and where things might typically be situated.
By this, we mean that primary living spaces sit high above neighbouring rooflines, appearing to loom over the trees. In each bedroom, glass walls help residents take advantage of that height by pulling back entirely to let the whole view into the room along with the ocean breezes and abundant natural sunlight.
View in gallery
Even higher than these private living spaces, however, sits the swimming pool. This spot is actually set into a naturally level section of earth, rather than being settled on top of a bluestone wall. The way the house protrudes from the slope’s face closer to the bottom (thanks to the support of cantilevers) and levels into the actual earth near the tops provides a bit of an optical illusion, making it appear from a distance as though the house might actually be upside down.
In contrast to all the stone used on the outside of the house, the retreat’s interior is clad primarily in stunning natural wood. These surfaces are mostly naturally weathered mahogany, which has been used in the roof, wall, floors, and ceilings in each living volume. In order to bring the sense that the house is one with its surroundings inside as well, oak louvres hang from canvas hinges below a huge skylight, swaying slightly when the home is opened up to ocean breezes and casting shadows throughout the house and on the ground, just like a tree might do on grass.
Above the dining room table, these louvres extend to form a sort of chandelier above the dining room table. Also in this space, lightweight curtains line spaces where the walls open to the outside, giving the space some privacy but still letting natural light glow through while beach breezes play in and out.
These movable, open-air, and contrasted elements, as a whole, achieve more than just letting the house communicate and blend with its natural surroundings. They also provide a sensory experience, both inside the house and out, letting visitors feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Photos by the architects.
In the heart of Melbourne, Australia, design teams at Field Office Architecture have built the lovely and sunlight filled Clifton Hill House in order to bring a small Victorian terrace home into the modern century without losing its traditional charm.
Through the strategic incorporation of a few slight additions and alterations, this time was able to create an updated space from a 19th century terrace that owners wished to make look new, simple, and modern. At the same time, however, they wished to preserve some of what made the original house beautiful initially while also avoiding losing any of the already abundant natural light afforded by the house’s double-wide space on its residential block!
Inside the house, the original structure features a living room, kitchen, dining area, master bedroom, and studio. Because it was an older building, it had actually had several small renovations already over the years, so the first step designers decided to take was to strip back all of the additions that had been made and get the house a little closer to its most original state. By the time they were finished, the only remaining features that the house retained were two front bedrooms.
Because the house sits on a double wide plot, designers did decide to make one addition that wasn’t there before; they decided to build a stunning private courtyard! As if that wasn’t nice enough, the new dining and living rooms they rebuilt into the spaces they’d cleared out now open entirely onto that courtyard’s patio in a way that blends interior and exterior spaces beautifully.
For stunning multi-functionality, the dining room in this new version of the house actually also acts as a gallery. Here, you’ll find a series of original paintings completed by the house’s current owner, hanging on the walls or sitting on displays bathed in sunlight. This is partially thanks to the courtyard we mentioned, but also aided by several big skylights in the interior ceiling.
Rather than being a singularly situated space, the living room actually wraps around its surrounding spaces. It’s made to feel even bigger thanks to the double glazer timber sliders that open it entirely into the sun-filled outdoor space, giving it a lovely view of the house’s own rolling lawns, recycled brick planters, and even an elegant Japanese maple tree amidst several other trees that are native to the local region. Besides being visible from the living room, this maple tree also serves as a visual focal point from the kitchen, as well as most of the rooms upstairs.
In addition to the living and dining rooms, level one of the house is also home to the master bedroom, with its own walk-in robe. This level is also where a stunning studio sits, giving the owner, who is a passionate artist, a stunning space in which to create their most inspired works. This room is intentionally north-facing, meaning that the owner has optimal and controlled lighting conditions in which to work. The bedroom balconies upstairs also face this direction, meaning they can be left open on hot nights to harness the lovely breeze without having to wake too early with the sunrise. Instead of piercing the windows, it trickles gently over the treetops.
In terms of visual aesthetic, the house features a combination of dark timber framing and recycled brick work, creating the primary palette of the building’s exterior. This is primarily original materials that were used to build the old heritage building, but sections that have been added or repaired were matched to follow suit and create continuity.
Inside, materials were specifically chosen to look soft, calm, and understated. This allows the artwork that is featured throughout the home take centre stage alongside the natural light that pours beautifully into most rooms. The materials chosen to create this effect include matte polished concrete, soft white eiles, and more dark timber that is balanced out by black lighting fixtures. Brushed steel in the bathrooms and kitchen add a bit of punctuation.
Rather than adding modern air conditioning to heritage building that’s was never really intended to host such a system, the house has been well insulated to keep in warm or cool air, depending on the season. The wonderfully large windows throughout the common spaces and bedrooms have been strategically placed to create cross-flow throughout the house, giving all inner spaces comfortable ventilation. In order to make the idea of throwing these windows open whenever necessary more practical, recessed insect screens have been built into the sliders on the windows and patio doors.
Photos by Kristoffer Paulsen
Transparent Townhome built in Bangkok by Black Pencils Studio, intended to live up to its name without sacrificing privacy
By Stefan • Jan 30, 2019
Right in the centre of Bangkok, in the stunning and fragrant country of Thailand, a residence called the Transparent Townhome was created by Black Pencils Studio to provide the illusion of an entirely transparent home without actually taking away the privacy needed for comfortable family living.
This project involved the renovation of an old townhouse that had actually abandon for 30 years and was quite run down indeed. The basic frame of the existing structure was preserved from the original, but designers essentially started from scratch besides that. For example, the basic square footage of the home mimics that of the original but the inside and even parts of the exterior were entirely remodelled because the roof and central staircase had collapsed.
Because they were starting almost entirely from scratch, the owners were able to choose their main priority. They instructed the design teams to put a huge emphasis on light. The existing structure was, in local fashion, quite narrow and deep, so they desired bright, natural light-filled rooms to counteract that structure and make things feel a little more open.
To achieve the desired amount of light, designers built a middle segment into the structure that acts as a light-well, cut clear through the newly placed metal sheet roof. Besides flooding all extending rooms with light, this bright volume also acts as a central courtyard, making it a sort of household hub that connects, defines, and separates other spaces in the house all at once.
Within the light-well, a steel staircase links all of the interior spaces that lead off of its central location. This creates great flow throughout the home and makes just about everything easily accessible in a way that feels very streamlined. Most rooms leading off the central volume are similarly open concept and lightly defined, so more closed in areas, like storage spaces and bathrooms, are built into the perimeter frame of the house instead.
Just because the rooms are very open concept, however, definitely doesn’t mean that the family sacrifices privacy all together. Thanks to a series of hidden pocket doors and roller blinds, each room can be closed off when necessary and then re-opened and reconnected with the other rooms and the almost entirely glass facade of the house’s front with ease.
At the front of the house, the goal was to create the effect that the rooms are opened right out into the street, letting light and shadows spill through, without actually preventing the family from seeking solitude when they want it. This is achieved thanks to a series of layered screening elements, including a fence, several different types of shrub, and a series of frames affixed to the townhouse’s facade.
Photos by Spaceshift Studio
By Stefan • Jan 29, 2019
In the heart of Sydney, Australia, one architectural and design company has gone out of their way to create the most comfortable home possible for the city’s hot climate thanks in huge part to unique climate control efforts! Anderson Architecture specifically built Waverley House to give a young family their dream space without having to worry about feeling too hot during the days or too cold at night.
Designers based their plans for this home around the widely accepted tenet that any home can feel like a relaxing retreat if the climate control is only done right. That’s why they aimed to create a space that’s light-filled and bathed in the sun’s natural rays, but without heating up intensely during summer days like some home’s that get lots of sunlight do.
This presented unique urban zoning challenges, particularly on a plot that actually directly faces the intense Aussie sun. Furthermore, the owning family also very much desired easy and open access to their spacious backyard and nature elements, meaning less division than usual between interior and exterior spaces would take place to keep temperatures constant.
First, designers sought to really maximize their opportunity for sunlight by working upwards in order to counteract the towering homes around theirs and prevent the new structure from being overshadowed. They also included a double-height living room space that lets sunlight spill in from a sort of vertical void leading straight up into the sky. In fact, the slanted room at this point of the house actually folds open entirely for days when sunlight and breeze are particularly desired.
For those particularly hot Australian summer days, designers incorporated a series of hanging louvres that are temperature triggered to self-adjust. These can pull across and screen the vertical “sunlight void” when necessary in order to reduce heat and keep the home a little cooler all around, since the living room is central.
Of course, the folding roof can’t stay open all the time, since it does rain in Australia! That’s why designers conceptualized and included a moving roof form, high above the living room and even the terrace, that can be closed remotely using a smartphone or tablet. This basically puts the owners in complete control but takes the pressure off remembering to make adjustments when they’re busy, since automatic triggers will account for those times.
As you can see from the photos, most of the house features impressively high windows. These are made from Low-E window class that was cost-effective during building and makes for an eco-friendly choice. These windows are high thermal performance and are featured all throughout the home, helping to regulate temperatures and keep them a little more constant no matter the time of year.
In the event that the colder months dip below average, the house also features solar powered, hydronic underfloor heating. This can add a little extra warmth to the home centrally, but it’s rarely needed thanks to the other temperature regulators in place. Thanks to the concrete flooring and reverse brick veneer, the indoor temperatures in Waverley House actually remain stable in all but the most extreme weather conditions.
Photos by Nick Bowers
By Stefan • Jan 28, 2019
In the lovely, lake rich area of Wentworth-Nord, in the French countryside of Canada, the stunning TRIPTYCH residence was built by YH2 Architecture to maximize the owner’s experience of the Laurentian Mountains.
These Montreal based designers chose a three-pavilion structure in order to simplify the process of quite literally nestling the residence into its lush, wonderfully natural lakeside surroundings. Built on a small slope that overlooks a darling lake, the house features crisp lines and neutral, conservative colour palettes in order to prevent it from interrupting its own plot’s peaceful landscape.
As we’re sure you can guess, the designers actually held the building’s namesake in mind as they designed their new structure. Like any classic triptych, this residence features a primary central structure. In this case, the central pavilion is afforded starlingly direct views of Lac St-Cyr. On either side, two additional pavilions were created in smaller sizes in order to make them feel more intimate and in contact or connection with the nearby trees. In this way, the buildings simultaneously communicate a sense of fragmentation and a feeling of cohesiveness.
With each of the three pavilions, designers were very smart with shapes. They aimed to create as natural looking a tableau as possible within the trees by adjusting each building’s geometry to mirror, complement, or contrast the scenery around it. This is why the roofs slope upward in three directions from the very centre of the house, accentuating and framing the views around them rather than blocking or detracting from them.
In the central block of the house, you’ll first encounter a kitchen and adjoining office. Each of these features an opening wall facing the gorgeous lake. Beyond those, the living room can be accessed through a glass corridor that’s most often flooded with natural sunlight. The master bedroom sits directly below the living room on the natural slope, resting firmly where the terrain naturally evens out. This bedroom is accessed through a unique, decorative staircase that looks as though it’s floating thanks to the way the last step has been suspended.
To the west of the main building, the second pavilion is set higher on the slope and sits at more of an angle. This building serves as a sort of separate quarters for friends and guests when they visit, affording them some privacy and space of their own. It still sits in close proximity to the main building’s entryway, however, which saves it from feeling cut off. Even so, a delineation of space is created in this building thanks to the sift in flooring material from smooth, stained hardwood to polished concrete.
Below that on the slope, further down still, is a secondary entrance to the linked buildings, as well as an interior garage, which takes up the bulk of the space in the third pavilion. To save guests and dwellers from journeying outside to travel between buildings, the three pavilions are linked together by glassed-in passageways. The front door to the main structure is subtly located in one of these passageways, making any point in the house quite convenient to get to. These halls and their glass walls serve to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces in a beautiful way.
Perhaps the most unique part of this home is that the living and dining rooms, which sit quite separately from the main pavilions, are most often completely open to the outside! Here, all light in the space is natural and electric lights haven’t even been featured. Instead, sunlight pours in through a suspended aluminum ceiling that has been cut in a pattern to create the sensation that you’re sitting under a leafy forest canopy.
In an impressive feat of builder’s skill, the TRIPTYCH house was constructed almost entirely of natural materials. The house’s facade, for example, is entirely sheathed with cedar planks from Eastern Canada that have been treated to appear naturally weathered over time (which they would eventually do anyways). Inside, various features are made of gypsum board, white cedar, white oak, or polished concrete.
TRIPTYCH features mostly natural materials. The façades are sheathed with Eastern cedar planks, treated to appear weathered by time. Interior walls and ceilings are either gypsum board or white cedar while the floors are white oak or polished concrete. Wide patio doors, with black aluminum casings, frame the ever-changing views. A patio area extends from the kitchen and dining spaces towards the lake. The building’s geometry creates a theatrical stage for the surrounding nature.
Photos by Maxime Brouillet
Dutch loft apartment, called Loft Buiksloterham, created by Heren 5 Architects for maximum ease and space efficiency
By Stefan • Jan 25, 2019
Loft Buiksloterham is a high efficiency, low impact home created by Heren 5 Architects for total ease in living and bonding!
Located in Buiksloterham, Amsterdam in The Netherlands, this lovely, light wood loft provides a natural looking and smoothly functional space where dwellers can rest, socialize, or bond while living without wasted space or home related costs. The loft is a single-side design, meaning all functional features face outward from one primary back wall. Even so, the dwelling makes such full use of the width its afforded that the space isn’t nearly as limited as it sounds from that description!
Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the loft is the entirely glass outer faced that acts as a door, window, and sky light all in one thanks to its expansive height ad width. Spaces designated for cooking and eating, and therefore public spaces where dwellers might often socialize, are angled such that they can always see a stunning view of the canal outside as they go about their day.
For the sake of privacy, the living areas that would naturally see less social and guest hosting time, like the bedroom, bathroom, and storage area, are located at the back of the house, behind and above the kitchen and dining spaces. In fact, the sleeping area (which comprises the feature that actually makes the home a true loft) is located directly above the kitchen, extending towards the high reaching ceiling. This lets each of those spaces, the bedroom and the kitchen, take up a maximum of space without encroaching on each other in essentially any way.
Because overnight guests are always a possibility, designers made sure to account for their need for comfort as well. A wonderfully soft extra bed can be pulled out from under the “living platform”, or the comfortable area featuring the sofa and seating space. This creates a sort of miniature bedroom below and to the side of the master bedroom loft.
Besides the way that all the living spaces fit together in this loft, which is thanks to an inventive architectural technique based on the concepts of switching and stacking, its beauty lies heavily in its materials. The interior unit, for example, is made from a gorgeously natural birchwood that is surrounded by accents (in the kitchen, for example) or white Corian. Together, the two give the interior of the loft a neutral feel that contributes to its surprising openness right along with the large window facade.
The function of the lofts you see in these photos are the perfect example of the kind of lifestyle the structure fosters. This owner moved into their ground floor loft with his daughter and mother, hoping for a home where three generations might comfortably share a life together without wasting money and space. They also purchased the loft next door so that the daughter, once grown, might have her own space and privacy without being too far or paying too much. Until then, the second loft is rented out to tenants. The ease with which the compact space can be both shared and divided is astounding!
By Stefan • Jan 24, 2019
In the centre of Tangerang Selatan, Indonesia, a stunningly modern family dwelling with a dual purpose was recently finished. MO House was created by DFORM as a space for a pair of newlyweds to enjoy and grow into their new life together in a comfortable way that accounts for their busy lives. At the same time, the house was designed and built with the knowledge that the couple has plans to build a family in the home in the not-so-distant future as well!
Besides being an ideal space where a family can grow and change together, owners and designers aimed to make MO House both affordable and space efficient. Ease and comfort were running themes throughout the entire process and they’re easily identified in both the layout and decor now that the home is finished.
Mane Austriono, the architect and also the owner of the house, values a minimalist style in terms of both lifestyle and decor. MO House embodies that concept well by presenting a beautifully stripped down space that puts quality and essential functions at the forefront of every room and structure without sacrificing visual pleasure.
These minimalist driven goals keep the spirit of the home (efficiency and family) at the heart while also keeping the spaces within very clean. Only the things that are necessary are kept, while clutter and things that do not have a productive purpose are eliminated in order to reduce discontent discomfort.
Because the space inside MO House is so open and clean of unnecessary structures, the need for a storage room is eliminated. Of course, this is partially because the owners also practice a minimalist style, but the house itself presents sleek and efficient storage that gives everything a place, making it easy to avoid clutter in daily life.
Because the owners do not currently have children but plan to have a family in the neat future, the house takes the idea of change into account. They have no immediate need for a baby’s room, for example, but they know they will one day. That’s why several spaces are built multi-purpose but still functional. What is currently a casual room for relaxation and entertainment can easily be transformed into a nursery with little to no cost and minimal effort.
In order to keep the rooms in MO House space efficient rather than sprawling but also keep things feeling open and airy, designers strategically placed rooms and structures such that some act as barriers and others are left to be open concept. A bathroom on the ground floor, for example, creates a delineation between the living room and the pantry, while a high vaulted ceiling keeps the master loft bedroom from feeling small despite its conservative square footage.
The staircase is another great example of how MO House uses space very well indeed. The floating structure not only looks minimalist in its decorative style but also creates additional space for storage and avoids taking up either too much wall or floor space at once.
Currently, the house boasts a large backyard that contrasts in its spaciousness compared to the conservatively built rooms inside. This is because the owners and designers built MO House with low effort change in mind. In the event that need arises for a second child’s bedroom, for example, the glass wall windows at the back of the house detach and an extension can easily be built onto the back of the house without losing yard space all together.
By accounting for the possibility of horizontal structural change, rather than simply building vertically “just in case”, designers avoid wasting space now by creating rooms that are currently unnecessary and might not be used with only two people living in the home. Expanding horizontally later will also mean that the owners can still live in the house during future construction, since it won’t take place near their bedroom or primary functional spaces.
On the outside, MO House appears quite stark and solid. This is intentional, not to close the house off from the outside but rather to create a purposeful separation of public and private life. Dwellers can use the backyard in peace if they want to enjoy fresh air on their own without using shared public spaces and the inner private and functional spaces remain just that; private. This makes social time with neighbours a conscious choices, which gives it more value. The points is not to cut oneself off from public ares but rather to create an open haven all one’s own.
Like the rest of the house, the colour scheme within the living spaces in MO House remain minimalist in their style. Besides wooden surfaces, which are light and natural, most things (including all walls) are kept a clean, bright white. This, in partnership with a large central sky light, keeps the spaces inside the house feeling even more big and open despite their square footage by letting sunshine and natural light bounce off the white walls and play across other light surfaces. The overall effect is raw but inviting.
Photographs by Mande Austriono Kanigoro
Stunning rehabilitation of Coura House by Luís Peixoto blends fresh wood with rustic stone in unique ways
By Stefan • Jan 24, 2019
Last year, designer and architect Luís Peixoto took on the invigorating challenge of renovating an old but beautifully charming stone home called Coura House. Located in Paredes de Coura, Portugal, this structure was weathered but inspiring, offering a traditional rock face on the outside that designers knew would only be bolstered, rather than devalued, but a lovely new interior.
Photographs by Armenio Teixeira