Author Archives - Courtney
By Courtney • 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
Literally named Trentham Long House created by MRTN Architects to exemplify contemporary rustic design principles
By Courtney • 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
Ultra contemporary and colourful Rombo IV created by Miguel Angel Aragonés to combine living space and art in new ways
By Courtney • May 22, 2019
In the beautiful Cuidad de Mexico area of Mexico, innovators at Miguel Angel Aragonés have built the Rombo IV building; a stunningly modern and artistic complex that houses three bodies and a studio space with plenty of awe-inspiring artistic features.
The “Rombos” are actually the four volumes of the building, which are carefully assembled together here to make a single stunning structure that stands out against the more traditional urban fabric within which it sits. The private wings are those where the three houses sit and the fourth volume sitting closest to the public street is where the studio can be seen.
The complex sits on a bustling central street in an area of Mexico City called Bosques de las Lomas. Despite such an urban setting, however, the presence of a tall, sprawling tree right at the door, which can be seen from just about any room inside the complex, makes it feel less foreboding in its contemporary nature and more welcoming and in tune with nature.
This natural theme continues around the back of the building towards the houses and their patios. Lush gardens and small bursts of greenery through the property make sure things feel tied to natural reality rather than seeming too surreal in all the shining white lines, gleaming marble, and colourfully lit artistic displays that can be seen from the street at night.
Water is a continuous theme throughout the complex as well. Several water features dot the patio spaces behind the houses like small pools while similar displays can actually been found inside the entryways and studio in the interior of the complex as well, adding a sense of bubbling serenity to the already calming space.
To take the beautifully reflective surfaces of the water features even further, many spots in the homes and studio feature large, crystal clear mirrors. This makes the space feel wide and free and also reflects the presence of green life, like the space is somehow a lush garden in every corner at the same time as it is sleek and cleanly contemporary.
The inspiration for including such natural features so heavily alongside such modern looking artistic displays and furnishings was to highlight how precious nature is, particularly within busy city settings. The whole complex has a sense of making space for not just art, but also vegetation, land, and water. All of this takes on a particularly surreal quality when the colourful light displays are set aglow at night.
Although there is so much to see from the street in the form of coloured lights or to gaze up on in the public art studio, privacy was actually still a massive priority for designers and owners alike. They wanted to establish a space of quiet, calm solitude, as though the only entities seeing it besides yourself might be the sun and the sky. This explains the presence of abstract screens, uniquely cut and shaped windows, and interesting partitions that obscure the view of the three private homes almost entirely, shifting focus to the features of the home that are specifically designed for other eyes.
The intention of the stunning light display you see in these photos was to add a sort of language and balance to the space. They contrast the hardness of the marble with a soft glow and the starkness of the white finishes with a splash of colour. They paint the home like a backdrop the way nature does to hard rock face and urban settings. Between these light displays and the way other art pieces within the studio play with shape, the effect is nothing short of breathtaking.
Uniquely Treehouse inspired house by Atelier Victoria Migliore features stilts, swings, and climbing nets just like the real thing
By Courtney • May 21, 2019
Located in a calm, quiet pine forest in Frehel, France, the incredibly unique and aptly named Treehouse by design innovators at Atelier Victoria Migliore is inspired by and truly harnesses some fun and authentic elements of an actual treehouse.
The house sits on a hill in the midst of the forest, nestled among the trees in a way that is at once quiet and cozy but also full of adventure and wildness. The structure itself, despite its rustic looking presentation, is very modern and entirely contemporary in its eco-friendly systems. In these ways, the house not only blends into the nature surrounding it but also respects it.
The specific plot on which the house was built is sandy, perfectly supporting the foundation and posts on which the shockingly light house actually sits. At its highest point in the air, the house is raised three metres off the ground, with screw piles driven deep into the ground elevating it. These piles are placed extremely strategically so as to not disturb the roots of the pine trees all around.
The house itself is a single rectangular structure made of locally sourced and mostly upcycled burned wood. The rectangle is not solid on all sides all the way around; instead, it features several voids where miniature sort of courtyards indent to accommodate trees and green space. The house is also heavy on stunning floor to ceiling windows all the way around its perimeter.
The way the windows and glass walls open onto raised outdoor spaces makes the home feel as though the woodland area surrounding it extends right inside and on into the main living spaces. Balconies and raised courtyards are featured up on the treehouse like platform with the rest of the house, making the whole raised experience of staying there consistent.
The wooden theme follows you inside, making the house blend well with its surroundings, but there are several other extremely unique features that made things seem almost ethereal as well. In the centre of the house, for example, a suspended open fish tank sits in a raised, open air patio space with the rest of the house organized around it.
Above this central patio, a suspended sort of net made from knotted rope covers the space between the sections of the roof where the courtyard space was made. Visitors can climb right up onto this space and use the netted spot as a hammock, relaxing with the sky above the fish tank.
As if that feature weren’t interesting enough, the house bears another treehouse-like characteristic over the edge of the deck, where two wooden and rope swings hang down towards the ground! Here, visitors and dwellers of any age can socialize and play together, swinging in the woodland breeze like they really are out playing in the treehouse in their childhood backyard.
Inside, things are a wonderful blend of modern and rustic. The gorgeously smooth light wood keeps things grounded in that intentional woodland feel but, at the same time, large windows and up to date appliances and amenities provide nothing but the most modern living experience. Huge windows in the bathrooms and bedrooms keep the house bright and cheerful no matter where you are.
The house truly is organized entirely around that central raised courtyard; Each room has a glazed glass wall in the centre where visitors and dwellers can look out upon the fish swimming around. These windows also let natural daylight and the warmth from the sun travel through the house, rather than just into it, helping make it more efficient to light and heat.
Photos by Cyril Folliot
Unique wood and concrete fortress called Private Residence created by Trípólí to play with shapes and contrasts
By Courtney • May 21, 2019
In a quiet suburb of Reykjavík in Iceland, called Garðabær, a midcentury private residence was recently renovated with a modernist twist by innovators at Trípólí. The Private Residence home now stands tall and unique in the street’s visual fabric.
New owners of the original home ordered not just a complete renovation of the space, but also a drastic expansion. When it was first built in 1966, the house was a simple, cubic looking unit that featured a flat roof, which looked quite contemporary for its time. Additions were added to the home a decade later and then, in 1994, a pitched roof was added on top of the flat one.
Around that same time, a facade was added to the exterior walls. These were clad with Steni facade panels which covered most of the original architecture form the 60s. Now, even more decades later, the new owners wished to bring the house back to its roots a little and re-centre some of that original modernist style. At the same time, they wished to adjust the layout of the main volume in order to add several new rooms entirely.
These brand new spaces include a family room in the centre of the house, as well as a south addition that is now home to a new dining room, high tech kitchen, and floor to ceiling glass wall that opens onto a sunny patio below a cantilevered roof that provides some pleasant shade.
In terms of materiality, the house feels very modernist indeed, but not without contemporary updates or nicely contrasting blends in texture and visuals. The bulk of the house is created from polished concrete with thermal absorption properties that help passively heat and cool the house. In many places, the wood panelled facade is mirrored throughout the house in flooring, furnishings, and inner facades as well.
To save the space from looking too concrete, designers also put an emphasis on some low maintenance plant life, particularly near entrances where guests and visitors will most often see the house from. Lovely concrete planters are home to colourful green succulents with red and purple glints and highlights, warming the space and making sure it blends with surrounding nature well.
Between the dining and living rooms, a glazed glass slit was created. These rooms are on two separate but close by levels and the slit, which sits near one of the succulent planters, is recessed slightly, designed to bring natural sunlight and that sense of nature a little further into the house. The glass here helps light and warm the entryway and wide staircase that leads to the main social rooms.
For something extra unique and wonderfully calming, designers built a kind of spa space right off the garden area. Here, a sauna provides a warm, private place for relaxation and reflection while an outdoor hot tub provides a more social space that heats itself efficiently using geothermal systems.
Photos by Rafael Pinho
By Courtney • May 20, 2019
In the busy urban setting of Dhaka in Bangladesh, creative designers and teams at Bashirul Haq & Associates have created the Architect’s Family Home & Studio as a combination of private and creative space for one of their own!
The home and studio structure sits in the downtown core, on a busy city street with lots of activity out from. From the outset, the plan was to create a housing and workspace that spans the available 670 square metres of the chosen plot. The home was planned to have two floors in total for the primary living space with an additional mezzanine floor extending above the garage to house the studio space.
In order to give the home a little more privacy from the busy public street (and also reduce the harsh winds that blow through the neighbourhood), the house is constructed in an L-shape. This shape also creates some clear delineation between the parts of the building that make up the home and the parts that are used as an office and workspace.
This separation of functional spaces is beneficial for more than just the mental health perks of differentiating between work and family life. It also influences the structure of the house, as the joining portion between the private and work volumes of the L is a beautifully vaulted space that gives access to different areas and rooms.
Above the vaulted area sits a room that is primarily used as a study. Here, exposed brick walls that match the home’s stunning facade enclose most of the room in order to give it privacy and quiet. Even so, designers aimed to give it lots of motivating natural light as well, featuring a set of historical looking wooden windows. These are set deeply in an opening to protect them from rain and wind.
This recessed structure in the office also isolates the space a little more from the noise pollution coming off of the busy street outside. Beyond the windows, a front courtyard also provides more space and takes on the brunt of the area’s often harsh weather, giving another buffer to the study space and rendering it even more of a quiet work haven.
Moving back into the main house past the vault, a wonderfully decorated void separates the work and living spaces even further without interrupting flow and easy movement from one to the other. This void space has a skylight set into the roof to keep things bright inside the brick building, which lets the weather outside shift the light so it plays across the furnishings and decor details there.
A similar skylight keeps the main living room well and naturally lit. Just like the one in the voice space leading from the study, this skylight lets light play across the furniture, varying as the daytime sky changes. The shadows cast throughout the day contribute to the decor scheme of the room and keep things looking dynamic.
Photos by Al Amin Abu Ahmed Ashraf (Dolon)
In an expansive corner lot by a stunning lagoon, the JP Residence by Sarau Arquitetura provides a small family with a stunning Brazilian escape that takes the climate into account and feels almost like a relaxing private resort.
Located in Araçatuba, Brazil, the lot that the house is built on occupies almost 1200 square metres and stands only a single storey tall. The house has an intriguing trapezoidal shape and was specifically designed to take the climate into account, blending indoor and outdoor space and interior and exterior sensations like light and fresh air as seamlessly as possible.
Part of the way that designers chose to blend with outdoor spaces was to include lots of greenery in the design, both inside and outside. Along one side of the yard, for example, a garden extends the complete length of the 25 metre long swimming pool, which shines blue from the lush green lawns like an oasis.
The house was also organized according to the function of their spaces, with designers paying just as much attention to how the interior of the house is laid out as they did to how the indoor and outdoor spaces are organized. The intimate areas of the house are quite distinguished from the social areas, creating two sorts of sectors.
Part of what distinguishes the two areas from each other is the marked difference in ceiling height. In the private spaces, the ceilings are low and intimate, creating a cozy, friendly space that feels close in a pleasant way. This is balanced by the fact that one section of the ceiling is actually completely open to the sky!
In the public spaces, on the other hand, the ceilings sit rather high, creating an open effect filled with woodworked detail. The effect between this and the way the patio doors slide entirely open to blend the living and dining rooms completely with the green space outside. In fact, all of the public spaces are situated in the house such that they’re turned towards that stretching green space and sparkling blue pool.
In a transitionary space between the public and private space sits a bit of a service area. This is where you’ll find a guest bathroom, a relaxing sauna with a door nearby leading in from the swimming pool and hot tub, and technical areas like storage and other things one might need to take care of a house as an owner. This is also where access to a little ground floor balcony area is gained.
One of the most noticeable pieces in the living room is undoubtedly the fireplace. This is a vertically impressive structure that features stunning stonework reaching all the way up to the high ceiling of the social area. All around the fireplace, natural light floods into the living room, kitchen, and social area from sprawling floor to ceiling windows.
Leading to the master bedroom, the hallway features a set of large windows all the way down that sit right up against parts of the garden outside the window. Large green leaves sit right up against the glass, creating the illusion of a spa or calming jungle area. This plays off the natural ventilation and the skylights to make dwellers feel as thought they’re walking down an open air space instead of an indoor hallway.
In combination with the open air sense of space and the natural materiality of the interiors, which is heavy in wood and stone, the overall atmosphere in the house has a sense of synergy and calm that even visitors can sense immediately.
Photos by Lio Simas
Mole Architects turn old, Edwardian British garage into contemporary, energy efficient dwelling called Fijal House
By Courtney • May 17, 2019
In a central conservation area in the village of Ely, United Kingdom a new house has been built from what was originally a garage built in 1905 when the street was first laid out. Now, Mole Architects‘ Fijal House sits looking modern and stately between two detached Edwardian houses that provide impressive contrast.
The house is brick clad but the bricks are angled in such a way that one must look twice to realize what the facade is actually made of. Set on angles so that they create almost zig-zag looking ridges, the bricks create a visual appeal that designers created as an artistic and contemporary interpretation of the older houses that flank it on either side, which are made of classic brick.
The actual vertical shape that designers chose to create in their offset placement of the facade’s white bricks was inspired by another much older local landmark. The shape is an homage to the stone columns that mark the entrance of the Ely Cathedral! On the house, the bricks are at at 90 degree angles to each other to get the right visual texture.
The entrance of the house is set into the brick, recessed underneath a modernist looking lintol made of precast concrete. This slab provides shade to the small porch and the entryway’s front window. For even more visual appeal that the facade already provides, the space below the lintol is adorned with colourful tiles creating a pattern in cream, green, and blue.
In terms of its construction, the house was created around a prefabricated frame. The ground floor and internal walls were constructed using concrete screed, with dense concrete block work included around the base for extra thermal mass. Skylights in the roof, particularly those on the south side, bring sunlight into the house all day long, spreading to every corner from the dining area and staircase in particular.
The upper floor of the house sits under a roof that features exposed rafters on the inside and a steeply pitched shape. Once again, this element was inspired by the local cathedral; the angled is modelled after its nave. The angled interior effect is that the modestly sized bedrooms below have a cozy sense of scale and lots of old fashioned character typical of original houses in the region but unusual for more modern houses built in the surrounding suburbs more recently.
From the outset, designers wanted to give the home’s interior layout a bit of flexibility, allowing good flow and movement and enabling rooms to be used in diverse ways. The owners wanted a space that could feasibly balance hosting large social gatherings but also suits regular family use, with decent acoustic separation between rooms, particularly those with differing private and public functions.
In terms of decor, the materials used inside the house are simple and modest. Floors are made of smoothed dark stone while pale ash lines the walls for natural contrast. Upstairs, floors are carpeted for comfort in the bedrooms on chilly mornings. In direct contrast to and communication with the angular lines in the home’s exterior facade, smooth curves are featured in the home’s interior wherever possible, adding a sense of comfortable flow.
Photos by Matthew Smith
Bornet House is a stunningly rustic barn turned into a beautiful little home by Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes
By Courtney • May 17, 2019
Thanks to innovative designers at Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes, a beautifully rustic and vintage original barn has been transformed in a minimalist but luxurious way and renamed Bornet House.
Located in the countryside of Ollon, Switzerland, the Bornet House is a former barn that still bears a lot of its original masonry which adds historical character despite the fact that much of it resembles stylized rubble this many years since it was first built. The barn actually sits at the centre of the tiny village of Ollon, which is quite dense in terms of where the buildings sit in reference to each other.
On the ground floor of the barn house is a singular, open concept space where all of the functional parts of the house are featured. Here, the kitchen, living room, and dining room blend together but in a way that makes sense and enables free movement. Closer to the entrance, the main bedroom actually sits on a higher level but only slightly, built up on a sort of central wooden pedestal.
The difference in levels between the bedroom and the functional and public spaces gives the sleeping space some uniquely situated privacy, as though it’s its own little escape. At the same time, the fact that it sits only slightly higher than the other rooms and isn’t closed off at the top affords the living room double the height to the ceiling, making it feel even more opening.
In terms of materiality, the inside of the house bears a sort of cohesiveness with the outside. The tones of the natural materials chosen suit the outside of the house, matching the stone of the original work quite well. Inside, the natural concrete floors match the ashy tone of the natural ceiling while the wooden walls match the bedroom platform and frame of the kitchen.
In terms of the physical structure of the building, designers opted to stay true to the history by refraining from altering the walls and openings in drastic ways. In one spot, however, the west wall needed to be rebuilt to maintain the integrity and strength of the building and preserve it for years to come.
Despite the fact that they maintained the building to its truest form as much as possible, they also accounted for the way it sits on a slope as well, particularly when it came to filling the floor on the inside. In the rebuilt wall, however, designers did take liberty in the revived space to add a window that runs the whole width of the building, harnessing the power of the slop once more to provide a breathtaking and totally unobstructed view of the Rhone Valley.
In order to keep incorporating the beautiful outdoor setting the barn house is afforded, designers also added a small terrace right off the side of the bedroom platform. This gives dwellers another way to enjoy the old fashioned setting of the tiny village, contrasting well with their experience of the freshly modern interior of their new house.
The final area of the house, not always visited by guests, is the basement. This area houses a useful home office and even a plant room, which is actually partially under ground thanks to the way the land the house sits on slopes.
Photos by Kristyna Strejcovska
Clean, bright Wye River House, set high above the water, built by MGAO to provide breathtaking Australian views
By Courtney • May 16, 2019
Located right along the river that gives it its name, the Wye River house in Australia was recently completed by design teams at MGAO to give owners unparalleled views and the brightest of naturally lit home spaces.
This particular house actually arose out of some misfortunate originally. In 2015, a bushfire became beyond control on Christmas day and swept through the little township of Wye River, leaving great damage in its wake. Over 100 homes were lost entirely and various social and housing projects have happened in the years since to replace the damaged dwellings for those families.
The Wye River house is one of those replacement projects! It is located on a plot of land that slopes quite steeply, giving it a dramatic view of the Bass Straight. Fro, below, the house looks as though it’s perched lightly on the hillside, standing tall amongst the greenery of the brush that is still growing back where a canopy of trees once stood before the fire.
In order to give it some locally referenced character and style, designers chose to model this house after the typical beach shacks that were dotted so consistently along the coastline in the area in the 1960s and 70s. This explains the boxy shape and modest material choices, and the repetition of this inspiration in other homes applies that same aesthetic to much of the village.
Besides its basic rectangular shape, the most direct references this house bears to its beach shack forefathers come in the form of the Skillion rook and the several cantilevered balconies. The way that the external cladding, which gives the house that warmly dark facade and makes it stand out against the countryside, is also an influence. This makes the building look monolithic, just like the beach shack towers it was modelled after.
Perhaps this exterior cladding and the clearly high quality glazing in the floor to ceiling windows are the most modern aspects of the Wye River house. These windows let the area’s high amounts of gorgeous natural sunlight flood into each room, practically lighting each corner, giving the interior a wide open and comforting feel and letting the greenery outside appear as though it’s part of each space.
The way the greenery and the ocean are framed by the windows was actually a very important priority to designers. After all, these trees are something the locals fought extremely hard to save, preserve, and revive during and after the devastating fire. It’s only fitting that they get their moment to shine each and every day.
In contrast with the dark exterior of the house, most of the indoor spaces are incredibly clean, bright, and near flawless looking. This, in combination with the windows, helps the space feel limitless and even bigger than its generous square footage actually is.
Photos by Paul Hermes
Yin Residence created by TACK architects to blend with historical neighbourhood despite its modern architecture
By Courtney • May 15, 2019
Just south of Omaha’s downtown core sits a brand new private residence, at the heart of a neighbourhood that’s bears historical note of its own. The Yin Residence, recently completed by TACK architects, was specifically designed to provide all of the amenities of modern living without interrupting the atmosphere of history and authenticity in the streets around it.
In fact, this house is a sort of tester building, designed with the open intention of being a prototype for ongoing residential construction. The house was meant to distinguish itself as something new but still suit the historical buildings around it, creating a blended atmosphere that feels natural and comfortable for dwellers in the area and visitors alike.
Designers were fortunate with the location because it was already afforded a stunning setting within which to work. The historical context that the new house sits in provides an already established tone that sort of set the scene for the building’s exterior, even though the interior appears much more modern then one might expect or witness in older surrounding homes.
Within the home, designers wished to give visitors a new outlook on the city. This intent is partially responsible for the pleasing minimalist aesthetic featured within the home’s walls. On the outside, the building’s exterior was created from cement board with a prettily contrasted cedar siding. Inside, the materiality is lighter and more simple, designed to mirror ideas of a contemporary lifestyle.
In terms of its layout, the house is organized into three sections, situated by function. To the north lie the master bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen, all spaces that are most regularly used by the family. Designers chose to put each of these close together to enable easy, free movement from one place to another on the inside.
Towards the south end of the house, you’ll find two additional bedrooms and a three-car garage. The guest bedrooms are spacious and friendly, giving visitors a sense of luxury and “escape from the norms of home” without being too formal or cold. They’re intended to make one feel like a guest while also feeling completely comfortable and welcome.
Between these two parts of the house lies a sort of transitional space, leading from one to the other. This is a vertical volume that extends upwards, linking modules of the building together. This linked space holds a stunning staircase that leads onto the roof, where dwellers and visitors can enjoy a beautifully sunny rooftop patio that feels fresh and open but is also high enough to remain quite private.
In terms of the decor, colour pops are quite important to the home’s atmosphere and aesthetic. In contrast with the more neutral and grounded looking exterior, the inside bears several furnishings and decor or art pieces that create an exciting burst of energy here and there, keeping the place feeling bright and modern despite its historical setting, but also without interrupting it.
Photos by Tom Kessler
Cleanly modern A5 House refurbished by Raz Melamed Architects to put a contemporary spin on an historical building
By Courtney • May 15, 2019
In the historical city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel, the fresh and modern A5 House was recently completed by Raz Melamed Architects as part of an ongoing project to refurbish older buildings in the area for easier modern living without disturbing their outwards historical context.
In reality, the A5 House is a modest but still impressive 70 square metre studip apartment that has been redesigned into a modern getaway. It lies at the centre of Tel Aviv’s historic Neve Tzedek neighbourhood, which is part of the reason it was chosen for this refurbishment project. Despite the fact that designers on the project had previous experience with authentically and respectfully redoing historical buildings, this particular spot presented a unique set of challenges.
Previously to being redone, this property as derelict and abandoned for many years. When designers arrived on scene, they found what looked like a collection of ramshackle shacks, all hacked together in a way that appears shoddy and unreliable. The effect of this construction was to make an inner space that appear like a sort of dark, disjointed maze with only a hidden back patio for private outdoor space.
Additionally, a slanted wall that divided the main inner spaces presented something to think about and work with or around. In short, the space needed thorough renovation. Within that, however, it was essential that contractors remain diligent and careful, since they were, in fact, working in an historical space. The team aimed to work carefully enough to protect the building’s outer shell and preserve the home’s historical integrity.
In the early planning stages, designers came up with three distinct potential layouts that might work within the unique space. Each of these accounted for the sharply slanted wall in different ways; one tried to hide the wall to create an illusion of wide open rectangular space, a second worked it into the plan in a way that was subtle, and the third made is a central part of the layout, relying on it quite heavily.
In the end, designers went with the first plan, option for openness and free flowing space with as little slanted interruption as possible. They did this by taking advantage of both horizontal and vertical space, eventually dividing the apartment’s interior into four distinct spaces, each one rectangular in shape.
Now, the spaces are organized into a sleeping area, a living room, and kitchen, and a stunning outdoor patio. Each of these are divided by beautifully intersection vitrine windows that open from room to room or onto the patio using a Belgian style pivot door. The patio is accessible from both the living room and the bedroom, while the bedroom is separated from the two inner social spaces by an additional wall of windows.
The use of only glass walls within the apartment itself and surrounding the patio has a practical function as well as a decorative one. This way, natural light is permitted to flow freely into the rooms, reaching just about every corner. The same goes for fresh air when the windows are pivoted open. The stone wall surrounding the patio, however, keeps the inner space nice and private despite the clear line of sight from the patio inward.
In order to keep the flow of space and open concept construction of the inside rooms even and symmetrical, designers opted to hide the apartment’s bathroom behind a subtle door in the kitchen. This stops the apartment from having an uneven visual space and makes it feel like a standard modern one-bedroom, despite its old fashioned courtyard and lovely historical outer aesthetic.
On the more public side of the house, which faces the street, designers opted to glad windows with wooden shutters that are more standard of the buildings in the area. This gives the inner spaces privacy without interrupting the visual aesthetic of the local area. The effect is that the modern appearance of the apartment inside and the way it contrasts with the exterior is sort of a surprise for visitors entering for the first time.
The clean, simple layout plans might make the apartment look like it was easy to manifest, but that’s not so. First, designers had to essentially rebuild and replace the original infrastructure due to rotting beams near the roof. The original flooring, worn and unsuitable after years of both use and neglect, also needed redoing.
Each of these radical project aspects, of course, had to be completed within the parameters set out by local preservation authorities. Designers could not, for example, change the height of the building. Any changes or updates that were made to the outside fo the home were done using locally sourced supplies that would have been authentic to the area in any era.
This sense of natural, raw materiality continues on the inside of the apartment as well. A calming grey colour palette was chosen as a happy medium between old fashioned and minimalist, modern aesthetics. The bathroom features grey tiles while the kitchen and bedroom boast impressive woodworked details that have been painted a matching grey.
In contrast, the kitchen island, granite countertops, and steelwork around the pivoting glass doors were all done in black in order to ground the space and create periodic focal points. Greenery in the serene, old fashioned patio completes the space, bringing that sense of a natural escape home.
Photos by Amit Geron
Cubic looking Mariana House created by Laboratorio de Arquitectura [mk] with bright glass walls to create feelings of limitlessness
By Courtney • May 14, 2019
In a generous corner plot in the midst of a calm neighbourhood in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico, the impressively cubic Mariana House was recently completed by Laboratorio de Arquitectura [mk] to blend stunning outward views and calming intimate spaces.
Casa Mariana, or Mariana House, is built on the corner of its street in a space that bears quite a number of strict building regulations, making it the culmination of designers having overcome several challenges and constraints. Throughout the entire building process, they found themselves juggling the two main goals of preserving the breathtaking views afforded by the location and creating a sense of relaxing intimacy and privacy within the home itself.
This is how the home’s unique L-shaped layout was conceptualized. Two main corridors help organize the home’s public and private spaces, which are joint in the centre by an impressive stairway that connects the building’s two storeys.
On the ground floor, designers sought to create a distinction between public and private spaces so that each feels easily understood and sensical to use independently of one another. At the same time, they wanted to maintain a free flow of space and establish a relationship between spaces so that the room inside don’t feel too isolated or closed off.
Part of this spatial priority was established using a sequence of sliding doors, clean glass walls, and pivoting glass partitions. These make the spaces feel adaptable depending on the situation or needs of dwellers and visitors. Rooms might be closed off for privacy and quiet or opened entirely for air flow and feelings of limitlessness.
On the home’s upper floor, the space is more classic and straight forward in that the master suite is slightly removed from the guest bedrooms to privacy. In contrast to other homes, however, this house features a common intimate living space where the family might bond or spend quiet time alone. This space overlooks the storey below, sitting under a sloped ceiling.
The materiality and aesthetic inside the house, on both floors, is quite natural and suited to the environment surrounding the house. Greenery is made a huge part of the inner decor thanks to the way large fronds rest against the glass, like the hallways are deep within a forest or jungle. This lets glass walls enable floods of sunlight while also hiding intimate spaces from view.
Wood and concrete make up most of he space where glass isn’t present. On the facade, however, an aluminum screen is featured where the house takes the brunt of the sun. This provides privacy but also helps with passive heat regulation, without blocking light from entering the spaces inside so that things can stay beautifully bright.
Photos by Alejandra Urquiza
Angular, open concept Gwaneum-Ri House completed by Architecture Studio YEIN to put a modern twist on local living styles
By Courtney • May 14, 2019
In the mountain village of Gangneung, South Korea, the Gwaneum-Ri House was created by Architecture Studio YEIN only feet from where the ice skating heats of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics took place. Named for the Korean Buddhist term Gwaneum-bosal, the house embodies the values that the local people hold dear.
Besides being a previous Olympic site, the village was also the site of a terrible forest fire in May 2017. This rendered the area quite vulnerable thanks to dry mountain winds and harsh weather coming in off the Easy Sea. Many of the forests and high numbers of houses were damaged in the fire, including the family of home a young couple with a brand new baby. This family’s house has now been rebuilt on the same site where the ashes of their lost shelter once stood, like a symbol of hope.
The site on which the original little wooden house stood is small but held a lot of potential for innovative contemporary designers. The plot is decently sized but triangular in shape, leaving the only space that’s suitable for a yard quite narrow. Teams accounted for this by building a triangular house that nestles comfortably in the back of the plot, leaving the forward strip free for a yard.
Inside, the slightly trapezoidal house is split into two functional spaces. One is intended for the couple and their daughter for everyday use and the other is more suitable for guests and visiting family, sitting closer to the central courtyard. Between the two volumes sits a triangular transitional space that’s specifically intended for sharing and bonding.
An apple tree was planted here in this serene common space, taking advantage of the slight difference in level between the home’s two halves due to the fact that the plot sits on a bit of a slope. Designers took advantage of the land’s natural slope in another way. Ramps were built into the home’s front deck and inner space to make movement through the house friendlier for the couple’s elderly parents and even themselves as they age within the home in years to come.
To the right of the house and its entrance ramps sits a lovely garden. The roof of the house slopes towards this garden, creating a natural visual flow that’s pleasing to the eye. Close to here, the wall of the guest room has a window to keep things bright, but it is minimal in size in order to block noise from the road and keep the guest bedroom comfortable and private.
In contrast, the living room has a large window that perfectly frames stunning views visible from the home’s slope. This window is set right into a corner, accounting for the house’s triangular shape. This corner is also situated such that it becomes a kind of vestibule between the kitchen and the living room.
From the kitchen, the central garden is clearly visible. This was specifically placed so that the owning couple, whose favourite things are gardening and cooking, can enjoy the flowers growing in the garden while they cook together. Their bedroom is located at the furthest back point of the plot so as to block out noise from the road but still provide it with a view of the central garden too.
Between the bedroom and the public spaces sit the master bathroom and a dressing room. An impressive staircase leads upwards from this dressing room into a sunny, quiet loft that might be used as a diverse space depending on the family’s needs. The materiality of this and each of the other rooms in the house reflect their mountainous setting, using a neutral colour palette and placing locally sourced stonework detailing at the forefront of decorative built-in features.
Photos by Joonhwan Yoon
Chinese daodaocoffee created by HAD Architects& EPOS to blend design, experience, and good coffee in one place
By Courtney • May 13, 2019
In the heart of Intime City, in the Chengdu region of China, an innovative new coffee shop called daodaocoffee was recently completed by HAD Architects& EPOS to provide its clientele with a diverse, useful, and calming space for social and individual experiences.
The coffee shop sits in the middle of the Commercial District, standing two storeys tall and occupying a total of only 65 square meters. Besides making the shop convenient, simple, and fast to use, designers also aimed to make it a serene spot where coffee lovers might come to relax and comfortably spend a portion of their otherwise busy days.
They began by analyzing what kinds of different customers they might get in the area and what each of those people’s specific needs might be. This helped them develop ways to put together a space that provides all kinds of diverse things to people whose days function differently despite all involving a moment taken to enjoy a good coffee.
Changeability is a huge part of the plan that makes this particular coffee shop so innovative and unique to experience. Different parts of the shop, for example, provide different seating types and spatial experiences, while others can actually be altered and moved around by customers in order to give them whatever kind of layout or comfort they’re looking for.
Materiality played a huge role in the experience as well. In a space that wants to prioritize serenity and relaxation, atmosphere is everything. That’s why locally sourced light wood was the perfect thing to establish an almost spa-like aesthetic within the coffee shop. Natural lighting from very high windows adds to this effect, keep the space bright but cheerful rather than abrasive.
In reality, the coffee shop is actually quite open concept, with very little physical division of space taking place. Instead, designers opted to make things visually and conceptually clear in terms of which spaces are intended to serve which functions, allowing customers to mentally identify spaces for seating, socializing, studying, and so on based on how they’re laid out and where they’re situated.
Wood plays a role in this division of space too. Parts of the shop that are intended to be more casual, relaxing, and social are built in all wood while areas that are supposed to feel more individual and private feature black perforated panels that partially shield them from more public spaces where groups might gather.
Although both floors are free to be interpreted by whatever visitors happen to venture into then, designers had a sense of the uses of each one from the outside. The bottom floor of the shop is intended to be a more social, public space where busy office workers or tired shoppers might take a quick seat and socialize for a bit while they rest their feet and chat before moving on again.
The upper floor, on the other hand, is geared more towards those who would like to stick around and seek a bit of solace in the place, getting some privacy and within a public atmosphere so that they still get out of the house, but without being overly disturbed or distract while they do things like read a book, work remotely, or study for school.
The coffee shop also features an external bar. This is designed for people who have arrived for their coffee date a little early but are still awaiting someone else to join them. Sitting at the bar gives customers a pleasant view of the square outside the windows, which is impressive as the shop is quite close to the entrance of the Commercial District, making it an easy landmark meeting place.
The shop even has a self-service desk! This sits on the upper floor and presents customers with the option to fetch themselves lemonade and various coffee or tea ingredients for free, making it the perfect spot to host small, quiet meetings or prolonged individual sessions where one might want more than one refreshment while they’re there.
The most private point of the coffee shop sits in the upper corner of the top floor. Here, a space that’s specifically designed for one person seeking a quiet spot outside their home to work or think has been set up. Designers chose to actually raise this small area even a little higher than the rest of the second floor, giving it a true but very comfortable sense of quiet seclusion.
Photos by ARCH-EXIST
Casa Puebla built by rdlp arquitectos to harness the beauty of a local volcano, like an architectural tribute
By Courtney • May 13, 2019
In the rocky, naturally impressive area of Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza, Mexico, innovative designers at rdlp arquitectos have recently completed the Casa Puebla, a stunning home influenced by the looming presence of the historically and locally important natural phenomenon, the Popocatépetl volcano.
Designers sought to make something conceptual and more artistic than the average home within this project while at the same time paying tribute to the local architectural landscape so as to keep the house from sticking out entirely like a sore thumb. The result was a stunning structure that is clearly inspired by aesthetic values typical of Mexican culture, but that is also unique, as though these traditional values have been viewed through a much more avant garde lens.
The overall atmosphere of the house feels fresh, warm, and contemporary. This is largely due to the materiality used, which was very intentional and locally sourced. Raw materials that reflect the natural landscape around the house were primarily used, creating a sense of cohesiveness that is only enhanced by he way certain place in the house are opened up to blend with the garden.
Colour palette plays a large role in communicating the design intentions of the house as well. The neutral and slightly dark shades featured from room to room, in context with the land’s plot and the materiality we’ve already discussed, blends the home’s architecture with its surroundings and really makes it look like a visual tribute to the volcano in the distance.
In terms of its layout, the house is organized into two rectangularly shaped intersection volumes meeting on their ends in an L-shape. This is another area of the house where designers got a bit conceptual; they’ve intentionally placed the larger, heavier looking volume of the house on top of the smaller, lighter looking one in order to create an interesting visual dynamic.
To further communicate the concept of blending indoor spaces and the house itself with its natural surroundings, glass has been largely prioritized in a stunning way. Floor to ceiling glass doors and wall panels, as well as large glazed glass windows, allow natural light to flow into the home all year round, reading just about every corner, keeping things bright, and providing dwellers and visitors with stunning views.
From the front of the house, where it can be seen from the street, the building actually looks quite closed off and as thought it might be dark inside. In reality, however, this is simply the way designers chose to situated heavier walls in order to maintain inner privacy. Upon entering the house, guests immediately notice that the space inside, which opens beautifully towards the back where the private yard and garden sit, is actually well lit and quite fluid, with very few boundaries between inner and outer spaces.
In addition to being quite sizeable horizontally thanks tot he generous size of its land plot, this house is also quite impressive in terms of its vertical space. The area near the entrance, for example, is double height. A visually appealing staircase that uses a combination of concrete and wood stretches upwards through this vertical space, becoming almost as decorative as it is functional.
On the ground floor, open concept layouts make the house feel fluid and accessible. The house is organized by functionality, but divisions are more visual and intuitive rather than actually being physical. This encourages family interaction without interrupting daily activities and busy life routines.
Private and more intimate spaces are located upstairs, where the bedrooms and family room can have their windows thrown open for a fresh air experience or be closed off by lovely wooden shutters when more privacy and quiet is desired. Traditional regional tiles are used in the decorative details here, hearkening back to that inclusion of local Mexican culture.
In addition to being almost artisanal in its design and structure, the house is also very green and sustainable. The prominence of sliding doors and windows helps with passive heating, cooling, and lighting and works with the natural weather patterns to reduce the need of electric and hydro powered systems, saving the family money and reducing the building’s impact on its environment.
Ventilation and the way that light and shadow play out in the space mean that the concrete heats or cools and regulates the temperature inside, all but eliminating the need for air conditioning. Even in these concrete-heavy areas, the ever present wooden element continues to establish stunning decorative contrast, rendering every part of the house visually appealing even where not much intentional decor itself has been included in a room’s overall scheme.
Solar energy plays a huge role in how the house functions as well. Although it’s not entirely solar powered by panels, the concrete facade that protects the inner rooms from overheating in the strong Mexican sun in the summer contributes to temperature regulation while sliding glass doors and wooden shutters can open the space out completely, letting breezes keep things cool or warm things up, depending on the time of year.
The final impressive and integral element of the house is its inclusion of nature right into its interior spaces. Besides just being open concept enough blend interior and exterior areas, the house itself also includes several water features and reflecting pools, as well as lush greenery spaces that are built into the home’s interior like rooms rather than just planted gardens.
Photos by Jorge Taboada
By Courtney • May 10, 2019
In the sunny Brazilian city of Brasilia, the South lake House was recently completed by Estúdio Cláudio Resmini as part of a refurbishment project based around updating old local residences from the 1980s.
The uniquely shaped residential structure that spans 950 square metres is a mixed functional structure that was originally built in the 1980s. Inside, in the original building and the updated version, the service based rooms sit on the lowest lake level, while the social spaces are located accessibly on street level, leaving private spaces to nestle intimately at the top of the three storey dwelling.
The upper floor we’ve just mentioned is arranged according to a triangular floor plan, partially suspended as though it’s almost an independent structure from the rest of the house. This floor is where most of the rebuilding had to be done after the house was acquired for refurbishment in 2017, since its supporting structures had begun to degrade due to a severe lack of maintenance.
Despite its wear and tear, the structure was clearly sound and quite formidable, so designers opted to keep its overall shape and exterior layout, avoiding most intervention that wasn’t absolutely necessary for preservation. Instead of redoing it, they opted to simply adapt and update the look of the building from its original geometric red exterior to a subtler, clean white. This theme continues throughout much of the house in terms of new materiality and changes made in furnishing and decor.
Inside, a little more intervention into the layout of the inside of the house took place, where the lowest floor slopes to meet the lakeside. Here, all walls were removed to create a sense of open concept movement between the kitchen, dining room, living room, and cheerful playroom and toy library. On one slightly detached side, space is delineated more concretely for a laundry room and on-site staff suite.
The intention in the way this part of the house was drastically opened was to integrate the lake and its surroundings more cohesively into the home. Designers aimed to create a bond with the natural environment here, particularly where the home’s floor slops towards a brand new pool area, the shape of which was updated from the original circular pool that was built in the 80s.
Surrounding the pool, a wooden desk provides dwellers with a relaxing, sunny place to sit. Besides affording visitors a view of the pool and lake, this area also presents a clear connection to a lovely table-shaped garden where grass grows in abundance and overflowing fresh flower pots of different heights are scattered throughout.
Continuing the theme of integrating indoor and outdoor spaces, we move onto the “gourmet space”, which is a box-like concrete spot near the pool that features a barbecue grill. This space can actually be fully integrated into the main kitchen thanks to sliding glass panels, giving great access to refrigerators during outdoor cooking sessions.
Close by, a curved wall leads to a staircase, which in turn leads to a calm atrium that serves as another social space with its own suspended garden. This garden mimics the more natural materiality of the upper floor, which has several details that hearken back to the house’s original aesthetic, as can be seen in the wood0heavy master bathroom.
The way that certain small details have been preserved from the original home inside creates a stunning sense of contrast with how the house’s geometrically shaped volume has been modernized. Another example of this is how a black metal privacy structure was affixed to the home’s exterior near the master suite for privacy, but angled such that it doesn’t block out the stunning lake view that inspired the original builders to choose that location for a house in the first place.
Photos by Evelyn Muller