Author Archives - Stefan
Alcázar de Toledo, a building by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, establishes an impressive view all its own with its grassy, angled balconies
By Stefan • Jan 17, 2019
Located in the heart of Mexico City, Mexicao, a stunning building called Alcázar de Toledo has been created by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos with one of the most unique facades in the business.
Because it is considered a luxury building, Alcazar de Toledo is afforded one of the very best locations in the city, featuring prime surroundings and amenities. Even so, its site’s topography is quite rugged and uneven, which is why designers chose to integrate the environment as much as possible into the building’s structure and decor. This creates a relationship between the land and the housing that dwellers can enjoy each day.
Besides just accounting for the topography, designers wished to respect the environment as much as possible in their building process and even once the structure was finished. At the same time, they aimed to choose angles and details that took the absolute best advantage of the panoramic view of the city that the location offers, with all that stunning vegetation between buildings.
Rather than just anchoring into or sitting on top of the land’s topography, architects decided to build something that looks as though it folds itself over the landscape, hence its absolutely intriguing right angled and zig-zagging shaped feature all the way down the front of the building, from top to bottom.
Each fold in the building’s facade responds to what designers saw as a different need of the building. They also each contain space for five units on each level, providing them all with a large terrace, full amenities, and a parking lot in different places. All the way down, the zig-zag is positively covered in lush plants and vegetation that are native to the area.
For a bit of contrast, the parking level (which actually sits at the very top of the building) boasts an absolutely stunning water feature that complements the generous plant life well. This area features water fountains and beautifully reflective pools, as does the reception area that welcomes guests. This lobby sits in a glass box where the beauty inside can be seen all around.
Besides spacious units, beautiful decorative features, and impressive ramp balconies, this luxury building also boasts a full sized pool, spa, gym, a social terrace, and shared dressing and bathrooms that make all of these easy and convenient to use. Inside, the units feature lovely living and dining rooms, spacious kitchens, guest bathrooms, cozy family rooms, and three bedrooms with their own dressing and bathrooms as well. Each also has its own laundry room, maid’s quarters, and beautiful garden terrace! Some of the larger units even feature a library, a wine cellar, and a playroom or study.
Keeping with the goal of offering beautiful panoramic views, each apartment in this building features very high ceilings and large floor to ceiling windows that let the stunning surrounding scenery be seen from essentially anywhere in the unit. These huge windows also provide natural light and ventilation in a way that just serves to make the space even more cohesive with its environment.
Stunning Hotel Hyatt Regency Andares created by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos gives you angles and art all throughout
By Stefan • Jan 17, 2019
In Zapopan, in the lusha and gorgeous area of Jalisco in Mexico, the luxurious Hotel Hyatt Regency Andares was designed and built by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos to provide guests with an experience that plays on the themes of high art and interesting angles all throughout the building’s structure and decor.
This “mixed-use” building is part of a visionary endeavour to reposition an area called the Peurta de Hierro zone as a new social hub and kind of urban centre in the city of Zapopan. The overall proposal, formally known as The Andares Master Plan, commenced officially in 2009 when an exciting shopping mall and an upscale residential high rise was built. Now, businesses and buildings like the beautifully structured Hotel Hyatt Regency Andares are being added as part of the plan’s initiative for expansion.
This hotel is a significant structure in the area, spanning 70,000 square metres and actually containing both a hotel and luxury apartments. The artistic looking building forms part of the new visual backdrop of the city at the same time as it forms a sort of backbone for Paseo Andares, a new road created in the city’s developing urban layout to serve several business and leisure purposes.
This building extends an impressive 41 stories upwards over the city streets. On the ground floor, a tree-lined plaza that is open to the public connects the new interior street to the world outside. Rising up from the ground like a graceful column, the hotel displays impressive facades to the north and south, enticing the gaze with expansive windows and frequent sunny terraces. Pure white concrete contrasts in a clean, beautiful way with shining black glass and aluminum from bottom to top.
Inside, the hotel occupies only 12 floors of the tower. The top 28 floors are occupied by stunning residential apartments and their respective luxury amenities. Floor 13, however, is reserved for transfer space, storage, and services used by both halves of the building. On the bottom, ground floor level, the building even features some retail space, several meeting rooms, and even a small ballroom! The hotel space additionally boasts a lounge, bar, restaurant, larger ballroom, pool, gym, and an exclusive members-only club.
In addition to the impressive art pieces scattered throughout the lobbies, retail, and social spaces, the pool is a primary visual feature on top of the way it provides entertainment. This sits on a double-height floor that is open concept, leading right into a stunning south facing terrace. Most of the art you’ll see throughout the building was created by Cesar Lopez-Negrete.
To add an extra element of special interest, the building that the Hyatt Regency Andares calls home is the second tallest hotel in the whole of Mexico, standing at 173 metres tall!
Photographs by Rafael Gamo
Torre de Gomariz, a “wine spa hotel” conceptualized by Paulo Braga + Cristina Amaral, offers simple luxury in Portuguese vineyard
By Stefan • Jan 16, 2019
Nestled amongst the leaves and vines in Cervaes, in the Vila Verde region or Portugal, Torre de Gomariz Wine Spa Hotel, designed and built by Paulo Braga + Cristina Amaral, provides a luxury getaway that prioritizes calm and comfort.
The Quinta de Gomariz is a stunning estate in Northern Portugal that has an impressive local history reaching as far back as the late 13th century. The estate includes several buildings that are protected thanks to having been listed as local heritage buildings, the most important of which is the Tower of Gomariz. This historical gothic structure was originally a defensive tower and was built in the late 15th century.
The biggest building, the main manor of the estate, was built slightly later, at the beginning of the 18th century. This manor sits adjacent to the tower. Also from the 18th century’s era on the estate are the stunning old chapel, the main gate, and the walls that circle and enclose the entire edge of the estate itself.
At the time of this project, design teams became involved with the intention of preserving these historical buildings and all their history, which would in turn bolster the economic stability of the estate itself by letting it function more smoothly and with more reliability. The primary use of the estate is still wine production but the decision to add a tourism element in the form of a gorgeous hotel was motivated by the desire for diversification, increased monetization, and showing off the stunning history that the place has to offer naturally.
At the same time as the estate wanted to show off its assets, they also wanted to ensure that design teams prioritized its care and preservation, which was undoubtedly done with care and success. Besides just streamlining functionality, architects effectively rehabilitated the heritage buildings in order to strengthen their structures and prevent any further deterioration in order to avoid eventual and irreversible ruin.
Although the aim was to preserve these historical buildings, estate owners and designers both also sought to incorporate them into the functions of the estate’s new mode of running in useful, respectful ways as well. Most social spaces in the resort, for example, actually take place within and out of the heritage buildings. Even the old barn and threshing floor have been integrated into the running of the spa and bar areas, for example.
This concept of incorporating the buildings right into the wine production and tourism businesses lets the estate diversity their functions without expanding past the original borders of the estate, which would work against the goals of preserving its structures and natural formation.
That doesn’t mean no expansion could be done at all, however! Designers did have the space to strategically build three new buildings, which they sought to keep as authentic to the estate and its surroundings as possible. They did this in part by using local granite, wood, steel, and glass in the building process. This created a sense of unity between the old and new buildings that makes the whole area feel cohesive.
In terms of decor and aesthetic, the combination of old and new actually creates a beautiful atmosphere inside. There is a calming sense of more traditional living amidst sparkling new amenities and shining, neutrally coloured surfaces. Things feel fresh and invigorated at the same time as guests absorb the history around them.
Photographs by Joao Morgado
Hotel Monville impresses guests with sleek angles and space for art thanks to the innovations of ACDF Architecture
By Stefan • Jan 16, 2019
Amidst the urban but historical hustle and bustle of downtown Montreal, in Canada’s province of Quebec, stands the sleek and impressive Hotel Monville by ACDF Architecture.
When the architectural firm unveiled this recent project, sophistication was at the heart of their motivational tenets. The Hotel Monville is the first in a whole collection or proposed future properties, businesses, and buildings that have been planned in collaboration with the owners of Old Montreal’s Hotel Gault.
Hotel Monville opened its doors for good in March of 2018, exuding a sense of chic luxury immediately. The hotel’s lobby, rooms, and structure, feature a unique and well-balanced blend of contemporary style and historic charm that somehow also works cohesively with its urban surroundings. The aim of the hotel’s atmosphere was to harness the high-end experience offered by well known hotels like Hotel Gault but with a slightly stronger sense of the local character.
Because the hotel lies in the heart of historic Old Montreal, a stunning distinction is created the moment one sets eyes on its exterior. The building looms impressively over the smaller heritage style sites, its black and white patterned “tromp l’oeil” style facade adding depth to the skyline and giving it a striking presence. The sleekness of the buildings facade is broken halfway up by an exterior curtain that spans three storeys up like a wall, intriguing passersby and contributing to the hotel’s vibrant atmosphere both inside and out.
Inside the hotel, the entry foyer extends further into a high ceilinged lobby that is framed by beams made of warm oak and large white columns similar to those found in historic cathedrals. These columns, however, have lamp-lit bases that add a welcoming warm glow to the hotel’s inviting public spaces. To add character, large tartan sofas and leather banquets make the area one that people actually enjoy interacting in.
Extending from the designers’ goals to incorporate the building into local life, the lobby walls have been decorated with large, breathtaking black and white prints of local Montreal life throughout the years. These are part of a customized overall mural commissioned from a talented and notorious local artist named Valerie Jodoin Keating.
Because the hotel was designed to be an actual destination in itself, rather than solely a stop off in experiencing Montreal at large, it features more than just a welcoming lobby and luxury rooms. Hotel Monville also boasts several meeting rooms, an illustrious library, and a beautifully spacious rooftop terrace to be enjoyed in warm weather.
The mood and atmosphere for the hotel at large are established right from the moment guests walk through the door. This is due in part to a DJ booth built right into the oak motif in a smaller, adjoining lobby feating a bar and white terrazzo seating spaces accented with brass details. The music flows throughout the bar, a neighbouring cafe, and the main lobby itself, enticing people in from off the street and rounding out the experience while people order local cuisine at all hours.
Beyond the social spaces, guests can stay in any of the 269 rooms on the property. Here, bright floor to ceiling windows provide each suite with a stunning view of the old city surrounding them. These views have such reach that they can even be enjoyed before you’ve left the luxurious king-sized bed for the day. Ornate oak headboards, custom made furnishings, rain style showers, and Nespresso coffee machines in each room ensure comfort of the highest degree.
At the same times as it strives to integrate itself into Old Montreal life, design teams also aimed to keep things firmly in the 21st century in terms of connectivity. They made sure to incorporate all modern technological offerings and compatibilities they could think of that might enhance guests’ experiences. These include online and electronic kiosk check-in and Smart TVs that sync effortlessly with personal devices.
Hotel Monville is also the first hotel in Canada to offer autonomous robot room service delivery! These smart and efficient robots were designed by Savioke, a Californian firm. They carry food orders directly to guests’ rooms in record time. Otherwise, most products are locally produced. For example, the all natural bath products in each room were made by a Quebec company called Oneka, while staff uniforms were designed and created by a Canadian brand called Frank & Oak.
Photographs by Adrien Williams
By Stefan • Jan 15, 2019
Deep in the heart of Moscow, Russia, an innovative urban architectural firm has designed an expansive, industrial chic office space for Expert Electric Company.
The sophisticated, loft-style space comes complete with a metallic silver ceiling, some unique and cutting edge styled furnishing pieces, bright but comforting lighting, and an overall atmosphere that distinguishes the space in a huge way from your average traditional office space.
This brand new office space occupies 500 square metres in an equally new commercial building in downtown Moscow. The original vision was a loft-style office and that was undoubtedly fulfilled (and even stylistically surpassed in terms of satisfaction and expectation) by designers.
Designs started out by re-examining the concept of what a “loft” is in today’s architectural and spatial understandings. They also carefully considered how they might use texture and raw materials to create a truly unique loft space that won’t eventually feel average or banal to visit every single day for staff.
The beauty of working with industrial aesthetics in a brand new building is that the scene was already quite set. Challenges instead lay in choosing the right furnishings, decor, and accent pieces for the space to really create a cohesive visual story and give staff spaces that encourage motivation and productivity. Designs achieved this by carefully placing unique and interesting looking furniture pieces and continuing the silver theme you see on the ceiling throughout the entire space.
For good contrast and to create a focal point, designs did also challenge themselves by creating a brick wall statement piece. These materials were more difficult to come by and install specifically because the concept was such a deviation from the rest of the space’s style story. Even so, that overall impact of the finished project was worth it.
In order to bolster the installed lighting and keep the place feeling bright and cheerful, designers chose to complete the space with large windows and double-glass walls in certain spaces. Besides letting light travel effortlessly through the space, these walls also provide fantastic acoustics, making effective communication quite simple without rendering the offices loud or cluttered in an auditory sense.
Photographs by Evgeny Evgrafov
Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort & Spa, created by Elastic Architects, provides a sunset laden beach haven unlike any other
By Stefan • Jan 15, 2019
On the stunning rolling beaches of Creta, Greece, the Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort & Spa was designed and created by Elastic Architects to give guests a relaxing beachside experience that’s practically unparalleled in its beauty.
This project was actually a refurbishment endeavour. The goal of the new design was to was to bring a breath of fresh air to the front of house areas of the hotel, like the lobby, restaurant, and social spaces, as well as the beach, outdoor lounge and spa areas, and cafe. Continuous views of the gorgeous Aegean sea are paramount in every single space.
Rather than simply giving these areas a new look, designers aimed to actually elevate the hotel’s entire aesthetic and hospitality atmosphere to a whole new level. This was done in pretty, simple ways that keep elements of Greek culture, history, and style at the forefront while also concentrating on good functionality of space.
Outside, in the spaces where the view is prime and the breezes plays through the seating areas, designers played a bit of a game with light and shadow. They created lovely, relaxing lounge areas with unobstructed views of the landscape, letting natural sunlight wave and change throughout the day and also the time of year.
Natural, neutral, and local materials were purposely chosen as key elements all throughout the social spaces of the hotel. Because so much wicker is involved, in the pergola for example, beautifully textured shadows are created in a way that almost becomes part of the decorative appeal of the area. This is particularly lovely because it means the aesthetic of the space is ever-changing.
The hotel has a beach that designers atmospherically split into five areas. These include comfortable day beds, luxurious loungers, group seating areas, and cozy, shady pergolas. The natural materials that all of these features are made from creates a cohesive visual story with the seaside environment surrounding the hotel.
In the cafe, this natural, shadow play aesthetic is continued. At the edge, a bar creates a sort of spatial division between active public spaces meant for dining and socializing and the more relaxation based spaces designed for seeking peace on the beach. The open air concept and continuation of concrete, wood, and wicker let the two spaces communicate visually despite their differing intentions, creating a sort of harmony.
Even the water spaces are harmonious between and around the natural material-clad seating areas. Just feet from the seaside, a stunning fountain was placed between the lobby and the main swimming pool, both of which are surrounded by gorgeous, clean looking marble.
Photographs by Pygmalion Karatzas
By Stefan • Jan 14, 2019
In the midst of the city centre in Gurugram, India, an innovative design company called Space Matrix has created a stunning office space for contemporary clothing company Superdry.
Fashion clothing brand Superdry chose to work with Space Matrix because they actually specialize in unique office design. Both companies decided that the central inspirations for Superdry’s high quality product- Japanese graphics, fine British tailoring, and vintage Americana styling- would also work very well as uplifting themes within an office space.
The way that the incorporation of these themes into the decor scheme reflects the actual clothing created by the brand is nothing short of intriguing. The brand’s clothes are often characterized by their unique fabrics and cloth prints, authentic vintage washes, and unique detailing or tailoring. These visual effects are reflected in wall art and structural shapes all around the new offices.
From the beginning, Superdry made it clear that they’d prefer a space that looks very raw, vintage, and industrial inspired, still with a dash of contemporary style. Beyond the work spaces, the office boasts an inviting lounge room to break up the monotony of desks and computers that you’d find in more traditional office spaces.
In order to achieve a look that puts the vintage element forward, designers created a mural of the brand logo from rusted metal sheeting with a backdrop of old sleeper wood. For contrast, another wall features graphics that centre around the company’s core values: passion, creativity, quality, family, individuality, and fun!
Because Superdry sees collaboration as being beneficial and productive, they worked with designers to ensure that several shared spaces that feel comfortable, inspiring, and spacious. The aim was to let staff work together in different combinations while also motivating them with art and visuals that reflect the look and feel of the brand’s product. Designers took those ideas to the next level by also making sure those spaces are easy to maintain! They did this by sticking to a beautifully raw, industrial inspired look with a modern, artistic twist.
The raw, industrial factor that makes the shared spaces so appealing continues throughout the rest of the offices as well. The reception area, for example, has a concrete finish for the walls and floors, which contrast well with the leatherite sofa seating and other furniture pieces made from sleeper wood. Black and white portraits fill entire walls throughout the office, displaying the product beautifully and adding a personal touch to the rooms, particularly in those where neon seating pieces are situated, popping against the murals.
Photographs courtesy of Space Matrix
By Stefan • Jan 14, 2019
Located in Stockholm, Sweden, the brand new Uber Offices, designed and created by Studio Stockholm, provide employees and clients with a sense of genuine comfort and a visual inspiration all at once within their walls.
The primary intent of this design was to explicitly harness a concept that was adaptable for a busy office, represented Swedish culture and design, and still provided everything an IT company would need to work with its global design philosophies.
Both of the company’s divisions- Uber and Uber Eats- have a set of demands on their staff that require a certain physical environment, even though they operate out of the same buildings and offices. This means that the Stockholm office needed not only space for educational classes and service hubs for their drivers, but also slightly more traditional office areas for their app and web service developers, as well as their logistics and administrations staff.
At Uber offices across the world, drivers, couriers, and office workers share the same space. This is why designers in Stockholm decided to create a central hub area with the natural atmosphere of a casual but productive meeting point. This is the space where people can easily do things like seek help with the app and its uses or socialize with their colleagues over coffee on their break.
Shape and interesting lines are key themes throughout the office. Seating options, desks, and wall art are chosen specifically for their visual appeal. Many furniture features and decor details are purposely created using raw materials, including the central eye catching prints on the walls. This gives the entire office a stylishly unpolished feel, like a small startup might have, even though it’s a well established company with offices located internationally.
Photographs by Per Kristiansen
Italian designers noa* network of architecture create Gloriette, an Art Nouveau masterpiece in a darling village
By Stefan • Jan 13, 2019
In order to fill the space left in the Italian village of Oberbozen by an older hotel that was demolished, noa* network of architecture built the absolutely stunning Gloriette.
The name of this new hotel was chosen for the way the building looks like an absolute gem extending from the landscape around it. Inspired by the timeless styles typical of Art Nouveau, this building was created with the intention of building an atmosphere that takes structures and details down to a state of simplicity without sacrificing beauty, luxury, or comfort.
Structurally, designers knew from the outset that they wanted to incorporate elements typical of the local area, like arches in the facade and a hipped roof. These details have a long tradition in Oberbozen. These can be found like a common thread throughout the whole building, which boasts a garage, 25 guest rooms, a park, seven garden suites, and private gardens for each of those.
The hotel also features fantastic public spaces. These include stunning reception and lobby areas, a restaurant, and a terrace that curves gracefully outward to overlook the garden and a view beyond the horizon. The facade is unique in its window shape and structure so that an enticing kind of teaser of the unique inside is afforded from the gardens without revealing the entire effect and giving away all its surprises.
Guest rooms are located on three floors about the public and social spaces. These feature stunning black glass detail, comfortable amenities, and beautifully arched windows that capture the landscape. At the very top of the building, in the centre of the top floor, the wellness area sits nestled among the suites, appearing to float like a building all its own.
This wellness area is designed for relaxation, meditation, shared moments, and an appreciation of the view. The arch shape continues its prevalence here and bronze is introduced into the scheme of materials. The rounded shell of the area breaks away from the primary roof structure and makes a statement of architectural language.
While everything else appears quite grandiose in its sleek simplicity, designers chose to add some interior decor elements that add a bit of local kitsch and curiosity to the scheme. Unique trinkets and pieces from local flea markets are dotted around the lobbies and social spaces, as well as little treasures saved from the old hotel that stood there previously. Golden lamps hanging from various ceilings add a glint of glamour that catches the eye.
The wellness area isn’t the only part of the hotel aimed at relaxation and rejuvenation. There is also a beautiful spa that features an extravagant cantilevered pool. This area also boasts various rest areas and retreat zones that range from cozy indoor spots to exterior nooks that give guests some fresh air in more privacy.
Photographs by Alex Filz
Norway’s Ydalir Hotel created by Lund+Slaatto Architects is the first university campus hotel in the country
By Stefan • Jan 13, 2019
In Norway’s city of Stavanger, Lund+Slaatto Architects has built Ydalir Hotel, the countries first fully functioning hotel located on an actual university campus.
On the edge of the land for The University of Stavanger, the building sits steady, made from visually pleasing but durable materials. Ydalir Hotel is made primarily from brick, concrete, copper, and oak. Besides contributing well to the campus aesthetically, the hotel gives it an added revenue stream as well, boosting its small local economy and creating jobs.
The hotel consists of 59 rooms in total, a few of which are larger suites with fully functioning kitchens that have been adapted for slightly more long term stays. On the ground floor, the space is more diversified because it also features a few public rooms intended for the university’s use, like the public thesis defence room meant for PhD students.
Rather than making it a statement building, designers actually wanted to make this unique hotel blend quite cohesively with its surrounding, so they split it into three “cubic volumes” or separately standing buildings. Each one is place at a different angle, creating a unique space between them that gives the hotel rooms inside each additional sunlight and better views.
Luckily, guests don’t have to actually walk outside to get from building to building, since Norway gets quite cold in the winter. Instead, they can use the high glass bridges that form part of why the hotel is so visually unique in addition to being fantastically functional. Because the bridges are glass, they’re afforded fantastic views of the campus and its surroundings as well!
An additional ambition of this guest project was to create a durable, high quality building that will age with dignity. Part of the process of achieving this goal was was paying attention to angles right down to the millimetre during building. The places where materials shift from brick to glass on the exterior, for example, are measured extremely precisely in order to create as subtle as possible a transition between inside and outside.
Inside the hotel, warm colours and materials are used to create a sense of comfort. These schemes have a clear connection to the hotel’s surroundings through the big windows featured in the building’s facades. The actual guest rooms are characterized through the extensive use of stunning wood pieces, combined with concrete and oak parquet floors to break things up visually while still keeping that rather natural aesthetic alive and well.
Photographs by Sindre Ellingsen
By Stefan • Jan 11, 2019
Any house that is commissioned from a designer, architect, and building team affords the owner a certain level of customizability and control. Having your dream house built is a collaborative effort, after all! When it comes to true creative control, however, few options give owners as much power over decision as commissioning a YB1 House, conceptualized and completed by Yves Behar!
Based out of Switzerland, this initiative is spearheaded by Yves Behar, a designer and architect known worldwide not just for his work in home gadgetry but also the breadth and diversity of his projects therein. His past works include the development of a unique smart lock, a robotic crib, and a tiny bluetooth speaker with shocking volume for its size.
This, time around, however, Behar has actually designed the entire home itself, rather than just the gadgets inside! In partnership with a prefab home manufacturer called LivingHomes, Behar has launched a fully customizable collection of homes that are specifically designed to help lessen the pressure of urban housing shortages. They also take advantage of the state of California’s emphatic encouragement of accessory dwelling units, often referred to as ADUs, since this kind of home is so popular in that state.
This new housing vision was originally unveiled as a series of renderings that showcase an impressively sleek, fully customizable home featuring all the windows a person could wish for. The basic starting point for the home is also heavy in gorgeous light wood panelling . The YB1 is purposely designed so that elements like the roofline, the overall layout, the interior finishes, and the size can all be fully customized from what you see here.
Of course, being a housing gadget designer originally, Behar couldn’t help include one or two of his own other features in the basic design as well. The basic starting model comes with a patented Flos lighting system, as well as a famous Behar-designed Samsung TV, of course!
The original base design, which is the one you’ll see in these photos, begins at 650 square feet. From there, however, they range from an ultra space-efficient 250 square feet to a much more expansive 1200 square feet, depending on the number of people planning to live in it and all of their wants and needs.
In its first iteration, the YB1 costs approximately $280,000 American dollars. It costs one month to build and only a single day to install at the new owners’ desired location. Behar’s goal, however, is to eventually reduce the price down to about $100,000 to make them slightly more accessible to a wider range of people.
Photographs courtesy for Living Homes
House Usuki by Kenta Eto provides a unique and unparalleled view of Japanese city from its dramatically sloped roof
By Stefan • Jan 11, 2019
Some houses are built solely for style or visual design, and that can be a beautiful thing! Others, however, have a slightly more functional or abstract inspiration behind their design, and that often still results in something with amazing shaped and character. That’s precisely the case with House Usuki, designed and built by Kenta Eto.
With this wonderfully unique housing project, designers aimed to harmonize environmental scale and human scale in one place. The plot of land it sits on, nestled in the rolling hills of Usuki City, in Japan’s Oita prefecture, is the perfect place for such a goal! This is thanks to the stunningly uneven, mountainous terrain surrounding the area, which is scattered with fields and houses that sit at all different levels.
To achieve their scale based goals, designers operated from a rather simple concept: to utilize the natural topography of the land and the difference in levels it presents actively in their project, seeing as the site their chose sits angled as though you’re going down the mountain.
The intention of the home’s dramatic slope, besides just standing out for being unique, was actually to avoid disturbing the impressive landscape upon which it sits. Instead, appears to slope with the natural shape of the hill it sits on, inclined at approximately 24 degrees from the top all the way down to the ground.
This fantastic angle actually allows dwellers and guests to climb to the very top of the house from ground level on the outside! Because the angle is actually quite long and gentle rather than severe, one can easily sit or lie down on this unique roof, making it the perfect place to take in the sunset or absorb the mountain view surrounding you.
The outside of the house is by no means the only impressive aspect! Inside, the house is split into two floors. On the ground floor, you’ll be greeted by an expansive kitchen, a comfortable living room, a irresistible master bedroom, and even a wet area. The top floor is reserved for an exciting hobby room and the kids’ rooms, giving the house a sense of functional organization.
Also on the ground floor is a lovely, grassy courtyard space. This sits recessed into the base of the outside slope, like a bright, friendly patio connecting the inside and outside spaces in an open, freeing kind of way. Past the doors going into the patio, the support beams are functional and exposed in a way that is simple, practical, and quite appealing. Timber eaves give the space an honest, pleasantly homey approach.
Photographs provided by architect.
Bespoke Partners Offices created by obrARCHITECTURE to motivate, inspire, and refresh on a daily basis
By Stefan • Jan 10, 2019
In the busy downtown core of San Diego, California, obrARCHITECTURE has built a stunning, brightly lit office space for Bespoke Partners that feels more like a spa retreat than a place of work.
In an innovative collaboration, obrARCHITECTURE teamed up with Studio H Design Group to collaborate on an office design for this forward thinking Californian recruiting company. This space is the corporate headquarters for all branches of the company, so productivity, comfort, and style were equally important in the list of priorities.
This entirely woman-owned and operated business is a boutique executive recruiting firm located in the city’s Little Italy nieghbourhood. The offices occupy 5,400 square feet but that entire space was recently redesigned after its original purchasing in 2016. This facelift was, of course, much more drastic than just redecorating a little or giving the walls a new coat of paint.
The luxurious interior of these offices are now a unique blend of high end marble, industrial chic looking steel and brass accents, custom designed lighting fixtures, and sliding glass doors that provide delineation but also a sense of spaciousness and shared areas. This is important, since staff often collaborate and work in various team combinations.
These glass doors were inspired by more than just a desire for widespread natural light as well. The company’s central tenet in all of their policies and goals is “transparency”, so that’s precisely what designers aimed to harness here! By including so many glass walls in the space, a sort of sound efficient but apparently open-concept atmosphere was created. This makes offices and meeting rooms appear airy and calm, letting the bright colour schemes and natural sunlight spill through from room to room in a gorgeous, cheerful way.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Bespoke offices is the way the company actively strives and makes space to work against common “all work and no play” mentalities. That’s why they requested that designers build a game zone right there in the office! This is accompanied by luxurious lounge areas and, on any given day, a whole workplace family of dogs running freely and happily from room to room, with lots of space to greet clients and plenty of nooks to take naps in when staff work quietly.
Photographs by Studio Maha
By Stefan • Jan 10, 2019
Amidst the urban hustle and bustle of Mumbai, India, brand new Booking.com Offices have been created by M Moser Associates with the intention of inspiring and motivating staff in a way that makes them actually enjoy coming into work each day!
These two companies have actually worked together numerous times which afforded them ample opportunity to foster a great working relationship even before this project came along. That wonderfully effective collaborative relationship is evidenced all over this bright, visually stunning new office space.
The original intent of both companies was to create a space that’s so interesting to be in and experience that staff, clients, and guests actually want to be there and engage with the space itself, and they more than achieved that goal! Within that priority, designers also aimed to capture the essence of the local culture surrounding the offices, making it easier for social interactions to take place and bolster productivity within the workplace.
Mumbai is a diverse city with plenty of social, visual, and economic contrasts woven into its urban cultural fabric. That’s why designers approached their design choices from such a colourful and conceptual place. In the form of furniture shapes, colour choices, and wall murals, the team tried to establish distinct themes that are representative of the people of Mumbai, since that’s who Booking.com’s services essentially enable clients to experience when they use the site.
In terms of its layout, the office is organized in a way that flows, just like a person might drift throughout their busy day. The path from singular workspaces to collaboration and group work tables to private meeting rooms and on to relaxing and social break spaces makes sense and feels comfortable. Even so, designers also made sure to create visual and artistic contrasts throughout so that these spaces do have a slightly sense of delineation.
At the same time as the colour art schemes create some distinction and flow between spaces, they also tell a story that makes experiencing, visiting, and working in the offices quite unique. The murals and displays showcase culture and social identifiers, bits of local social scenes, and homages to things like the nearby street market or work created by known artists from the area.
Besides the art, most materials used were also locally sourced. Many of the hard spaces you’ll encounter are actually made from previously fabricated and now re purposed containers, something that has been trending in urban living in several contexts all across the city. The localized nature of the materials creates a sort of raw and tactile atmosphere that’s rather specific to Mumbai.
Despite the emphasis on the office’s location, the sense of travel that the site’s services fosters and thrives on is ever present as well. In the private meeting rooms, for example, photos of different exciting Booking.com destinations are blow up the size of entire walls. The intent of these was to blur the lines between work and passion or adventure, reminding staff that their efforts enable people to experience the world.
Believe it or not, the Booking.com Mumbai offices actually only took 60 days to design and construct. Designers achieved this short timeline by streamlining processes and paying attention to the fine details of management in order to keep things time efficient. This timeframe was also helped along by the fact that so many aspects of the office’s structure and decor were localized.
Photographs by Purnesh Dev Nikhanj
The Indian Airbnb Offices created by Space Matrix combine innovation and comfort with a sheer love of travel
By Stefan • Jan 9, 2019
The city of Gurgaon, India, recently became home to the latest innovative Airbnb offices thanks to the expertise of design and architectural firm Space Matrix.
In collaboration with Airbnb’s own Environments Team, this design crew aimed to create a genuinely unique office space that perfectly blends urban and industrial chic qualities with lively cultures and exciting, socio-cultural experiences. This was achieved by transforming an old commercial warehouse into a completely made over, very colourful, and thoroughly teamwork friendly productivity space!
Despite the desire to maintain the industrial chic look that was already built into the space thanks to the purchase of the warehouse, designers also wanted to incorporate the company’s primary values and philosophies into the look and running of the office. Of course, Airbnb’s core identity and brand revolves around the concept of being able to “belong anywhere”, so this idea ran like a backbone through the conceptualization of all other design facets.
Working in partnership with the idea of belonging anywhere was the idea that the brand itself is global, rather than specifically localized. Basically, Airbnb wanted the office to be in line with high international design standards and to incorporate some subtle or neutral schemes so that some areas boast minimal or clean finishes. The overall effect was a rather unique looking functional workspace that reflects the brand experience well.
The biggest challenge that designers faced in all of this was to keep the brand’s level of sophistication and the free-flow design they envisioned while also making sure the space speaks the same language as other Airbnb offices across the globe. In order to make sure this particular place stands out, however, they made sure to incorporate elements of much more localized culture, creating a sort of blended aesthetic and atmosphere that appears global but specialized.
Space Matrix sought to fill the Airbnb offices with an unparalleled number of co-working spaces within their free-flow structure, as this has proven effective in offices in other locations. They continued the Airbnb tradition of building themed meeting rooms that are modelled after some of the company’s more prominent listings. These let staff and clients work together while also providing those in the room with an experiential, design-oriented taste of what they’re offering around the world.
Because India is so rich with diverse culture, it was important to everyone on the team that this be explicit in some parts of the design. This is visible in some of the hand-painted artworks, ornate mixing of patterns, handmade ceramic tiles, and hand-painted local motifs, all created by markers from the directly surrounding area.
Of course, work and productivity are important in any office, but Airbnb also highly prioritizes interaction and a sense of community between employees. Space Matrix achieved this through open social and workspaces, exciting “bonus features” like a Chai bar, and various caves and duck-ins that are inherently multi-purpose and very welcoming.
As the blend of aesthetics wasn’t already unique enough, design teams also ensured that bamboo has a heavy presence in the space, using it as cladding on the walls and bulkhead. This creates a sort of outside-in effect while maintaining the international sophistication all sides of the crew were aiming for overall.
Photographs by Khoo Guo Jie at Studio Periphery
WeWork Champs-Élysées Coworking Offices created by WeWork Coworking and Office Space to provide genuinely motivating workspaces
By Stefan • Jan 9, 2019
In the busy heart of Paris, France’s most stunningly urban and yet historical city, WeWork Champs-Élysées Coworking Offices have been created by WeWork Coworking and Office Space to give creative professionals of various kinds a genuinely collaborative and motivating space to make new concepts and develop new ideas together.
To create this fantastic space, designers and the company aimed to weave a sort of contemporary spatial narrative that’s both and innovation in design and an historical homage to the buildings its surrounded by. The actual building this office sits in has a unique history as well, since it shares an address with former American president Thomas Jefferson curing the time he served as the Minister of France!
To achieve their design goals, the crew on this project aimed to preserved the building’s already established Beaux-Arts style first and foremost. Between that and the desire for nearly pop art inspired contemporary elements inside, an interesting contrast was created that’s unlike basically any other business space in the area.
In order to bring a slightly more internationally influenced aesthetic into the space, designer s sought out another inspiration to draw from that would create lovely contrast. They chose to harness the elemental beauty of Yes Saint Laurent’s Jardins Mahorelles, located in Marrakech, Morocco.
This inspiration manifested itself in the form of terra cotta clay accents and details, painted blue concrete with pops of yellow, and the inclusion of live greenery and cactus plants in the office space. The blend of these details together created a bright and inspirational colour story for the office.
Because the accent details in the space, which is split between rooms in the old building, are already quite bright, much of the rest of the decor scheme is kept a fresh white, like a clean canvas base. The effect is that it looks very sculpture inspired in nature. This is particularly true in the casual break rooms, which even include a ping pong table!
Other pieces of furniture, like coffee tables, conference room tables, and the seating around them, are just as bright as the murals on the walls and other accent pieces, making them look a little bit pop art inspired as well. It’s the perfect blending of function and artistic style.
Because the original building is quite a historical site, minimal architectural intervention was done. Designers aimed to work with the basic features the space already had to offer rather than building new ones or taking them out. That’s why the impressive wrought iron spiral staircase and various fireplaces are situated with a small sense of reverence.
Old houses can be quite loud from room to room, so designers decided on a creative and decorative solution to improve acoustics since they didn’t want to alter the original space very far. Instead of installing mouldings or changing walls, designers opted to added thick velvet curtains that give the space character and provide a little more privacy between rooms. To balance out the heaviness of the curtains, decorative but clean, bright pendant lights and fixtures were carefully added in each room.
Photographs byTeri Bocko
By Stefan • Jan 8, 2019
Right in thee star studded thick of Hollywood, California, SPF: architects has create a residential project called The Line Lofts in an attempt to facilitate a more community based and social space heavy living experience!
In total, the Line Lots building is home to 82 lovely suites in one of LA’s most active up and coming neighbourhooods. Sitting tall on Las Palmas Ave, just steps away from the renowned intersection at Hollywood and Highland, extending six storeys into the air, making it the tallest residential unit in the area.
Part of the reason the building stands so high is that the plot of land designers had to work with was quite limited at its base. Besides organizing space carefully, the crew aimed to make sure the apartments were particularly well lit. Traditional ideas of standard apartment floor plans simply wouldn’t do here, however, so designers got creative instead.
Scrapping traditional floor plans meant there was more space in the design for more fluid layouts. Rather than simply linking floors to the ones above and below, multi-floor links are built through vertical corridors that let residents skip floors or travel straight up to an open air courtyard on the top of the building. This also gives a visual variation inside and removes repetition of space as people move through the building.
This particular residential project offers a plethora of unique social spaces as well. These include a workspace and wet bar immediately located in the reception, a courtyard pool up top, and even a pool lounge with floor to ceiling glass walls so that guests can get out of the sun without interrupting their visual flow, creating a clear interior-exterior relationship.
The units themselves are also designed to optimized the amount of natural light in each room. In each apartment, walls are primarily made up on the exterior sides of oversized windows with sliding sections that lead to atrium shaped balconies, one for each suite. The balconies are are recessed into the face of the building to create a smooth face that offers some shade.
In addition to space limitations, there were certain budget restrictions that designers had to work with that required them to think creatively once more in terms of materiality. Here, off the shelf products could bring the cost of construction down but selections had to be very unique and specific to make sure things still looked quite custom.
In order to give the facade of the building a little more visual interest, designers made the front facade from a combination of corrugated metal and plaster alternated one after the other to create a pattern that appears animated and flowing of its own volition. This is thanks to the smoothness of the plaster sandwiched between the roughness of the metal pieces with their metallic finish. A cohesiveness with the environment around the building is created in the way the metal pieces reflect the sky at different parts of the day.
On the ground and second floors, the units expand vertically from one to the other, rather than being arranged as single-floor units on each. This lets the spaces appear more open and gather more natural light and also affords the rooms more privacy. Building upwards rather than horizontally accounted for the limitations in space at the base of the building.