Author Archives - Courtney
By Courtney • Mar 18, 2019
In the area that was, once upon a time, the small village around Brazil’s Canoas train station, a 19th century home was recently and very carefully restored and transformed into a stunning gallery by local design teams at Kiefer Arquitetos.
Casa dos Rosa, or Rosa House, as the building has always been named, is one of the last standing remnants of the area’s original municipality and architecture. Before the cities in the bustling region or Porto Alegre grew up around it, this little house was quite isolated because the surrounding village it was originally a part of was entirely demolished.
Rosa House was saved this levelling thanks to the mayor of the village, who had it deemed a cultural property by transferring it to municipal powers before the go-ahead for demolition was given. Now that is has been restored, this lovely house, originally built in 1874, serves as inspiration for similar restoration projects in the area, such as museums and theatres. Each one is an attempt to preserve history and cultural heritage in the region. Around the house, a little collection of these sites has cropped up, making for a stunning cultural afternoon walk through the park they’re all centred around.
During the transformation process, particular care was taken to make sure as many traditional aspects of the house were preserved as possible. While some additions and upkeep changes were made to create a stronger frame and ensure that the new place will last and wear well, drastic changes were avoided in order to keep the building authentic.
Things that designers did freely adjust included some landscape design in the old yard, the entry way (which needed restoration), the addition of a stunning glazed porch, and the expansion of a public social area on the ground floor. These things were completed with delicacy and using materials that are traditional, reclaimed, and locally sourced.
Inside the house, it was safe to make more contemporary choices, which established a stunning contrast in aesthetic between the rooms and the historical exterior facade. An elevator was installed between the first and second floors to keep the cultural property accessible.
To avoid changing the original structure too much, features like a cafe and a reception area for the whole little historical site were built in an extension right next to Rosa House. From here, a canopy was built that connects there to the museum, the future theatre, and a stairway to the park.
Overall, the goal of preserving the old while building the new was more than just achieved; it was done with beauty. Now, a sense of harmony and coexistence exudes from Rosa House and its new and historical counterparts alike.
Photos by Mário Fontanive
Net Marketing Offices created in Tokyo by DRAFT Inc. as a comfortable work environment for employees of a rapidly growing company
By Courtney • Mar 15, 2019
Net Marketing Offices, located in Tokyo, Japan and recently created by DRAFT Inc., are a shining example of design techniques in fostering productive, comfortable work spaces that prioritize employee experience, making their work day more enjoyable and benefitting their work ethic.
In this space specifically, designers and clients went out of their way to establish an explicit work and leisure balance. Perhaps the clearest example of this was their inclusion of an in-office relaxation spa that employees are encouraged to use as they need! This space even offers licensed acupuncture. Between that and the way the office presents versatile and creative options for workspace depending on one’s style, as well as easy access to calming natural light, makes working in this office feel a lot less like… well, work.
Net Marketing is a company that hit its stride and grew very rapidly indeed, which is part of the reason designers and clients wanted to incorporate an element of relaxation into the average fast paced work day. The work spaces of the office are divided across two separate floors, with a third floor above that hosting a space specifically designed to help employees unwind and refresh when necessary. Each person might choose where they feel best working that day.
The open space on the third floor is a versatile one. Some might use it as a quiet break area, but many others visit the space for personal working time or group work. The office occasionally hosts events there as well. In the event that an employee feels as though they need further relaxation to benefit their productivity, they can seek out the office’s acupuncture services or even use the spa area to take a short nap. Health and wellness are an explicit priority here.
Because the nature of the work done in the office requires a high instance of group work, designers aimed to created a space where meetings, large or small, can be conducted easily, comfortably, and efficiently. Communication was a huge priority as well. This is why the team established a layout that enables employees to switch simply and freely between places, working styles, and atmospheres.
In addition to their own personal desks, employees in this office are provided with and free to use a number of other work spots, such as sofas, modern seats in nooks and corners, and standing counters. This setup also lets people easily interact with each other, enabling a free flow of information between them and making for smoother group processes. Of course, in such a free space, there is always a sense of respecting each other’s work styles and need for quiet or conversation, letting people collaborate better but also opt out of engagement when necessary.
In order to let as much natural light reach as many of the office’s rooms and corners as possible, designers chose to divide what spaces are delineated using glass partitions rather than opaque walls. This allows sunlight to travel from room to room as the day goes on. Rather than framing these partitions with harsh black lines, the team opted for brown and neutral shades in their supports to make things feel more casual and less hardened and industrial.
To bolster the use of quite natural materials in the space (you’ll notice heavy accents of wood and mortar, for example, plant life has also been incorporated into the office’s decor scheme and aesthetic. Besides being proven to improve prolonged indoor experiences, greenery helps amp up that casual, spa influenced theme and sense of comfortability.
Photos by Katsuhiro Aoki
Sydney’s Raine & Horne Offices by PMG Group designed to encourage employees to embrace new ways of working
By Courtney • Mar 15, 2019
In the heart of Sydney, Australia, innovative designers PMG Group have created a fantastic office space for the real estate company Raine & Horne as part of an initiative to encourage their employees to embrace new ways of working.
From the outside of the project’s plans, one of the primary goals was to bring employees out of their offices and into more open spaces in order to facilitate a more flowing, collaborative work environment that cubicle style offices simply aren’t built for. Besides that, the team wanted to create a space that blends company history and a familiar, trusted brand with bright, modern spaces and aesthetics.
Upon entering, visitors can already tell that the office is bright and fun. Natural light reaches every corner and highlights a wall of prints featuring historical moments in local real estate, showcasing to clients that the business evolves quickly with the market but still knows its roots. Nearby, a lovely and casual deck area is available for staff and clients to enjoy in their spare time.
In keeping with the natural light and the way it brightens up the space, designers chose to incorporate a lot of greenery into areas of the office. These are dotted around the more formal workspaces and the slightly more casual meeting areas, including the window seating, break booths, and tiered group seating. Many different kinds of group meeting spaces are available depending on what the employees need for the task at hand.
In the areas that are actually designed for more private work, the colour scheme is neutral and natural in a way that is quite calming. This contrasts well with the pops of colour you’ll find in more public areas of the office. Wooden elements and reclaimed timber add a sense of warmth and familiarity. Some spaces have received a more dramatic update than others; the bathroom, for example, was once compared by an employee to the one at “grandma’s house” and now it’s one of the most modern spaces in the place.
The emphasis on keeping an historical aspect in the space continues beyond just the entrance in a beautiful way. Printed graphics, artifacts, and local memorabilia dot the social spaces and line the walls near the tiered seating, private work zone, and throughout several meeting rooms.
Photos by Oliver Ford Photography
By Courtney • Mar 14, 2019
In the lush tropics of Yakarta, Indonesia, The Upstairs House was recently completed by Wahana Architects to give its residents unique and modern living amenities in a truly innovative way. In a townhouse complex in South Jakarta, The Upstairs House occupies 560 square metres in a lovely, tropical townhouse complex. Because the house sits in such a busy and densely populated area, one of the main challenges for designers was to create a space that matches the impressive nature of the interior areas despite the fact that no real natural view exists around the building.
To do this, teams asked the clients what they’d desire to see most. It was decided that the creation of a natural environment and lovely green landscape would be a central priority. Now that it’s completed, the outdoor space around upstairs house is nothing short of stunning, chalk full of plant life that makes it resemble a holiday resort.
Besides greenery, the clients listed building a pleasant social space that friends and family will want to spend time in as being another high priority. This is actually part of how the house got its name! Rather than placing all of the private spaces upstairs and leaving public and social spaces on the ground floor, designers inverted the house’s format and place bedrooms below and entertainment spaces above.
This way, the busy family who owns the house is able to access their calm bedroom spaces immediately upon arriving home after a very long day. When they have guests over, however, a sort of house tour (which, thanks to the layout of the bedrooms and hallways, is minimally intrusive to the most private spaces) takes place on the way to the final destinations, living and dining rooms where chatting, eating, and other bonding activities take place.
One of the prettiest spaces in the house is actually located right near the entrance, greeting guests with its calm, spa-like atmosphere. This space is an indoor garden and reflection pool near an open staircase that leads upstairs to the group spaces. All around the entrance and stairs, you’ll find a stunningly natural finish created by the fact that reclaimed teak wood is featured heavily throughout the house.
The purpose of using teak in this way was multifaceted. It creates texture, harnesses a lovely natural colour scheme, creates cohesiveness with the lovely outdoor area, and allowed designers to put money back into the local economy because all of the reclaimed teak used was sourced locally.
Because the upper floor is made of only social spaces, designers were able to build a layout that is quite wonderfully open concept without interrupting or flowing into rooms the family would prefer to keep as their own rather than have quite so easily accessible to guests. On its borders, the upper floor is surrounded by glass and wooden lattices, a combination that provides floods of natural light and makes the space feel even more open while also providing a bit of privacy from the outside.
Those same wooden lattices we just mentioned are mirrored downstairs as well, this time used as delineators of space to create corridors towards the bedrooms. These lattices allow a natural breeze to flow through the downstairs area and even lets the bubbling sound of water from the reflection pond drift towards sleeping dwellers. These atmosphere elements calm the sense of those in the private spaces and lull them after the hustle and bustle of their day.
Furthering the sense that indoor and outdoor spaces are connected throughout the house, the children’s bedrooms downstairs each feature their own wooden deck style courtyard. These courtyards are filled with trees that are afforded the space to grow high towards the second level, where they provide some nice shade through the glass walls. The master bedroom, located on the other side of the house, has its own courtyard as well, and this features its own reflection pool, as well as a stunning vertical garden. The entire overall effect is wonderfully serene.
The wooden decks and courtyards we’ve just described are what really makes the difference between building a home in the middle of the city and building a spa-like tropical oasis in the middle of a densely populated area. These spaces and the way they extend into the semi-closed home areas of The Upstairs House are key in making it feel like a beautiful resort.
Photos by Fernando Gomulya
Résidence in Stoneham, created by PARKA by Architecture & Design, exemplifies modern cubic beauty in Canadian nature
By Courtney • Mar 13, 2019
In the luscious green areas of Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Canada, design teams at PARKA by Architecture & Design recently completed the beautifully modern housing space called Résidence in Stoneham.
From its conception, this house was intended to be a space that feels as though it’s integrating into its own landscape. Particularly because it was created for a young, busy family with an affinity for the great outdoors, the house has several features that help blend inside and outside experiences, creating an effective way to live in nature while also living in a modern abode.
Besides the emphasis on large, stunningly clear windows that flood the living spaces with natural light, there are two main features in the house that blend indoor and outdoor spaces particularly well. The first is the garden-level backyard which is accessed by fully opening patio doors leading to the swimming pool and a rolling, lush green lawn.
The second spot that gives especially easy outdoor access to the dwelling’s indoor areas is the large balcony style deck that sits off the master bedroom. This lets dwellers enjoy the fresh air from a raised point that gives them a particularly stunning view of the surrounding forest. It’s like you’re sitting amongst the treetops!
The cubic structure surrounding the balcony we’ve just described, which just out from the house, does more than just provide shade on sunny days. It also helps focus the view by framing the horizon in the distance perfectly and even adds a little bit of privacy from the surrounding area, just in case the owners feel like having coffee out there in their pyjamas on a warm morning.
In terms of materials, textures, and colour schemes, designers took a contemporary and natural approach all at once. The use of gleaming reclaimed wood and slate bring an element of decor that makes the house feel cohesive with its surroundings while star white and black surfaces and finishes give a slightly more stark atmosphere to certain rooms that seems to mirror the surrounding mountains of Stoneham while still looking quite modern indeed.
As it all of that wasn’t enough to really create a sense of indoor-outdoor harmony, the way designers included expansive, clear windows from floor to ceiling in most walls really ties it all together. These flood private and social spaces alike with sunlight and natural warmth no matter the season, providing a homey glow that makes some of the more modern shapes you see feel softer.
Photos by Jessy Bernier Photography
Mały domek 29, or Swedish “Small House”, created by HusmanHagberg, is a stunning example of cozy living
By Courtney • Mar 13, 2019
In the heart of bustling Stockholm in Sweden, the darling house called Mały Domek 29 was recently refurbished by creative design teams at HusmanHagberg. In English, the home’s name means “Small House” and that’s an incredibly apt description! Even so, this adorable little home is by no means too small to be a pleasant dwelling that offers everything a person needs. The spaces are simply a little cozier than those you might encounter elsewhere!
Upon entering, you’ll find a lovely little living space that is both warmed and decorated by a central heating stove. This is covered in clean porcelain tiles with ornate hand painted detailing near the top. To the right, you’ll find a small, casual seating area and directly across from that is a small, wood finished kitchen that features a surprisingly high number of cupboards for such a small space, meaning it’s easy to keep organized.
Across from the entrance, the master bedroom comprises most of the rest of the house on the ground floor, prioritized as the next important space to that where guests will be hosted. This space has a sense of rustic chic like the rest of the house but with a neat and tidy woodland feel. The master bathroom sits off to the side of the bedroom, tiled in clean white that suits the walls elsewhere and creates cohesiveness.
On the upper floor, you’ll find a relaxing work and entertainment space. On one side, a computer desk creates a bit of a home office area but the space is versatile. It feels quite large, as it spans the square footage of the whole bottom floor, so a secondary sofa, a spare day bed, and a reading corner all fit comfortably in the different corners of the room. The sloped roof that is so characteristic of smaller cottage living adds personality rather than making the room feel limited.
On the outside, the cottage is nothing short of classic and adorable. Its warm red facade stands out against the often wintery landscape surrounding it, looking like a bright, cheerful spot against the white backdrop of snow.
Photos courtesy of the designer.
Entirely wooden Kiyakabin by Atelier Riri is a perfect getaway that feels like a cross between an island and a treehouse
By Courtney • Mar 12, 2019
In West Nusa Tenggara, a part of Indonesia, the Kiyakabin was recently created by Atelier Riri in partnership with the government in order to give tourists an ideal experience of the deeply rooted local culture and mesmerizing tropical scenery in the area. Standing tall on Lombok, a small island near Bali, this house furthers the goal of enticing visitors and giving them the perfect experience, which has been the Indonesian government’s primary goal for that area since the 1980s. These islands offer both beaches and mountains, making them breathtaking to witness and extremely unique indeed to try and build on.
Besides being unique in terrain, the Bali and Lombok area in which Kiyakabin was built is also extremely unique in terms of local culture and ethnicity. While Bali is predominantly Hindu, Lombok’s local culture is rooted in the Muslim practices of the Sasak community. These two island groups have long lived harmoniously and side by side, forging a strong connection and allowing things like architecture and music to be influenced by one another in certain ways.
The Kiyakabin itself was designed and built in 2017. One of the primary goals in planning the project was to make it overtly represent the Sasak culture in terms of materiality, layout, function, visual decor, and overall lifestyle. Building materials, like the various types of wood you see all throughout the structure, were sourced locally, making the building very sustainable indeed for its environment.
Perhaps the most obvious thing this stunning island has to offer is a view that is practically unparalleled. This view can be soaked in from any of the Kiyakabin’s four separate building units, which for a randomly arranged compound that’s fun and interesting to navigate. Designers purposely structure the compound in this way to reflect the character of a typical Sasak village, which is developed at whim rather than along strict plan, but still in purposeful cohesiveness with the rest of itself.
Each cabin in this compound has a different view; for example, one cabin faces directly towards the beach while another is oriented so you wake up to the view of the fantastic swimming pool in the centre of the space. One of the cabins even has a slightly more distance heavy view because it is lifted from the ground on a platform, meaning it can see above the others.
The interior spaces in each of the four cabin buildings is different and unique to itself as well, giving guests a sort of experience shift as they travel from one to the other. Three of the cabins are private with sleeping areas and the fourth is a public space that features a kitchen, a storeroom, and even a restaurant. This cabin, which is the largest of the four, is often used as a communal space, kind of like an activity centre.
The fourth largest cabin is the spot in the compound that acts as a sort of connector between public and private areas. This and the other cabins were all completed using a construction technique that is typical of the local Sasak houses in the area. Adapted to withstand weather and the wear of guests, the Kiyakabin buildings were still created using a connected wood construction technique that can be seen all over the island in traditional Lombok homes.
Speaking of local material sourcing and sustainability, the wood that you see in the slightly darker facade cover on the outside of the cabins was actually taken from a lush garden that was created for and serves the cabin compound itself! This is golden teak wood, which is extremely strong and has been finished using a specific wood burning system that helps it withstand harsh tropical seashore weather and protect the structural wood underneath. In other places, you’ll see a lighter white teak wood, which designers used mostly as an interior coating inside the cabins. This makes things look quite modern and cheerful rather than dark or very rustic.
One of the most unique features of the Kiyakabin building compound is the swimming pool, which lies in the centre of all the buildings. This pool has lovely views of its own and is often used as a place for interaction with other guests, since its so easily accessible from all of the cabins. It has a unique layout, however, that stretches to different parts of the compound, so there are also pool sections that have some privacy to each cabin in the even that someone would rather drift in their own space for a little while. All around the outside of the pool is a wooden path that connects the cabins and the outer area despite the water.
The cabins themselves are kept quite simple in terms of shape and architectural style. They are modern and square, making them look very contemporary but in a way that will age well and last. This shape also pays ongoing homage to the culture, as that’s the layout of most of the local and more cultural homes as well. Additionally, the simple square buildings do very little to interrupt the stunning nature around them, which helps keep the view from surrounding areas beautiful and consistent.
Photos by William Suntanto
RIKAS, an ultra-modern family home created by 3DM Architecture, looks like the ultimate ‘slice’ of contemporary Heaven
By Courtney • Mar 12, 2019
In a sprawling land plot in a neighbourhood of Maliena, nestled in the heart of Swieqi in Malta, innovative designers at 3DM Architecture have created the RIKAS project, an ultra- modern home that looks like a feat of artistic but contemporary angles and shapes.
From the very conception of the design, the architectural team and the clients (a busy young couple with two lively and active children) aimed to create a space that looks pure and neat but incredibly bold and fun. This resulted in the decision to create a house with a shape that is, at its roots, basically a visual reaction to the plot of land it was built on! It mimics the overall shape and sturdiness of the land it stands upon.
Inside, the decor is one that is designed to build a relationship between aesthetic and function. Rather than just being incredibly modern like its shape and outer appearance but too rigid or cold looking for comfortable living, the team hit the mark between natural finishes and contemporary shapes and surfaces, creating a space that is no doubt very modern but also still suits a family lifestyle.
Because the very building itself plays with shapes and angles in such an interesting way, the opportunity arose inside for designers to play with light and shadow throughout. This gives the inside a slightly Renaissance period inspired element because much of the way lights and windows have been placed follow an old architectural style called the Chiaroscuro technique. By this, we mean that the ground floor of the house is flooded with natural light thank to floor to ceiling windows and apertures that create a sort of blended effect between indoor and outdoor areas, as though they are one.
Despite this open, well lit characteristic, however, designers still made sure that dwellers can be afforded more privacy and shade when they choose. They gave the well lit ground floor a bit of flexibility by installing remotely controlled fabric screens. When these are lowered the space becomes much more intimate. Of course, because of the way it’s raised and its peaked shape, all four floors of the house are most often flooded with natural sunlight, but the ground floor stays particularly naturally lit.
In terms of decor, designers had two distinct goals within the house (besides keeping a very contemporary yet livable feel) that, despite sounding at odds at first, actually work well together. Firstly, they wanted to use materiality and colour or decor schemes to differentiate between spaces. When the decor scheme changes, so does the function of the room.
At the same time, they wished to maintain some static elements that can be found all throughout the house so that some cohesion and decorative sense can me maintained from room to room. They aimed for securing a balance between the desired design aesthetic and what the clients’ daily needs might be living there with their family.
Finally, several features of the house were chosen for their sense of functional luxury. Sure, they were designed to be modern and impressive, but they aren’t frivolous details that a busy, social family wouldn’t use. For example, the indoor and outdoor pools and the sunken circular couch are fantastic spaces for bonding time, while the underground garage provides a space for family cards and activity supply storage that is secure and easily accessible.
Photos by Miguel Petrovic
Located in Morioka, a city in the Tohoku region of Japan, is the brand new Nagasawa Coffee, a shop that was designed by ARII IRIE Architects to incorporate the process of making its product into an actual part of the whole purchasing experience.
When the owners of the original shop came up with the idea of moving it into a bigger space so they could include a recently purchased 1960s vintage roaster in the decor scheme, a much bigger plan started to form. They ended up developing the vision of a whole new shop where guests become privy to the actual process of roasting and making their coffee from scratch, more like an open workshop space than just your average coffee shop.
When the designers came onto the project, they sought a way to enable the clients’ vision in the simplest, most space efficient way possible. A primary element of this minimalist but pleasing spatial concept is the big terrazzo table where most of the customer service is completed. This table is 6 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, making it quite sizeable indeed.
Despite being large, this service table is, in fact, space efficient because it is so multipurpose and so much can centre around it. besides being a service counter and a table to sit at, the desk is also an active tabletop where live roasting takes place, with packaged, unroasted, and roasted beans are all stored, displayed, and prepared within full view of the customers’ curious eyes.
The new shop, despite having a bigger square footage, is still decently small; in fact, it has a lower ceiling than the previous space. This doesn’t interfere with customers’ ability to enjoy the space at all, but designers still wanted to counteract that visually in order to keep the space feeling balanced rather than short. This is why they’ve kept them primary counter quite low.
The counter isn’t quite low enough to grab anyone’s attention for its lacking height, but it does create a sensical space between its tabletop and the ceiling, which is only 2.8 metres high. Situating the tabletop where most customers’ attention will be fixed lower draws their eye line downward and away from the ceiling. Additionally, the lower height makes the primary counter feel like a bit more of a stage on which a dance of some kind is taking place.
Across from the ever-important counter is where the vintage roaster we mentioned previously lives. It is on full display and curious customers are encouraged to look at it up close and take in all its mechanics and details. Between the counter and the roast sits a long, lovely smoothed granite table that guests might use as social and communal space. Slightly more individualized seating can be found at the front of the store, near the edge of the counter.
Thanks to the difference in look and aesthetic between the vintage roaster and the clean-edged, modern looking furniture, like the table and its accompanying minimalist stools, the whole shop is bathed in a stunning contrast between vintage and contemporary. The effect is nothing short of stunning and that, combined with the experience of witnessing the entire coffee bean process, really makes Nagasawa coffee stand out.
Photos by Kai Nakamura
Converted historic house becomes Belgian Bed and Breakfast Entrenous thanks to Atelier Janda Vanderghote
By Courtney • Mar 11, 2019
Next to the lovely green grasses of Citadel Park in Ghent, Belgium, a beautifully historic house was recently converted by innovative designers Atelier Janda Vanderghote. Now it’s the stunning Bed and Breakfast Entrenous!
This impressive and inviting B&B, which presents guests with a unique blend of classic architecture and modern lines and decor, features three sizeable guest rooms. On the outside, the home’s original facade has been restored with a sense of reverence for its historical aesthetic. The inside, however, has been entirely renovated in terms of style and decor, with several necessary updates for longevity, but the layout and general structure is much the same, giving the original historical aesthetic some ongoing presence.
In the same way that old meets new in this lovely B&B, there’s also a strong sense of public meeting private. The lower rooms where a family might usually meet to eat and bond are social spaces here, where guests share space and spend time together. On the top floor, however, large private bedrooms provide visitors with their own space to sleep and unwind.
Throughout the house, concrete plays a large role in decor and theme. It is exposed in the walls and beams, for example, contrasting well with wooden detailing and pops of brightly coloured paint in some rooms. The concrete involvement makes the inside of the house feel solid and safe.
Around the back of the house, another type of blending takes place. Here, a glass facade makes the public spaces near the back of the B&B and the sunny, inviting backyard feel cohesive. Here, a wooden exterior decorates the rear facade, giving the yard a different feel than its other side where the concrete is bare. This frame, which has an alternating window-like pattern to it, also provides a bit of extra shade and privacy to the exterior sides for the private rooms on the top floor.
In terms of decor, you’ll once again experience both contrast and blending. Firstly, you’ll notice that all of the floors on the ground level are smooth concrete but, as you move upstairs, you’ll find that the floors here are wooden instead. As far as blending and cohesiveness is concerned, the colour blue is what ties the whole home’s interior together. Whether it’s a chair, a shelf, or a painted accent wall, you’ll find at least one element in each space that centres the colour and ties the home together.
Photos by Tim Van de Velde
Although it still sits on a street filled with classic turn-of-the0century limestone and weatherboard cottages, the newly renovated Silver Street House, recently completed by creative design teams at EHDO, is no longer just another example of that style amidst the rest! Instead, this home in South Fremantle, Australia was redone for a semi-retired couple in order to give them a contemporary looking yet cozy home escape now that they’re winding down their daily routines.
From start to finish, the Silver Street House took five years to complete. At first, small changes or renovations were made here and there until it was decided by both the designers and their clients that a full overhaul to make a stunning new space that still fit well in the old plot should be done. The idea was not without challenge, however. The plot where the house stands is quite narrow, measuring 368 square metres, but it’s also divided almost completely in two by a diagonal skewer easement that will not support permanent building.
Rather than feeling stunted by this slight hitch in potential building plans, the designers decided to take it as an opportunity to get creative. Ideas for different ways to blend engagement between domestic places and the public street, as well as internal and external home spaces, began to arise and a lot of discussion about the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces emerged.
To account for the easement, the home is built in two separate volumes that are linked by indoor and outdoor spaces where dwellers can travel across the space that cannot support a building. The ground floor, which is built on the lower side of the plot, features walls that are basically removable in the way they can be thrown open and slide back entirely, blending indoor spaces like the living room with the patio and yard.
The upstairs volume of the house, which sits at an angle to the ground level, is where the sleeping and private retreat areas reside. These were designed and decorated to be a sort of private relaxation space when the plethora of social and hosting spaces are not being used. The upstairs volume is extremely thick walled, which keeps it cool, quiet, and very private indeed, without feeling closed in. Large windows that open entirely and some balcony seating make sure it can still be blended with the outdoors as well.
The materials used throughout the house, as well as in the exterior, were specifically chosen for the way they created a sense of communication with nature. Sure, the street is a residential one in a city, but it’s still quiet and features lush greenery and designers didn’t want to lose that in building a sense of updated modernity. They locally sourced wood and granite, for example, accepting pieces with visual marks from wear and tear or weathering rather than looking for ones that were nearly pristine.
In addition to wood, which you can see was used liberally, this house also features natural and locally sourced off-form concrete, brickwork, and even a few Australian Cypress trees planted in the yard that, while not used to build anything, were transferred safely and kindly from another place in the local area and planted to flourish here and create even more cohesiveness between the house and its surrounding environment.
Thought the volumes of the house are quite large and the shape might look intimidating from the outside, there’s a sense of playful comfort one can feel as soon as you’ve passed through the doors. This is partially thanks to the way natural light is prioritized and allowed to flood into just about every space from floor to ceiling windows or fully retracting doors that make certain rooms, like the living room and kitchen, feel like you’ve truly taken out an entire wall to let the fresh air in.
The house is also quite green when it comes to heating and cooling systems! For example, high insulated R9 wall panels surround the upper volume, giving it increased thermal stability so that mechanic heating and cooling systems aren’t often needed. There are also several places where polycarbonate core-flue walling provide a type of shade from angles where the hottest, most direct sunlight might hit, reducing heat in the midst of summer but still giving a sort of ambient glow as far as light is concerned.
Of course, we’ve talked a lot about the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces and the prioritizing of plant life and surrounding nature, so we’re sure you’ll be less than surprised to hear that a stunning yard and lushly surrounded patio can be found out the back of the house. Trees and climbing plants give a sense of serene privacy while a lovely pond serves as a centre piece.
Photos by dionrobeson.com.au
By Courtney • Mar 7, 2019
When remodeling this home, an attempt was made to preserve the most important aspects of the old construction, and so respect the wishes of the homeowners.
Miguel de la Torre Arquitectos was in charge of the remodeling in the year 2016. The property is located in Colonia San Angel, a neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico.
In its exterior, walls of stone and concrete mix with the green of the gardens that surround the home. The home has large terraces from where we can enjoy time spent alongside nature, as well as large glass doors through which light seeps into the interior.
A beautiful main entrance area welcomes us with a decorative touch of the style of the area. The foyer is characterized by its rustic stone floors, concrete walls, wooden beams that protrude from the ceiling, and decorated floor tiles that give a unique feel to the space.
The modern minimalist kitchen, where wooden floors and exposed brick walls create a wonderful contrast between the modern and the rustic, is a space full of light and good taste.
In the simple and comfortable living room, the real protagonist is the fireplace, set between concrete walls.
In a common space are the living room, dining room, and the kitchen.
By Courtney • Mar 5, 2019
House BL, a stunning new dwelling created by Hugo Monte in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, is a modern haven in the midst of a greatly contrasting rural setting.
Despite its slightly “out there” location, the sprawling, cubic house looks more like something very contemporary that you’d see in a city, making it stand out beautifully from its surroundings. Even so, its sleek lines and subtle white colour prevents it from sticking out too far, rendering it rather beautiful rather than being an eyesore.
Part of the reason the house blends so well despite its modern structure is the designers’ emphasis on enjoyable outdoor spaces. These balance the building itself very well. For example, visitors are easily hosted on a largely extended back patio that features a relaxing seating area and a sunken fire put that’s safe for the area and bears a calm, contemplative atmosphere.
Entering the house, you’ll encounter a bright, naturally lit entrance hall that’s spacious and welcoming. This extends upwards, the height of all three floors included in the house. On each level of the rectangular house, you’ll find rooms organized by function and the demands of daily life, which was intentional to create food, sensical flow throughout the house during the coarse of the day and week.
At the basement level, that sense of good flow and easy access continues downward where the space incorporate the garage almost without interruption. Here, a ramp seamlessly transitions one space into another, alongside storage rooms and a workout space. This area is accessed by the same central staircase you might have seen in the foyer, which extends throughout the whole house and gives access to every single floor.
On the main floor, designers included an office, a guest bathroom, a living room with plenty of seating, and a sizeable kitchen. Each of these are naturally well lit thanks to high standing glass panels that let the light from the outside windows to seep in, keeping the place feeling open, but at the same time provide some delineation between rooms with differing functions.
Upstairs, bedrooms are balanced with a stunning reading lounge. Here, each room is connected in some way, either through the lounge, the double-height hallway space, or the master bathroom, giving the whole floor that same sense of seamless flow. Ample closet space is also provided, which is simply a bonus! To blend indoor and outdoor spaces even further, the master bedroom features a stunningly wide and spacious balcony that overlooks the garden and the yard below, providing a fantastic view.
Flanking said garden, a series of century old cork oak trees stand where they’ve always been rooted, undisturbed and given a place of honour in the garden. This is because designers chose to build the house and patio layout so that it worked alongside the trees, rather than changing them in any way. Now, they form a sort of perimeter around the fire pit, enhancing the spot’s feeling of calm.
Photos by Joao Morgado
By Courtney • Mar 4, 2019
Nestled into the ground floor of a multi-story commercial building, the Five Flowers florist (say that five times fast) boasts beautifully large windows that face right onto the bustling Ukrainian sidewalk out front. Thanks to Nottdesign, the store’s interior matches the cheer and charm of what it sells since its recent renovation!
Five Flowers is located in Óblast de Dnipropetrovsk, where it sits in a slight relief into the floor, lowering it slightly below the street’s pavement. This seemingly unimportant detail actually made it simpler for design teams to divide the store into two volumes; a warm area for customers and business and a cold zone for storing flowers that need less balmy temperatures to stay fresh.
The warmer zone of the store is located closer to the entrance because the dealings that happen in that space are less affected by temperature changes that occur when the front door is opened, depending on the weather outside. This zone is an open space that includes a greeting area, a table for bouquet making, and several spots to display stunning indoor flowers like the ones clients might purchase and display in their homes.
The cold zone of the store is more isolated to achieve temperature control. It sits at the back of the store, raised slightly above the ground (which is, as we mentioned before, slightly depressed compared to street level). This room helps keep certain kinds of flowers fresh and perky, particularly if their stems have already been cut.
In terms of aesthetic, this space is clean, minimalist, and very neat looking. It’s got a slightly industrial inspired feel to it with its emphasis on concrete and black piping and this contrasts beautifully with the delicate nature and fragility of the fresh flowers set on display in both the warm and cold zones.
Materials aren’t the only thing that create contrast in the space; designers also chose to get creative with shape! This can be seen in the way that the clear cut lines of things like the desk play visually against the round tables in the display area and the spiral staircase just past the door.
In keeping with the fact that they sell something natural, designers chose to keep the bulk of the material finished in Five Flowers quite natural as well. Grey porcelain stoneware interacts with bronze shades in the details. The neutral colours of these things allows the flowers that are set out on display to pop in a way that’s cheerful and uplifting!
Photos by Serhii Hotvianskyi
In the lush, stunning countryside of Kennebunk, Maine, specialized design studio Caleb Johnson Studio has taken an old traditional farmhouse and its barn and beautifully transformed them into a smartly salvaged and ultra comfortable modernized farmhouse called- you read that right- the Salvaged Farmhouse!
As you might have guessed, this lovely, down-home dwelling is made entirely of… salvaged materials, of course! The original century-old building has been turned into a beautiful home that was affectionately nicknamed Ben’s Barn by the new owners after it was name. Thisis a spacious family home that combines the original cottage and the farm’s barn to create a new house that pays tribute to traditional New England style rural architecture.
As mentioned, Ben’s Barn was constructed from a unique mic of reclaimed materials. These were sourced from the local area, the immediately land, and even the original farmhouse getting updated itself. Additionally, some pieces were salvaged from a midcentury modern house that was torn down some miles away in Weston, Massachusetts and transported for repurposing. These well-worn but sturdy materials have been combined in innovative ways with sustainable, modern materials in order to create a home that’s fully functional, stylish, but still comfortably traditional.
Ben’s Barn was specifically created with the intention of last its new family a lifetime. The sun-filled dwelling span 4,425 square feet and includes four bedrooms, four baths, and even a loft of its own. Designers ensured that ample space was available because the clients have several young children. This resulted in an open, fluid-movement layout inside that at once offers lots of indoor play space but also makes the first floor bedroom very accessible for visitors or members of the family who intend to grow old in the house.
Organizationally, this beautiful barn-inspired house is organized into two structures; it has a bedroom wing and a kitchen and master space wing. Each wing has two stories and they are connected with a double-story hallway link made of glazed glass, which keeps things feeling open and bright.
The timber used in the roof, wall siding, interior wooden cladding, and interior doors was all salvaged from the original barn and farmhouse. Contrasting with this wood, visitors will find granite blocks that were also reclaimed from the first house, this time from the foundation. Today, they serve as porch steps and lovely stone seating in the garden and yard. The reclaimed timber from the mid-century teardown, on the other hand, can be found in the cabinetry and other detailed fixtures.
Although modern steel and lovely, contemporary amenities were added to the house for stability and comfort, the overall aesthetic of the space is that of rustic comfort and purposely unfinished countryside identity. The goal was to turn the old structures into something new without making things look too new, keeping the original farm’s charm alive longer.
Photos by Trent Bell
By Courtney • Mar 1, 2019
Close your eyes and imagine the ultimate relaxing villa escape, with water features gurgling peacefully amidst the trees. Now, picture that same concept but with a modern, angular aesthetic that fits a more contemporary sense of style. Chances are good that you just might be picturing something along the lines of the stunning Hanging Villa created by TWS & Partners!
Clinging to a stunning mountainside in Bandung, Indonesia, the Hanging Villa is easily accessbile from the city but sits far enough away from its bustle and traffic to feel isolated in a way that’s peaceful and freeing. The goal of the building’s layout is to give those who gather there space to bring the entire family with them in shared comfort, but also small escapes in which to enjoy time to themselves as well.
Just like you’ll find diverse private and social spaces inside, you’ll notice immediately upon arriving that one of the best things about the villa is its outdoor space, which is also multi-function. This area is fantastic for relaxing in the sun or hosting events. Its geometric shaping responds to the nature surrounding the house and mirrors the structure of the main volume in the shape of the balcony and even the pool.
The shape of the building was originally inspired by two drastically different things; its stunning natural setting… and stacked boxes! This combination lets visitors experience different parts of the home’s astounding view from different areas of the house thanks to the way each floor (or “stacked box”) is rotated every so slightly differently to those above and below it.
From the ground where the garage is located up into the second floor of villa, a “circulation” tower leads you upwards un the stack until you reach the main social area. From here, different parts of the villa can be accessed through smooth timber pathways. A stunning water garden follows alongside these pathways, enhancing the view even more thanks to its sunny reflection. Primary rooms like the living room, kitchen, and dining room are all accessible off the pathway.
In terms of colour scheme, designers kept things neutral both inside and out. This lets the villa blend in even more seamlessly with its surroundings, giving even the inside rooms a tranquil atmosphere. Large windows surrounding the outer walls let the view stay visible no matter where you stand, which is particularly magical at sunrise and sunset when the light changes. These windows also eliminate the need for constant use of artificial light, which makes the villa a bit more energy efficient.
On the first floor above the garage, the master bedroom actually has its entire own space. This was specifically intended to gift owners and hosts their very own escape while they host family and friends, which can be a busy process. From there, social spaces sit on the next floor up (the same level as the jaw-dropping outdoor space), with guests bedrooms above that.
The wooded terrace where the pool sits is perhaps the home’s best feature. Besides this area, which has a perfect balance of sun and shade, the villa also features a rooftop deck with lovely outdoor lounge furniture and even a private garden. Retracting insulated walls let dwellers play an active roll in temperature control, depending on the weather and time of year.
Photos by Fernando Gomulya
Hidden Cross Residence by Ntovros Vasileios Architects perfectly blends modern family needs with whimsical childhood elements
By Courtney • Feb 28, 2019
Located on a small hill in beautiful Chalcis in Greece, a brand new house by innovative design teams at Ntovros Vasileios Architects presents visitors with the perfect blend of modern family amenities and fun, whimsical details that would make any child (or kid-at-heart) feel right at home. The Hidden Cross residence, in the suburb of Chalkida is the perfect seaside spot!
In terms of its terrain, the plot of this house slopes downwards to the water, giving it an unparalleled view but also making it a unique challenge for builders. That’s part of the reason why designers chose a structure that’s neat and compact, letting the home be anchored properly and safely. The shape gives it a neat modern feel as well, which was an added bonus!
Thanks to innovative architecture, the slope only served to enhance what the house had to offer, rather than limiting it. Even with its angle, Hidden Cross features a beautiful yard, plenty of semi-covered and relaxing outdoor spaces, and several balconies on the south side, which faces away from the main road running along the plot’s edge to the north.
Inside the home, the rooms operate according to a vertical and a horizontal axis. The place where the two intersect is where the primary living space is featured, making it great for family and social gatherings. Along the vertical axis, you’ll find a delineation between areas of movement (this is where the main staircase is located, as well as an elevator) and spaces meant for function (like the kitchen, dining room and bedrooms).
Along the horizontal axis, however, you’ll encounter a separation between public spaces and private once. This creates a sense of flow in the house that, well, makes perfect sense! Even first time visitors can suss out where the room they’re looking for is quite easily without direction, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. This, in combination with the fact that several small novelty features were clearly created with children in mind (not the miniature cubby staircase leading to and from the playroom), really makes the house feel like an experience.
The layout and kid-friendly details aren’t the only interesting things about this space. Designers also included several facilities that make the home green, simple to work, and affordable to run. For example, it possess both active and passive solar heating systems, as well as natural cooling. This system includes a solar greenhouse by the kitchen, cool openings on the south side of the main volume, and vertical ventilation in the staircase that creates a cross-ventilation with the main skylight.
Equally impressive to the natural systems of cooling and heating was the designers’ natural approach to light! Of course, any home will include some artificial light, but this team made sure to maintain balance between that and effective levels of natural sunlight. A central skylight and impressively large glazed windows, as well as smaller ones placed strategically, play large roles in this. As a unique touch, the team also placed various shades over some windows, giving owners the option of casting shadows and filtering their light through covers that add some lit up colour to the room.
Photos by Dimitris Sotiropoulos