Author Archives - Courtney
Angular, open concept Gwaneum-Ri House completed by Architecture Studio YEIN to put a modern twist on local living styles
By Courtney • May 14, 2019
In the mountain village of Gangneung, South Korea, the Gwaneum-Ri House was created by Architecture Studio YEIN only feet from where the ice skating heats of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics took place. Named for the Korean Buddhist term Gwaneum-bosal, the house embodies the values that the local people hold dear.
Besides being a previous Olympic site, the village was also the site of a terrible forest fire in May 2017. This rendered the area quite vulnerable thanks to dry mountain winds and harsh weather coming in off the Easy Sea. Many of the forests and high numbers of houses were damaged in the fire, including the family of home a young couple with a brand new baby. This family’s house has now been rebuilt on the same site where the ashes of their lost shelter once stood, like a symbol of hope.
The site on which the original little wooden house stood is small but held a lot of potential for innovative contemporary designers. The plot is decently sized but triangular in shape, leaving the only space that’s suitable for a yard quite narrow. Teams accounted for this by building a triangular house that nestles comfortably in the back of the plot, leaving the forward strip free for a yard.
Inside, the slightly trapezoidal house is split into two functional spaces. One is intended for the couple and their daughter for everyday use and the other is more suitable for guests and visiting family, sitting closer to the central courtyard. Between the two volumes sits a triangular transitional space that’s specifically intended for sharing and bonding.
An apple tree was planted here in this serene common space, taking advantage of the slight difference in level between the home’s two halves due to the fact that the plot sits on a bit of a slope. Designers took advantage of the land’s natural slope in another way. Ramps were built into the home’s front deck and inner space to make movement through the house friendlier for the couple’s elderly parents and even themselves as they age within the home in years to come.
To the right of the house and its entrance ramps sits a lovely garden. The roof of the house slopes towards this garden, creating a natural visual flow that’s pleasing to the eye. Close to here, the wall of the guest room has a window to keep things bright, but it is minimal in size in order to block noise from the road and keep the guest bedroom comfortable and private.
In contrast, the living room has a large window that perfectly frames stunning views visible from the home’s slope. This window is set right into a corner, accounting for the house’s triangular shape. This corner is also situated such that it becomes a kind of vestibule between the kitchen and the living room.
From the kitchen, the central garden is clearly visible. This was specifically placed so that the owning couple, whose favourite things are gardening and cooking, can enjoy the flowers growing in the garden while they cook together. Their bedroom is located at the furthest back point of the plot so as to block out noise from the road but still provide it with a view of the central garden too.
Between the bedroom and the public spaces sit the master bathroom and a dressing room. An impressive staircase leads upwards from this dressing room into a sunny, quiet loft that might be used as a diverse space depending on the family’s needs. The materiality of this and each of the other rooms in the house reflect their mountainous setting, using a neutral colour palette and placing locally sourced stonework detailing at the forefront of decorative built-in features.
Photos by Joonhwan Yoon
Chinese daodaocoffee created by HAD Architects& EPOS to blend design, experience, and good coffee in one place
By Courtney • May 13, 2019
In the heart of Intime City, in the Chengdu region of China, an innovative new coffee shop called daodaocoffee was recently completed by HAD Architects& EPOS to provide its clientele with a diverse, useful, and calming space for social and individual experiences.
The coffee shop sits in the middle of the Commercial District, standing two storeys tall and occupying a total of only 65 square meters. Besides making the shop convenient, simple, and fast to use, designers also aimed to make it a serene spot where coffee lovers might come to relax and comfortably spend a portion of their otherwise busy days.
They began by analyzing what kinds of different customers they might get in the area and what each of those people’s specific needs might be. This helped them develop ways to put together a space that provides all kinds of diverse things to people whose days function differently despite all involving a moment taken to enjoy a good coffee.
Changeability is a huge part of the plan that makes this particular coffee shop so innovative and unique to experience. Different parts of the shop, for example, provide different seating types and spatial experiences, while others can actually be altered and moved around by customers in order to give them whatever kind of layout or comfort they’re looking for.
Materiality played a huge role in the experience as well. In a space that wants to prioritize serenity and relaxation, atmosphere is everything. That’s why locally sourced light wood was the perfect thing to establish an almost spa-like aesthetic within the coffee shop. Natural lighting from very high windows adds to this effect, keep the space bright but cheerful rather than abrasive.
In reality, the coffee shop is actually quite open concept, with very little physical division of space taking place. Instead, designers opted to make things visually and conceptually clear in terms of which spaces are intended to serve which functions, allowing customers to mentally identify spaces for seating, socializing, studying, and so on based on how they’re laid out and where they’re situated.
Wood plays a role in this division of space too. Parts of the shop that are intended to be more casual, relaxing, and social are built in all wood while areas that are supposed to feel more individual and private feature black perforated panels that partially shield them from more public spaces where groups might gather.
Although both floors are free to be interpreted by whatever visitors happen to venture into then, designers had a sense of the uses of each one from the outside. The bottom floor of the shop is intended to be a more social, public space where busy office workers or tired shoppers might take a quick seat and socialize for a bit while they rest their feet and chat before moving on again.
The upper floor, on the other hand, is geared more towards those who would like to stick around and seek a bit of solace in the place, getting some privacy and within a public atmosphere so that they still get out of the house, but without being overly disturbed or distract while they do things like read a book, work remotely, or study for school.
The coffee shop also features an external bar. This is designed for people who have arrived for their coffee date a little early but are still awaiting someone else to join them. Sitting at the bar gives customers a pleasant view of the square outside the windows, which is impressive as the shop is quite close to the entrance of the Commercial District, making it an easy landmark meeting place.
The shop even has a self-service desk! This sits on the upper floor and presents customers with the option to fetch themselves lemonade and various coffee or tea ingredients for free, making it the perfect spot to host small, quiet meetings or prolonged individual sessions where one might want more than one refreshment while they’re there.
The most private point of the coffee shop sits in the upper corner of the top floor. Here, a space that’s specifically designed for one person seeking a quiet spot outside their home to work or think has been set up. Designers chose to actually raise this small area even a little higher than the rest of the second floor, giving it a true but very comfortable sense of quiet seclusion.
Photos by ARCH-EXIST
Casa Puebla built by rdlp arquitectos to harness the beauty of a local volcano, like an architectural tribute
By Courtney • May 13, 2019
In the rocky, naturally impressive area of Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza, Mexico, innovative designers at rdlp arquitectos have recently completed the Casa Puebla, a stunning home influenced by the looming presence of the historically and locally important natural phenomenon, the Popocatépetl volcano.
Designers sought to make something conceptual and more artistic than the average home within this project while at the same time paying tribute to the local architectural landscape so as to keep the house from sticking out entirely like a sore thumb. The result was a stunning structure that is clearly inspired by aesthetic values typical of Mexican culture, but that is also unique, as though these traditional values have been viewed through a much more avant garde lens.
The overall atmosphere of the house feels fresh, warm, and contemporary. This is largely due to the materiality used, which was very intentional and locally sourced. Raw materials that reflect the natural landscape around the house were primarily used, creating a sense of cohesiveness that is only enhanced by he way certain place in the house are opened up to blend with the garden.
Colour palette plays a large role in communicating the design intentions of the house as well. The neutral and slightly dark shades featured from room to room, in context with the land’s plot and the materiality we’ve already discussed, blends the home’s architecture with its surroundings and really makes it look like a visual tribute to the volcano in the distance.
In terms of its layout, the house is organized into two rectangularly shaped intersection volumes meeting on their ends in an L-shape. This is another area of the house where designers got a bit conceptual; they’ve intentionally placed the larger, heavier looking volume of the house on top of the smaller, lighter looking one in order to create an interesting visual dynamic.
To further communicate the concept of blending indoor spaces and the house itself with its natural surroundings, glass has been largely prioritized in a stunning way. Floor to ceiling glass doors and wall panels, as well as large glazed glass windows, allow natural light to flow into the home all year round, reading just about every corner, keeping things bright, and providing dwellers and visitors with stunning views.
From the front of the house, where it can be seen from the street, the building actually looks quite closed off and as thought it might be dark inside. In reality, however, this is simply the way designers chose to situated heavier walls in order to maintain inner privacy. Upon entering the house, guests immediately notice that the space inside, which opens beautifully towards the back where the private yard and garden sit, is actually well lit and quite fluid, with very few boundaries between inner and outer spaces.
In addition to being quite sizeable horizontally thanks tot he generous size of its land plot, this house is also quite impressive in terms of its vertical space. The area near the entrance, for example, is double height. A visually appealing staircase that uses a combination of concrete and wood stretches upwards through this vertical space, becoming almost as decorative as it is functional.
On the ground floor, open concept layouts make the house feel fluid and accessible. The house is organized by functionality, but divisions are more visual and intuitive rather than actually being physical. This encourages family interaction without interrupting daily activities and busy life routines.
Private and more intimate spaces are located upstairs, where the bedrooms and family room can have their windows thrown open for a fresh air experience or be closed off by lovely wooden shutters when more privacy and quiet is desired. Traditional regional tiles are used in the decorative details here, hearkening back to that inclusion of local Mexican culture.
In addition to being almost artisanal in its design and structure, the house is also very green and sustainable. The prominence of sliding doors and windows helps with passive heating, cooling, and lighting and works with the natural weather patterns to reduce the need of electric and hydro powered systems, saving the family money and reducing the building’s impact on its environment.
Ventilation and the way that light and shadow play out in the space mean that the concrete heats or cools and regulates the temperature inside, all but eliminating the need for air conditioning. Even in these concrete-heavy areas, the ever present wooden element continues to establish stunning decorative contrast, rendering every part of the house visually appealing even where not much intentional decor itself has been included in a room’s overall scheme.
Solar energy plays a huge role in how the house functions as well. Although it’s not entirely solar powered by panels, the concrete facade that protects the inner rooms from overheating in the strong Mexican sun in the summer contributes to temperature regulation while sliding glass doors and wooden shutters can open the space out completely, letting breezes keep things cool or warm things up, depending on the time of year.
The final impressive and integral element of the house is its inclusion of nature right into its interior spaces. Besides just being open concept enough blend interior and exterior areas, the house itself also includes several water features and reflecting pools, as well as lush greenery spaces that are built into the home’s interior like rooms rather than just planted gardens.
Photos by Jorge Taboada
By Courtney • May 10, 2019
In the sunny Brazilian city of Brasilia, the South lake House was recently completed by Estúdio Cláudio Resmini as part of a refurbishment project based around updating old local residences from the 1980s.
The uniquely shaped residential structure that spans 950 square metres is a mixed functional structure that was originally built in the 1980s. Inside, in the original building and the updated version, the service based rooms sit on the lowest lake level, while the social spaces are located accessibly on street level, leaving private spaces to nestle intimately at the top of the three storey dwelling.
The upper floor we’ve just mentioned is arranged according to a triangular floor plan, partially suspended as though it’s almost an independent structure from the rest of the house. This floor is where most of the rebuilding had to be done after the house was acquired for refurbishment in 2017, since its supporting structures had begun to degrade due to a severe lack of maintenance.
Despite its wear and tear, the structure was clearly sound and quite formidable, so designers opted to keep its overall shape and exterior layout, avoiding most intervention that wasn’t absolutely necessary for preservation. Instead of redoing it, they opted to simply adapt and update the look of the building from its original geometric red exterior to a subtler, clean white. This theme continues throughout much of the house in terms of new materiality and changes made in furnishing and decor.
Inside, a little more intervention into the layout of the inside of the house took place, where the lowest floor slopes to meet the lakeside. Here, all walls were removed to create a sense of open concept movement between the kitchen, dining room, living room, and cheerful playroom and toy library. On one slightly detached side, space is delineated more concretely for a laundry room and on-site staff suite.
The intention in the way this part of the house was drastically opened was to integrate the lake and its surroundings more cohesively into the home. Designers aimed to create a bond with the natural environment here, particularly where the home’s floor slops towards a brand new pool area, the shape of which was updated from the original circular pool that was built in the 80s.
Surrounding the pool, a wooden desk provides dwellers with a relaxing, sunny place to sit. Besides affording visitors a view of the pool and lake, this area also presents a clear connection to a lovely table-shaped garden where grass grows in abundance and overflowing fresh flower pots of different heights are scattered throughout.
Continuing the theme of integrating indoor and outdoor spaces, we move onto the “gourmet space”, which is a box-like concrete spot near the pool that features a barbecue grill. This space can actually be fully integrated into the main kitchen thanks to sliding glass panels, giving great access to refrigerators during outdoor cooking sessions.
Close by, a curved wall leads to a staircase, which in turn leads to a calm atrium that serves as another social space with its own suspended garden. This garden mimics the more natural materiality of the upper floor, which has several details that hearken back to the house’s original aesthetic, as can be seen in the wood0heavy master bathroom.
The way that certain small details have been preserved from the original home inside creates a stunning sense of contrast with how the house’s geometrically shaped volume has been modernized. Another example of this is how a black metal privacy structure was affixed to the home’s exterior near the master suite for privacy, but angled such that it doesn’t block out the stunning lake view that inspired the original builders to choose that location for a house in the first place.
Photos by Evelyn Muller
By Courtney • May 10, 2019
In the city of Minsk in Belarus, a team of young, vivacious architects at the firm Studio 11 have recently finished designing their entire own head office space, right at the heart of the city.
The layout of the brand new Minsk office consists of a networking of rooms. These are two primary workrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a high tech bathroom, and a final room for storing materials and samples. The office’s interior is interesting and unique because, going into it, designers did not nail down any specifically planned or concrete aesthetic or scheme; they let it develop gradually through the process, giving it an atmosphere that feels organic and looks fluid.
Because it was created directly by those who work there, this particular work place is literally a physical manifestation of the personal and business philosophies of its employees. Their personal stamps and influences can be recognized throughout the rooms, mimicking the techniques and styles that are typical of the company’s client projects and have become like a signature.
A great example of this is the ceramic module; a space that bears a lot of personal meaning to those working in the office because the concept was originally developed and built in its first iteration for on of the company’s first widely recognized interior projects. This sense if personal connection with a workplace adds a cozy layer that is at once motivating and relaxing.
Now that it’s finished, the interior scheme bears large modernist influences. It is also clad with classic and more contemporary art and has a few splashes of trendy elements here and there. The materiality is intentionally quite functional, mimimalist, and sterile looking, but the colour pops of chosen local furnishings and art pieces warm it up.
Throughout each of the rooms, even, where decor differs, there is a common thread that emphasizes the raw and beautifully impure. This is evident in the way most of the concrete surfaces have been left with all their natural pores and cracks. The ceiling, as well, is similarly unfinished and unpolished and yet contributes beautifully the the overall aesthetic.
To suit the grey of the many concrete elements but still keep the place bright and friendly, the walls have been painted a grey tinted blue on the lower half, giving each a horizontal stripe. In most rooms, the curtains reflect this same hue, adding dimension and continuity throughout the spaces. Other colours in paintings, greenery, and pops of decor reflect or contrast with this central shade accordingly.
Perhaps the most central piece of the office is the salmon coloured kitchen island that sits right in the middle of the kitchen, which in turn is in the middle of the office. This means that most of the other spaces in the workplace are organized around it, making it a kind of anchor within the colour and decor schemes.
Besides the way designers chose to decorate their work spaces with art from local creators, they also incorporated samples of their own, featuring many of their influences and typical materiality choices right there where they can be seen by all. These art pieces and samples, in partnership with plants and greenery dotted around each room, create a sense of cosiness in a modernist office that might otherwise feel loud and echoing.
Photos by Dmitry Tsyrencshikov
Modern Urban Apartment in Tel Aviv created by Studio Perri Interior Design from a previously untouched 1970s apartment
By Courtney • May 9, 2019
In the north end of the city of Tel Aviv, Israel, designer at Studio Perri Interior Design recently completed a renovation on an apartment from the 1970s. Now, the newly updated Modern Urban Apartment is home to a young couple who needed something a little quieter than their previous apartment right in the centre of the city.
The renovated apartment, which occupies 135 square metres, boasts a living room, kitchen, dining room, and balcony in the public paces, as well as four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a storage space, and even an entire room for the family cats in the private wing. Originally divided into two units- a larger apartment and a delineated smaller wing- in the 70s, the space has been joined for better flow and use of space.
Previously to this brand new project, the apartment had never been renovated before after it was built in the 70s. The new owners, though in love with the building’s history and location, desired something a little more spacious with better light flow. In terms of atmosphere and aesthetic, clients and designers like chose a modern but minimalist scheme that effectively blends both beauty and functionality.
Inside, the renovation destroyed and rebuilt almost every single wall, keeping only the original support pillars and two wall’s in the couple’s young song’s room. In the space that use to be a separate, smaller unit, designers left walls out to blend it into the main apartment and built the kitchen and storage unit here, maximizing on that space for useful and essential home functions.
Now, the kitchen is blended right into a bright open living space that sits on the edge of what was originally the main apartment volume while things were still split. Further towards the back of the home, a kids’ play room now sits where the old kitchen used to be. This space is very open as well, with all of the original walls removed and only visual delineations set in place to denote its borders.
Along the same vein of creating new space in efficient ways, designers actually used existing features of the building’s facade to make their client a new balcony space that wasn’t there before. By taking advantage of a strategically place bulge in the building’s exterior facade and building a small extended, open air space outward from the apartment’s outermost wall onto where it juts the furthest.
Large renovations took place towards the master bedroom as well. Leading up to the beautiful escape, the original corridor, which was quite narrow in nature, was enlarged and made wider so that more light can easily flow throughout the private spaces. The bedroom itself was also redesigned. Now it features two massive built-in wardrobes that sit parallel to each other and adjacent to the master bathroom, which received an updating treatment from its original state as well.
Moving back out towards the main living space, visitors encounter the way that furniture, which was all custom designed for the room, does more than just provide seating and comfort. It also acts as a visual delineation between the main family room and the entryway and front door itself. Here, multi-function furniture provides custom storage for things like shoes and coats.
Throughout each space in the house, a careful palette of materials and colours is established and maintained with continuity. There is an emphasis on careful carpentry and colours that suit the wood finishes chosen. Maple wood shines throughout the spaces, accented and complemented by shades of grey, white, and black. To add depth, details in a deep blue, gold, and rich red are also featured like colour pops all throughout the home.
The brand new kitchen we’ve spoken of so fondly wasn’t moved solely for the sake of larger spaces. It was also positioned to more positively influence the flow of the house and how rooms are accessed. Now, rather than being cut off from the main living space, a person working in the kitchen has a clear site to the living room and play room. This allows for daily functions and family time to become a shared experience.
Photos by Gidon Levin
Scandinavian inspired Scandi House created by Lifespaces Group to harness minimalist and scaled back beauty of the style in Australia
By Courtney • May 9, 2019
In the rolling green grasses of Barwon Heads, Australia, innovative designers at Lifespaces Group recently completed a stunningly wooden minimalist dwelling dubbed Scandi House for its clear Scandinavian influenced style, aesthetic, and layout.
In true Scandinavian style, the house is exemplary in its simple geometric shapes and pared back decor schemes and colour palettes. The gabled roofline might be typically Scandinavian in shape, but designers also blended a sense of local architecture into the building by constructing that shape from Australian timber, creating a facade that suits the surrounding natural scene beautifully.
The structure of the house is extremely unique in the way it features over hangs at the end but also fully glass walls that extend floor to ceiling. The tall windows let lots of natural light in while the overhangs give the patio spots created by the inset window alcoves some shade and provide a solid sense of privacy, show almost nothing of the inner house to the public area outside.
In the private entry courtyard, which runs the entire length of the house, dwellers are afforded a space of lush greenery that bears a rather serene atmosphere. This is where much of the daylight that naturally and passively brightens and warms the inner spaces flows in front, as well as the breezes that access the rooms when the large windows are slid open.
Inside the house, cathedral ceilings make both the social and private spaces feel tall and spacious. This suits well with the modernity and clear functionality of the service spaces inside, particularly in the kitchen. Here, materiality changes a little from the lovely stained wood for a bit of natural stonework contrast. The layout of the rest of the social spaces is just as open concept as the high ceilings, fostering a good space for family bonding.
In the private volume of the house, four very large bedrooms are nestled together, each one featuring its own built-in wardrobe. This is a clear example of the value of good storage in a Scandinavian family home. That theme is continued throughout the house, with subtle cupboards and storage solutions secrete throughout social and transitional spaces as well.
Under one of the wooden overhangs at the back, you’ll find more than just a pleasant patio to sit on. Here, designers built an actual outdoor living space designed to be enjoyed all year round, no matter the weather. This, along with the free-standing limestone bath and the impressive formal guest powder room, give the house a unique sense of near novelty that guests will always appreciate.
Photos by Stefani Driscoll
Peaceful Vietnamese dwelling called To’s House created by A+ StudiO to give owners a quiet, tranquil escape
By Courtney • May 8, 2019
Although it is located in the centre of a city, the recently finished home called To’s House is a peaceful haven. Specifically created by A+ StudiO to create a space for quiet and tranquility, this home in the city of Dalat, Vietnam, is an angular and relaxing space.
Rather than being located on a large, loud, or busy city street, To’s House is fortunate enough to have been built on a small plot in a quiet, pleasant little alley that is removed from the city centre. Already, this helps create a feeling of peace and privacy. Modelled after the concept of building a little house in the bed of a valley (which is what this city’s land used to be before it was populated), the whole shape and decor scheme of the house is centre around wanting visitors to feel peace and quiet with every visit.
Because the project is built on a very small area of land, it only occupies 200 square metres. A consequence of this is that the floor plan and shape is limited to having been formed entirely out of non-square lines and angles. Far from being constraining, however, this characteristic is actually one of the best aspects of the entire house.
Inside, the house is both divided and connected at once by a void-like duplex space. This spot serves a number of functions. Firstly, it connects the kitchen and dining rooms at the same time as it delineates them from the casual seated living rooms. Designers have purposely used open space as a marker here rather than solid walls in order to keep a sense of flexibility, openness, and free flow about the place.
In the centre of the house, a green space forms a relaxing hub around which much of the rest of the house is organized. Here, a series of trees and shrubs sits in an open central “lung”. This is a space that is open air so it can capture the breeze and sun. This does more than just look night; it also helps passively regulate temperatures inside the house.
In total, the house consists of two floors. The ground floor is home to two bedrooms, to bathrooms, and living room, and a dining and kitchen area. Continuing the theme established with the green lung in the centre of the house, these rooms feature large opening glass walls the let the kitchen and dining room blend almost completely with the patio, where more greenery sways serenely in the breeze.
Above these rooms, on the second floor, is a room that looks like a small attic from the outside. In reality, it’s actually home to a quietly breathtaking indoor garden! The space features lovely skylights that let in plenty of natural daylight so it feels like being outside in an open air garden despite the space being completely indoors when the windows are closed.
Part of this room features a glass covered void in the floor that opens into the central green courtyard on the bottom floor. This lets sunlight flow through the house from room to room a little better, regulating the indoor space even more and contributing to the fact that the garden feels so much like an actual outdoor garden.
Photos by Dung Huynh
High end V2 House modernized by Studio Guilherme Torres from original dwelling built by owner’s grandparents
By Courtney • May 8, 2019
On a spacious plot of land in one of the most high end neighbourhoods in all of São Paulo, Brazil, innovative design teams at Studio Guilherme Torres have recently completed a modernization project on the locally known V2 House, updating it from the original design chosen and contracted by the owner’s grandparents.
The impressive 1100 square metre residence has been recognizable in the area since it was first erected in the 1960s. It was designed to present a neoclassical style of architecture and decor, which is something the younger generation appreciates stylistically, but they desired a change to the slightly outdated floor plan, which was quite closed off and compartmentalized feeling.
The first step in redesigning the house was to reconceptualize the distribution of rooms and spaces inside the home. All parties involves wanted to open up internal spaces and create several new inner and outer structures that might render the house not just a home but, in fact, a piece of contemporary art suitable to the tastes of the new owner, a young DJ and music producer.
Certain elements of the original home’s very sophisticated and informal style were still preserved despite the younger owner’s more cutting edge tastes. For example, the materiality of certain spaces in the house is still heavy in timeless materials like ebony woodwork and white Brazilian marble.
In the interest of putting local talent and resources to good use, all of the stunning contemporary furniture now featured in the home was actually designed by the architect himself, who is also an innovative interior designer. This includes the fabric and leather covered modular sofas in the living and family rooms, which can be rearranged and reconfigured to suit the owner’s needs at any time.
Perhaps the most breathtakingly artistic piece featured within the house is the dramatic and loudly patterned dining table, which is purposely only accompanied by one singular chair. With visually interested pieces like this, the owner thought it best to keep artwork sparse save for a few of his favourite pieces from his personal collection. This lets artistic furnishings draw the eye and hold visitors’ attention.
In the hallway, which manages to stay bright thanks to the stark white floors despite the fact that it also has ebony walls, doors leading to extra features like the wine cellar are secreted along the dark vertical surfaces in a way that’s discreet and hardly noticeable to guests. Wine is one of the owner’s greatest passions outside his work, so the cellar is an integral feature of the home.
The upper floor is home to a master bedroom that is actually more of a multi-purpose suite. Integrated into the bedroom, the owner has a closet, a sprawling bathroom, and even a terrace, with hardly any divisions between them save those needed around the terrace for privacy from outside eyes. This privacy is provided by black perforated metal panels.
These panels, which are featured all around the top floor and not just near the sleeping area, give the upper floor a sense of adaptability and diverse space. Looking through them gives the world outside an almost pixelated quality, providing a nearly surreal feeling experience.
Photos by Denilson Machado
Concrete, cubic Cientocinco House create by JAMStudio arquitectos + Ivanna Cresta with a stunning blend of modernist looking and natural materials
By Courtney • May 7, 2019
Near the San Martin Nature Reserve and a series of ravines in Cordoba, Argentina, the Cientocinco House was recently finished by JAMStudio arquitectos + Ivanna Cresta. This house, built primarily from concrete, is cubic in shape and combines it’s hard materiality with sleek, natural wood for a modernist but relaxing aesthetic.
The house is located in the northwest part of the city, which is partially responsible for its stunning views of the reserve and the nearby ravines. These natural features of the landscape appear to add breadth and charm to the surrounding area extending beyond the house, giving it an increased sense of character before other, manmade elements are even considered.
While designers were planning the home, there were several elements of the plot’s natural land that they were determined not to alter or interfere with if possible. They wished to build a house that had a foundation that worked with the land, rather than cutting into and disturbing the ground on which the house sits.
Building a foundation of cast concrete let it mould to the land in a way that could be built upon sturdily without vastly changing the overall landscape surrounding the house. Designers opted to continue these concrete themed further until it become the majority of the structure. Its natural beauty once it was polished was so immense that they kept it as a main element and embellished it with softer accents to create the bulk of their modernist aesthetic.
This is how smoothed wood became the secondary element of the impressively stacked looking, cubic inspired house. Doors, window castings, ceilings, and furnishings all bear a wooden nature that adds a sense of warmth to the concrete and steel found elsewhere in the home’s interior and exterior.
Inside the house, the home continues the same straight edged, cubic inspired shaping as can be seen in its actual shape from the street. Furniture is boxy and pleasantly symmetrical. Stairs are solid and made of concrete blocks. Windows are neat and even (though big enough to let in wondrous amounts of natural light, which also assists in warming the concrete spaces).
Even the relaxation and leisure elements of the house follow that same cubic shaping. The patio where outdoor lounge chairs sit has a curtain frame that forms a steel cube around it. The patio itself even possesses a grid texture with greenery sprouting from each squared off space. Even the pool itself has a right-angle in its angular L-shape!
The grass growing from the grid-like patio isn’t the only greenery involved in the house. Decor teams made sure to incorporate plants throughout, which brightens the place even further than the high windows already did and adds a sense of nature and cohesiveness with the environment surrounding the plot. Towards the back of the house, on the opposite side of the pool and patio, sits a row of lush trees, providing a fresh, relaxing atmosphere and shade from the summer sun.
Overall, between its sturdy frame and inclusion of greenery, this cubic house has a sense of privacy and tranquility despite its close proximity to a busy city street.
Photos by Gonzalo Viramonte
By Courtney • May 7, 2019
The neighbourhood of Vilnius, in Raugyklos, Lithuania, a dilapidated local warehouse has been transformed into a beautiful building of studio apartments by DO Architects as part of a revival project.
Besides simply updating the local landscape and making better use of space, this particular project was designed to prove how low-value architecture might be upgrade into inspiring new spaces with a bit of forward thinking and conceptualization. Now, buildings like the one in Vilnius revitalize several local streets where before their abandoned frames made them look run down.
This piece is particularly exemplary of this because instead of choosing to demolish the warehouse and simply start again with a new structure where it once stood, this architectural team opted to use strong qualities of the existing building to their benefit. For example, good outer space around the warehouse has been turned into space for private entrances and public terraces for ground floor apartments that enhance co-living for those units.
On the second floor, draw is created by the sprawling loft-style apartment rather than access to outdoor terraces. These units are still afforded the appeal of outdoor space, however, in the form of direct access to a share rooftop terrace, which is gorgeous and enjoyable to experience despite it not belonging to one’s unit alone like the others.
Certain aspects of the warehouse that withstood the test of time and didn’t show too much wear and tear can be seen throughout t the building, letting its new layout feel authentic to the project’s goals. For example, exposed concrete columns and ceilings remain and are now an important part of the slightly industrial chic aesthetic throughout the building. New walls have also been built, and their shining smoothness creates an appealing contrast with the rough texture of the original concrete ones.
In the common spaces outside the units, views of a lovely, lushly green inner courtyard are afforded through continuous glazed walls, where sunlight floods in freely and lights the inner spaces naturally. The idea here was to allow family life to include a sense of flowing seasons in their daily routine, as though their regular tasks are one with their environment.
Upon entering each apartment, dwellers and visitors are welcomed by more large windows in each unit, continuing that sense of cohesive environment. Common living spaces for each unit sit not far off, designed to act as the heart of each apartment thanks to how they’re situated. Aside from this space, other spaces that, in a large house, might be distinct rooms are fit together cozily with a free flow of space.
This is how the upper apartments maintain their loft influence. In these units, you’ll find the kitchen, dining area, and more social seating to be a continuous space that allows free movement and presents differences in texture to delineate between “room” functions, rather than actual divisions breaking the apartment into stifling compartments.
Still on the upper floors, each unit contains its own tiny patio, which is where access to the larger rooftop terrace is found. This makes the common space on the building’s top feel like an extension of each person’s private home and enhances the relationship between interior and exterior spaces.
In terms of materiality, a great contrast exists between the warehouse’s facade and the warmth found inside each unit, which was precisely the intention of the designers. On the outside, dwellers are confronted with authentic industrial materials, primarily stainless steel, glass, and exposed concrete. Inside, however, ongoing concrete is balanced by wooden details and even a fully wooden wall in each unit, which grounds the space.
In each unit, designers opted to include precious art pieces, particularly ones from local artists. These are placed sporadically and strategically but are also essential to the design of each apartment and the dwellers’ experiences of those spaces. Designers wished for people to feel like they have constant access to art that is worth their appreciation.
At one end of each apartment, the first real delineation is found in the form of a white painted brick wall. This helps the apartment continue to feel open and bright but still keeps the more intimate spaces, the bathroom and the bedrooms, private. The bathroom is accessed through semi-transparent glass doors, keeping it well lit, while the bedrooms are afforded all possible privacy, unlike the rest of the spaces. They are purposely modestly sized to let dwellers focus wholly on their main function: resting.
Photos by Laimonas Ciūnys
The Ibiza Campo Loft created from an old, transformed warehouse by The Nieuw + ibiza interiors in Spain
By Courtney • May 6, 2019
In the rolling hills of San Juan Bautista, Spain, The Ibiza Campo Loft was recently completed by The Nieuw + ibiza interiors as part of a transformation and upgrading project in the local area. What was once an abandoned warehouse is now a beautiful contemporary home.
The house sits on a remote mountain towering from the centre of an island. The rugged landscape was once home to workshops and storage warehouses but these structures were long ago abandoned and left to degrade and become dilapidated. This particular warehouse was actually 100 years old before it was even scouted to be turned into a stunning modern guesthouse.
Although designers were intent on updating the space, certain aspects were actually preserved as they are in order to keep some of the original industrial integrity. Some of the concrete columns and steel beams that supported a typically Ibizan ‘sabina beam’ roof, for example, were deemed solid even after all that time and were incorporated right into the new home’s design.
The home’s unique mix of industrial framing and rustic detailing provides a comforting and authentic feeling character and atmosphere that can be seen in countless places throughout the house. This contrast is how the guesthouse was afforded its name, which essentially translates to “industrial open living space on the field”.
Although they changed certain aspects of the inside, designers really strove to keep as much of the outside fo the building as unchanged as possible in order to stay true to the typical character of Ibizan architecture. Most materials used in the creation of new spaces and renovation of old ones were locally sourced whenever possible to keep things authentic.
Even some authentic building techniques that are typical of the local area were used. The walls, for example, are chalk and mud plastered stone. This contrasts beautifully with more modern elements like a powder coated steel around the windows and a custom raw steel kitchen.
In the original building, electricity, water, and sewage systems were not present, so these were all added new upon redesign in order to make sure the new building has all the amenities of a contemporary home. Now, the water coming into the house comes from a private well. Much of the electricity, on the other hand, is sourced by solar panels that also contribute to water and floor heating.
The beauty of these new systems is that they were installed in efficient ways that make the house independent of the main grid like houses in cities would be attached too. This makes the house not only low impact on the environment, but also a lot more sustainable and self powering.
Working within the directions that were already already established by the building’s original floor plan, designers aimed to harness as much of the stunning view afforded by how the building is situated as possible. part of their efforts culminated in the building of a big, stunning private terrace where the sun hits and spills into the main living space.
In contrast to this, the bedrooms are situated in the north side corner of the building in order to keep hem as dark and cool as possible, since the local weather is so bright and hot year round. The bedrooms become a relaxing, cool escape. In the dining room, however, light is allowed to spill in to its full capability thanks to a skylight that sits level with an upper loft.
In the bathroom, guests are usually thrilled to find a a freestanding stone bath with low windows that preserve one’s privacy while still providing a breathtaking view of the nature surrounding the house while bathing. The bath is also cozily close to a fireplace. on the floor, the bathroom features a herringbone pattern constructed in terra cotta tiles, which is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Spanish floor designs.
In the loft, comfortability and modern living are prioritized explicitly. At the same time, local materiality that provides a serene, almost rustic atmosphere is found throughout every room right down to the beds. This, combined with the presence of art pieces created by local artists, fills the house with character. The effect is the contrast of old and new, light and dark, and so on.
As if the atmosphere of the whole house has been building up to it, visitors can climb to the highest point in the house and discover that the roof actually features its own yoga platform! Between that, the stunning pool below, and the yard’s many fruit trees, accompanied by a whole vegetable garden, the whole place bears the air of a small paradise.
Photos by On a Hazy Morning
Colonial style De La Huella House created almost entirely from recycled materials by NBBO Arquitectos
By Courtney • May 6, 2019
In the neighbourhood of Parque Leloir, deep in the city of Udaondo, Argentina, innovative designers at NBBO Arquitectos have finished the De La Huella House, an updating project that involved creating a stunning new colonial style house from the recycled parts of an older home that previously stood in its place.
The new home sits on a large expanse of land that was recently declared to be ecologically protected by the local environmental authorities. The vegetation in this part of the city is valuable to the area’s plant life ecosystems and efforts are being made to preserve it. This meant that designers were tasked with taking its protection into consideration wherever possible within the renovation process of this house.
On the ground floor of the well contrasted, stacked style house, visitors encounter a living room, dining space, and kitchen not far from the door and spacious entryway. Just beyond that sits a large games room designed for more active friend and family bonding than the cozier interactions one might have on the living room couch.
The first floor is also home to a generous guest bedroom, a laundry room, and even the home’s own art gallery! Two bathrooms are available on this floor as well for convenience, since it is quite spacious. The aesthetic in these spaces is a mixture of smooth wooden facades and furniture with white base features and shining marble floors, all appearing quite sophisticated in combination.
On its upper floor, which sits slightly higher than the average home measures, this house boasts a stunning master bedroom with an expanded closet and its own en suite bathroom. There are three other bedrooms for the family’s children down the hall, a full sized shared bathroom for the kids, and a work study space that’s fully equipped for home office use.
Although this house has been changed and built upon, designers set one main goal right from the outset: to preserve as much of the original house as possible in their updates. Besides the removal of unnecessary walls to open up and expand some interior spaces, the only larger structural changes that took place involved adding more windows in order to increase the home’s view of the stunning preservation park just beyond its plot borders.
These windows can be seen in the primary living space, which is now wonderfully open and double height thanks to the removal of an unnecessary central slab that closed its ceiling off originally but served little other structural purpose. Now, there is plenty of room for tall indoor plants to adorn the ground floor while light and air circulation spill through the floor to ceiling glazed walls in the summertime.
Besides the white and wood finishes, a series of light colours have been chosen as accents and pops in the living spaces throughout the house. These were chosen carefully to work with the natural sunlight and give clarity to the spaces they’re present in. The stairway, which acts like a transitionary space between house functions, is the only place clad in a wood that’s slightly darker, making it feel like a sort of central anchor within the home’s interior.
Things are kept as light looking as possible on the outside of the house as well, despite the fact that blending the new pieces added on like extensions was a high priority. Designers chose to add unique character and increase a sense of lightness around the new upper volume by cladding it entirely in sheet metal that glints prettily in the sun.
One of the more practical changes that took place within the house is the adjustment of heating and cooling capabilities to updated, more eco-friendly systems than were available when the original house was first built. Now, the house is much more sustainable and features thermal insulation that works to reduce energy consumption while heating and cooling the house.
Photos by Javier Agustin Rojas
Concrete Bielmann House created by Rob Dubois as a modernist, sunny getaway with incredible unobstructed views
By Courtney • May 3, 2019
The Casa Bielmann, or the Bielmann House, is a iconic look single family dwelling located in Santa Maria de Palautordera, Spain. Visually, it catches attention from passersby on the street for its uniquely blended materiality that makes it look, all at once, both solid and light or limitless.
This innovatively built house sits on a sloping land plot of about 700 square metres not far from the city borders of Barcelona. It boats two above ground floors and a large basement, as well as a sunny outdoor pool on its south side. From the outside, the ground floor makes the upper volume appear almost as though it’s floating thanks to the completely glass walls surrounding it.
These walls are partially for impressive aesthetic, but they also bear several functional purposes as well. Besides just providing views that are practically unparalleled for their lack of limit and obstruction even from inside the house, the floor to ceiling glazed glass windows that stand in place of traditional walls help keep the house lit in a more efficient way as sunlight pours into every corner.
The glass walls of the home’s ground floor also contribute to its eco-friendly heating and cooling systems. The house is built with systems that are passive and self sufficient, saving owners money and creating less waste or energy use as a result of running the house like a functional family home year round.
The views that we’ve spoken so highly of surrounding this house are both near and far. In the distance, a clear view of the Montseny can be appreciated from almost anywhere in the house thanks to the way the ground floor’s perimeter feels limitless. Closer to home, the plot’s own garden right outside the windows gives the place a feeling of serenity and green tranquility.
The fully windowed volume of the house is actually record setting in its beauty and construction; to the designers’ knowledge, it was the house to possess the most possible glass surfacing in a facade of any house documented and recorded at the time that it was finished. This is part of what makes it so impressive! The fact that it makes the living spaces feel spacious and nearly boundery-less certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Continuing that sense of extreme spaciousness despite the house not being one that physically sprawls is the double height section of the main living room. This space faces the home’s own garden, extending up past the higher floor of the house for a certain width. The ceiling, like a concrete overhang that makes space for the upper rooms to sit on, provides inner spaces that have a little more shade and privacy, in case one prefers a quieter, cozy spots away from bright, open windows.
The higher floor of the house, which sits on this shading interior concrete we’ve just described, is home to the more private and intimate areas of the home. This is where the master suite and bathroom, as well as guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom, all sit. This level of the house is encased in a layer of concrete similar to that on which it sits.
Like the interior concrete, this layer has a functional purpose on top of being a decorative facade for the building’s exterior. The way the top floor is folded over into the same material actually protects the inner area from the summer heat. This is bolstered by overhangs at the edges of the building that protect the windows from getting too much heat as well, despite still letting all the light the interior could possibly want in.
Inside the house, in its actual construction, designers built a geothermal energy system and heat pump under the floors, behind the stunning minimalist furnishings and decor schemes that feature neutral tones and pops of red and blue hues. These systems heat the house thoroughly from the ground up in the winter time and keep it passively cool in the summer.
All the while subtle solar panels installed on the roof keep the house powered with electricity in a way that is low impact on the surrounding environment. This also gives the house an electric network that is independent from its municipal power grid. Besides providing electricity, the roof also collects rain water. This is collected in a tank that is buried in the garden and used for irrigation there.
Photos by Jordi Miralles
Mexican holiday home Aculco House created by PPAA Pérez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados as a private escape completely surrounded by nature
By Courtney • May 2, 2019
In a serene and tranquil rural area of Mexico, innovative designers at PPAA Pérez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados have recently completed a stunning holiday home that is designed to blend into its surroundings and provide its dwellers with as authentic and relaxing a natural experience as possible.
The house is intended to be a home away from home that feels completely disconnected from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Aculco project was specifically designed to be used as a resting space, taking full advantage of the scientifically proven calming effects of natural environments. Here, those are provided by a lightly wooded area and a series of extremely impressive cliffs.
Originally, this structure was an abandoned old stone house that stood on land with absentee owners. Two brothers who were out on a climbing trip stumbled upon it by accident and fell completely in love with the area. They soon purchased the plot and home and hired this team to transform it into the holiday home it is today.
This, of course, was not before they cared for the land around the building for a number of years until they felt it was rehabilitated and ready for respectful change. Having reforested the area, they were able to replenish the natural setting to its peak lusciousness. By starting with the land and adjusting the house later, the brothers and their design team built a dialogue between the building and the land.
As the team tackled the house, they opted to interfere with its natural beauty and history as little as possible. Of course, maintenance was done to ensure that the house withstands the test of time and weathers well from here on out. Construction that did take place was done using locally sourced quarry blocks of the same kind that were there already.
These same blocks were also used to cover the floor of the house, which was a mud floor when the brothers first encountered it. Wood framing and detail and glass windows have been added, but the materiality that was already there has been largely preserved in the state it was already in, so long as that state was good and solid.
Now that the home is finished, it presents a stunning space that opens out entirely into its natural surroundings thanks to opening wooden shutters and sliding glass doors in each wall. The house is linear in shape with a bedroom that leads around a separating wall into a main living space and finally into a fully equipped kitchen.
The spaces in the homes interiors are wide open and have simple, easy flow throughout, with simple markers that delineate the rooms by their function without actually blocking them from one another in any way. This helps with air and sunlight flow as much as movement, letting the natural light from the wide open doors and the big, new windows reach every corner.
Photos by Rafael Gamo
On the Northern slope of a lake in Rinihue, Chile, is the recently finished House MP of Rinihue Lake, designed and created by Del Campo – Labbe. This house sits on a remote road that starts right at the mouth of the San Pedro River. The house bears a stunningly wooden interior that contrasts well with its darker metal facade.
Building a house on this particular plot of land was desirable because of its beauty but challenging for several reasons. The first was that the best view the land provides is to the south but the best light pours in from the north, making angles and window placements require special consideration.
The second challenge the plot presented comes in the form of its sizeable slope. Where the land slopes downward, it also features two incredibly large and extremely old oak trees. Designers chose to respect this space as much as possible, avoiding building too close to it by marking it out specifically as a place for outdoor activities and relaxation.
In addition to these special considerations related to the land, designers wanted to take the owners’ priorities into account throughout their whole process planning process as well. The owners made it known from the beginning that they wanted to designate equal space in their home’s interior for hosting guests (the public and common spaces) and for enjoying time to themselves (the private spaces).
The intention here was to give themselves a home that feels equally social and serene, with free connection between the two spaces but also enough delineation that a true sense of collective or relaxation can be achieved whenever it’s needed. The house spans 160 square metres with the private areas raised slightly, accessible by stairs both inside and outside.
From those outdoor staircases to the private spaces, owners can also access a stunning outdoor space that gives them a lovely view of greenery surrounding the house and its land. This space is a sort of covered patio that is created entirely from the same smoothed wood that the floor, walls, and most of the furnishings and surfaces are also made from.
This patio, like the house at large, is clad in dark metal on its outside, like it’s been fully wrapped in something almost protective. This overhang structure gives the patio seats a comfortable shade that can still be reached by the warmth and breeze on a pleasant summer day.
The outer stairs that don’t lead to outdoor patio spaces like the one we’ve described or outer access doors for the private space lead to the parts of the land near the ground floor that are level, making the slope easier to climb so that the leisure space near the trees can be accessed more safely.
Overall, the house is decorated in a way that’s intended to emanate warmth. This is perfectly depicted in the main living room, where mid-century inspired seating is covered in throw pillows and faux furs, surrounding my smooth wood, and situated perfectly for socializing, all centred around a fantastically rustic influenced but modernly shaped wood burning stove.
Photos by Francisco Delpiano
By Courtney • Apr 30, 2019
On the first floor of a Pombaline style building in the middle of Lisboa in Portugal, innovative architectural and design teams at SER-ra recently refreshed a stunning apartment called The Apartment in Santa Apolonia.
In its original condition, the apartments in this building had fallen entirely to the whims of time, showing great marks of wear and tear or the ways that owners from days auld had made changes according to their needs. Not that this particular apartment had been taken on by brand new owners from outside the area, it was time for a fresh start for both them and the space.
Because the apartment was being all but stripped and rebuilt in terms of materiality and aesthetic, owners and designers were quite free to establish the kind of space they pleased. They opted for one that is slightly Scandinavian inspired, with lots of clean, white surfaces and smooth wooden details and finishes.
The combination of stark and warm materials creates a stunning contrast within the space before it’s even been furnished or decorated. Character is added by cross braced wooden columns that hearken back to older styles of interior decor in the area but look more like a modern throwback against the white around them here in this context.
These crossed columns might look like they’ve been installed for support, but that’s not entirely the case. At the same, they’re not purely decorative either! These beams are demarcations of space; rather than install doors that might close off living spaces from private spaces in a small apartment meant for singular persons or those who want to share closely, these beams provide visual delineation from room to room.
In fact, the emphasis on openness and freedom of flow in this apartment were so important that flexibility and transparency were listed as the top priorities. Even so, everyone involved understood that sometimes privacy is absolutely necessary, so sliding doors between the living room and bedroom are installed, left to recede into the wall more often than not.
On top of being flexible, the space is also very bright. This is helped along by the presence of not just sizeable windows but also glass doors leading to a small private balcony. This little outdoor space ensures that the apartment gets enough fresh air and natural light and, despite the fact that the apartment is only one floor up from the ground floor, it provides a lovely urban view of the buildings surrounding its inner space.
Photos by emontenegro / architectural photography