Dream homes – everybody has one. From cliff-side modern marvels to majestic traditional mansions and waterside homes with enviable views, a dream house has the elements to elevate your lifestyle. Look through HomeDSGN’s collection of featured dream homes and be inspired for your next upgrade or remodel…or just fantasize about living in them!
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
Stunningly sleek Campbell Street by DKO Architecture + SLAB is a feat of vertical living philosophies
By Courtney • Feb 26, 2019
In the city of Collingwood in Australia, designers are starting to think about the shape of average houses and their architectural possibilities and little bit differently. DKO Architecture + SLAB‘s recent Campbell Street project is the perfect example of how many teams are taking the concept of “vertical living” to whole new levels!
This house is a multi-residential project, meaning that it features more than one apartment despite the fact that it’s not your standard high rise apartment building. The residence also harnesses vertical living philosophies by expanding upwards as you move room to room, rather than sprawling horizontally or taking up space with width. This lets neighbourhoods house more people without taking up so much land, fitting homes into smaller spaces.
In this particular case, designers worked with a small space almost ten times smaller than the average Australian city house’s plot. Even so, they managed to build a stunning three bedroom home (built like two vertical apartments attached side by side) that feels anything but cramped or small.
Despite the fact that Collingwood is a suburb that boasts a great amount of diversity, designers felt that gentrification has taken its toll on the area so they wanted to build something truly unique and authentic, bearing a sense of class but without being inaccessible and exorbitant in price. They also wanted to make sure the residence suited this eclectic street, which they felt was one of the few left with true variety and character in the area, so exterior design was an important element.
To make the multi-story building stand out, the team shrouded it in a cloak of pressed aluminum sheeting that was custom punctured for visual detail. This aesthetic makes it look bold and intriguing in the street’s fabric. This facade also has a functional use; it helps mitigate heat from the sun pouring down the elevated street in the afternoons.
In order to maximize on natural lightly in spaces that are smaller than usual in dimension (despite not feeling cramped), designers built these residence around central columns made from floor to ceiling windows encasing a staircase. This creates the effect of a column of light plunging straight through the centre of the building from the rooftop garden at its very highest point, all the way down into the basement, which is actually the smallest measuring basement in Melbourne.
Besides gorgeous floods of natural light, this central glass and staircase column also provides the vertical home with cross ventilation in each room, giving the whole house fresh circulation. This free movement of air but presence of sunlight helps with temperature regulation, making heating and cooling systems less necessary day to day so that the house runs a little more green than the average building.
Because they were working with smaller and more unique spaces than usual, design teams opted to concentrate on making rooms diverse and transformable so they could serve more than one purpose, rather than just making more rooms. They carefully considered and arranged layouts so that a bedroom might also become a home theatre or a spacious family kitchen might also be altered to comfortably seat six or eight people when guests visit. The key here was foldable features and flexibility.
Far from making the rooms feel crowded, their multi-purpose nature serves to break down traditional conceptions of space and merge functions in the home for a more blended lifestyle that, according to those already living in similar units, results in more time spent with family without having to sacrifice private space or alone time.
This sense of boundaries that exist but don’t confine is enhanced by the inclusion of mirrored decor, glass floors, glass dividers, and internal windows between rooms. The resulting perception is that plenty of space is available and there’s a room in which you can do anything you’d need to in a “regular house” and then some.
Angular Okada Marshall House by D’Arcy Jones Architects impresses with its sharp corners and wooden detail
By Courtney • Feb 26, 2019
Nestled in the wooded greenery of Sooke, in Canada, the stunning, Okada Marshall House was created by D’Arcy Jones Architects as a calming ocean escape that’s nothing short of intriguing.
The house is uniquely H-shaped, wrapping its exterior walls around two lovely courtyards. This creates the effect that all windows and doors face outwards, looking towards ancient ocean rocks and bright green moss. The house maintains a parapet height, varying very little in its verticality despite all of its angles and turns. A concrete element that seems to undulate actually serves to anchor the home to the rocks, which sit not far from the edge of the pacific ocean, rather than just to please visually.
With the exception of the way its thin wooden slats and pillars break up solid space, the home’s exterior appears quite solid and quiet, befitting of its water woodland location. These slats extend to create a lovely screen around certain parts of the inner courtyards, providing some privacy without blocking out sunlight or giving the area too much shade where warmth should be.
Inside, the wooden theme continues, rendering the house what designers referred to as “a comprehensive tribute to wood”. Besides the slats on the facade and making up the screen, wooden columns can be seen holding up the “dining roof” like a platform in the air, defining the far end of the outdoor courtyard areas. This also provides additional parking underneath in what feels like an inviting outdoor all-purpose “room”.
Inside and outside, facades, furnishings, and finishes are all created from wood supplied by innovative company Shou-sugi. This wood is hand charred according to ancient Japanese techniques, ensuring that it will never rot. It doesn’t even need any maintenance! These features make it the perfect choice for a damp and wooded Canadian seaside location.
The layout inside the home is just as intriguing, if not more, as the angles and sharp corners you see outside. This is because the owners requested a home without stairs! Instead, the daytime and social spaces are stretched wide to lead directly into sloping hallways that curve and lead gently from floor to floor.
These elongated halls give the house a feeling of massive expansiveness and also provide a quiet separation of space that actually cancels noise quite effectively without making rooms feel cut off from one another. In reality, the home is not actually as sprawling as it feels; it simply bears a fluid spatial organization that feels just about never-ending.
Now, the angles and curves that you’ll experience both in and outside the house are actually far from random, despite how they appear. They’re actually created to mimic and work wth the natural rocky topography of the site where the house sits! This angles windows and open spaces for a better view of Vancouver Island’s west coast, which is stunning in any season.
Despite the heavy emphasis on wood, there are some varying finishes elsewhere. The master bathroom, for example, was purposely finished in Japanese black tile in order to create a balance of light. No matter how grey the seaside skies, the outside will always appear brighter than the dark, black finished of that bathroom, letting dwellers start their day on a lighter note.
This subtle light manipulating theme extends into areas where stark white walls contrast with wooden furnishings as well. Here, light from the massive windows is tended to bounce and brighten the whole place. This, in partnership with the way the arms of the house’s H-shape encompass the courtyard in a way that keeps out morning fog, keeps the whole atmosphere feeling cozy and secure, rather than isolated or gloomy.
Photos by Sama Jim Canzian
By Courtney • Feb 19, 2019
In a busy but pleasantly suburban neighbourhood in Singapore, design teams at ONG&ONG Pte Ltd recently finished a multi-generational family housing project that uses a combination of sleek, modern lines and materials with wide open, nature filled spaces to meet all of the family’s needs.
37FC-House sits on a plot that has always been residential but that was cleared shortly before building began. Previously, the comfortably secluded spot of land featured an old semi-detached house. Upon purchasing, the new owners decided that a stand-alone structure would be much better for their family, since several generations of them live together at once. In order to maximize the space they could give the family without sprawling to close to the edges of the plot and thereby sacrificing all outdoor space, designers opted to build vertically instead. That’s why the new house has four floors!
On the ground floor, the style and aesthetic of the house are evident before you’ve even gone through the door thanks to the way granite tiles line the edges of the driveway. These balance well visually with the light concrete and mirror style glass that reaches floor to ceiling in the home’s outer facade. To add a comfortable, natural element, the house also features teak wood quite consistently both inside and out, particularly where storage spaces are discreetly added in each room.
Social and service rooms, like the kitchen, are featured right up front, making guests feel at home and part of the home’s running the moment they enter. Right from the front to the back of the house on this floor, grey finishes are balanced by lovely glass walls that pull back entirely to blend clean, modern indoor spaces with with the sunlight and greenery of the front and back yards, which are quite lush with local plant life.
Nestled amidst the garden at the back of the house, which the kitchen and living rooms can be fully opened too, sits a Sukabumi-tiled pool. This body of water is decorative and practical, smaller inside to make it more of a lap pool than a swimming pool but still enjoyable and relaxing. Rather than just serving as a space of leisure, this pool also acts as a barrier between the house and the sounds of the road that run behind the back yard. More lush greenery helps here as well, affording the yard more quiet and peaceful privacy.
In fact, greenery plays a huge role in the decor and atmosphere of the entire house overall. Pretty green spaces are actually built into each of the four floors in different ways, right from the front to the back of the house. Even in spots where there are no plants potted or set inside, long glass windows make the space feel green by showcasing the trees that flank the length of the house outside.
Unlike most houses, the second floor of the house is actually larger than the ground floor! This floor is primarily constructed of concrete and is rectangular in shape. This floor is where the bedrooms in the house lie, ended on each side with stunning sunny spaces that primarily serve just to give a quiet seating area with a good view of the garden and its greenery. The bedrooms are simply and calming, with the master featuring a walk-in closet and its own bathroom. Two other family bedrooms overlook the pool area, which catches the sun prettily in the afternoons.
Flanking the two floors we’ve already discussed are the basement at the bottom and the attic up on top. Each of these is accessible thanks to a black steel staircase that is clean and simple in its line but also somehow has a sculpture-like quality to it thanks to the contrast of glass banisters and smooth wooden stairs.
In the basement, you’ll find an artistic looking multi-media room that features a glass section in the wall that actually looks into the blue waters of the pool on the ground floor. In the attic, on the other hand, you’ll encounter a lovely attic skylight that allows light to flood the staircase and cascade down the centre to all the other floors. The attic also features a guest bedroom with its very own greenery element and small water feature.
As with most new homes in the area, 37FC-House bears a reduced carbon footprint. This is thanks to the inclusion of strong roof-mounted solar panels that reduce energy consumption, as well as a system that links lighting controls to a smartphone app, making lights even easier to turn off when they’re not necessary. This house is the perfect example of what’s become known as a “smart home”.
Photos by Derek Swalwell
By Courtney • Feb 18, 2019
In the rolling hills of St Helena, USA, a stunningly wooden home dubbed Zinfandel was recently finished by Field Architecture. The dwelling is aptly named for its location on a breathtaking vineyard and the whole plot and project gives off a sense of luxury that perfectly blends with natural, homey relaxation.
Zinfandel house was created specifically for a young couple who wanted a break from city life. When they found the old vineyard, which is nestled not far from Napa Valley, they simply couldn’t pass up the Mayacama view and they knew that’s where they wanted to settle and grow their family. That’s why designers opted to make them a home that suits both small family evenings and large social gatherings without feeling either crowded or isolated; it’ll suit the family’s needs no matter how it grows and changes.
Because they had the space to work with, enveloped in rolling fields there on the valley floor, designers created the home like a series of small, connected buildings. Rather than feeling too divided, however, they organized it so that the rooms and their functions make perfect, comfortable sense as you move through the house upon entering. The house is flanked on each side by beautifully towering trees and the central courtyard, which gets the most sun, features a lovely pool that’s impressively modern compared to the wooden structures, establishing a fantastic contrast in aesthetic.
Materially, the house communicates well with the land. The timber and metal put into it were primarily local, giving the structure a neutral colour that suits the mountainous scenery around the valley. The history of the original site is preserved in both this aesthetic and the fact that the property still boasts the very same barn that was first built there decades ago, giving the plot a sense of authenticity.
Far from making the inside feel heavy or dark because of all the wood, designers created a home that’s full of natural valley sunlight thanks to an emphasis on skylights and large, view-giving windows. The roof in which the skylights are set is a singular slab of thing metal that peaks gently in the middle, mimicking the shape of the mountain peaks all around in the distance.
The decor scheme on the inside follows the same ongoing trend of balancing perfectly somewhere between modern and repurposed or traditional looking. Wooden furnishings and finishes play visually against silver, metals, and uniquely shaped lighting, fixtures, and details. In the summer, patio doors can be thrown wide open to abolish boundaries between the sunny inside of the living and family spaces and the breathtaking vineyard outside the home’s walls.
Photos by Joe Fletcher
Family House in Kaunas built by Architectural Bureau G.Natkevicius & Partners to take advantage of stunning quarry view
By Courtney • Feb 14, 2019
In the city of Kaunas, in the heart of Lithuania, sits the lovely and unique looking Lampedis quarry. Now, the shores of a quarry might not sound like the usual location for a sprawling family home, but that’s precisely where the firm forward-thinking firm Architectural Bureau G.Natkevicius & Partners chose to build the beautiful Family House.
This stunning three-bedroom house sits on a plot that was hand picked by the clients with the specific intention of face the water and enjoying the unique shoreline that the quarry offers. Because the shore was such a focus in their minds, designers chose to make it a primary focus in the house’s structure and orientation as well.
To start out, designers based their structural choices on the principle of “screen architecture”. On the backside of the house, you’ll find walls built almost entirely from glass, allowing a stunning view of the water to be absorbed from quite literally any room in the house. Rather than over complicating things, teams chose to keep the rest of the house around these views quite simple, so as not to detract from the landscape’s natural beauty.
To reach these design goals, designers chose to build a simple but graceful facade that features depth impression and lots of detail. The lines of the house are steadfast but neat and pleasing. The recessed windows and other areas make a regular shape look like an interesting object peeking out of the horizon. Architects played with angles too, building certain areas and cornices that were inspired by the shape of a horse’s blinders. This directs all attention to the glass, which once again puts the house’s view in central focus.
The angled cornices you see in these photos serve a practical purpose as well! Their extending edges are stylish but they also separate visible living spaces inside the home from the view line of neighbouring plots and other homes. Additionally, they extended sections protect the glass (which is hardy, but a little extra safety never hurts) from excess sunlight, inclement weather, and so on. They even give the first floors terrace a bit of extra shade on hot days!
Although it’s all connected, the building looks as though it’s separated into different volumes. Each of these has a neat, clean, structured aesthetic that’s quite visually satisfying. Overall, there are three segments that make up the full house. These are the main rectangle on the first floor and two slightly smaller rectangles sitting on the second floor. You might notice two protruding sections that look like rooms extending from the house; these are the master bedroom on the front side, which is visually balanced by the library at the back.
As you’ll notice, the whole exterior of the house is covered in copper tin. This catches the sun and, in partnership with the shining glass, makes the house appear bright and nearly glowing. This brightness is continued inside, where social and private rooms alike are kept cheerfully bright by the large windows. These windows are situated such that a nearly panoramic view of the water is established, but at the same time the surrounding buildings are excluded from the picture, making it feel like the house and the water are the only things around for miles.
Besides being stunning, the structure of the house was also chosen to cater to unique functional needs based on the client’s unique lifestyle. These owners breed dogs as an occupation, so having lots of fluid space was quite necessary. Designers achieved this by including a whole block on the first floor specifically intended for keeping dogs where they can live comfortably. Visitors will notice that this particular volume sits higher than the others, keeping it from feeling crowded and giving it extra natural light.
Overall, the house provides a wonderful sense of blending between humans, animals, nature, and architecture.
Photos by Leonas Garbačiauskas
By Courtney • Feb 11, 2019
Smack in the middle of the bustling city of Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, a towering residential project called Frans Halsstraat has been built by Cantero Architecture to show off classic styles of historical Dutch architecture, but this time blended in unique ways with slightly more modern aesthetics.
Originally, this building was an old, more traditional set of homes and apartments. Standing tall in the stylish but older neighbourhood of Pijp, right in the centre of Amsterdam, the building was recently renovated to provide a series of more modern residential units that still boast some of the more historical styles in perfect harmony with updated features.
Typically, Dutch architecture has been characterized over time by spaces that are both deep and narrow, which is where the common local concept of a “through-flat” evolved from. In this type of apartment, a home can have two main sides that are connected through the middle to the front and back of the building. This gives designers two different opportunities to relate inner spaces aesthetically and physically to the exterior of the building on each side!
In this case (since this building does feature classic through-flats), the front “compartment” of the units faces a calm, narrow public street where the public of the country’s capital city mills by. On the other side, each unit is afforded a view of a magnificent interior courtyard out the back of the building, featuring a stunning private garden with nice social seating for residents and visitors.
In the particular apartment you see in the photos, designers had to do a bit of spacial organizing before they could really get into the swing of things with the renovation. They first wanted to evaluate how they might make better use of the existing rooms on that floor before changing the space too drastically. They also wanted to examine whether they might integrate some clever storage space into certain living areas to give dwellers more places to put their belongings in order to reduce clutter.
Besides great use of space, building a strong connection between interior and exterior areas was paramount for the design team. They wanted to capture the wonderful view the unit was afforded and bring that inside for the owners enjoyment as much as possible. This was achieved in the form of stunning windows that really serve to open the home up to natural light.
Now that the renovation is completed, most rooms in the house appear to revolve around or be organized according to the “oak heart” of the house. This “heart” is a big, shared walk-in closet that provides unparalleled storage and communicates a visual and spatial separation between two main bedrooms and more social or public rooms of the house.
The wooden closet piece is almost like an experience in itself. When you step into it, you feel as though you’re in a completely separate, entirely wooden structure, the aesthetic of which is only interrupted by natural light flooding in from overhead. Both the inside and outside of this central wooden structure feature storage cubbies and spots, some of which the owners described as “hidden and unexpected”.
Also down the centre of the core is a metal-framed glass corridor. This is where the entrances to the different rooms in the home lie, making one’s movement throughout the unit feel almost entirely continuous. There is also a section where the space you’re walking through appears to open entirely to the outdoors despite actually being enclose, blending interiors and exteriors once more.
Even the colour contrasts happening within the space appear to open things up a little bit. The way that stark white walls play against dark flooring visually creates space and makes rooms feel more limitless. Designers also played with texture in most rooms, alternating between natural oak furniture and sophisticated matte black or brushed bronzed details and surfaces.
The final touches were added in the bathroom, of all place, but the thought process actually makes a lot of sense! This is where designers wanted residents to be able to relax, concentrate on self care, and seek a sense of wholeness and calm. In the bathroom, you’ll see warm wood featured alongside blue ceramic tiles, while natural lava stone basins add a peaceful element like the kind you might expect in a spa!
Photos by Luuk Smits
Panache building created by Maison Edouard François as a stunning example of uniquely conceptual vertical living
By Courtney • Feb 7, 2019
In the incredibly unique city of Grenoble, France, design teams at the innovative company Maison Edouard François recently created the unique and stylishly industrial looking high rise apartment building called Panache. Within their exploration of vertical rising, these designers created a sense of spatial evenness and fairness that’s almost unparalleled in the buildings surrounding Panache.
All together, Panache contains eleven apartments and six differently levelled terraces. These sit staggered at the top of the building, affording those who sit on them all different views of the city depending on which way they’re angled and which side of the building they’re oriented towards.
In the building process of this project, one of the main challenges was figuring out how to effectively power and heat a building so thin and tall, which isn’t typical for the area. They also wanted to be careful with the layout of each apartment because, even though the primary concept was vertical living, teams wanted to avoid sacrificing living space as much as possible.
Part of this was done by creating a sense of cohesive blending between indoor and outdoor space thanks to personal balconies, which give a sunny outdoor space on top of the common terraces. Opening the balconies provides effective air circulation and cooling properties throughout the units but, at the same time, will maintain a high level of nice, natural light when the doors have to be closed off for warmth in the winter.
Inside the apartments, designers opted to created spaces that, despite not feeling closed off or closed in, still have some distinction within themselves when it comes to division of public and private space. This is why all of the social, hosting, and bonding rooms sit closer to the balcony, where the energy and focus of the house really draws people, while the private spaces sit slightly further away and more removed, where some peace and quiet can be sought.
Because the apartments are on the smaller side (despite being fully equipped and not quite little enough to qualify them as micro-living spaces), the terraces really were marketed by designers as additional living spaces akin to being second homes. That’s one of the many reasons that the view from up at the top of the building is so pivotal. Few things in the area are as beautiful as the looming image of the Belledonne mountain chain in the distance.
Photos by Sergio Grazia and Luc Boegly
In the spirit of upcycling to preserve historical buildings and traditional styles, California based design company Walker Warner transformed an old barn and expanded on its space using entirely local upcycled oak salvaged from buildings and structured in the immediate area.
Located in Northern California, this large, authentically rustic house consists of various gabled sections supported on the inside to resist the weather but carefully wrapped in reclaimed wood from all over the local area. Known as the Portola Valley Barn, the house is built on a four acre property with more than enough space for its main house (which is the part that was transformed from an original old house), the newly built guest quarters, and a back space with an office and space for entertainment and relaxation with family and friends.
The house is nestled in the centre of a grove of trees, in a natural clearing that didn’t require building teams to clear anything at all. Within this clearing fits each volume of the house and a sunny terrace built off the edge of a beautifully green stretch of lawn. Both the main seat (which is subtly luxurious and even features its own home theatre) and the guest house turn onto this lawn for some easily shared time outdoors between owners and visitors.
Although the design teams wanted to give the new owners a contemporary family space filled with modern amenities, they still wanted to pay homage to the rustic aesthetic and down home atmospheres of the area. That’s why they kept the look and materials of the structures authentic, using stylishly weathered features and giving the buildings a tin roof. The reclaimed oak we’ve referred to is featured all across the outsides, having been harvested in part from old Kentucky barns. Teams alternated this with ebonised mahogany and standing-seam metal that was painted to resemble zinc.
Inside the house, you’ll find a great contrast. Designers chose to built a crisp, clean feeling, modern aesthetic in the rooms to create a transitional experience as you move inwards from the rustic yards. White walls and polished surfaces gleam neatly while large, clean glass windows and walls showcase the scenic terrain and provide a view. This also keeps the house bright through long periods of the day.
Besides the great room, which features a large TV and entertainment system because it was specifically built with the intention of throwing charity events and hosting large family gatherings, the house also features a pool table and a garage that houses a vintage roadster. Entertainment is a surprisingly large priority for a house that, at first glance, looks like a barn! Outside, a stunning concentration on plants and greenery takes centre stage, including local species from the area as well as California lilacs, coffee berry, and strawberry trees.
Photos by Matthew Millman
Stunning La Dacha Mountain Refuge built from blackened wood for rustic mountain atmosphere in Chilean Andes
By Courtney • Feb 6, 2019
In the mountainous area of Las Tancas, in Nevados de Chillan, a Chilean home design and architectural studio called Del Rio Arquitectos Asociados has built a wonderfully tall V-shaped cabin retreat home called La Dacha Mountain Refuge.
In order to get just the right mountainside feel to the home’s aesthetic and atmosphere, designers opted to wrap the subtly luxurious cabin’s exterior walls in charred wood. Far from making the place look too dark or closed off, however, the team ensured that this look was broken up enough to stay light using large glazed windows that give dwellers breathtaking views of the rugged terrain and stunning natural surroundings right outside.
Las Trancas, the lovely little ski town that the Refuge sits on the edge of, is nestled in the heart of a mountainous area that boasts a number of active stratovolcanoes. The multi-story cabin sits below these, jutting gently from a slope and blending quite well into the natural scenery of the area. Looking at the seemingly simple cottage, you might not guess that it was built with several internal water and energy systems that make it run more eco-friendly than the average home.
The development of these systems, which include high-thermal efficiency, stemmed from the fact that this cabin was a site-specific design. This means that teams developed the whole concept, layout, and so on with that very plot in mind, as opposed to some scenarios where the plot is found afterwards and simply used as a site for a previously conceptualized design.
The loosely V-shaped cabin spans an area of 140 square metres within a half-hectare plot of land that is generously studded with trees. Designers specifically oriented the cabin to take advantage of the sun for as long as possible on its path over the mountains. This helps keep the outdoor areas and sports by the window quite warm, but the main energy efficient warmth in the refuge comes from a thermal core and a high insulated perimeter.
Masking this outer insulation are the purposely blackened wooden planks we mentioned earlier. These planks are long cuts of pine that have been charred using a traditional Japanese method called shou sugi ban. Burning the wood in this way is more than just aesthetic; it also helps to increase its resistance to natural weathering, insects, and decay typical of wooden buildings.
The cabin’s exterior walls are clad in pine planks that are charred using the Japanese technique of shou sugi ban. Burning the wood helps increase its resistance to insects and decay. This makes the cabin quite low maintenance to stay in and care for, all while also helping it blend beautifully into its location and natural terrain.
Contrary to the style of many houses, the private zones of this house (like bedrooms and bathroom suites) are situated on the bottom floor of the house, while the public and common space areas where dwellers might entertain guests are located up top. The main entrance to the cabin is located in a sort of middle floor space, which is accessed from outside by a charming wooden bridge.
On the same level as the main entrance, before you’d move on to the bedrooms or the kitchen, living, and dining room, is a small transitional space. Here, you’ll find a wood-burning masonry stove (also known as a kachelofen). This stove helps safely store heat in the thick, insulated walls, generating a whole day’s worth of warmth from a single load of wood.
The use of this stove is quite innovative, despite looking simply traditional and cute. It’s actually an ancient housewarming technique from Europe that is making its way more commonly into certain places in Southern Chile as an eco-friendly response to crucial issues like pollution and high wood consumption.
The outside of the cabin isn’t the only aspect of it that has a welcoming, rustic feel! Inside, you’ll find wonderfully earthy tones as well as stunningly natural materials that once again reflect the beautiful terrain outside the cabin’s walls. These include stone and wood in kinds that are native to the local region.
By Courtney • Feb 6, 2019
Bragança Paulista in Brazil is officially the home of a new kind of housing put forward by innovative design and architectural businesses like Belluzzo Martinhao Arquitetos. Their latest project, called Quinta da Baroneza House, is the starting point for an ongoing goal to take advantage of what stunning natural landscapes have to offer while disturbing the terrain, plant life, and surrounding eco-system as little as possible.
In this case, the natural topography of the chosen plot slopes slightly down the street. Designers solved this by building a monolithic volume that extends as the ground slopes, rather than trying to tear up and change the ground to match their design’s needs. This gave them the opportunity to actually use the slope to their advantage in order to create not only a lower level garage, but even a bit of extra space for a home sauna and spa!
In building the house itself, this team kept several central tenets as their primary goals. They opted to communicate a contemporary style by working with clean, straight lines wherever possible. They also aimed to integrate the various environments the home would contain in order to establish cohesiveness, as well as to pay homage to the natural topography around the finished house by carefully choosing pure, local materials.
In a lovely transitional move, designers chose to line the path to the house’s main entrance with stone cobbles featuring lush green grass between them. This path leads you to a social entrance near the lower garage. From there, guests are greeted with a pleasant pergola and walk through nice wooden doors into the living room, which is furnished intentionally with cozy couches and plenty of seating space intended to encourage bonding with family and friends.
The living room isn’t the only social space in the house! Designers also provided owners with a gorgeously sunny balcony that is integrated fully into the indoor spaces thanks to recessed doors, as opposed to look like it was slapped onto the side of the house like an afterthought. The intention of featuring the living room, balcony, and pool on the same level was to increase the dynamic way in which family and guests might spend time together.
To get to more intimate areas of the house, you’ll travel down a long corridor made entirely of glass that is supported and protected by aluminum slats. Regardless of the weather outside, the journey down this panoramic hallway is stunning. At the end, you’ll find four identical bedroom suites which all face the pool. Past those, a master suite with its own exclusive balcony faces a view of the skyline below the street’s slope that is nothing short of breathtaking.
Although designers put a lot of emphasis on entertaining friends, family, and guests with their wide open social spaces, they also understood that sometimes different members in a family want to spend time or entertain themselves in different ways. That’s why you’ll find an additional private living room and even a home theatre featured in the private wing of the house, past the bedroom suites.
Drifting back out to the home’s more private sector will take you to the kitchen if you move past the impressive living room we discussed earlier. The kitchen is actually quite large, but it’s closed off for the privacy of a resident kitchen staff hired on when owners entertain guests, giving the employees their own more stress free place to work without interruption. The kitchen is spacious, fully and professionally equipped, and even has a nice view of a lovely enclosed garden, giving it great light and ventilation. Guests and family members can access the garden directly from the living room rather than traveling through the kitchen space while people are working away.
Photos by Mariana Orsi
By Courtney • Feb 4, 2019
Much to the joy of all of its new owners, no matter their age, Jost Architects recently wrapped the last few finishing touches on an amazing new family home project called Kew Ease House! This space was created for a family that opts to live together multi-generationally in Kew East, Australia and designers wanted to make each and every member of the group feel comfortable and accounted for, from the grandparents right down to the kids, including the family dog.
The first challenge designers faced (besides accounting for the needs and likes of such a diverse age range of people) was the angle of the chosen plot. The site where the house sits slopes steeply down towards the street, meaning the house had to actually be recessed into the slope to sit safely and evenly. Once they’d safely anchored the house using architectural foundational techniques akin to braiding, the turned their attention to materials.
Rather than concentrating on sleekness or modernity, designers chose materials with shades that gave the space a sense of robustness and tonal hues, suiting the plant life around the house. The structure sits not far from the Kew Billabong and the Yarra River, so the flora and fauna on the plot are lush and plentiful. Inside, in the interest of keeping things quite natural and textural, some surfaces have been finished with fabric rather than shiny, synthetic materials.
Besides the bodies of water we mentioned above, the house also sits right across the road from a sprawling park and the Yarra Trail. Its proximity to these things actually made it less important that the home boast its own private outdoor spaces because its afforded such incredible access to these quiet, natural features. These also provide the house with stunning views from just about any room.
In order to take full advantage of the fact that this home is nestled into such lush nature, several cross-ventilation features were adding, as well as massive windows that draw in bright sunlight (but with smart glazing to keep them from heating up). On the ground floor of the house, visitors encounter a garage and internal flat for visitors, as well as several private areas that are separated from public social ones by a main corridor. Those include the master suite and a formal family living room.
On the higher level of the house, two children’s bedrooms are featured with a private bathroom. Down the hall, you’ll find access to a stunning rooftop balcony with simple, stylish seating and a breathtaking view of the park and even the city beyond. The idea of having the kids’ bedrooms at the top is to give them some privacy and space, giving older generations more accessibility downstairs.
The overall sense of the house bears an atmosphere of relaxation, neutral calm, and space that is easily shared. It’s a place that is simple enough and yet diverse and adaptable, letting it easily appeal to people of any age or need level so that everyone can co-exist with joy.
Photos by Shani Hodson-Zoso
In the lovely, lake rich area of Wentworth-Nord, in the French countryside of Canada, the stunning TRIPTYCH residence was built by YH2 Architecture to maximize the owner’s experience of the Laurentian Mountains.
These Montreal based designers chose a three-pavilion structure in order to simplify the process of quite literally nestling the residence into its lush, wonderfully natural lakeside surroundings. Built on a small slope that overlooks a darling lake, the house features crisp lines and neutral, conservative colour palettes in order to prevent it from interrupting its own plot’s peaceful landscape.
As we’re sure you can guess, the designers actually held the building’s namesake in mind as they designed their new structure. Like any classic triptych, this residence features a primary central structure. In this case, the central pavilion is afforded starlingly direct views of Lac St-Cyr. On either side, two additional pavilions were created in smaller sizes in order to make them feel more intimate and in contact or connection with the nearby trees. In this way, the buildings simultaneously communicate a sense of fragmentation and a feeling of cohesiveness.
With each of the three pavilions, designers were very smart with shapes. They aimed to create as natural looking a tableau as possible within the trees by adjusting each building’s geometry to mirror, complement, or contrast the scenery around it. This is why the roofs slope upward in three directions from the very centre of the house, accentuating and framing the views around them rather than blocking or detracting from them.
In the central block of the house, you’ll first encounter a kitchen and adjoining office. Each of these features an opening wall facing the gorgeous lake. Beyond those, the living room can be accessed through a glass corridor that’s most often flooded with natural sunlight. The master bedroom sits directly below the living room on the natural slope, resting firmly where the terrain naturally evens out. This bedroom is accessed through a unique, decorative staircase that looks as though it’s floating thanks to the way the last step has been suspended.
To the west of the main building, the second pavilion is set higher on the slope and sits at more of an angle. This building serves as a sort of separate quarters for friends and guests when they visit, affording them some privacy and space of their own. It still sits in close proximity to the main building’s entryway, however, which saves it from feeling cut off. Even so, a delineation of space is created in this building thanks to the sift in flooring material from smooth, stained hardwood to polished concrete.
Below that on the slope, further down still, is a secondary entrance to the linked buildings, as well as an interior garage, which takes up the bulk of the space in the third pavilion. To save guests and dwellers from journeying outside to travel between buildings, the three pavilions are linked together by glassed-in passageways. The front door to the main structure is subtly located in one of these passageways, making any point in the house quite convenient to get to. These halls and their glass walls serve to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces in a beautiful way.
Perhaps the most unique part of this home is that the living and dining rooms, which sit quite separately from the main pavilions, are most often completely open to the outside! Here, all light in the space is natural and electric lights haven’t even been featured. Instead, sunlight pours in through a suspended aluminum ceiling that has been cut in a pattern to create the sensation that you’re sitting under a leafy forest canopy.
In an impressive feat of builder’s skill, the TRIPTYCH house was constructed almost entirely of natural materials. The house’s facade, for example, is entirely sheathed with cedar planks from Eastern Canada that have been treated to appear naturally weathered over time (which they would eventually do anyways). Inside, various features are made of gypsum board, white cedar, white oak, or polished concrete.
TRIPTYCH features mostly natural materials. The façades are sheathed with Eastern cedar planks, treated to appear weathered by time. Interior walls and ceilings are either gypsum board or white cedar while the floors are white oak or polished concrete. Wide patio doors, with black aluminum casings, frame the ever-changing views. A patio area extends from the kitchen and dining spaces towards the lake. The building’s geometry creates a theatrical stage for the surrounding nature.
Photos by Maxime Brouillet
Uniquely shaped and literally named Parallel House, created by En Route Architects, provides perfectly framed seaside views
By Courtney • Jan 21, 2019
Unlike some seemingly randomly named homes, the relationship between Parallel House’s name and its structure is wonderfully clear! Built by En Route Architects, this unique home located on a Greek island provides perfectly framed views of the sea that are nothing short of breathtaking.
More specifically, the house is located in the Cyclades Islands, a cluster of small, stunning islands just off the coast of mainland Greece. It sits beautifully above the water, perched just so on a quiet hillside.
The intent of Parallel House’s shape and orientation was to pay direct homage to the seaside that surrounds it. Its beauty, however, is not the only thing this home has to offer. This contemporary, concrete residence is also actually completely self-sustaining. A collection of solar panels, a complete rainwater collection system, and some energy-efficient insulation allow the house to run independently and completely off-grid.
Even though it looks extremely modern, the building techniques employed by the architectural teams were actually very traditional. Because the house sits on a very sloped surface, the unique topography of the area needed to be accounted for in order to keep the building stable and safe as well as lovely to look at.
Designers achieved this by partially embedding the backside of the house into the actual landscape it sits upon. This afforded it some resilience, holding it in place like an anchor. It also gives the house a bit of extra natural insulation, protecting it from strong winds and rain during storms typical of islands and seasides.
Because the back of the house is so well anchored and insulated, designers were able to keep the front side, or that facing the beautiful sea view, much more open. Here, the house’s main volume is broken up into various sections shaped like large squares. These sections help to frame the view of the water differently from each room in the house.
As you can see, the house is made almost entirely of exposed concrete. Besides being a welcoming but slightly industrial looking aesthetic choice, this material usage serves a practical purpose too when it comes to reducing energy and water consumption.
Because the walls and floors are both concrete, a tight thermal insulation is created, which reduces the need for electricity in heating during colder months and helps the space maintain a more controlled temperature all year long, no matter the weather outside.
Keeping warm isn’t the only concern, particularly when Greece has such intensely hot summers and mild seasons between that and winter time. To help regulate the air even on the warmest days, a recessed corridor exists in the back of the home. This creates some cross ventilation that helps keep the spaces cool when the concrete does heat up more than usual.
You might think you don’t see the rainwater collection system we mentioned before in these photos, but we promise you it’s there! This system is actually installed on top of the house in the roof, where it can drain grey water (or fallen water that has yet to be purified) down into tanks submerged under ground. There, the water is filtered to be re-used.
Nearly the same subtle installation process is true of the solar panels we mentioned as well. In order to prevent large panels cramping the style and aesthetic of the home, designers chose to situate them adjacent to the house itself. The panels are actually hidden in the landscape and rigged accordingly, generating sufficient independent energy to power the entire house.
Structurally, you’ll also notice the way the floor-to-ceiling glass walls face the see in order to frame that stellar view. To make things even better, however, those walls actually open back all the way, transforming most rooms in the house into lovely open concept spaces at whim. This lets fresh seaside air play through the home on warm days and makes the spaces inside the home feel even bigger and brighter than they already are!
Photographs by Yiorgis Yerolymbos
Gorgeous Villa in the Palms designed and built by Abraham John Architects wraps gently around towering 80-year-old coconut trees
By Courtney • Jan 20, 2019
In the heart of Bombay, India, the recently finished Villain The Palms has been expertly crafted by Abraham John Architects to sit carefully around a spray of 19 tall and impressive coconut trees that have been rooted on that plot of land for the last 80 years.
This sprawling private residence is nothing short of expansive, covering approximately 6,500 square feet between all of its volumes. Because the house is broken up into several different smaller buildings, however, it takes on the feeling of a small village. Designers and architects chose this unique layout at the very conception of the project in order to ensure the safety and preservation of every single tree on the plot.
In fact, they did such a good job of this that not a single tree was felled during the building process. Particular care was taken around the original 19 coconut trees that had called the land there home for so many years. In order to complement and display the trees, designers chose to model the home after a traditional Goan village.
In order to keep things really on track with that style choice, builders made sure to use historically accurate Goan built techniques and materials. The exterior walls, for example, are clad in laterite stone, which is extremely durable and also gives the home an earthy quality that helps it blend into its natural surroundings. The stone also creates a sort of thermal envelope throughout the buildings that regulates temperature in colder months.
The roofs and the angle at which they sit are also functional as well as decorative when it comes to climate! These roof surfaces are pitched at varying sloped angles so that rainwater runs down to be harvested for reuse. These angles also help the roof of each building withstand the strong winds that blow through the area during monsoon season a little better.
Between the different small buildings of the home runs a series of outdoor decks, passageways, and bridges. These paths wind through the trees, which have wonderfully reflective pools and gardens winding between their trunks. From the primary living are, located in the largest building, these pools, trees, and paths provide a gorgeous view through large windows that flood the rooms with natural light with the help of a beautiful skylight.
Beneath that skylight, an absolutely lovely interior garden blooms in the sunlight it provides. This garden serves to blend inner and outer spaces throughout the whole area of the house. To further that sense of natural settings, designers also used 100 year old reclaimed teak wood to build the outer frame area that features large screens.
Within the rest of the main module, the living room, kitchen, and dining room look out over the pools that wrap around the trees. The pool that provides this lovely view is actually made up of three distinct bodies of water that run between, around, and into each other. These pools are covered with teakwood bridges that lead back and forth between the surrounding land and little islands that were built amidst the pools to protect the ancient trees at their bases.
Photographs by Alan Abraham
Alcázar de Toledo, a building by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, establishes an impressive view all its own with its grassy, angled balconies
By Courtney • Jan 17, 2019
Located in the heart of Mexico City, Mexicao, a stunning building called Alcázar de Toledo has been created by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos with one of the most unique facades in the business.
Because it is considered a luxury building, Alcazar de Toledo is afforded one of the very best locations in the city, featuring prime surroundings and amenities. Even so, its site’s topography is quite rugged and uneven, which is why designers chose to integrate the environment as much as possible into the building’s structure and decor. This creates a relationship between the land and the housing that dwellers can enjoy each day.
Besides just accounting for the topography, designers wished to respect the environment as much as possible in their building process and even once the structure was finished. At the same time, they aimed to choose angles and details that took the absolute best advantage of the panoramic view of the city that the location offers, with all that stunning vegetation between buildings.
Rather than just anchoring into or sitting on top of the land’s topography, architects decided to build something that looks as though it folds itself over the landscape, hence its absolutely intriguing right angled and zig-zagging shaped feature all the way down the front of the building, from top to bottom.
Each fold in the building’s facade responds to what designers saw as a different need of the building. They also each contain space for five units on each level, providing them all with a large terrace, full amenities, and a parking lot in different places. All the way down, the zig-zag is positively covered in lush plants and vegetation that are native to the area.
For a bit of contrast, the parking level (which actually sits at the very top of the building) boasts an absolutely stunning water feature that complements the generous plant life well. This area features water fountains and beautifully reflective pools, as does the reception area that welcomes guests. This lobby sits in a glass box where the beauty inside can be seen all around.
Besides spacious units, beautiful decorative features, and impressive ramp balconies, this luxury building also boasts a full sized pool, spa, gym, a social terrace, and shared dressing and bathrooms that make all of these easy and convenient to use. Inside, the units feature lovely living and dining rooms, spacious kitchens, guest bathrooms, cozy family rooms, and three bedrooms with their own dressing and bathrooms as well. Each also has its own laundry room, maid’s quarters, and beautiful garden terrace! Some of the larger units even feature a library, a wine cellar, and a playroom or study.
Keeping with the goal of offering beautiful panoramic views, each apartment in this building features very high ceilings and large floor to ceiling windows that let the stunning surrounding scenery be seen from essentially anywhere in the unit. These huge windows also provide natural light and ventilation in a way that just serves to make the space even more cohesive with its environment.
Torre de Gomariz, a “wine spa hotel” conceptualized by Paulo Braga + Cristina Amaral, offers simple luxury in Portuguese vineyard
By Courtney • Jan 16, 2019
Nestled amongst the leaves and vines in Cervaes, in the Vila Verde region or Portugal, Torre de Gomariz Wine Spa Hotel, designed and built by Paulo Braga + Cristina Amaral, provides a luxury getaway that prioritizes calm and comfort.
The Quinta de Gomariz is a stunning estate in Northern Portugal that has an impressive local history reaching as far back as the late 13th century. The estate includes several buildings that are protected thanks to having been listed as local heritage buildings, the most important of which is the Tower of Gomariz. This historical gothic structure was originally a defensive tower and was built in the late 15th century.
The biggest building, the main manor of the estate, was built slightly later, at the beginning of the 18th century. This manor sits adjacent to the tower. Also from the 18th century’s era on the estate are the stunning old chapel, the main gate, and the walls that circle and enclose the entire edge of the estate itself.
At the time of this project, design teams became involved with the intention of preserving these historical buildings and all their history, which would in turn bolster the economic stability of the estate itself by letting it function more smoothly and with more reliability. The primary use of the estate is still wine production but the decision to add a tourism element in the form of a gorgeous hotel was motivated by the desire for diversification, increased monetization, and showing off the stunning history that the place has to offer naturally.
At the same time as the estate wanted to show off its assets, they also wanted to ensure that design teams prioritized its care and preservation, which was undoubtedly done with care and success. Besides just streamlining functionality, architects effectively rehabilitated the heritage buildings in order to strengthen their structures and prevent any further deterioration in order to avoid eventual and irreversible ruin.
Although the aim was to preserve these historical buildings, estate owners and designers both also sought to incorporate them into the functions of the estate’s new mode of running in useful, respectful ways as well. Most social spaces in the resort, for example, actually take place within and out of the heritage buildings. Even the old barn and threshing floor have been integrated into the running of the spa and bar areas, for example.
This concept of incorporating the buildings right into the wine production and tourism businesses lets the estate diversity their functions without expanding past the original borders of the estate, which would work against the goals of preserving its structures and natural formation.
That doesn’t mean no expansion could be done at all, however! Designers did have the space to strategically build three new buildings, which they sought to keep as authentic to the estate and its surroundings as possible. They did this in part by using local granite, wood, steel, and glass in the building process. This created a sense of unity between the old and new buildings that makes the whole area feel cohesive.
In terms of decor and aesthetic, the combination of old and new actually creates a beautiful atmosphere inside. There is a calming sense of more traditional living amidst sparkling new amenities and shining, neutrally coloured surfaces. Things feel fresh and invigorated at the same time as guests absorb the history around them.
Photographs by Joao Morgado