First-time home buyers and veteran home owners alike look for ideas and vision when it comes time to look for a new house. Remodeling projects can also benefit from a spark of creativity spurred by viewing great houses that you love. HomeDSGN has gathered fabulous homes from across the world and design style spectrum to feed your need for beautiful house inspiration.
In the seaside city of Zandvoort in The Netherlands, a recreational park featuring a series of cottages that are collectively called Qurios Zandvoort recently opened thanks to some architectural expertise on the part of 2by4-architects.
Even if the unique little cottages didn’t hold quite so much stylistic and comfort based appeal, their mere location would probably be enough to pull guests in! The park is situated in a prime spot between the Formula 1 tracks, the Kennemerland national park, and Zandvoort’s most beautiful beach. It is also close to exciting cities like Haarlem and Amsterdam, but not so close that the peacefulness of its surroundings are interrupted by busy city life.
The unique location of this part attracts quite a diverse crowd, so designers wanted to avoid striving for a homogenous style of resort space for guests to stay in. After all, city dwellers looking for a peaceful escape to the beach might not have the same kind of holiday stay in mind as race track fanatics who came to see her roaring cars!
In a sprawling feat and a valiant (and rather successful) attempt to accommodate these diverse crowds, the park now boasts 100 cottages, two multi-faceted public pavilions, and a unique design that resembles that of a dune park. This mean that staying in the buildings is rather experiential as the sand shifts and flows quite literally against the sides of the dwellings and structures.
For both practicality and visual appeal, the cottages are situated on natural plateaus that all sit at different heights. This is partially to give different visitors varying views of and experiences in the natural landscape they’re visiting, but it was also an authenticity and building choice, since working with the plateaus let designers interrupt the land less in their building process.
This concept of working with the land is what influenced the choices in colour scheme, decor, and materiality. Designers wanted to create buildings that made sense with their surroundings and suited the natural atmosphere, rather than ones that contrast too heavily or stand out so much that they detract from the environment’s beauty. They chose an unpolished wood for the cottage facades, for example, that suits the rough dunes around the, so well that it almost looks like they’ve always been there. They’re slightly modern in their shape, which makes them unique, but not so contemporary as to look out of place.
Another part of making the cottages look like they’re one with the landscape was the choice not to fence them off. Of course, designers wanted to give guests lots of private space, but that applies mostly to creating interior havens. On the outside, the idea was to create a sense of limitless exploration and lack of boundaries, which fences would have counteracted.
This idea of fostering a “haven-like” atmosphere was of the utmost importance to everyone involve in the project, which is why planners chose to locate all parking offsite, outside of the park. Past the parking and through the entrance, guests encounter the visitors centre and, beyond that, nothing but gorgeous landscape free of city-life reminders.
The visitors centre is almost pavilion-like and bears a gorgeous floating style roof. In addition to providing all of the information and services guests could dream of, it also gives them a gorgeous panoramic view of the entire park first thing. Like the cottages, the visitor centre suits the natural space well thanks to the choice of black wood planks for the facade and light concrete for the interior.
Besides offering a gift shop and bike rentals to guest, this main pavilion is also on-site housing for staff! The basement boasts bedrooms and a common living room. These are entirely separate for the sake of staff privacy and, despite being right below halls for guest social functions and the like, they’re peaceful and quiet, letting staff truly feel at home and not like they never left work.
All of the buildings situated on the park were constructed, both in terms of shape and also material, with the intention of becoming naturally weathered. Designers purposefully chose materials that would withstand the test of time well in terms of endurance and damage resistance, but also things that will only look more charming with a little bit of wear and tear as far as exposure to the elements is concerned. The buildings will only begin to look more and more like they really belong.
Each of the individual cottages is designed with a different type of specific theme or experience in mind, accounting for the variety of guests that the park’s location attracts. These themes are communicated through and incorporated within details like the layout, the facade, and the interior decor of the cottages.
The “adventure cottages” are small, compact sheds with less space and modernity, intended for those who love the great outdoors and plan to spend most of their time there rather than in their accommodations. The “family cottage”, on the other hand, gives guests spacious social rooms, like the living and dining room, where many loved ones can gather. In order to keep them feeling connected to nature, however, sliding doors help these rooms open completely to the outdoors.
The “royal cottages” are all about luxurious comfort in a peaceful setting. These feature two floors, softly sprawling beds, and fully equipped large kitchen and dining rooms featuring all contemporary amenities despite the rustic setting. Finally, guests might choose the XL cottage. This space is intended for large groups of family and friends and is centred entirely around maximizing space.
Besides choosing a cottage that is tailored to their party, guests can choose specific themes and decor schemes to suit their interests as well! For example, they might consider inspirations like coffee, racing, denim, or nature. No matter the varying interiors, designers kept the cottages consistent enough to “speak the same visual language” and suit each other upon first glance, like different parts of a large family.
Photos provided by the architects.
By Courtney • Oct 2, 2019
On the outskirts of Boedo in Argentina, creative design teams at Estudio Yama recently completed a renovation and updating project on a classically shaped home called PH José Mármol House.
In cities surrounding the area, a particular shape and style of home is quite typical to Argentinian culture. This is the “casa chorizo” that is often found not just in Boedo, but all the way across certain parts of the country. It’s even characteristic of Buenos Aires, which was one of the first places homes in this style were built. This is the shape and architectural style PH José Mármol House bore originally before its renovation.
The casa chorizo style is one that most contemporary housing parameters challenge. Residents aren’t necessarily interested anymore in the way this style of home, which is left over from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, bears predictably distributed, concretely consecutive rooms that are connected but also lacking in natural sunlight and airflow.
Moving away from a casa chorizo layout was part of what prompted the owner’s desire for a transformation. In fact, like many of these older houses throughout Boedo, this one has actually undergone two different renovations; one to make it better accommodate the needs of a young family and one to change it stylistically, aesthetically, and atmospherically.
Initially, the primary point of this transformation project was actually much simpler and more specified. Owners mainly wanted the design team to find and transform or create a space within the property for a new yoga studio to be built. They wanted a home studio in which the residents themselves could unwind and the owner might even teach some classes.
Once designers had seen and analyzed the space, however, they quickly saw a complete renovation and redesign opportunity that they wanted to take, so they made a much more ambitious proposal than the original plan to the owners. Taking a risk, designers pitched the idea of a transformation that would change the look and function of the whole house thanks to only a few strategic changes.
Firstly, designers set their sites on the outer courtyard. A simple renovation to this space enabled them to improve and open up the rooms situated around it, creating an easier flow from space to space on the inside, as well as a much more effective breaking down of barriers between indoor and outdoor spaces. These changes counteract that darker, more closed off layout typical of the casa chorizo style we told you about earlier on.
In the centre top of the house, the yoga studio was designed and installed, but designers by no means wanted to limit it to being a space that might only be used for one thing. Instead, the yoga studio was design as a flexible room and multi-purpose space with a natural light filled, welcoming atmosphere, decent temperature control, and a good amount of space. Floor to ceiling glass walls invite sunlight throughout the day, but the windows can be covered for privacy or shade thanks to micro-perforated sheet blinds.
The house also received an aesthetic and decor makeover as well, keeping in the theme of lightening things up and making them feel more free-flowing and expanded. After the space came together physically, rooms were also made to feel cohesive through the use of common natural materials and neutral colours all throughout the house. Some visual patterning was added in the form of things like accent tiles and mats to keep things interesting, but over all the new scheme is fresh and very calm.
Photos by Javier Augustin Rojas
By Courtney • Sep 30, 2019
In a quiet neighbourhood in the urban area of Dobříš, a city in the Czech Republic, innovative architectural teams at boq architekti have recently finished a housing project called Cube in a Cube that is named for the unique nature of its actual shape and construction.
From the street, what visitors see is an outer “layer” of the house. This is a simply shaped cubic frame made from pieces of naturally finished wood that hang suspended between metal supports running along the bottoms and tops of the boards. The process of developing this particular structural project was dubbed “Za Vetrnikem Dobris” throughout its creation.
The purpose of the boards was multi-faceted. Firstly, designers wanted to create a house (which eventually became a series of houses within a cohesively designed neighbourhood) that had a clear identity and style. The goal was to create the buildings to be simplistically eye catching, standing out for their minimalist shape and natural materiality in order to catch people’s eye.
Secondly, the purpose of the boards around the house was to give dwellers an opportunity to enjoy the view of the landscape surrounding the neighbourhood. Designers wanted to ensure that people might seek a new vantage point to enjoy that view from nearly anywhere around the circumference of the house, gazing out in any direction from the home as a base. The view is clearly visible through the angled slats in a way that builds a cohesiveness with the shade of the natural wood and the land beyond.
Additionally, designers wanted to provide the home with a sense of privacy. Although the house doesn’t necessarily sit as close to other buildings as, say, a tightly packed downtown city dwelling might, the team still wanted to create a sense of escape for the residents, letting them enjoy outdoor spaces without feeling watched. The spaces between the wooden slats let them see beyond the boundaries of the plot while also protecting them from public eyes so they might feel relaxed and at home.
Finally, the wooden frame around the house (which is also cubic behind the boards, hence the home’s name) was built with a very intentional materiality. Although the neighbourhood is part of an urban landscape, it is not devoid of nature and a nice view. The natural wood of the frame helps make the house blend into its natural surroundings ever so slightly rather than detracting from the greenery.
Right now, the whole cubic project consists of three different semi-detached houses. The first was such a success of design, function, and aesthetic that the project was expanded into an entire residential compound, which will have additional stages in the future. Six more units are planned as part of ongoing development efforts on the outskirts of Dobris City.
Inside the house, an airy entryway leads to a cloakroom. Just beyond that, a guest bathroom is paired with a nice, bright lower level room that might be used as either a guest bedroom or a study for those who work from home. Moving past these, guests encounter the central social spaces of the home, closer to the back of the house.
The home’s primary social spaces are shared and open concept. Rather than being closed off from one another, the living room, kitchen, and dining room all have a free flow of movement between them, constituting them as a sort of central hub for family activity and daily routine.
Moving upwards, guests encounter two wings. The first is for the children or visitors, consisting of two bedrooms and a bathroom. Further down the hall is a separate wing intended for parents. This has a master bedroom with its own walk-in closet and dressing room and en suite bathroom. The spaces on this floor hit the mark well between privacy and open concept living.
In addition to working in concepts of open concept layouts, designers also wanted to break down barriers between inside and outside spaces. This is why there is some kind of sliding door patio access to an outdoor courtyard or activities area in every room on the ground floor, while every single room on the upper floor has direct access to a terrace or balcony of its own.
The outdoor spaces are just about as multi-faceted as the home’s wooden facade. Some areas are garden spaces with storage for tools. Some spots feature patio furniture and are intended for socializing or quiet moments in the sun. Others, like the spot with the gymnastics inspired rings, are dedicated to physical activity and movement. The goal is to provide residents with a few but also give them privacy, all while encouraging them to enjoy the fresh air whenever possible.
Photos by Alexandra Timpau
By Courtney • Sep 24, 2019
Located on a stunning country road, in a “ribbon” of houses in Everdingen, The Netherlands, creative designers at Walden Studio have recently completed a beautifully modern rustic addition called the House Extension Along the Dike, intended to give a young family a little more space and better views of the beautiful pastures behind their home.
Near Utrecht is a beautiful river called the Lekt. It is on the banks of this river that a stunning old house was originally built along a row of others in 1910. Now, however, the house is owned by a young and still-growing family who needs a little more space than the house had to offer.
The house is situated outside of the winter dikes, meaning that is only safeguarded on its sides by a lower summer dike. These water variances, of course, influenced and determined certain choices in the building of the original home, as well as in how the new extension might be built.
The first houses built in the area measured a modest 70 square metres, making them a perfectly comfortable home for two. When the new owners’ family began expanding beyond two, however, they realized that they’d fallen too far in love with the stunning floodplains around their house, as well as the gorgeously friendly atmosphere to leave.
That’s why they decided to stay and simply adapt their little house to accommodate their new clan! They wished to do so, however, in away that would respect the integrity and history of the original house, rather than interfering with or overpowering it.
From the outset, the owners wished to expand two rooms and also add two. They wished to increase the size of their already existing dining room as well as their living room. Besides that, they also wished to add an extra bedroom and bathroom on the first floor of the little house.
Because of the beautiful natural land that the house sits on and next to, there were several environmental limitations that the designers and construction teams had to work with. For example, the maximum possible width that the extension could possibly be was only four metres because a very important natural reserve exists just past the home’s borders and respecting that was crucial.
On top of that, designers also wanted to leave “flood space”, or a slight border of land around the house between the solid land and the marshy areas around the dikes below the house in order to protect the house from flooding. This space acts as a buffer between the potential rising waters and the foundation of the house. Accounting for this space determined a very small available area in which to create the addition.
Although this little house sits in a “ribbon” of homes that are arranged along the main road like a strip, there are several openings between the houses that were intentional in their original conception. Even decades ago, architects valued the scenery around the neighbourhood so much that they knew it was integral to keep the houses from pressing up against one another in order to give the inhabitants of each one the space to take advantage of their beautiful setting.
The designers of this new extension took inspiration from the setup of this row of houses and opted to include open spaces that show off the view within the house itself. This accounts for the inclusion of large glass windows and sliding glass doors. The intent here is to provide a seamless feeling experience between the bright, cheerful feeling inside and the stunning outdoors, which the owners wanted to let their young children enjoy whenever possible.
Another unique element of this extension that sets it apart ever so slightly without interrupting the rest of the neighbourhood’s visual aesthetic is the fact that it was built on columns. This makes the extension look as though it is floating above the dike slightly, which the designers hoped would add a sense of extra suspense to the overall visual.
Putting the extension on columns also created a lovely sheltered area underneath. This provides a small patio like space where the family can enjoy an outdoor area with some cool shade and protection fro, the sun. At the same time, the jaunty asymmetrical gable roof stretches towards the sky and accentuates the view of the stunning floodplains.
The roof is actually more than just an angular structure meant for modern style. In reality, designers included it as a nod to the shape of historical barns of the local region, re-incorporating a bit of rustic charm that makes even more sense in the immediate context and environment,
In the interest of preserving as much of the original house as possible in its first form, since it was good and whole outside of the need for more space, designers used the existing stairwell as a base for anchoring it to the side of the home. At the top, they added a skylight that helps keep this previously slightly dark space bright and cheerful, making things feel even more open.
On the outside of the house, you’ll notice a charmingly dark facade that suits the environment rather than making the structure appear too dark. This is black pine wood that actually did come from the old barns in the region that we mentioned before. These reclaimed pieces get their colour from tar that is applied to protect the wood and increase its durability against weathering.
The reclaimed wood isn’t the only sustainably sourced material that went into the building of this extension. Pieces of the wooden frame and the steel columns and beams of the “table” it was placed upon to make the shady overhang are also locally reclaimed. Inside the walls, renewable materials like flax insulation and accoya wood window frames have been used. On the underside of the extension, where a roof over the patio has been created, naturally stained Douglas-fir planks make things feel durable and cozy at once.
Inside, the spaces within the extension vary ever so slightly from the rest of the original house. The older spaces are slightly more historically inspired in their details and furnishings, while the new rooms are cleanly detailed and a little more fresh and minimalist looking. They are styled with a materiality that suits the rest of the house for cohesiveness, but designers didn’t hide the refreshed, updated nature of the spaces. Instead, they let them shine, seeking beauty in the contrast and how the space marks the lovely little village as one that’s still ideal for raising families in decades after the neighbourhood was built.
Photos provided by the architects.
Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects creates modern art inspired Striking Contemporary Home in Texas
By Courtney • Sep 18, 2019
In a lush suburban neighbourhood in Dallas, Texas, creative design and construction teams at Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects recently completed a beautiful rustic modern home inspired by art and the beautiful natural area surrounding it. The house was dubbed Striking Contemporary Home for its unique shape!
The house puts a particular unique spin on the idea of “rustic chic” in the way it unconventionally combines style and materiality. Each room and the home’s structure itself was created using strikingly contemporary shapes and layouts, but also done so using organic, natural, and raw materials, which builds a relationship with the land and grounds the space in that whole concept of rustic living.
The home also puts a huge emphasis on the idea of blended indoor-outdoor living experiences. Because the home’s chosen plot is lucky enough to have a stunning natural setting, designers wanted to ensure that the family living there gets to enjoy it as thoroughly as possible. Large glass walls and expansive windows break down visual barriers between interior and exterior spaces, while several sliding glass doors actually physically open most of the rooms onto beautiful decks, balconies, and patios.
These seamless elements in combination with the fact that the main social rooms feature gorgeous soaring ceilings makes the home feel even more spacious that its generous square footage already accounts for. The presence of stone in the mantels and structural details, as well as natural wood elements in the beams and furnishings, ties in the beautiful view outside the large windows, once again visually blending the home’s inner features into its surrounding environment.
All of this, of course, takes place in a home that has quite a modern cubic shape to it. This shape and the presence of polished and stained concrete floors (which is a natural material but looks high end with this shining finish) creates a modern vein throughout the rooms that the more natural and rustic influenced elements contrast with and stand out against beautifully.
In addition to being stylishly appealing, the home’s materiality is also unique in the way it was gathered and sourced for building. Rather than importing fabricated and synthetic goods or using only things they procured elsewhere, design teams did their best to use locally sourced natural goods and reclaimed things wherever possible, keeping things in the immediate area.
The layout of the home was another intentional element designed for the comfort and bonding of the family. Besides keeping colour and decor schemes consistent, the way physical and visual spaces flow fluidly into each other gives the sense a comfortable atmosphere of connectivity and accessibility. Here and there, pops of colour in the form of the very kinds of art pieces that inspired the modern aspects of the home’s shape briefly pull a pleasant, interesting focus as one passes from room to room.
No matter where in the house you choose to sit, a stunning amount of sunlight can reach just about every corner in a way that’s cheerful and uplifting. The high quality UV resistance of the glazed glass windows and doors stops the rooms from heating up too much, but the open concept of the spaces lets the light spill through the house beautifully.
Perhaps our favourite feature of the house is the pool. Rather than just building a standard shape and size of pool like you’re probably used to seeing in friends’ backyards, designers opted to make this one resemble more of a water feature, giving it a stone border and unique steps at once end leading either into the main pool or a hot tub and relaxing spa section. The pool is built into a lovely deck area that has plenty of seating for hosting guests.
Photos by Nathan Schroder Photography
By Courtney • Sep 16, 2019
In a quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs of Kyoto, Japan, innovative design teams at 07BEACH recently completed a beautifully wooden and naturally peaceful feeling residential project called House in Kyoto.
View in gallery
The house was not only built but also completely conceptualized from the beginning for a couple and their three small kids. Although the house is surrounded on all sides by other houses in its residential neighbourhood, designers worked to create an inner space that feels all its own. Rather than feeling isolated, however, it feels quiet and relaxing, like a retreat.
Besides a peaceful home that would provide the family with a safe, calming space in which to live their lives and recharge from their busy days, the owners’ requests were few and simple. As the planning process progressed, more desires and home goals became clear, like an open concept floor plan and lots of space for the kids to move in.
This added goal was what really influenced the blueprints for the house in the end. In fact, it’s what responsible for the complete open main interior chamber. By placing the living room in the very centre of the house and making it double height so that most spaces are easily accessible to one another if one tries, without sacrificing all privacy, designers created a space that’s ideal for keeping an eye on kids (but also family bonding, movement around the house, and energy flow).
Besides the wide open layout of the house itself, the most notable aspect of this home is absolutely the fact that there’s a tree growing right in the middle! This feature was multi-purpose. The first reason for including the tree was for aesthetic and energy purposes; the green leaves add a colour pop to the otherwise primarily natural wood scheme and the overall presence of the tree helps establish an almost spa-like atmosphere in the primary room and anywhere with a view into it.
The other reason for putting a tree smack in the middle of the house was actually slightly more practical. Rather, it was a practical way around the limitations presented by the plot of land the house was built on. You see, the only place large enough for a parking area to be built was at the front of the plot. By the time this was completed and the rest of the house was built to a satisfactory size behind it, very little space for a garden (which was one of the owners’ late arising desires) was left.
Instead of leaving the house devoid of plant life in the absence of a garden, or simply including many plants in the decor scheme, design teams opted to treat the very centre of the main interior room like a courtyard. They even included skylights and plenty of natural lighting through large windows at the top of the house, ensuring that beautiful sunlight pours down over the tree in the very centre of the house.
This kind of natural lighting actually helps keep the home a little more energy efficient than the average dwelling as well, rendering the house green in some of its functions and systems. Green systems and a green tree, which the family expects to grow in the middle along with the family in order to create a very real bond between the members and nature, really drives home the whole natural feeling theme that reaches into every corner of the house.
Of course, just by looking at the house, one can tell that materiality is quite important to the over all integrity and atmosphere of the house. The clearly notable presence of natural wood is actually where designers took the opportunity to get creative in blending aesthetics. Here, the modern structure of the very squared house meets the traditional Japanese style of homes, which fit with the family’s own history. Most wooden aspects of the home are of the classic architectural style that has been seen in the area for centuries.
Since relaxation and peace are paramount elements of the whole home’s experience, we doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that even the bathroom placement, with its sprawling bath tub, was intentional and geared towards building a spa-like atmosphere. The idea behind placing the bathroom in the centre was that its placement in combination with the big windows that give a high up view of neighbouring trees gives off an “open air” feeling, as though one is perhaps bathing outside in a nice breeze and sunshine.
Photos by Yosuke Ohtake
By Courtney • Sep 12, 2019
Along the shoes of a beautiful seaside setting in Vietnam, creative design teams at Nemo Studio have recently finished a beautiful housing project called Bienhouse for a leading rental company in the area.
More specifically, the beautiful new property is located in Ha Long Bay. Originally, the house was built and finished in an unfurnished way, as all houses for the company, Vinhomes, are. On the outside, this house is grand, modern, and stunning, but it does bear a brand recognizable resemblance to many of their other properties in the area.
In this case, it’s the interior that really sets the home apart and brings out the character of the place itself and the influence of the area surrounding it. Now that new tenants have moved in and added their own personal touches, the character of the home shines even more brightly and some of the best features are really showcased.
Of course, one of the very best things that the house has to offer is a stunning, broad view of the beach and its surrounding magnificent landscape. This view can be enjoyed from countless windows in the house and also from a lovely rooftop deck that provides plenty of fresh air and a veritable boat show of the boardwalk and yacht activity just a short way from the house.
Inside the house, the design is clean, neutral, and neat. The spa-like palette was chosen very intentionally in an attempt to make the atmosphere inside the house just as centred on relaxation as the one outside on the beach. The shapes and dimensions of the furnishings, structures, storage spaces, and so on, were created with calculation and great consideration because, at the same time as designers wanted the house to feel like a retreat, they also wanted it to be optimally arranged, organized, and efficient, minimizing clutter and making sense in order to reduce daily stress.
Another very intentional choice was the placement of large windows and big sliding doors that feel as though a barrier between the interior and the stunning beaches outside is being removed. The purpose of these many openings was to let residents feel as though they have access to the beach from essentially anywhere in the house.
For those places where beach access simply wasn’t possible, designers wanted to at least build a thoroughly beach atmosphere within the home, but not the stereotypically kitschy kind you’ve probably seen before. They aimed for more of an upscale, calming atmosphere communicated primarily through fluid shape and natural materiality. This theme continues through bedrooms, bathrooms, corridors, and even simple stairways, extending right from the entryway all the way up to the rooftop.
Executives also wanted to keep the house feeling light, airy, and even more spacious than its generous square footage already grants, which is a central theme that they try to keep throughout all of their different properties. This is why designers chose to create an artistic looking steel staircase in the very centre of the house with a sizeable open space void around it, creating a highlight space that really feels like a focus. The uniquely curving shape and bright red colour of the staircase really draws the attention of guests, which is sensical in the space because those stairs allow access to so many important areas.
If we had to choose an area in the house that we thought designers might have prioritized the most, we’d say the bedrooms were treated as the most important! They were created with the most possible space they could possibly be allotted within the home’s overall square footage, but they were also intentionally made with a softer sense of structure, line, and style.
The bedrooms are where the spa-like sense we mentioned before really hits home. The furniture chosen is curving, natural looking, and extremely comfortable despite also being stylish. The materials were chosen intentionally for their organize nature and matching warm neutral tones and other details, like the rugs and curtains, were opted for to match that aesthetic.
If you ask us, easily the best part of the bedroom space is the master bedroom’s impressive concrete tub. Because it is polished and green in colour, it almost looks like it’s made of jade, making it resemble something you might have found in the royal quarters of an old castle. It ties into the rest of the house cohesively even as it stands out because designers included other decor pieces and details made from concrete and potteries elsewhere in the house as well.
At the vert top of the house, of course, is the stunning fifth floor patio. This was intended for family bonding, social gatherings, or peaceful solitary reading time in the fresh air. The space is set up well for groups or those looking to enjoy a bit of outdoor time alone and, no matter one’s company, it’s the perfect place to enjoy those beautiful beach sunrises and sunsets.
Photos by Vu Ngoc Ha
By Courtney • Sep 11, 2019
In the quickly changing city of Fengxian, China, innovative construction and design teams at AZL Architects have recently completed a residential project called Song House that serves as a caring, supportive home for several branches of old and young within the same extended family.
Although the modernization of certain areas of China has been largely positive in terms of an increase in average wealth, it has certainly contributed to the unfortunate disappearance of innumerable very small natural villages throughout the country. This has impacted the cultural heritage in many of these areas as well. In response, many architectural teams and homeowners are aiming to once again take advantage of all that these abandoned rural areas have to offer, going back to some of China’s home and cultural roots while adapting modern living systems for those locations.
Song House is one of these homes! Originally, the home’s location was chosen by a family looking to escape ever-rising and increasingly unaffordable living costs in the nearby city of Shanghai. Instead, they opted to invest their money in creating a home that has all of the modern immediate home conveniences of their city home but in a more peaceful place.
The owner also had the large consideration of his elderly mother’s need for care. Already a resident of the Fengxian countryside, the mother needed the support of family but would not thrive as well in the hustle and bustle of the city as she would in the calmer rural setting where all of her needs were already convenient and available. This influenced the family’s decision to move back out to the village where their roots lie.
In returning to their hometown of Nansong Village, the family made the decision to demolish their first house, a dilapidated little cottage that they left behind for the big city but still owned. They aimed to rebuild a new house that was much more modern and more suitable for generations both young and old, all at once. In fact, the house was planned to be so accessible and suitable for all generations that a set of in-laws who were also in need of health assistance were invited to live with the family and receive mutual are and support within the home’s welcoming walls as well.
Designing and building the home was no small feat. As an average working class crew, the Song family invested all of their savings into this space with the intention of making it everyone’s forever home. Since the intention was always to built it for a full family of at least eight, the family also put extra money towards meeting the needs, desires, and styles of each person to ensure it truly feels like home for every single person.
The new house is southward facing with an open-concept layout, enabling sun and fresh breezes from that side to enter the inner and outer spaces and maximizing lovely views of the surrounding area. At the front, the house opens out into a spacious atrium, which the family uses in myriad ways.
In keeping with the focus of re-adding traditional rural home elements to the space that have been lost from local architectural practice in recent years, designers built a large courtyard into the home’s outer spaces, centring it in the layout in order to establish it as the main hub of daily family and social activity.
Inside, the home boasts five bedrooms, each of which was custom designed for the actual family members using them. These rooms and the various shared spaces are arranged around the house’s central inner atrium in a way that creates easy flow, good accessibility, and interconnection but without sacrificing privacy and peace. The goal in arranging the rooms this was was to create an easy sense of daily ritual and a sense of belonging, as though the family and home are its own community.
On the ground floor, just off the lowest point of the atrium, designs built a lovely, welcoming living room filled with lots of light. Next to that, within easy reach, is Song’s mother’s room, giving her a short distance to travel from bed to another comfortable place for a change of scenery. A bathroom was place to the other side of the bedroom, with a high toilet and a specially designed shower large enough for two people, making it accessible and simple for personal assistance.
Across the atrium, on the north side, a large dining room and open layout kitchen feature plenty of seating room for the whole family. This kitchen was designed as an informal social space for family bonding or meal prep, chores, and regular daily routines. This is another space where updated pieces and tradition meet; the kitchen features both a gas stove for modern cooking and an earthen stove as was once traditional in the area, allowing older family members who have never used a gas stove before and would prefer not to use one to be just as involved in cooking family meals. There is also a small kitchen garden out back where the oldest grandmother grows vegetables for the family, as us customary.
The central location of the atrium has a spiritual function as well as a practical and convenient one. The room is built around a stainless steel rendering of the Chinese character for the family’s last name that has been inlaid into the floor. This positions the rest of the house as though it is embracing the family’s symbol, creating a true sense of belonging.
On the home’s second storey, two bedrooms have been customized for the two older couples in the family. These are placed near a beautifully open family room, letting the couples bond without having to go downstairs. A specially built accessible restroom is placed near by as well. The bedroom of the youngest couple, the owner’s daughter and her husband, is placed on the far side of the second storey, giving them their privacy to the extent of relatively independent living.
Although it does not have an elevator, the house is accessible for the in-law’s wheelchairs. There is a ramp that extends from the top floor, near their bedroom, outside the house and gently, safely downward, allowing not only accessible movement from one storey to another but also between indoor and outdoor living spaces, making sure everyone in the house gets fresh air and sun.
A unique system of openings, intentional holes in the walls between rooms, and mirrors creates almost seamless continuity between the rooms, ensuring that no elderly person ever feels isolated or cut off from the social spaces of the house and the rest of the family. The whole purpose of the home’s design truly is to enable young and old alike to care for one another fully.
Photos by Li Yao
Modular dwelling called House in the Orchard creatednby LDA.iMdA architetti associati as a unique interpretation of shape and minimalism
By Courtney • Sep 10, 2019
True to its name, the House in the Orchard, located in San Miniatio, Italy, actually sits nestled amidst the trees in a real orchard! Design teams at LDA.iMdA architetti associati built the little home to explore space, shape, and natural context in unique, minimalist, and efficient ways.
Although the building is, indeed, a private home, certain aspects of its structure are built to mimic more public spaces’ function and shape, like its focus on open concept layouts and its transparent walled ends that create a visual blending of indoor and outdoor space, creating a feeling of increased square footage despite its actual modest but efficient size.
Speaking of efficiency, the actual systems used to power the house and make it run are highly efficient as well! This includes the hydro, the heating and cooling mechanisms, and even the home’s facade. The external coating around the whole house, which gives it quite a monolithic look, creating stunning continuity, was made by covering a wooden frame in an ecologically protective polyolefin sheet, which has a high solar reflectance, preventing the interior from becoming overheated.
The shape and structure of the house actually inspired by that of a classic greenhouse meant for plants, but wildly re-imagined and invigorated. As you might know if you’ve ever worked with plants, the average greenhouse (exception those used on high production farms and so on) is not a place fit for anything but a plant to inhabit. Here, however, the shape, level of natural light reaching the interiors, and temperature control technology has been updated and adapted for actual living in a permanent home.
The exterior of the house isn’t the only space that got a little bit innovative and green with its materiality. Designers ensured that the home’s interior followed suit as well! For example, the flooring of the main room is covered in a material that uses anti-infiltration, water resistant protective products to coat a prefabricated wooden floor. This is great for improving insulation and energy emissions and conservation. The floor is also built from “self-supporting” panels, making it sturdy and resistant to weathering or wear and tear; it is layered with larch wood, polystirene, and then fir wood.
The emphasis on plant life that surrounds and inspires this home doesn’t stop at its shape and location. Designers also wanted to integrate and enable the dweller’s favourite hobby as best they could. You see, the owner absolutely adores vegetable gardening! This is part of the reason the house was kept modest in size and green in function; they wished to make the most of the available plot as far as gardening space was concerned.
The emphasis on smalltime agriculture and modern home technology creates a beautifully blended home experience both within and directly surrounding the house itself. The whole place has a sense of green prioritization, as well as a strong relationship between energy conservation and natural production.
Originally, designers briefly considered a much larger design that would have included an extra interior gardening space that was intended as a winter gardening plot or greenhouse. Upon reflection, however, they opted to create just the little house you see here, basing it in part on classic children’s drawings of houses in its bare shape. Cutting out the additional building process and square footage stopped the structure itself from leaving too big a footprint on the land. After all, clearing natural land to create indoor spaces for gardening, instead of just gardening the land, seemed counterintuitive on this small scale.
Speaking of reducing impact on the land, designers found another way to make this happen physically as well! Instead of building the house so its entire ground floor lays flush on top of the earth beneath it, building teams created a raised frame in which the house appears to sit on solid, strong stilts. This allows natural growth right underneath and minimized the amount of clearing that had to be done in order to erect the building.
Over all, the house exists as an example of the design team’s ongoing study and prioritization of the way that architecture can build and maintain relationships with the land, as well as how fluid combinations of modern technology and the natural world can benefit home and societal experiences.
Photos by MEDULLA Studio
By Courtney • Sep 9, 2019
On the Lofoten archipelago in Northern Norway, creative designers have teamed up with esteemed local architects at Stinessen Arkitektur to conceptualize and complete the unique holiday home called Efjord Retreat Cabin. Located in Narvik in Norway, the actual plot on which the cabin sits on a small branch of water right off the Ofoten fiord. It is nestled onto a little island called Halvaroy, on a natural ledge that affords the little home breathtaking views in essentially every direction and from every room.
The natural terrain of the island presented both challenges and opportunities to the design and constructions crews working on the project. In the end, they opted to orient the cabin to the west, giving it a primary view overlooking the wider fiord itself and stretching on towards two of the country’s most challenging climbing peaks.
This particular location might seem a little too far out there for some, but this was precisely the intention of the designers because it was actually the primary goal and desire of the owner. From the outset, the whole concept of the cabin was to provide them with a retreat experience that truly feels as though it has transported them into a place of peaceful isolation and total quiet privacy. As a person whose life is often engulfed by the bustle of big cities and the hectic nature of full time work days, the owner wanted a complete and drastic deviation from that experience for total healing relaxation.
In order to create that atmosphere, designers created a building that has a truly unique shape. The concept here was to build certain parts of the building so they feel as though they open and close in different directions, giving each area within those parts a different feeling, atmosphere, or experience, depending on the owner’s mood or needs at any given point.
For example, the eastern section of the cabin tapers and “closes” towards some neighbouring buildings not far in the distance, limiting views of those buildings (and those buildings’ views into the cabin) for privacy. At the same time, the cabin opens to a large glass wall towards a swooping ridge and some stunning close by terrain right across, creating the feeling that other structures and humans are truly far off the cabin is simply existing amidst calming nature.
The same tapering and expanding, or “opening” and “closing” techniques were built in elsewhere in the cabin as well. Magnificent views are established as a focal point of the main rooms by the way the front end of the cabin appears to open up towards the dramatic sight of the mountains and the flowing fiord below them to the west.
In terms of its layout, the cabin is split into two cohesive volumes that, despite being oriented differently, don’t actually feel cut off from each other. The two volumes do sit slightly offset from one another in order to let their angular edges provide a bit of shade and shelter to some outdoor areas that exist on their axes and ends. This also gives each volume its own end on all sides, letting designers incorporate more large windows with more extremely impressive views for a panoramic feel from anywhere inside the house.
The incorporation of outdoor spaces that blend nearly seamlessly with the indoor ones, as well as the way the cabin sits atop a high point in the terrain but has a clear view of the different surrounding peaks and valleys, makes it feel and look as though it truly fits with its natural setting. The cabin’s particular orientation and height also works well with the movement of the sun, which rises towards the open functional spaces and sets towards the private sleeping areas, letting the owner’s routine flow well with the natural course of the daylight.
The cabin also blends quite well with its surroundings in terms of its materiality. The exterior consists of primarily only two materials: core pinewood and structural glazing. For durability, the wood was treated with iron sulfate; this also gives it an even, pleasant appearance that suits its environment well.
The cabin’s exterior isn’t the only place where wood appears! Inside the house, many of the surfaces are clad in birch veneer, which contrasts beautifully with the granite tile and stone across other details. Inside the sauna and the bathrooms, which were built with relaxation and body healing in mind, the floors and ceilings are also clad in aspen slats.
Photos provided by the architect.
Ultra modern Guaratinguetá House created by Ricardo Abreu Arquitetos using the beauty and durability of ceramic as the inspiration
By Courtney • Sep 6, 2019
In a lovely, quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs of Vila Paraiba, Brazil, Architectural innovators at Ricardo Abreu Arquitetos have recently completed a modern housing project with a slightly more traditional inspiration, dubbing it Guaratinguetá House.
At its very conception, the house was inspired by the idea of using ceramic, a material that can be both quite beautiful and quite strong. That idea was honoured all throughout the planning, designing, and building process, so it we’re sure it will make as much sense to you as it does to us that many different surfaces in the finished house feature or are made entirely from ceramic.
For the most part, a beautiful ceramic technique is used to cover a wide range of surfaces and facades within and outside of the house. Parts of the home’s facade feature ceramic in the details, as do the interior floors, walls, and some furnishing and decor details. Because there are so many different types of ceramic and ways to use it, incorporating this material so well allowed designers to explore all kinds of different textures, finishes, colours, and characteristics in each situation within this home.
Of course, the exterior facade of a durable home that will withstand weather can’t be entirely made from ceramic! This is why designers also chose to construct much of their structure using light bricks and dark bricks, alternated and grouped in ways that not only benefit the house in terms of which were placed where for density and durability, but also creating colour interest across the home’s facade and on several accent walls inside too.
In terms of its physical layout, the house is composed of three volumes. The first one is largely constructed of light bricks, with the next volume on top of that featuring the darker brick facade we mentioned before. The three volumes are distinct looking but still have good flow and cohesiveness between them inside, stopping any part of the house from feeling too cut off. The way they’re arranged in a staggered manner downplays how tall the residence actually is, keeping it low to the ground and modest looking.
The largest example of ceramic tiling in the house is undoubtedly on the floors, and this feature is consistent between all of the rooms in the house. The tiles look nice and uniform but also actually have a practical function as well; they help keep the house feeling nice and cool throughout the day, reducing the home’s impact on the environment in terms of heating and cooling systems by enacting a bit of passive cooling.
As you move through the house, you might notice that there isn’t actually a hard, limiting material barrier between most of the rooms. Of course, privacy was absolutely provided in the sleeping and personal areas, but the rest of the house is quite open concept and seamless feeling. A perfect example of this is between the living room, dining room, kitchen, and veranda.
There is a clear visual delineation of space based on style and function, of course, which helps the layout of the house make sense and keeps things in order. Overall, however, there is very little physical separation between rooms and spaces, in hopes that energy flow, movement, communication, and sunlight will travel through the house well, making just about every experience had there more pleasant for family members and visitors alike.
If you’re still following the presence of the porcelain tiles, then you might as well follow them right outside the house, through a set of wonderfully large sliding doors, and on into what designers describe as a “gourmet terrace”. This is a lovely outdoor lounge and social hosting space on the external top of the first volume, laid out like a patio in the air. The tiles in question continue across the floor out the door and all across the terrace, once again creating a dialogue between spaces inside and outside of the home’s walls.
The two floors (there are three volumes, but two sit on the same upper storey level) are connected by a concrete but modern looking floating style staircase described by designers as being “monumental”. This staircase has cantilevered steps and, across the facade of the concrete stairs, features a combination of black and white marbled porcelain tiles. The finished product was so satisfactory to everyone involved in the home’s creation that it has actually become recognized as a standout piece in the home!
Outside, the home has its own backyard space with a modest but lush green lawn. Here, designers built a beautiful swimming pool that, though sizeable, was primarily included for relaxation. The tiled theme continues even here, outside the house, where the edge of the pool is tiled in cool grey stone squares that add a calming but luxurious effect.
Photos by Andre Mortatti
By Courtney • Aug 9, 2019
Located in the Coghlan neighbourhood of Argentina’s city Buenos Aires, a unique apartment structure called the Pedraza Building was recently completed by A3 Luppi Ugalde Winter with the goal of making the most of a small urban space in order to benefit several families at once.
From the time of its conception and original plans, the Pedraza Building was intended to house an entire set of multi-family homes right in the same space. By challenging traditional ideas of who can share what kind of space, how homes might be organized, and how private and public spaces might coexist in more shared context than usual, these designers built a home building that’s contemporary in many more ways than just how it looks. Despite being home to more than just one family, creating an interesting blend of dynamics in an already unique home space, this building is actually incredibly homey. It is simply an adjustment when it comes to transitionary spaces and participatory relationships outside of just the standard family unit, but not so closely co-existing as live-in roommates might experience.
The building is organized and conceptualized around ideas of community. Its structure rises up around a common space in the middle that serves as a sort of nucleus, with transitionary hallways leading from there like circulation spots. At the ends of these is where the private areas, those where the different families sleep and customize their own spaces, can be found.
This unique organization makes one feel as though they inhabit more than just heir own small apartment. Instead, they joint occupy the entire building together. This is true from the welcoming lobby space on the ground floor all the way up to the shared leisure space at the very top of the building, on the sunny terrace.
The space we’ve touched on that sits on the ground floor is organized into two essential areas. There is a main shared housing block at the front bottom of the building, with an individual house for a single family at the back. The main house portion extends upwards, splitting into seven different units, comprising the varied “multi-family” element of the residence.
The first, second, and third floors feature two units each, but the fourth floor is slightly different. This floor is shared by two units that face each other with a building-wide shared terrace sitting in between them. Back on the ground floor, the individual house portion is designed with maximum space efficiency in mind.
The reason for this part of the home’s conservative spatial footprint is that designers wanted to leave as much space in the plot for outdoor spaces to be enjoyed by all of the building’s residences, The space that is not taken up by units and the individual house is now home to front and back courtyards that offer an impressive amount of privacy and respite.
The placement of the courtyards, which sit as a kind of inner portion of the building despite actually being outdoor spaces, is modelled after classic ideas of colonial housing from the beginning of the century. In these old houses, courtyards were the heart of the house, acting like a sort of central hub around which the daily lives of all members of the home were organized.
Because this building was erected much more vertically than those old houses, however, designers saw a need to maintain easy connections between units and all other common spaces. This is how the upper floor bridges came about! These bridges pass over the lower courtyards, acting like transitionary open air spaces that let copious amounts of natural light into the building’s core.
The materiality of the house is just as unique as the way it was built and organized. Keeping things natural looking but appropriate for its urban context, designers chose to create balance in the space by playing strong, opaque shapes against glass walls and transparent spaces that increase easy visibility and the flow of air and light.
All combined, the unique elements of the house provide a sense of fluidity throughout the building, both in terms of atmosphere and social interaction and spatial understanding. The building truly is an example of humankind’s ability to adapt their habits and lifestyles around and in partnership with each other to best suit the spaces they have available and make them feel the most like a comfortable home.
Photos by Alejandro Peral
Wood and concrete Box House created by Caio Persighini Arquitetura to blend nature and a passion for music in a family home
By Courtney • Aug 6, 2019
In a residential neighbourhood in the town of Araraquara, which sits about 260 km outside of Sao Paulo in Brazil, creative designers at Caio Persighini Arquitetura have recently finished a uniquely shaped home called the Box House, which combines natural materiality and actual pieces of nature, both inside and outside of the house, with a family’s passions and personalities.
The very basis of the Box House is rooted in the concept and shape of the cube. It has a poetic air about it in the way the building sits so linear, contrasting with the shapes of the houses around it like a paradox, but somehow still suits the local landscape thanks to its materiality, which is primarily rooted in concrete and wood.
In its essence, the house is quite simplistic in its layout and shape, despite clear style and personality coming through in the details. The layout is quite open with the exception of resting and work spaces that require a little more privacy and quiet, rendering a notable difference in shapes and details from room to room and between shared and closed spaces.
The idea of keeping the basics of the house very simple is clear throughout the whole structure. Spatially, the home is organized in a classic cubic way, with a sort of spiral access way vertically up the middle. The stairs lead up the centre, giving way to hallways that give access to the rooms on the upper floors, which are located all around the outers edges of the house, with the most important rooms settled near the corners.
Easily the most notable aspect of the house is the fact that a very real and sizeable Jabuticaba tree grows in an in-ground garden surrounded by wood, right at the heart of the home’s central spiral. The stairs leading from the ground to the upper floors appear to wind around the tree as they lead upwards, with bright shafts of light pouring down from a glass ceiling.
This central area is where most of the light accesses the public spaces of the house. At one side of the kitchen and dining area, more light pours in from a fully openable patio wall that slides back to blend a lovely patio and walled yard space with the interior shared rooms. Air circulation is increased when this wall is pushed back as well as light, increasing the home’s sustainability.
The private bedrooms and resting areas feature large windows as well, but these are shaded at the front by a wooden slat facade above the front door and garage access entryway. This not only creates a beautifully natural looking contrast between wood and concrete on the outside of the house, but also gives the bedrooms behind the slats a spa-like glow and privacy.
The bedrooms aren’t the only resting space dotted around the house. There are actually several reading nooks, calm and meditation oriented spaces, and throw pillow clad benches in the hallways, public spaces, and around the stairs. These are made of the same lovely stained wood you see elsewhere, placed on top of a base of concrete, as is the situation with most of the house.
Besides the tree and the materiality, the home’s most unique feature is the presence of a home office that is also a music and recording studio. Here, the wooden theme continues, but this time used strategically and functionally in order to provide the correct acoustics and sound insulation to the room, as using only concrete on the walls like in the other rooms would create too much reverberation for proper recording.
In places where the decor, furnishings, and details deviate from the natural concrete and wooden atmosphere, designers opted to include interesting shapes and slight colour pops, as well as material variances. Gleaming white tiles adorn the backsplash while bright red metal stools sit along the wooden kitchen island, while chairs, tables, and other furnishings provide depth in their slightly mod shapes.
Photos by Favaro Jr.
By Courtney • Aug 5, 2019
In a stunning seaside neighbourhood on the outskirts of Matanzas in Chile, creative designers at Worc Arquitectos have custom built a stunning beach house called House 222 for a young couple and their two young children.
The placement of the house was chosen very specifically; they wanted to ensure that their kids get a beautiful coastline upbringing while still being close enough to a city to enjoy all of the amenities of urban living when they want to. That’s why Matanzas was the perfect location! It sits just outside the bustling city of Santiago.
For the sake of privacy and a beautiful 360 degree view, designers and owners chose a beautiful north facing hill, building on an expansive plot of land right at the top. From here, the beaches below can be seen from just about anywhere in the house, as can the cliffs surrounding the hill and the village of La Boca de Rapel at the water’s edge.
Building on the top of a hill that peaks towards the north naturally involved several challenges when it comes to building and accommodating for the location in the space. Designers used certain vaulted architectural techniques to keep the floors of the house level, for example, creating the space they need rather than cutting into the hill and disturbing the landscape.
Additionally, it was essential for designers to work with the often strong south winds blowing up the hill towards the plot. This determined the placement and angle of the outdoor terrace and was also the reason that the raised patio seating space was inset within the centre of the building, sheltering it from both sun and wind depending on the season and the time of day.
The location of the terrace, which is wooden like most of both the facade and interior, also serves to give it privacy, which makes it feel somewhat like a natural looking place of peace. The unique shape of the space and the way it sits in an open air spot that also sits back nearly inside the house makes it a sort of blended experience that can be used all year round.
This terrace space is only one of three volumes that make up the total house. There is also a private volume that includes the bedrooms and resting spaces, as well as a public volume that is filled by shared and common spaces like the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. These three volumes all converge onto a central space that runs alongside the terrace, which is a corridor lined by glazed glass windows.
This hallway not only provides natural sunlight to the inner spaces of the house thanks to those windows, but it’s also the main structure that blocks wind and gives privacy to the central terrace we talked about earlier. The windows, which extend from floor to ceiling, can be slid back entirely to merge indoor and outdoor spaces, making the terrace an extension of the kitchen and dining areas.
From the outside, the shape of the house is quite square and linear with the exception of one area; the second bedroom in the private volume detaches diagonally from the main shape in order to give it a much better view than it would otherwise be afforded. All of the bedrooms feature shutters that can be pulled over the floor to ceiling windows in order to turn the spaces into private havens when necessary.
In terms of its materiality, the entire house features wood as a nearly monochromatic feature that dominates the decor scheme. The fact that this is true for both the interior scheme and the facade of the house creates a sense of cohesiveness. At the same time, the overarching wooden presence helps blend the house into its surrounding landscape even as the somewhat contemporary and interesting shape makes it stand out.
Photos by Amanda San Martin
Contemporary and space efficient Black Box Apartment created by MATA Architects as an extension of a Victorian home
By Courtney • Aug 1, 2019
In the heart of London, England, innovative designers at MATA Architects have transformed a stunning Victorian era house in the neighbourhood of Islington by adding a contemporary extension that the owners use as a guest apartment.
The Black Apartment is a small extension built on the first floor of the house, at the back where it doesn’t compromise the style and historical integrity of the original building from street level. The couple who own the mid-terrace house wanted to add a space to the building that could be used as both a guest apartment and and home office when no one was visiting, making it a diverse space.
Because the house is built in such a dense urban space, the opportunity to build the extension essentially anywhere but at the back of the house didn’t really exist. It was also essential for designers to keep their design very space efficient in order to avoid consuming the bit of outdoor yard space the house is afforded. This determined the two-floor, stacked structure of the apartment.
The benefit of this placement is that building the extension didn’t disrupt the shape or integrity of the more historical building it was added onto at all. In fact, the team even went out of their way to make the brickwork in the lower half of the addition match the slightly weathered and traditional look of that used in the original ouse, creating a sense of cohesiveness and belonging.
The higher portion of the extension is where the concept of contemporary design touches the apartment’s exterior. This is the part that Black Box gets its name from. The upper floor is made from slats of dark stained Siberian birchwood that has folding panels where the windows sit, letting those inside seek a calmingly dark privacy or let the sun come flooding in, depending on their mood and the time of day.
The panels are controlled electronically from the inside of the house, splitting in the middle to fold upwards and downwards. When they’re opened, the panels reveal a flawless glazed glass that provides the interior with fantastic natural light without heating the room up too far.
These windows also serve to provide the upper room of the apartment extension with a fantastic view of the city downward from the home’s backyard. There’s nothing quite like a sunlit urban view depicting the bustle of everyday life! The window also gives a closer view of the home’s own gardens, which are curated to perfection and quite sizeable for the space.
The intention of building such a contemporary looking top half to the apartment if to make the box apartment look reconfigurable, as though the house can be adjusted according to the needs of the owners and their guests. This modern concept balances out the more traditional look of the original house for a blended experience that’s truly beautiful.
Photos by Peter Landers
By Courtney • Jul 30, 2019
On an expansive corner plot in the city of Cabreúva in Brazil, creative design and architectural teams at Taguá Arquitetura have recently finished a luxuriously open concept escape home called BT House.
Although the house is L-shaped, which is a structural shape typically used to separate homes by volume according to function, this particular house is actually open concept, without a lot of hard delineation between spaces, volumes, or functional rooms. Instead of being partitioned, the rooms are defined by the way they are intentionally situated to face the same direction.
Of course, with a patio and pool space like this house has out back, the direction that each space faces is absolutely towards the pool! This is true not only for the more social and public spaces on the ground floor, but also all the way up to the second storey where the bedrooms and private resting space areas face the same way.
This arrangement of rooms establishes a sort of physical and visual integration of interior and exterior spaces that feels incredibly continuous and very fluid in its energy and the way it moves. Not only does this create a calming connection with the pool space and the sunny blue waters, but it also highlights the beauty of the home’s own gardens, which grow lush and green around the pool.
Part of the reason the pool is made such a focal point of the house is that the owners literally listed a desire for fantastic social and leisure spaces as one of their very top priorities within their home plans, right from conceptualization. This is why designers made the pool, patio, and garden such a primary spot in the house, like a hub of rest, activity, socialization, and peace.
Besides their love of leisure spaces, the owners also wanted a home that was quick in its construction and would look clean and concise in its finished product. This largely determined the materiality chosen by design and architectural teams, resulting in that linear, beautiful system of steel pillars, beams, and slabs that can be found all throughout the house, from roof to deck.
All along the northwest side of the home’s facade, where living areas face the sun and gather lots of natural light on a daily basis, designers created walls inspired by a large glass curtain to maximize on the stunning energy sunlight creates. They minimized the heat from that sun, however, by using a special glass that is capable of blocking out up to 70% of the UV rays that would otherwise flood in.
Many of the other walls are made of similar amounts of glass, and most of them slide open as well. This really hits the concept of creating integrated spaces home, which was one of the owners’ main priorities. Because the glass walls retract to eliminate almost any separation between living spaces and open air leisure spots, the house is also extremely efficient when it comes to ventilation, rather than just lighting.
The windows aren’t the only parts of the house that contribute to the sustainable systems included in the house. In addition to the UV blocking glass, designers also used thermoacoustic tiles, steel deck braces, steel structures in both the interior and exterior walls, rainwater recycling cisterns, PVC frames, and solar energy panels for lighting and power.
Another interesting feature of the house’s actual shape itself is the way the “L” allows the garage to give the patio and pool area a little bit of extra privacy thanks to the way it is situated compared to the street and the view from the public sidewalk. This means the steel and glass facade of the house is very apparent in the visual fabric of the street-scape, making it stand out as an example of contemporarily beautiful home architecture.
The combination of materiality and atmosphere is another aspect of integration very present in the house, similar to the blending of interior and exterior spaces that takes place all across the back of the building. The industrial influence that’s inherent in the steel structures creates a beautiful contrast and sense of balance against the backdrop of the peaceful, stunning pool waters and surrounding garden.
View in gallery View in gallery
Because the designers saw the clear industrial aesthetic revealing itself early on, they opted to make it thorough by rolling with in the decor scheme as well. This gives basis for the wonderfully cabled floating staircase, concrete benches and elements in the main living room by the fireplace, and the bridge-like short hallway on the upper floor leading from the stairs to the bedrooms.
Photos by Leonardo Giantomasi
Wooden 19th Street Residence created by Sidell Pakravan Architects to provide stunning Californian views
By Courtney • Jul 24, 2019
On the hillside streets of San Francisco, California, creative design teams at Sidell Pakravan Architects have recently completed a full building renovation, giving particular style attention to the top floor penthouse. This fantastic new space was dubbed the 19th Street Residence upon completion.
Although the entire building underwent some type of renovation, the penthouse apartment at the very top received a particularly heavy overhaul. The resident of this apartment is actually the owner of the entire building, both living and working from the same space. They wanted, therefore, to afford themselves a little bit extra living and working space that blends better than before.
This was achieved by adding a lovely addition to the apartment, turning it into two blended volumes with free flowing space between them, rather than just a singular feeling residence where everyday life and workplace function step on each other’s toes. At the same time, designers wanted to maintain the stunning view provided by the apartment’s prime place at the top of a building that sits atop a hill.
The aforementioned view lets owners and guests fully appreciate the stunning urban context in which the building sits. Beyond that, the water sparkles in the sunlight and provides a breathtaking visual contrast between natural beauty and city character. The relationship between these two mirrors the relationship inside the apartment between complementary home and work spaces.
Originally built with low ceilings, this old building presented designers with particular challenges in making the spot feel spacious and open in a way that will really benefit the open concept but simultaneously blended layout they were planning for. This is why an extension was built that not only expanded the place width-wise but that also broke through vertically to give the apartment more height.
The difference in heigh in the two volumes or sides of the apartment creates a space on the roof of the lower side. Designers opted to take advantage of this spot by creating an additional interior room at the top. The walls of this room can be pulled entirely back to blend indoor and outdoor spaces all along a perimeter wall where a stunning built-in bookcase balances a wooden island in the centre of the room. The view from this spot feels unprecedented as you stare out over the city.
Part of the magic of the view is created in the fact that the visual edges of the rooftop terrace sit almost precisely evenly with the San Francisco skyline if you look directly from the door. A view of the buildings below leading up to the water’s edge can be gleaned instead by crossing the terrace to the balcony’s edge.
Inside the apartment, the entire colour palette has a stunning sense of neutrality about it. While the ceilings, walls, and many surfaces have a calming cream shade to them, contrasting furnishings and built-in features were done in the same naturally stained wood as the previously mentioned bookcase that sits near the sliding glass doors.
The effect if one of calming sensical atmospheres that makes sense from space to space. The palette also allows for any presence of decorative colour to pop against otherwise subtly cohesive backgrounds, as is the case with the lovely teal painted walls in the children’s play room.
Perhaps our favourite feature of the apartment is the lower balcony edge that boasts a safety partition made entirely of smoothly glazed glass. Putting this in place instead of an opaque wall provides an almost uninterrupted view of the city right from the apartment door.
Photo by Laurian Ghinitoiu