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.
Concrete, cubic Cientocinco House create by JAMStudio arquitectos + Ivanna Cresta with a stunning blend of modernist looking and natural materials
By Courtney • May 7, 2019
Near the San Martin Nature Reserve and a series of ravines in Cordoba, Argentina, the Cientocinco House was recently finished by JAMStudio arquitectos + Ivanna Cresta. This house, built primarily from concrete, is cubic in shape and combines it’s hard materiality with sleek, natural wood for a modernist but relaxing aesthetic.
The house is located in the northwest part of the city, which is partially responsible for its stunning views of the reserve and the nearby ravines. These natural features of the landscape appear to add breadth and charm to the surrounding area extending beyond the house, giving it an increased sense of character before other, manmade elements are even considered.
While designers were planning the home, there were several elements of the plot’s natural land that they were determined not to alter or interfere with if possible. They wished to build a house that had a foundation that worked with the land, rather than cutting into and disturbing the ground on which the house sits.
Building a foundation of cast concrete let it mould to the land in a way that could be built upon sturdily without vastly changing the overall landscape surrounding the house. Designers opted to continue these concrete themed further until it become the majority of the structure. Its natural beauty once it was polished was so immense that they kept it as a main element and embellished it with softer accents to create the bulk of their modernist aesthetic.
This is how smoothed wood became the secondary element of the impressively stacked looking, cubic inspired house. Doors, window castings, ceilings, and furnishings all bear a wooden nature that adds a sense of warmth to the concrete and steel found elsewhere in the home’s interior and exterior.
Inside the house, the home continues the same straight edged, cubic inspired shaping as can be seen in its actual shape from the street. Furniture is boxy and pleasantly symmetrical. Stairs are solid and made of concrete blocks. Windows are neat and even (though big enough to let in wondrous amounts of natural light, which also assists in warming the concrete spaces).
Even the relaxation and leisure elements of the house follow that same cubic shaping. The patio where outdoor lounge chairs sit has a curtain frame that forms a steel cube around it. The patio itself even possesses a grid texture with greenery sprouting from each squared off space. Even the pool itself has a right-angle in its angular L-shape!
The grass growing from the grid-like patio isn’t the only greenery involved in the house. Decor teams made sure to incorporate plants throughout, which brightens the place even further than the high windows already did and adds a sense of nature and cohesiveness with the environment surrounding the plot. Towards the back of the house, on the opposite side of the pool and patio, sits a row of lush trees, providing a fresh, relaxing atmosphere and shade from the summer sun.
Overall, between its sturdy frame and inclusion of greenery, this cubic house has a sense of privacy and tranquility despite its close proximity to a busy city street.
Photos by Gonzalo Viramonte
The Ibiza Campo Loft created from an old, transformed warehouse by The Nieuw + ibiza interiors in Spain
By Courtney • May 6, 2019
In the rolling hills of San Juan Bautista, Spain, The Ibiza Campo Loft was recently completed by The Nieuw + ibiza interiors as part of a transformation and upgrading project in the local area. What was once an abandoned warehouse is now a beautiful contemporary home.
The house sits on a remote mountain towering from the centre of an island. The rugged landscape was once home to workshops and storage warehouses but these structures were long ago abandoned and left to degrade and become dilapidated. This particular warehouse was actually 100 years old before it was even scouted to be turned into a stunning modern guesthouse.
Although designers were intent on updating the space, certain aspects were actually preserved as they are in order to keep some of the original industrial integrity. Some of the concrete columns and steel beams that supported a typically Ibizan ‘sabina beam’ roof, for example, were deemed solid even after all that time and were incorporated right into the new home’s design.
The home’s unique mix of industrial framing and rustic detailing provides a comforting and authentic feeling character and atmosphere that can be seen in countless places throughout the house. This contrast is how the guesthouse was afforded its name, which essentially translates to “industrial open living space on the field”.
Although they changed certain aspects of the inside, designers really strove to keep as much of the outside fo the building as unchanged as possible in order to stay true to the typical character of Ibizan architecture. Most materials used in the creation of new spaces and renovation of old ones were locally sourced whenever possible to keep things authentic.
Even some authentic building techniques that are typical of the local area were used. The walls, for example, are chalk and mud plastered stone. This contrasts beautifully with more modern elements like a powder coated steel around the windows and a custom raw steel kitchen.
In the original building, electricity, water, and sewage systems were not present, so these were all added new upon redesign in order to make sure the new building has all the amenities of a contemporary home. Now, the water coming into the house comes from a private well. Much of the electricity, on the other hand, is sourced by solar panels that also contribute to water and floor heating.
The beauty of these new systems is that they were installed in efficient ways that make the house independent of the main grid like houses in cities would be attached too. This makes the house not only low impact on the environment, but also a lot more sustainable and self powering.
Working within the directions that were already already established by the building’s original floor plan, designers aimed to harness as much of the stunning view afforded by how the building is situated as possible. part of their efforts culminated in the building of a big, stunning private terrace where the sun hits and spills into the main living space.
In contrast to this, the bedrooms are situated in the north side corner of the building in order to keep hem as dark and cool as possible, since the local weather is so bright and hot year round. The bedrooms become a relaxing, cool escape. In the dining room, however, light is allowed to spill in to its full capability thanks to a skylight that sits level with an upper loft.
In the bathroom, guests are usually thrilled to find a a freestanding stone bath with low windows that preserve one’s privacy while still providing a breathtaking view of the nature surrounding the house while bathing. The bath is also cozily close to a fireplace. on the floor, the bathroom features a herringbone pattern constructed in terra cotta tiles, which is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Spanish floor designs.
In the loft, comfortability and modern living are prioritized explicitly. At the same time, local materiality that provides a serene, almost rustic atmosphere is found throughout every room right down to the beds. This, combined with the presence of art pieces created by local artists, fills the house with character. The effect is the contrast of old and new, light and dark, and so on.
As if the atmosphere of the whole house has been building up to it, visitors can climb to the highest point in the house and discover that the roof actually features its own yoga platform! Between that, the stunning pool below, and the yard’s many fruit trees, accompanied by a whole vegetable garden, the whole place bears the air of a small paradise.
Photos by On a Hazy Morning
Colonial style De La Huella House created almost entirely from recycled materials by NBBO Arquitectos
By Courtney • May 6, 2019
In the neighbourhood of Parque Leloir, deep in the city of Udaondo, Argentina, innovative designers at NBBO Arquitectos have finished the De La Huella House, an updating project that involved creating a stunning new colonial style house from the recycled parts of an older home that previously stood in its place.
The new home sits on a large expanse of land that was recently declared to be ecologically protected by the local environmental authorities. The vegetation in this part of the city is valuable to the area’s plant life ecosystems and efforts are being made to preserve it. This meant that designers were tasked with taking its protection into consideration wherever possible within the renovation process of this house.
On the ground floor of the well contrasted, stacked style house, visitors encounter a living room, dining space, and kitchen not far from the door and spacious entryway. Just beyond that sits a large games room designed for more active friend and family bonding than the cozier interactions one might have on the living room couch.
The first floor is also home to a generous guest bedroom, a laundry room, and even the home’s own art gallery! Two bathrooms are available on this floor as well for convenience, since it is quite spacious. The aesthetic in these spaces is a mixture of smooth wooden facades and furniture with white base features and shining marble floors, all appearing quite sophisticated in combination.
On its upper floor, which sits slightly higher than the average home measures, this house boasts a stunning master bedroom with an expanded closet and its own en suite bathroom. There are three other bedrooms for the family’s children down the hall, a full sized shared bathroom for the kids, and a work study space that’s fully equipped for home office use.
Although this house has been changed and built upon, designers set one main goal right from the outset: to preserve as much of the original house as possible in their updates. Besides the removal of unnecessary walls to open up and expand some interior spaces, the only larger structural changes that took place involved adding more windows in order to increase the home’s view of the stunning preservation park just beyond its plot borders.
These windows can be seen in the primary living space, which is now wonderfully open and double height thanks to the removal of an unnecessary central slab that closed its ceiling off originally but served little other structural purpose. Now, there is plenty of room for tall indoor plants to adorn the ground floor while light and air circulation spill through the floor to ceiling glazed walls in the summertime.
Besides the white and wood finishes, a series of light colours have been chosen as accents and pops in the living spaces throughout the house. These were chosen carefully to work with the natural sunlight and give clarity to the spaces they’re present in. The stairway, which acts like a transitionary space between house functions, is the only place clad in a wood that’s slightly darker, making it feel like a sort of central anchor within the home’s interior.
Things are kept as light looking as possible on the outside of the house as well, despite the fact that blending the new pieces added on like extensions was a high priority. Designers chose to add unique character and increase a sense of lightness around the new upper volume by cladding it entirely in sheet metal that glints prettily in the sun.
One of the more practical changes that took place within the house is the adjustment of heating and cooling capabilities to updated, more eco-friendly systems than were available when the original house was first built. Now, the house is much more sustainable and features thermal insulation that works to reduce energy consumption while heating and cooling the house.
Photos by Javier Agustin Rojas
Concrete Bielmann House created by Rob Dubois as a modernist, sunny getaway with incredible unobstructed views
By Courtney • May 3, 2019
The Casa Bielmann, or the Bielmann House, is a iconic look single family dwelling located in Santa Maria de Palautordera, Spain. Visually, it catches attention from passersby on the street for its uniquely blended materiality that makes it look, all at once, both solid and light or limitless.
This innovatively built house sits on a sloping land plot of about 700 square metres not far from the city borders of Barcelona. It boats two above ground floors and a large basement, as well as a sunny outdoor pool on its south side. From the outside, the ground floor makes the upper volume appear almost as though it’s floating thanks to the completely glass walls surrounding it.
These walls are partially for impressive aesthetic, but they also bear several functional purposes as well. Besides just providing views that are practically unparalleled for their lack of limit and obstruction even from inside the house, the floor to ceiling glazed glass windows that stand in place of traditional walls help keep the house lit in a more efficient way as sunlight pours into every corner.
The glass walls of the home’s ground floor also contribute to its eco-friendly heating and cooling systems. The house is built with systems that are passive and self sufficient, saving owners money and creating less waste or energy use as a result of running the house like a functional family home year round.
The views that we’ve spoken so highly of surrounding this house are both near and far. In the distance, a clear view of the Montseny can be appreciated from almost anywhere in the house thanks to the way the ground floor’s perimeter feels limitless. Closer to home, the plot’s own garden right outside the windows gives the place a feeling of serenity and green tranquility.
The fully windowed volume of the house is actually record setting in its beauty and construction; to the designers’ knowledge, it was the house to possess the most possible glass surfacing in a facade of any house documented and recorded at the time that it was finished. This is part of what makes it so impressive! The fact that it makes the living spaces feel spacious and nearly boundery-less certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Continuing that sense of extreme spaciousness despite the house not being one that physically sprawls is the double height section of the main living room. This space faces the home’s own garden, extending up past the higher floor of the house for a certain width. The ceiling, like a concrete overhang that makes space for the upper rooms to sit on, provides inner spaces that have a little more shade and privacy, in case one prefers a quieter, cozy spots away from bright, open windows.
The higher floor of the house, which sits on this shading interior concrete we’ve just described, is home to the more private and intimate areas of the home. This is where the master suite and bathroom, as well as guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom, all sit. This level of the house is encased in a layer of concrete similar to that on which it sits.
Like the interior concrete, this layer has a functional purpose on top of being a decorative facade for the building’s exterior. The way the top floor is folded over into the same material actually protects the inner area from the summer heat. This is bolstered by overhangs at the edges of the building that protect the windows from getting too much heat as well, despite still letting all the light the interior could possibly want in.
Inside the house, in its actual construction, designers built a geothermal energy system and heat pump under the floors, behind the stunning minimalist furnishings and decor schemes that feature neutral tones and pops of red and blue hues. These systems heat the house thoroughly from the ground up in the winter time and keep it passively cool in the summer.
All the while subtle solar panels installed on the roof keep the house powered with electricity in a way that is low impact on the surrounding environment. This also gives the house an electric network that is independent from its municipal power grid. Besides providing electricity, the roof also collects rain water. This is collected in a tank that is buried in the garden and used for irrigation there.
Photos by Jordi Miralles
On the Northern slope of a lake in Rinihue, Chile, is the recently finished House MP of Rinihue Lake, designed and created by Del Campo – Labbe. This house sits on a remote road that starts right at the mouth of the San Pedro River. The house bears a stunningly wooden interior that contrasts well with its darker metal facade.
Building a house on this particular plot of land was desirable because of its beauty but challenging for several reasons. The first was that the best view the land provides is to the south but the best light pours in from the north, making angles and window placements require special consideration.
The second challenge the plot presented comes in the form of its sizeable slope. Where the land slopes downward, it also features two incredibly large and extremely old oak trees. Designers chose to respect this space as much as possible, avoiding building too close to it by marking it out specifically as a place for outdoor activities and relaxation.
In addition to these special considerations related to the land, designers wanted to take the owners’ priorities into account throughout their whole process planning process as well. The owners made it known from the beginning that they wanted to designate equal space in their home’s interior for hosting guests (the public and common spaces) and for enjoying time to themselves (the private spaces).
The intention here was to give themselves a home that feels equally social and serene, with free connection between the two spaces but also enough delineation that a true sense of collective or relaxation can be achieved whenever it’s needed. The house spans 160 square metres with the private areas raised slightly, accessible by stairs both inside and outside.
From those outdoor staircases to the private spaces, owners can also access a stunning outdoor space that gives them a lovely view of greenery surrounding the house and its land. This space is a sort of covered patio that is created entirely from the same smoothed wood that the floor, walls, and most of the furnishings and surfaces are also made from.
This patio, like the house at large, is clad in dark metal on its outside, like it’s been fully wrapped in something almost protective. This overhang structure gives the patio seats a comfortable shade that can still be reached by the warmth and breeze on a pleasant summer day.
The outer stairs that don’t lead to outdoor patio spaces like the one we’ve described or outer access doors for the private space lead to the parts of the land near the ground floor that are level, making the slope easier to climb so that the leisure space near the trees can be accessed more safely.
Overall, the house is decorated in a way that’s intended to emanate warmth. This is perfectly depicted in the main living room, where mid-century inspired seating is covered in throw pillows and faux furs, surrounding my smooth wood, and situated perfectly for socializing, all centred around a fantastically rustic influenced but modernly shaped wood burning stove.
Photos by Francisco Delpiano
1960s social housing project Virginia House reinvented by 2712 asociados to mirror the neighbourhood’s economic growth
By Courtney • Apr 26, 2019
Located in Vitacura, Chile, the Virginia House update was recently completed by 271 asociados to ensure that the structure, which has stood in the neighbourhood since the 1960s, keeps up with the impressive economic growth of its surrounding area.
Standing proud in a social housing neighbourhood, the building was originally constructed using prefabricated panels of concrete and saddle roofs featuring large wooden trusses. Since it was build, however, the area of the city it calls home as undergone continuous change for the better, leaving Virginia House as one of the only dwellings left in its original condition.
Upon decided to update the space, contractors carefully considered how they might expand Virginia House. They opted a horizontal expansion that adjoins the eastern and western edges of the building’s plot, and then moved on to plans for a vertical expansion. The latter part they chose to do in light steel to avoid adding more heavy wood and concrete to the already extremely solid aesthetic of the structure.
Despite their desire to expand, design teams also made explicit efforts to maintain space in the front and back of the newly updated structure. This gives dwellers simple access to parking on the back side of the building and makes room for a wide, stunning garden around the other side, offsetting the heavy city look that was there previously.
Inside the building, interior rooms were redesigned holding feelings of expansiveness and access to natural light as the utmost important priorities. Part of this open concept aspect is achieved through the way double story vertical spaces are included in the main social rooms, connecting the two levels of the house visually. A light, open step staircase connects the two floors physically, with light wood keeping colour schemes just as airy as the atmosphere the stairs are situated in.
The besides opening up the main social spaces for more natural lighting from large surrounding windows, the empty vertical space we’ve described also helps communicate the different volumes of the house to visitors. It articulates the rooms of the first floor, presenting them in a nice, blended way that gives dwellers free movement while also setting the upstairs rooms off to one side above, giving them an increased sense of privacy or intimacy.
Throughout the entire house, materials have been chosen and blended together strategically to give a good variance or texture within a relatively neutral but pleasantly friendly colour scheme. Light woods used in surfaces and panelling contrast well with black steel braces and frames, while bright yellow doors throughout the whole space give things a personality-filled pop of colour.
Besides being cheerful and sunny, the house’s update is also energy efficient. Windows are featured liberally, but only towards the north side, whereas the west side of the house is more closed off. This enables good passive heat control and works in partnership with strategically placed ventilators that help regulate the temperature based on where the sunlight falls most.
Speaking of energy efficiency, even the wooden cladding you see on the home’s exterior is actually a ventilated wall system! It both gives the home an elegant outer finish and stops loss of heat from the home’s exterior on colder days. The overall effect is cost effective and quite sophisticated looking.
In short, the updated house communicates much more cohesively with its surrounding neighbourhood visually than it did before the designers’ intervention, providing dwellers with a space that’s both sustainable and fitting of its immediate urban context!
Photos by Pablo Casals Aguirre
Angular House GM in Chile designed by EXTCO to work with the local topography, instead of against it
By Courtney • Apr 24, 2019
In the rolling rural area of Puerto Varas, Chile, the stunning House GM, which is just as angular and decorative as it is solid and comfortable, was recently completed by cutting edge design teams at EXTCO.
Technically, the area that the house actually sits in is part of a city. Because it sits on the outskirts, however, the atmosphere is a little more rural and country inspired, which is part of the reason for the home’s unique shape and foundation. The land rolls and dips in several places but designers wanted to build something that interrupted the natural habitats there as little as possible, so they chose a structure that works with the landscape instead of digging into it.
The shape and materiality of House GM was also chosen in part to account for the fact that it is located in an area know for being quite rainy and humid in terms of climate for most of the year. This particular spot also typically experiences high winds, so there was quite a large need for a solid foundation and strong material choices. Making these decisions as also influenced by the fact that the project had a relatively low budget and required cost efficient choices wherever possible.
To keep the house level across uneven land, it was built raised slightly on stilts, like a wooden deck but all throughout. In some places the stilts are very short and the house sits low to the ground, while in others it looks as though it is raised very high up. This keeps the interior floors and the deck space surrounding the outside of the exterior even for walking on and furnishing, while letting the land slope below the only available spot to fit an entire house relatively uninterrupted.
In this way, the structure of the house provides quite a lot of visual appeal without even really trying to be decorative. So does the way floor to ceiling windows are featured in each end of the house to keep it well and naturally lit with sunlight, but decks and those same windows are simultaneously shaded from wind and rain by large alcove style overhands in the peaked roof.
The way the roof itself peaks upward, standing so tall in its solid frame made of reclaimed local wood throughout the interior and exterior, is more than just nice to look at; it’s also an homage to the typical architectural style of the area. Designers added a few extra, super fun touches to the outside to make it stand out, though. For example, a kids’ slide hooks to the edge of the deck at one end, letting dwellers slid down from the raised portion of the house rather than just using the stairs. These neat, modern details create a cool contrast with the seemingly rural wooden style and cultural shape of the rest of the house.
Because the house was built for a busy young family, the layout of its interior was pegged as needing free flow and open spaces that are good for moving between rooms, communicating, and bonding. The light shades (primarily white and light, natural wooden colours) of the interior decor scheme contrast well with the darker wood of the facade outside, making the rooms feel like and airy in combination with those lovely big windows we mentioned earlier. This helps the atmosphere stay cheerful during long, grey days of rain during certain seasons.
At the same time as the light interior benefits the family, the dark exterior does as well! In certain places, black plates have been place to absorb as much heat as possible from the day’s sunlight in order to keep the house’s temperature regulated as well as possible, making the house more green and less reliant on mechanical heating and cooling systems.
In the event that a chilly day means the black insulation plates aren’t enough, the family can gather around the central wood burning stove that sits in the middle of the primary social space. Besides looking fantastically decorative in a sort of locally rustic way (you might notice the lumber piled on the deck to keep the stove running adding a particular character to the outdoor space as well), this piece also heats the inside from the centre outward whenever necessary.
Photos by Marcos Zegers
By Courtney • Apr 19, 2019
On a quiet, rural street in Belgium, STAARC ingenieurs en architecten has completed a unique housing project that was designed to give a young family lots of space despite their limited land plot by using open concepts and working vertically!
Besides concentrating on providing the owners and their kids with open but cozy spaces, designers also aimed to build them a house that is affordable up front thanks to materiality, but also affordable down the road thanks to energy efficiency. Careful plans were laid and that precise goal was achieved, much to everyone’s delight!
Because the area of land that was most suitable to build the house on within the family’s plot was quite small, it was paramount that designers work carefully with the space they did have to make something quite space efficient and compact. To make this happen, they created a dynamic structure that feels spacious thanks to its open concept but that also takes up a small square footage thanks to the way it grows vertically rather than sprawling wide.
This open concept layout does more than just help the space seem a little bigger and free flowing! Lack of solid barriers between rooms and spaces means that airflow is simpler, which in turn means that the entire house is easier and more affordable to heat in the winter and cool in the summer. Besides that, it means all rooms have lovely views out the windows, which can be seen from basically anywhere in the house!
The primary technique for making the house feel open and breathable was to build all of the private rooms around a central open space that extends from the ground floor all the way upwards to the very top ceiling above the second floor. Close rooms like washrooms and bedrooms are arranged around the outside of this open space like a border, so no privacy is lost despite the fact that so much open social and bonding space exists.
To achieve this wide open structure in the centre but still build a vertically extending house, split levels were employed! This breaks down traditional boundaries between different rooms and floors and lets sunlight and sound use space that might otherwise be unnecessarily filled or wasted. The act of climbing the ladder-like stairs and walking the ramp from one split level of the upstairs space to the other, passing the empty area in between, feels almost like you’re in a treehouse!
Within this very open house, there’s actually quite a careful system of insulation in place to make sure it’s not actually left open to the elements of the seasonal weather. A great deal of attention was paid to air sealing and air tightness, particularly where things like the sprawling windows we just described were installed. An air-to-water heat pump also provides floor heating, while solar panels on the roof put the cherry on top of the energy efficient cake.
You’ll notice an emphasis on natural materials the moment you walk through the door; this comes partially in the form of light wooden details and is partially created by the concrete floors that give things an ever so slight industrial feel without sacrificing a homey atmosphere.
Outside, a red brick exterior provides character similar to that of a farmhouse of one of the traditional cottages of the area, but with a heightened, modern twist. Red isn’t the only colour pop the house is afforded; bright green tiles, fittings, and details can be found throughout the home in all different rooms, from the ground floor to the upper bathroom. This creates a consistent theme and ties the different rooms together in a way that feels cohesive.
Photos by Bam Track
Publishing house IMQ Editorial created by KLM Arquitectos reflects its multifaceted neighbourhood and diverse urban setting
By Courtney • Apr 17, 2019
In the city centre of Buenos Aires, Argentina, innovative design teams at KLM Arquitectos have recently renovated the publishing house IMQ Editorial, giving it a modernized feel much more suited to its urban location and diverse neighbourhood.
Though wildly successful, this publishing house is small and specialized. It primarily publishes kids’ books that have some kind of scientific content! The functional needs of the company are quite simple, which worked well with the slight limitations of small urban office spaces typical to the area. Besides a reception area and some small offices, the company also needed a reading area, a kitchen, some meeting rooms, and an accessible terrace for staff and industry client use.
The update for the publishing house was a long time coming but was perfectly timed, as the mixed-use neighbourhood it currently sits in has hit a period of transformation and change. The streets surrounding it are home to light industrial warehouses, diverse housing types, commercial spaces, and even some mechanical repair shops.
On the exterior, the building is a concrete cube that has been hollowed out to provide the publishing space on the inside. Rather than looking cold, however, the light concrete picks up the sun and looks stylishly industrial. It stands quite high, which designers took full advantage of on the inside, organizing offices and workspaces between three separate floors.
To keep things bright and feeling airy, an empty column of space extends up the centre of the entire building, with the offices placed around it like a border on each floor. This space spans from the ground floor all the way up to the ceiling, with a staircase winding upwards in the same fashion from floor to floor as well. The cubic shape you see on the outside is preserved here.
On the inside, the decor scheme doesn’t have much relationship with the streetscape outside its walls. That’s okay, though, because the effect is a transformational one! Rather than seeing urban textures and styles reflected in the interiors, you experience a shift into light woods, white surfaces, shining glass, and natural light bathing all of it thoroughly. The effect is comforting and quite playful, particularly in contrast to the slightly more stern exterior facade.
The very materiality of the interior decor scheme creates contrast with the bustling city outside the building’s doors as well! Nearly all materials you’ll find inside are very natural (and were even sourced and reclaimed locally), so the atmosphere inside contrasts well with the industrial street life just a few feet away on the sidewalk.
Photos by Javier Agustin Rojas
Distinguished new private law firm offices completed by Studio Thelma Epstein in Sao Paulo for a practice that values sophistication
By Courtney • Apr 12, 2019
In the downtown corporate area of Sao Paulo, Brazil, highly respected and innovated design and architectural teams at Studio Thelma Epstein recently completed a high-end private space for a notable law firm. This office space provides more than just an effective working environment for its employees; it’s also a fantastic example of places that provide an experience of sophisticated professionalism to its clients and cohorts as well.
This office had a head start in its pomp and circumstance because it’s actually located in one of the most distinguished corporate buildings in the whole city of Sao Paulo. The designers and client alike, however, aimed to make this particular space stand out compared to the other stunning offices around it rather than just relying on the default sophistication that the space already provided.
This goal was achieved by elaborating on the distinguished details that already existed, resulting in an atmosphere and aesthetic that looks high end and contemporary but also sober and serious, as though you can sense immediately upon walking through the door that expectations and standards in this place are high. This aligns perfectly with the values and reputation of the law firm itself.
Visual esteem wasn’t the only goal in building these magnificent offices. They also needed to provide employees with everything they need day to day amidst the glamour. This priority accounts for the spacious social and meeting rooms, the high windows allowing for lots of natural light, the quiet private office spaces, and the unique lighting fixtures that add a particular luminosity to the space in partnership with the windows.
Overall, the effect here was to created a fully functional, hardworking office that has a generalized sense of refinement in the subtle details so as to almost look slightly understated. What you might not notice just by looking at the office is that the space is also a highly developed tech project. The entire workspace, for example, features automation which controls efficient, energy saving heating and cooling systems, controls al LED lights, connects and enables video conferencing capabilities, and runs network devices. The goal here was to make things as user friendly but high tech and efficient as possible and the setup is actually quite cutting edge.
In the entryway of the office, stunning wooden side panels that perfectly frame natural and artificial light in one place and let it spill into the hallway entices visitor attention immediately. Natural stone adds a luxurious touch in the floor and around the bases of the walls and leading up to the walnut and marble reception desk, with state of the art inlaid lighting glowing along the whole walk from the elevators.
That same walnut element that keeps things looking a little bit understated in a calm, classy way continues into the main office space, where it can be noted in the details of the meeting rooms, CEO offices, and lounge areas. Glass partitions between these spaces allow light to flow and spaces to feel open even in a context where privacy and quiet work spaces are often necessary.
Despite the clear concentration on efficient and high class workspaces, there is an emphasis on break and social time as well. There is, for example, a coffee break balcony near the full functional kitchen that employees and visitors alike are encouraged to use for some entertainment and relaxation to keep them concentrated well and feeling good during the workday.
Even the bathrooms in this office bear a strong sense of sophistication and subtle high end drama. In fact, a client once compared them to those one might find in a designer boutique hotel! The monochromatic palette that adorns the rest of the space continues into this private area, creating a sense of cohesion.
Photos by Filippo Bamberghi
Design teams at Debaixo do Bloco create a stunning art gallery in Sao Paulo entirely from neat concrete blocks
By Courtney • Apr 3, 2019
In the midst of busy city life in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the breathtakingly serene and beautiful Concrete Block Art Gallery was recently completed by Debaixo do Bloco to provide visitors with a calming space in which to enjoy art, greenery, and literature in peace.
The building in which the gallery is housed occupies a surprisingly narrow plot for how much wonder it features inside. The whole space where the structure was built is only 13 metres long and 4.5 metres wide. The concrete of its facade creates a sense of communication between the gallery and its urban street setting but its texture also makes it stand out rather than blending entirely.
This is because of the stunning precast concrete that makes up the building’s exterior detailing. A sort of textured geometric stacking pattern results, framed perfectly on all sides and up top (where a beautiful rooftop garden sits) by luscious greenery, which balances the concrete in a truly beautiful way.
Originally tasked with the challenge of create a new space for the gallery, which was being moved from another location at the time, designers aimed to make the fresh spot look like the pieces are being displayed comfortably in someone’s home. This is part of the reason they decided to split the art between two main levels and include lots of seating from which people can appreciate the works.
Besides the two main floors, the new gallery also features the rooftop garden terrace we mentioned before, a free space that gets diverse use, a bathroom with its own miniature indoor-outdoor garden, and an office that might be turned into a cafe sometime in the future.
Starting where the awesomely geometric concrete facade ends, the building is clad with cobogos. These are a type of structure concrete wall with beautifully shaped cut outs that give a space a bit of privacy and delineation in their decorative standing without making it feel cut off from the outside world. This lets sunlight into the gallery in a way that is actually quite reminiscient of the local architecture.
Insides, a staircase leads up the centre of the gallery from the ground floor to the second. These stairs are made with plaques supported by a central beam. At the top of the staircase, the beam serves as a spot for displaying additional artwork amidst its cheerful yellow screen feature.
Throughout the whole space, large windows let natural light perfectly highlight the art hung carefully on almost every inch of the walls. These windows also establish a stunning sense of communication between the peaceful interior and the city street outside. Around both floors, visitors experience a strongly established colour scheme made primarily of yellow, grey, and black.
This colour scheme stretches from the ground floor all the way up to the stunning terrace at the top, broken only by the green of the luscious plants all around and the colours in the paintings. Those paintings and frames themselves are hung with extreme care; they’re suspended on chains rather than hooks or nails so they can be displayed at all different heights without damaging the art or the walls.
Photos by Joana França
Portugal’s GR House designed and created by Paulo Martins Arq&Design to embrace irregular geometry in architecture
By Courtney • Mar 26, 2019
If ever a piece of residential architecture could be described as a feat of design despite its constraints, that would most certainly apply to the way Paulo Martins Arq&Design conceptualized and created the unique and modern GR House.
Nestled into the unique terrain of Sever do Vouga, Portugal, the plot presented limitations to the design team before they’d even started planning the house. The space it sits on now, you see, is filled with dips, juts, and crags, giving the team a very irregular space and difficult geometric surface to work with indeed.
Between the fact that designers knew they’d have to get creative with their techniques and the reality that most buildings in the surrounding area held little architectural value in terms of design, the team decided to fully embrace the whole concept and create a home with a shape and aesthetic just as irregular and uniquely lined as the land it sits on!
This is how the exterior of the house became the modern material clad, angular structure you see today. Its lines and volumes vary widely, angling in certain placing and remaining straight on in others. The structure is primarily made of concrete and strong, locally sourced wood, giving it a solid foundation that helps it grip into the uneven terrain upon which it sits.
The nature of the location isn’t all difficult things! There’s nothing negative at all about that view, which designers made sure to situate the house towards so that every room (each of which is rich in windows and glass walls) gets the full impact of the scenery surrounding the outer edge of the plot, where it gets the most irregular.
Because the house is already such a visual in and of itself, designers chose to keep the colour scheme, both inside and out, rather neutral and calm. It’s heavy in light greys, pristine whites, and the occasional solid black detail for grounding. This is consistent from the exterior and its prevalence of concrete right down to the chairs chosen to adorn the inside social spaces.
To take advantage of the view and the fact that the house sits high on an escarpment, designers chose to include a high number of not just windows but also ceiling skylights. This lets natural sunlight hit just about every corner of the house, keeping it bright and comfortable despite all of the straight lines, harsh angles, and discreet colour palettes.
Besides its shape, one particularly unique feature of the house is that it uses primarily ramps where a more typical house might use stairs. Although this was not specifically intended for accessibility purposes, it certainly makes the house more mobility friendly for those who find stairs difficult or cannot use them.
In reality, this was partially to create a space that feels like it slowly transitions in a smooth way from one room to the other, counteracting the harsh, bumpy terrain it was built on and evening out those dips and drops in the land. No privacy is sacrificed in the way the house works on an open concept layout but the ramps certainly help with conversational and movement flow.
Photos by ITS – Ivo Tavares Studio
Mały domek 29, or Swedish “Small House”, created by HusmanHagberg, is a stunning example of cozy living
By Courtney • Mar 13, 2019
In the heart of bustling Stockholm in Sweden, the darling house called Mały Domek 29 was recently refurbished by creative design teams at HusmanHagberg. In English, the home’s name means “Small House” and that’s an incredibly apt description! Even so, this adorable little home is by no means too small to be a pleasant dwelling that offers everything a person needs. The spaces are simply a little cozier than those you might encounter elsewhere!
Upon entering, you’ll find a lovely little living space that is both warmed and decorated by a central heating stove. This is covered in clean porcelain tiles with ornate hand painted detailing near the top. To the right, you’ll find a small, casual seating area and directly across from that is a small, wood finished kitchen that features a surprisingly high number of cupboards for such a small space, meaning it’s easy to keep organized.
Across from the entrance, the master bedroom comprises most of the rest of the house on the ground floor, prioritized as the next important space to that where guests will be hosted. This space has a sense of rustic chic like the rest of the house but with a neat and tidy woodland feel. The master bathroom sits off to the side of the bedroom, tiled in clean white that suits the walls elsewhere and creates cohesiveness.
On the upper floor, you’ll find a relaxing work and entertainment space. On one side, a computer desk creates a bit of a home office area but the space is versatile. It feels quite large, as it spans the square footage of the whole bottom floor, so a secondary sofa, a spare day bed, and a reading corner all fit comfortably in the different corners of the room. The sloped roof that is so characteristic of smaller cottage living adds personality rather than making the room feel limited.
On the outside, the cottage is nothing short of classic and adorable. Its warm red facade stands out against the often wintery landscape surrounding it, looking like a bright, cheerful spot against the white backdrop of snow.
Photos courtesy of the designer.
By Courtney • Mar 7, 2019
When remodeling this home, an attempt was made to preserve the most important aspects of the old construction, and so respect the wishes of the homeowners.
Miguel de la Torre Arquitectos was in charge of the remodeling in the year 2016. The property is located in Colonia San Angel, a neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico.
In its exterior, walls of stone and concrete mix with the green of the gardens that surround the home. The home has large terraces from where we can enjoy time spent alongside nature, as well as large glass doors through which light seeps into the interior.
A beautiful main entrance area welcomes us with a decorative touch of the style of the area. The foyer is characterized by its rustic stone floors, concrete walls, wooden beams that protrude from the ceiling, and decorated floor tiles that give a unique feel to the space.
The modern minimalist kitchen, where wooden floors and exposed brick walls create a wonderful contrast between the modern and the rustic, is a space full of light and good taste.
In the simple and comfortable living room, the real protagonist is the fireplace, set between concrete walls.
In a common space are the living room, dining room, and the kitchen.
By Courtney • Feb 21, 2019
Occupying a spacious plot in the midst of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a stunning dwelling called MMS House was recently completed by Pascali Semerdjian Arquitetos to harness the beauty of texture and shape, all in one unique place.
First, designers decided they wanted to use the house as an opportunity to blend reinforced concrete with the shine of metallic structures. Because they were working on a time constraint, however, this basic theme soon also became the overall decor scheme and materials plan as well! Rather than meticulously planning out a firm and cohesive aesthetic, teams and owners opted to let loose, get creative, and blend shapes and finishes in ways that catch the eye and make people feel at home but also interested.
The house is divided into four floors that make functional sense from bottom to top, like you’re going on a journey as you move from space to space. While the basement level acts as a sort of service sector, bearing storage, laundry, and so on, the ground floor and top floor are reserved for social and communal spaces (family based on the top and hosting based on the ground). This saves the third floor, sandwiched comfortably in the middle of the house, for private sector areas like bedrooms and bathroom suites.
Throughout the house, you’ll find several entertainment rooms, both interior and exterior. Stylishly weather bricks serve as a border for a rooftop patio while nearly retro looking metal furniture adorns a ground floor patio that kitchen and living spaces can be opened right onto thanks to a retracting glass wall. The presence of glass in large windows and balcony or patio doors is also a running theme, keeping the house bright and cheerful no matter what floor you’re occupying at any given time.
The eclectic nature of the tropical garden in the backyard does more than just provide tranquility and privacy; it actually inspired the eclectic nature of the inside decor scheme too. Wood, stone, metal, textured fabrics, and bright, shapely art adorn each room, particularly in the common and social spaces, giving the whole place a sense of modern style without tying it down to a particular discernible theme. There is a sense of fluidity rather than strict uniform.
Although there’s a huge present of colour inside the home’s walls, the actual facade of the structure itself is quite neutral and pleasantly subtle. This is a positive thing because it blends the building into its tree and garden laden surroundings quite well, making the whole plot feel cohesive and sensical rather than looking as though a city house has simply been plopped in the miffle of a green glade.
Photos by Ricardo Bassetti
By Courtney • Feb 15, 2019
Amidst the hustle and bustle of busy Chicago streets stands a new townhouse with a modern and yet reclaimed aesthetic. Thanks to impressive thinking and insight from moss Design, Cortez Street House stands high, providing new clients a place to both run their shop and live comfortably with their family, each in healthy balance.
The building that the house sits in now was originally a slightly out-of-place two story masonry building nestled amongst more traditional looking family homes. Because it was already a structure that possessed its own shop space on the ground floor, it made the perfect site for this collaborating team for two reasons; first, because this is the kind of “odd” building that these architects specializing in giving a new lease on life to, and second because the new owners actually run a store and needed a new retail space of their own as well.
Most likely a butcher shop originally, the ground floor already boasted several features before renovation that designers decided to keep because they could prove useful for the new clients. These features included a large cooler that is now used for its intended purpose but also as a de facto divider between retail and living spaces. To maximize the large space afforded to the ground floor around the building, designers chose to add a cantilevered extension at the back where they established a beautiful master bedroom and bathroom. Sure, it’s on the same floor as the store, but creative layouts and space management help maintain a good work-life balance even so.
On its upper floor, the house features a second bedroom, a second bathroom, and a private outdoor deck. Extending all the way up from the ground floor, large windows provide lovely natural light. At the same time, the edges of the newly built extension serve more than one purpose. Firstly, they provide shade on days that might otherwise get a little too hot. Beyond that, they actually collect rain water for use in the garden!
If you think the rain collection edges are awesome, wait until you read what else these designers added. In order to make the house even more green and sustainable, the team actually built a Corten siding and VaproShield drainage system within the siding of the house’s exterior walls, allowing even more water collection and protecting the house from potentially damaging moisture build-up.
Besides enabling fantastic run-off and water collection, this kind of siding also bears a natural rust colour that complements the Chicago Common style brick of the main building fantastically. The aesthetic is at once stylishly weathered looking and more traditionally expired despite being brand new. The two materials in combination make the outside a focal point of natural looking materials and warm hues on the otherwise slightly industrial looking street.
As we mentioned, the new owners put the original retail space on the ground floor to great immediate use as their very own corner store. This hearkens back to a historical tradition in Chicago itself where corner stores were essential to neighbourhoods and owners did, in fact, live behind and above their stores. Now, locals appreciate a slightly modernized version of that tradition that has an authentic feel thanks to the way designers kept several original features in place in their renovation.
Photos by Carmen Troesser
By Courtney • Feb 13, 2019
In the heart of busy Padalarang, in Indonesia, a stunningly modern but extremely comfortable dwelling dubbed PJ House has been created the innovative by Rakata Studio to give owners all the amenities of contemporary life while also still providing the comfort and escape of a vacation home, no matter what day of the week it is.
Within this project, teams aimed to bring home the feeling of relaxation and vacation-level calm through the actual design of the home and not just its decor schemes. The home is located in a quiet exclusive residential area of Padalarang called Kota Baru Parahyangan, which assisted in the team’s ability to create an “escape” kind of feeling; sure, it’s in the heart of the city, but it’s still afforded a plot that feels a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of bust streets.
Harnessing the beauty of tropically influenced Indonesian living, PJ House is surrounded by nature and even features a small lake as the focal point of its backyard, removing the atmosphere of its grounds even further from its accessible city location. Designers purposely built the house so that a calming lake view was a huge priority.
Inside the house, however, modern decor makes the place look nothing short of glamorous and creates beautiful contrast with the natural features outside. At the same time, stone and marble textures and finishes throughout the home’s surfaces bring a touch of that natural theme right into the main living and social spaces as well.
While the shining white stone and marble serve to make things look neat, clean, and bright, contrasting wood finishes were chosen to create a warm and cozy feeling. A similar aesthetic contrast is created on the outside of the house regarding its shape and structure. The house is box-shaped with a flat roof, which makes it look modern, sleek, and simple, but it’s also surrounded by trees and nature, which seems cohesive thanks to the black outer details that ground it into its habitat.
Inside the house, a foyer greets visitors with illuminated artwork and a reflecting pool. Extending from there, a lovely courtyard garden, which features a vertical garden wall as a focal point, leads you simply from public to private areas of the house. Besides looking lovely, this garden also establishes a sort of private barrier between visual spaces in the house and the outside world.
The house’s structure itself is quite unique in its openness. In several places, the interior and exterior spaces are blended well by openings that lead out towards the larger garden and the swimming pool. Even the staircase is quite open concept; it’s a hanging style stair made of wood and marble, extending towards the family bedrooms.
The final point in the home’s openness is the sleek, clear, entirely glass walls that separate some spaces between inner and outer areas. Naturally, some delineation is required to create a sense of belonging, but designers still really wanted to avoid making the house feel closed off. This is why partitions between the living and dining rooms are made of pristine glass, extending all the way from floor to ceiling. As a result, these spaces feel larger, more open, and more in tune with the nature outside.
Photos by Mario Wibowo