San Lorenzo Residence represents two interlocking L-shaped forms to organize the house, designed by Mike Jacobs Architecture, located at the end of a canyon road in Los Angeles, California. The house responds to and engages its surrounding landscapes: an interior private garden to the south and the manicured fairways of a golf course to the north.
Following a careful zoning study, two interlocking “L-shaped” formally organize the house: the first “L-shape”, an open and transparent enclosure and veranda (steel/glass), incorporates the communal living spaces of garden, pool, living rooms and theater; the second “L-shape,” an opaque enclosure (stucco/cedar), holds the basic form of the house and incorporates the private bedrooms and service spaces.
A large open living space is central to the organization of the house. Pocket sliding doors open the south wall to the garden and north facing windows unfold to view the fairways create direct connections to the exterior. These large openings passively cool the house and draw fresh air deep into the residual spaces to naturally ventilate the home.
Social exchange is expressed by section. An elongated formal stair links the terraced living spaces to the exterior and connects to the theater below. A pair of secondary flanking stairs provide access from the residual private rooms and service areas. These multiple points-of-entry produce a constant interchange between the family unit.
Photos: Michael Wells
Jellyfish House is a four story property showcasing a cantilevered rooftop pool that has been designed by Wiel Arets Architects, located in Marbella, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The home’s neighboring buildings block its view onto the nearby sea, so appropriately it was chosen to cantilever the house’s pool from its roof, so that the beach and sea can always be seen while sunbathing or swimming. The 6,996 square foot (650 square meters) house is organized around two paths of circulation: a ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ set of stairs, which intertwine and traverse the house’s four levels of living.
The ‘fast’ stair leads from the exterior directly to the roof; it is enclosed in glass, which physically separates it from the house’s interior, yet it is simultaneously open to the exterior elements, so that sand is not brought into the house when returning from the beach. The ‘slow’ stair whose long treads and short risers lend it its name spans the entire length of the house, from ground floor main entry to roof; it is indoors yet also open to the exterior elements, further amplifying the house’s capacity for ‘interiority’.
The house’s rooftop pool is cantilevered 9 m southwest toward the Sierra Blanca mountain range in the distance–and weighs nearly 60,000 kg. Equipped with an infinity edge, its water merges with the sea in the distance. This pool has a glass-bottom floor and a panoramic window at its interior facing edge, both of which are 6 cm thick; the latter allows those in the kitchen to voyeuristically view those swimming, while a third window affords those in the kitchen a glimpse of the living room, whose terrace extends under the cantilevered pool.
The searing Spanish sun constantly filters through the pool’s glass wall and floor, creating ripples of iridescent turquoise reflections throughout the entire house. As such, the pool can be seen and experienced from nearly all areas of the house. Integrated within the pool is an underwater bench, which traces its length and also integrates a pool cover, so that it is out of sight when the pool is in use.
Five bedrooms are located throughout the house, with two guest bedrooms situated on the basement level that face outward and onto an extensive private terrace for the exclusive use of guests. As the ‘slow’ stair leads from the main entry to the guest bedrooms below, this area of the house is able to function as a separate entity. The kitchen is strung along the southern facade of the house’s first floor, with all secondary appliances built-into an adjacent and perpendicular hallway.
The house’s structure is composed of poured in place white-concrete, supported by one column at the right-rear edge of its pool, and several smaller columns near the rear-dining terrace. All non concrete walls were constructed with glazing, which allows sunlight to permeate the house. Multiple bedroom closets, whose obverse faces the ground floor hallway, are finished in translucent glazing to compound this sunlight diffusing strategy.
Oversized and accordion like folding panels of translucent glazing adjoin each dining or entertaining space, which, when opened, essentially expands the house’s numerous areas of living by nearly doubling their size.
The first floor is also the location of the sauna and steam bath. A small service elevator also allows, for instance, food and drink to be brought from the kitchen, or any other floor, up to the rooftop pool and terrace. This roof terrace features an oversized and custom designed concrete table with an adjoining bench, which is contiguous to an angular chair for reclining while sunbathing.
All of the house’s audio video equipment such as its countless Bose speakers are recessed into its ceilings and walls, which allows them to disappear within their context little noticed. Lighting illuminates all corridors and staircases, as well as underwater within the pool, ensuring the rippling effects of its reflections that shimmer through its glass floor and wall can also be experienced throughout the house at night.
Taking full advantage of the ever present Spanish sun, the Jellyfish House is an avant-garde expression of luxurious living; as most of its façades can be opened, and as its staircases are mainly outdoor, the house’s ever shifting boundaries between inside and outside are curiously blurred.
Photos: Jan Bitter
The Mirage House is a single level cavernous residence embedded into the hillside covered by an infinity rooftop pool, designed by Kois Associated Architects, located on the Greek island of Tinos. Designed to integrate into the steep sloped rocky terrain that makes up the island’s south-west coastline, the house was conceived as “an invisible oasis hidden from the unsuspected eyes” where residents can enjoy panoramic views overlooking the Aegean Sea. The rimless pool creates a visual effect of water extending to the horizon and merging the dwelling with the seascape. Additional materials are taken directly from the local landscape, so as to match the existing context.
The site offers protection from the prevailing winds and a natural plateau which from the beginning was identified as the optimal location for the residence as it would minimize the impact to the landscape due to excavation. It is a single-level structure and has a surface of 2,131 square feet (198 square meters). The location allows benefiting from wonderful and panoramic views of the landscape and seascape. Our approach to the program was Doric. Only the essential features and programmatic elements to sustain a comfortable stay were incorporated in the design.
Our goal was to integrate the building into the landscape like it was part of it.The living space is covered by a rimless pool that produces a visual effect of the water extending to the horizon, vanishing and merging with the seascape. From a distance especially if viewed from the path of approach, on a higher ground, the only visible feature of the house is the sea like surface of the pool. The water during the day reflects the surroundings and during the night, the star filled night sky. The mirroring pool of water carefully positioned on the landscape evokes memories of the optical phenomenon of the mirage from which the project was named.
The most of the visible construction materials were extracted from the vicinity and were used to make the house disappear into the scenery. Local techniques were also borrowed like the characteristic dry wall construction found in abundance in the island. This technique was implemented with minor modifications; on the side embankment walls in each side of the pool volume. The local materials have a low impact on the environment and they are very efficient as insulating materials. The rear walls are made of retained earth and have layers of vegetation that regulates the temperature and cools the environment through evaporation. The pool acting as roof provides thermal insulation and protection from solar radiation and heat transmittance.
We wanted to make a house fused with its surroundings, an invisible oasis hidden from the unsuspected eyes. The house is acts almost like an observation post as it clings to the rocks and oversees the dramatic cascading landscape. A landscape left almost intact due to the implemented design strategy and the careful selection of materials.
The team decided to bury part of the building in the landscape and then create a large open-air living room in front. These will all be sheltered beneath the rooftop pool, which will act as a huge mirror to help the building camouflage with its surroundings. Dry stone walls will surround sections of the interior and also frame the building’s entrance. These are designed to reference the traditional walls that can be spotted all over the scenic island landscape.
Photos: Courtesy of Kois Associated Architects
Long Brick House is a minimalist hillside home built on a budget and designed for book lovers by Földes & Co. Architects, located in Pilisborosjeno, Pest County, Hungary. This 1,483 square foot (137.8 square meters) home can be described as minimalist design meets everlasting intellectual values. The project was initiated by an intellectual couple who had a clear starting point, “we own a length of books something like 100 meters.” The owners of the site had found the best location to retire from work and the noise of Budapest in a rich natural environment, at the side of the Big-Proud Peak.
Pilisborosjeno, a town some 15 km to North Buda, stretches in between hills surrounded by villas that inhabit the Pilis hillside. The plot is approached from a chain of narrow and steep roads. When arriving at the gate, just the green canopy of trees that shade the site and a minimalist concrete parking lot are visible. Thanks to the sloping garden, the house is hidden behind this rich, welcoming flora and fauna which plays a crucial part of the aesthetic. The owners aim of saving and keeping as much of the original plants and trees as possible has paid dividends.
Taking into consideration the narrow and long shape of the building site, the way of the sun and the low budget programme, also the age of the couple who are to be retired soon, we advised them to realize a straightforward base plan, where the spaces are linked with a long corridor and public spaces face the panoramic view of the valley. At the same time, to avoid creating under-utilized space we discovered the great potential of the corridor concept. We turned this horizontal axis into a highly beneficial and unique element of the house, a 17 meter long wall of library.’ – remarked the architects, Laszlo Foldes and Peter Sonicz concerning the design concept.
As approaching the house, a closed brick wall surreptitiously peeps from behind the trees and a staircase down to the base where the sauna and a store room are located. Behind the brick wall, on the ground floor, a master bedroom and a bathroom are situated. If one follows the brick pavement they arrive at the main entrance on the Northeast side, viewing the middle point of the corridor which leads to the public zone on the left hand side and to the private on the right. The latter consists of the working room, bathroom and the bedroom with its own terrace providing a stunning view of the westerly aspect with sunset views over the rolling hills and beyond.
The inner spaces follow the prolapse of the building site therefore the level of the floor is made continuously deeper via few stairs, enlarging the height (first after leaving the private zone, than when entering the living room, and finally when reaching the garden from the living room’s terrace). This results a variety of spaces, enjoying each case higher ceilings and wider rooms, ending up with the limitless panorama of the terrace.
The giant bookshelf fulfills more functions than one might expect. Throughout its 17 meters the modular system architects designed opens up, enabling a window to perfectly fit in, and a window seat – thanks to the 50 cm deep walls. In the living room the shelves are united with the fireplace.
It was our general aim to assure the proper inner climate with architectural means rather than constructing huge machinery. The house has a 50 cm thick brick wall, meeting the heating technological standards and giving sufficient thermal inertia. The ceiling slab is made of wood and the empty, well ventilated attic behaves as a buffer zone optimizing the inner climate. The terrace of the living room plays an important role in the protection against rain or intense sunshine, while it is an extension of the living room as well as an intermediate space between in and out.
Location: Pilisborosjeno, Pest County, Hungary
Year: Design: 2012 • Completion: 2013
Area/Size: 137,8 m2
Cost: 115 000 EUR
Project by: Foldes Architects
Architects: Laszlo Foldes, Peter Sonicz
Structural engineering: Zoltan V. Nagy
Mechanical engineering: Attila Lucz
Electrical engineering: Judit Balazs
Text: Viktoria Szepvolgyi”
Photos: Levente Sirokai
Water Mill Houses is a family retreat comprised of a main house, pool house, guesthouse, bunkhouse, and garage, designed by 1100 Architect, located in Water Mill, New York. The compound is distributed across fifteen acres of wooded land with the main, or “glass,” house standing on the highest peak of the property, allowing for an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape and shoreline from the roof terrace. It functions as a sophisticated tree house, with a shielded bottom floor for sleeping and an open, transparent second floor for living. Set in separate corners of the property, both the glass-walled guesthouse and the pool house echo the main house’s underlying principle: open to light, hidden by trees. The bunkhouse, the latest addition to the complex, is a multi-use space that acts as a study and fitness area, as well as a second guesthouse.
The living spaces on the top floor are enclosed by glass walls that enable light and air to penetrate while a screen of trees provides privacy. In contrast, the facade of the first floor, which contains the more private spaces of the house, filters light and views through heavyweight fiberglass-screened panels.
The glass-plank floor of the internal court on the third floor doubles as a skylight for the space below.
Rugged materials – cast concrete and steel – are combined with teak planks and insect screening (for a sun shade canopy) to create a durable yet warm family environment.
The guesthouse in this residential compound was designed on the premise that well-detailed architecture can be created from the thoughtful use of off-the-shelf building products. Here, a basic aluminum storefront system was deployed to achieve a work of sublime simplicity and elegance at low cost.
As a couple became a family of four, the owners found that the original guesthouse with only a single bedroom could not accommodate their growing number of visitors. The bunkhouse, as its name indicates, is primarily a place for guests to bunk, or sleep. The house consists of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchen – the forest and nearby pool act as its living room.
A straightforward material palette of poured concrete, glass and wood was employed, creating continuity between the bunkhouse and the rest of the complex.
The bunkhouse echoes the landscape in its horizontality and respects it in its subtle form and placement. The bottom of its two stories is partially submerged in the sloping, forested terrain while the cantilevered upper story appears to be floating amidst the surrounding flora.
Photos: Peter Aaron / OTTO
Trahan Ranch is a stunning residential modern compound designed by Patrick Tighe Architecture, situated in the heart of hill country in Austin, Texas. The 3200 square foot residence is on a fourteen acre sloped site with native oaks, natural springs and unobstructed views. The layout of the house is a direct response to the site conditions.
The plan is organized to integrate and enhance the many features of the landscape. A panoramic view that spans 260 degrees is experienced as well as other more site specific orientations. The front of the house is made of heavy materials that rise from the earth. The building is nestled into the brow of the hill and have an unassuming appearance when seen from a distance.
The heavy, solid, grounded front is in sharp contrast to the more ephemeral back. At the down slope side of the house, the structure becomes lighter and opens to the landscape. Steel pipe columns splay at unsuspecting angles dancing along the rugged landscape.
The architecture explores a series of counterpoints including heavy and light, front and back, open and closed and contemporary and vernacular. The grounded front is composed of heavy materials rising from the earth in sharp contrast to the more ephemeral back. The structure rises and becomes lighter at the down-slope side of the house as it opens to the landscape. The main house is a contemporary interpretation of Texas Hill Country post-and-beam construction that exploits regional materials and the expertise of local trades-people. The spaces of the main house flow from one to the other without doors while the guest room appendage is a more traditional layout.
The environmentally mindful design includes a hydronically-heated concrete slab on grade. The concrete foundation and walls provide high thermal mass. Large overhangs and covered walkways offer protection from the sun and cross- ventilation is used. Natural materials are used throughout including concrete, steel, stone and metals.
Texas Hill Country limestone was chosen from the site to create the over-sized Rumford fireplace that is central to the living space. An arbor connects building components and functions as an armature for solar photovoltaic panels that provide power for the property. The landscape consists of regional drought- tolerant plants that are native to the area and the local ecosystem.
The steel frame structure is a kit of parts prefabricated in a shop and erected on-site. The steel pieces attach to a series of exposed board-formed reinforced concrete pylons that are a vertical extension of the foundation.
Photos: Art Gray Photography
Prospect House is a result of celebrating a stunning Seattle panorama while accommodating a modest budget and a family with two young children, designed by Janof Architecture. The 5,663 square foot house honors the owner’s desire for a domestic refuge while maximizing the experience of its location.
We began with the domestic, and planted two gabled, bearing-wall “houses” deep into the hillside. These contain rooms requiring enclosure, and they give the house the conventional street facade that the neighborhood deserves. The steel-framed “glass box” occupies the view facade and sews the houses together. These simple parts, simply combined, create complex social and spatial relationships within the house.
The budget required basic construction using off-the-shelf parts. Rigorous but un-precious detailing followed. The greatest technical effort went into the design of the two-story window wall: residential wood windows assembled as a true curtain wall. The 19-foot-high dining room was designed for extraordinary nighttime views of the city.
The kitchen is a warm and functional space that utilizes custom walnut cabinetry, stainless steel, and extra-thick calacatta marble.
The breakfast area adjacent to the kitchen has an eclectic feel and commanding views of the city. The mural was created by the owners specifically for the space.
The delightful powder room of this house gets its charm from custom wallpaper designed by the owners.
The master bedroom has a top-of-the-world view that is made cozy by the inclusion of a fireplace and subtly concealed lighting.
The elegant master bath features callacatta carrera marble and polished nickel fittings.
The home office has a spectacular view; light is further introduced by the small dormer window above the desk.
The energy efficiency of the house was designed around the passive use of its southern orientation, with high-performance glass, cross-ventilating windows, and precisely calculated overhangs making air conditioning unnecessary this summer. The winter sun will bring warmth deep into the house, and the industrial-size fan above the dining room is designed to slowly move air throughout the house.
Sustainability was a constant topic. While the house meets Energy Star rating, much thought went into what sustainability really means. There is no bravura use of natural resources. Structural elements are sized at their calculated minimums. Precious materials were used sparingly, often where they would be touched by the user, and salvaged material was valued for its patina.
Photos: Benjamin Benschneider
This 92 square foot SIP panel, modular, backyard office has been designed by Sett Studio, located in the backyard of a beautiful home in Austin, Texas. The materials used in this outdoor home office are Shou-Sugi-Ban wood siding and Monotread wall sheathing. Burned-wood or charred-wood siding, Shou-Sugi-Ban is Japanese wood treatment used in various elements throughout Sett’s – interior and exterior. Not only does it deliver an attractive aesthetic, the burning also weatherizes the wood, prevents bugs and rot, and has enhanced fire-resistance.
Our signature interior surface, Monotread is a durable, seamless, sustainable material used on floors, walls and ceilings. Milled from OSB (Oriented Strand Board), Monotread is produced from fast-growing, underutilized, inexpensive wood species grown in carefully managed forests. The combination of wood chips allows a unique, monolithic presentation allowing various applications. Durable, seamless and sustainable, Monotread is produced from fast growing, underutilized trash trees. Sett Studio manufactures and sells mono tread in house starting at 14.99 a square foot.
The Sett Studio office is more like a pre-fab house, with a “water and ice shield roof membrane” and Drywall walls and Monotred flooring. You can add upgrades like air conditioning and heat, a built-in desk, stainless steel metal shingles and even planter boxes. You can even add a deck. The company is also working on a solar-powered version.
Martis Camp 506 is nestled on a steep slope with phenomenal views of the Carson mountain range in Truckee, Nevada County, California, designed by Blaze Makoid Architecture. Martis Camp is a 2,200 acre multigenerational ski and golf club located between historic Truckee, California, and Lake Tahoe. Over 600 one to five acre single family lots are planned with small groups of lots being released at a time. This 6,000 square foot development project is sited on an acre of steeply sloping, wooded terrain, with phenomenal views of the Carson mountain range to the north and west. The placement and footprint of the house preserves the natural site features through minimal grading and tree removal.
Accessed from the lower part of the site, the house is a simple ‘L’, with the two wings linked by the double height glazed entry and stair hall, located at the intersection of the two geometries. A stone plinth mediates the steep pitch of the site creating both a cloistered parking court as well as a base on which the two story house rests. High stone retaining walls along the high point of the site combine with a dramatically cantilevered roof to provide extensive, sheltered outdoor patio space that includes outdoor cooking, dining and living areas.
These program elements surround the open plan great room that contains living, dining and kitchen. The den to the northwest projects out beyond the stone base, creating a secluded, glazed refuge and serves as a balance to the roof projection on the opposite side of the house.
Black stained cedar siding will allow for the house to blend with the landscape during the summer and fall and pose as a dramatic counterpoint to the snow cover through the winter months.
This speculative project is being produced in partnership with the developer and is planned for completion spring 2014.
Photos: Vance Fox Photography