Solis Residence is a breathtaking house set within its stunning natural surroundings on Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia, designed by Renato D’Ettorre Architects. The architect has carved into a steep edge of Hamilton Island, brilliantly sculpting three interlocking levels to frame extraordinary views of islands in the Whitsundays waters. The home is sculpted from concrete, stone, block work and glass resulting in a sequence of dramatic volumes incorporating airy living spaces and private sheltered outdoor zones. the building elements are intertwined with reflection ponds and a swimming pool, lending a sense of tranquility and sensuous tactility whilst providing casual, elegant outdoor living amid the beauty and serenity of the island.
From the architect: As a design practice, our aim is to create evocative architecture which satisfies the human need for textural and tactile experience. Solis on Hamilton Island draws inspiration from its magnificent location and Mediterranean coastal architecture: simple, permeable volumes opening and unfolding, capturing distant views of water and land.
This site, within its luscious natural setting, brings the weather seasons into focus with the vegetation’s glorious display of color, texture and flower – nature’s constant reminders of life’s cycles. Remaining connected to these surroundings was one of the key elements driving the design of the house.
Terraces are fluid extensions of internal spaces capturing cooling breezes and allowing cross ventilation. Bedroom terraces frame magnificent views of water and garden, distant lands and the horizon, so that falling asleep or waking is never a mundane ritual. Special attention was taken designing the bathrooms:eliminating superfluous detail and relating to the natural surroundings imbues the spaces with a sense of well-being and purity that is invigorating for the body and stimulating for the mind.
Always connected to water, the interiors are sheltered and cool: swimming pools, reflection ponds and strategically positioned trickling waterfalls soothe both indoors and outdoors, as each rain droplet resonates through the spaces.
In contrast to this sense of tranquility, equally critical to the design was to provide a high degree of safety to the occupants by integrating building regulations so that the house is able to withstand the destructive forces of tropical cyclones that are common in this region of Queensland.
Construction method and material selection was influenced not only by the climate but also the client who had expressed preference for low maintenance materials on a sub-tropical site with extreme weather: long periods of hot, humid conditions and prolonged heavy rain during the wet season limit material lifespan.
Another factor was regional Council’s limit on colors: white and primary colors were not permissible. For these reasons concrete became the primary material; utilizing its eternal qualities of extreme resiliency, excellent thermal properties, the textural quality and hue of rough sawn timber boards echoing the trunks of gum trees and large grey weathered boulders on the site. Further, concrete allows for a ready-made finish eliminating the use of render and paint as well as lending instant patina.
Wall and floor finishes, such as polished concrete, unfilled honed travertine tiles and textured internal renders were selected for their durability and tactile qualities; the irresistible urge to experience the house bare-feet whilst enjoying the touch of the smooth, cool stone.
The design seeks to balance the human spirit by the enriching experience gained in re-connecting with nature through the simple act of observing the wonders of its ever-changing scenery and by harnessing its benefits: off-shore cool breezes, warm evenings, spectacular sunsets, lush vegetation and the beauty of tropical rainfalls.
Glebe House is a Victorian era cottage that has been given a complete overhaul by Nobbs Radford Architects, situated in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The architects felt that it was important from the outset that the new works drew from the original 2,691 square foot (250 square meters) house as a basis for investigation, concrete as a heavy material was selected over framed construction. The new works boldly reinterprets the structure and materiality of the elements that make up the original Victorian era cottage. The off form concrete draws on the solidity of the original masonry structure whilst introducing a new materiality. The narrow openings of the original facade are reinterpreted in similarly proportioned forms for a new period. An emphasis on vertical openings creates an alliance with the original fenestration.
The project is not primarily focused on the connection to external spaces but looks inward with interconnections of cloistered spaces, created and selected framed openings. The outer concrete elements contrast with the timber elements that further define the various internal zones and functions within the house.
The depth of the rear facade creates an interstitial threshold which is a space in itself to be occupied and provide a sense of enclosure. The idea is to create intermediating spaces that ground the house in relation to both its interior and exterior.
Within the house the void acts as a centralizing space via which other areas of the house interconnect.
Structurally the house created many demands, we wanted the stacked concrete elements of the rear facade to appear to load at “zero points” at the surface of the facade. We worked with the structural engineers over many meetings to find a resolution that worked for all. Gratefully the house has recently been awarded best small building at the inaugural ACSE awards.
Thermal modeling was performed on the schematic 3D model and the use of concrete added to the thermal performance of the building considerably to the point where double glazing was not considered necessary.
Complementing materials of near raw fifteen meter continuous length floor boards and a restrained palette of black aluminium, stainless steel and oak appear throughout the house and create a cohesive connection between original and new. These materials were selected, partially, so as not to compete with the ornate patterning of the original house along with their own inherent qualities.
The project’s fundamental rationale is to create a family home that recognized the various needs of the occupiers, spaces for children and adults with a flexibility for both retreat and engagement.
Significant sections of the house are constructed from single skin concrete, which given its thermal mass,longevity and embodied energy as say in comparison to steel was considered a sound choice as a building material for the temperate climate of Sydney.
Thermal modeling was performed on the schematic 3D model and the use of concrete added to the thermal performance of the building considerably to the point where double glazing was not considered necessary.
Transport of concrete was from the Hanson site in Glebe less than 2km from the site.
The house is designed and constructed for longevity. Aside from the materiality the use of narrow openings with deep reveals to the rear western facade aids in reducing direct sun in the summer months.
The timber flooring material is from a fourth generation family owned business from plantation forests FSC and PEFC certification. The flooring is finished with soap and lye which are inert materials with E0 organic volatile emission.
Photos: Courtesy of Nobbs Radford Architects
Bondi House is a row house designed by Fearns Studio in Sydney, Australia’s Bondi Beach neighborhood showcasing how light and framed views define a space. The client requested the need for more privacy and lack of natural light filtering into the narrow Victorian terrace house. The resolution for both issues was to confine most sources of natural light to the ceilings. The 2,800 square foot house was originally built in 1980 and various remodels were done over the years. It’s one house in a row of four. It is nestled on a narrow lot that is about 20 feet wide by 139 feet long, it’s apparent that privacy — for both the homeowner and the neighbors — was a primary issue.
A garage and guesthouse loft are nestled into the back of the lot. Tasmanian oak doors slide open, connecting the garage, landscape and main house seamlessly. The same polished concrete floors used in the main house continue in the garage.
Fearns resolved privacy by designing the home like a tube. “The purpose of the tube idea was simply to direct views from the house away from neighboring properties by placing openings only at the ends,” he says. “I wanted to leave the side elevations largely clear of windows to de-clutter them, as well as eliminate the overlooking impacts.”
Deep door frames capture exterior moments like paintings. Light and shadow play animates the bare walls.
The back deck, shown here, projects off the master bedroom.
Though this was primarily a contemporary renovation, the home shows its age through subtle details like this archway and the baseboards. Fearns brought sunlight to central areas of the first floor with multiple skylights. The natural light works as a push-pull tool: the dark, compressed hallway pushes you toward the glowing light at the end of the tunnel.
The living area rounds out the great room. It can be difficult to create intimate spaces in open plans, but Fearns employed various techniques to bring the home down to human scale. “In this case the rhythm of solids and voids [walls and glazing] primarily helps create a sense of smaller spaces within the open plan,” he explains. The walls and door frame various areas of the great room, suggesting how to furnish and lay out the space.
The ground level is broken up into various zones that can be opened or closed off to maximize flow, while always maintaining strong visual connections between spaces. “When doors are open, the rear portion of the site effectively can become a single open space — albeit modulated by various smaller areas within it,” Fearns says. A skylight directs more sunlight into the living room.
The materials and finishes developed as the project progressed. “The palette in the end was limited and simple and comprised mainly [of] clear sealed hardwood doors, windows, flooring and joinery — almost all Tasmanian oak with some blackbutt,” Fearns says. Polished concrete floors connect all the spaces in the great room.
The dining area connects to the kitchen — the heart of the house, as Fearns calls it. “It’s set between the lounge and dining areas to be a hub for both,” he says. Though oversize and solidly built, the Tasmanian oak island and cabinets inhabit the room, rather than dominating it. Fearns detailed the kitchen features to “look like items sitting in the space, rather than elements which the space has been built around,” he says.
The sliding doors in the main living room are hardwood, with bottom rolling hardware and low-e glazing. “The reveals are about 2½ feet deep on the side elevation, because the doors are mounted externally,” Fearns says.
In the dining-kitchen area, the void (as Fearns calls it) brings light from the roof down to the first floor. The skylight is roughly the size of a queen bed and is central to the design of the house. In addition to illuminating the space, the light creates permeable boundaries that define the eating space within the open floor plan.
Vintage dining chairs by Australian American sculptor Clement Meadmore and a vintage dining table by Alessandro Albrizzi disrupt the otherwise linear language of the kitchen.
The master bedroom and bathroom are upstairs.
Unlke the first-floor bathroom, the master bath couldn’t have a sliding glass door to connect it to outside. “I didn’t want a window there to keep the side clear, so I convinced the owner to have a hatch,” says Fearns. After trying out various mechanisms, they ended up using a heavy floor-spring pivot that works like a friction hinge.
With the natural light from the skylight, the pivot window isn’t necessary, but Fearns has discovered its other charms. “From the bathroom it also manages to frame a very small view of mature planting on the rear lane, so it’s a nice space to use,” he says. It also “adds a sense of oddity to the side elevation. People have to look twice to figure out what it’s doing.”
Smaller rooms on the first floor open up onto the deck, including this bathroom. The sliding glass door provides natural light and an outdoor connection. (This part of the path is closed off and private.)
Photos: Tom Ferguson
Pass Residence is a stunning contemporary desert home that opens up to incredible views extending 40 miles in the very exclusive area of Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona, designed by Tate Studio Architects. The home was built as a dream retirement for a couple who loves spending time with family. The home is carefully oriented on a 5-acre lot with overhangs that protect the interiors from the relentless desert sun. Outdoor living was a priority as well, so there’s an outdoor kitchen, a lounging patio, a pool and a hot tub. The interiors are comprised of 5,600 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and office and exercise room. The home has solar panels that generate electricity the power company buys; the pool is also heated by solar energy.
A small fountain sits between two of the cacti in the middle of this photo. “Javelinas love to come up and drink from the small fountain,” states the architect. “That window you see here is in the dining room, so the family enjoys watching them while they eat dinner.”
The stucco wall here is part of a long, curved wall that extends the length of the house; sandblasted concrete blocks make up the wall on the right. The design of the square openings repeats throughout the house.
“I wanted to create an inviting entry that didn’t show you everything at once,” states the architect. A large steel beam draws you toward the front door, and a small fountain draws you in with a gurgling sound that echoes through the entry.
The front entryway is all glass yet does not reveal the views; one discovers those after entering the house. The bottom two-thirds of it is flow glass, which provides light as well as privacy. “The glass creates a beautiful glow,” states the architect. “It has iridescent dichroic flakes in it that make it shimmer and change color throughout the day.”
Beyond the front door, suspended reclaimed barn beams create a rhythm down the gallery. To the left, the open fireplace is repeated outside on the patio. To the right, the end of the gallery becomes part of the master bedroom; the reclaimed barn doors slide across to enclose it.
Looking back toward the front door, Alpaca limestone continues from indoors to out, as does the Arizona brown schist seen around the fireplace. Large windows bring in the expansive desert views; the bottom windows are operational and let in the breeze from the valley. The open fireplace divides the living room from the hearth room. Snapped-edge limestone makes up the hearth and mantel; copper covers the uplit fireplace.
“We combined some traditional and contemporary touches in the kitchen,” states the architect. White oak Shaker-style cabinets and brown schist stone lend a warm, contemporary feel. Behind the range wall, you can see how the roof floats, providing clerestory windows that let in additional daylight.
“The clients love to have everyone gather in the kitchen; the wife loves to cook, and everyone can gather at the granite bar,” states the architect. Better yet, they can walk right outside to the outdoor kitchen and the TV lounge on the patio.
The master bedroom and the gallery share space; the gallery ends in the view of the cactus when the barn doors are left open.
The master bath combines several beautiful textures. The tile in the shower stall is a mix of stone and shell, the tub surround is concrete and the sandblasted block wall continues from inside to out. Three niches next to the bathtub echo the openings out the window.
The far edge of the pool has an 8-inch-deep area with two lounge chairs. Toward the back is the outdoor kitchen and TV lounge; to the right is the riparian corridor. “You can lean on the infinity edge of the pool and watch the deer and other animals in the wash below,” states the architect.
The patio has a series of outdoor rooms. “My client wanted to be able to sit outside in the shade while the pool was sunny, so all of the overhangs were very carefully designed,” states the architect. The overhangs also protect the house itself from direct sunlight.
A large open fireplace echoes the one indoors; there is another small fire feature at the end of the patio next to the hot tub. If you look closely, you can see the city lights in the distance.
The form of the house follows the terrain, stepping down the hillside. The neighborhood was built in a way that does not deter the natural movement of local deer, javalinas, mountain lions and coyotes.
Photos: Mark Boisclair
Seaview House is a contemporary three story dwelling that has been designed by Parsonson Architects, sited over the botanical gardens out to Wellington Harbour in Wellington, New Zealand. A neighboring house sits much higher to the north with another lower to the south. The site loses sun directly to the north, but receives both generous morning and afternoon sun and being set down from the road the prevailing northwesterly winds blow over the top. The house is laid out around two main outside areas, east and west.
The owners have a large family, with both older and younger children. The house is arranged to accommodate these different age groups with bedrooms on different levels and a variety of living spaces in the middle with walls to house art and a swimming pool for the keen swimmers in the family.
Two main formal gestures define the house. Simple corrugated iron roofs wrap and frame the house, which help create a relationship with the houses of the area. The green color of these also helps the house recede into the backdrop of greenery. In contrast to this, and housing the garage and bedrooms, a more organic wooden clad element runs between the corrugated iron roofs. This element is influenced by the landscape and as it glides through the house it creates a darkness and woodiness that is intended to replace some of that lost by the removed vegetation. Sections of it have been folded or cut to house the lighting for the main downstairs living areas. Downstairs there is a pool and simple bedrooms for extended family.
Photos: Paul McCredie
Bayshore Drive Residence is a truly stunning custom home that has been designed by studio Brandon Architects, who worked in conjunction with Patterson Custom Homes, situated in the exclusive Bay Shores coastal community in Newport Beach, California. This two story residence is comprised of 3,200 square feet with five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, situated on a typical rectangular lot. Views of the harbor are available from the roof level, so the program incorporated a large exterior roof-top deck, complete with a built in BBQ, spa, and fire-pit. The project is a traditional Colonial/Greek Revival design, including ample indoor/outdoor living spaces integrated with a modern open living plan which maximizes natural light and ventilation in living spaces as well as outdoor patios, decks and balconies.
Photos: Courtesy of Patterson Custom Homes
Smee Schoff House is a contemporary single family home with industrial features designed by Sam Crawford Architects in Petersham, New South Wales, Australia. The project is a great example of how dedicated and engaged clients together with a challenging set of site constraints make for a rich and unique design outcome. Having considered several alternate and distinct design solutions it is now clear that this particular response to the site and design brief is the right one for our clients. Key constraints were: inconsistent council requirements for street-scape and heritage, the need to maintain the privacy and solar access of neighboring properties, multiple poorly devised and implemented alterations to the existing cottage, access to winter sun to the necessarily south facing living areas and views to the park and access to the winter sun available only to the existing bedrooms. The brief also included an atypical requirement for an eat-in kitchen and an melded dining/ lounge/ music room.
Our clients have a wonderful art collection, and their own unique style, which contributed to the industrial/ craft aesthetic of the new work.
Recycled bricks are used extensively for environmental and aesthetic reasons, on both internal (painted) and external (bare-faced) walls. Black painted, lightweight steel framed windows and doors accentuate the very tall brick walls of the central court and dining room. Exposed, over-sized recycled timber beams scale the 4.5m high ceiling of the dining space. Timbers recycled from demolished portions of the building and our client’s cherished Scandinavian hand-painted ceramic tiles are incorporated into new joinery work.
The design sits on a clear continuum in our work; of pushing for maximum thermal comfort with minimal ongoing energy use. This involves a relatively large upfront cost; in the provision of substantial thermal mass via exposed concrete slab floors and brick and reverse brick veneer wall construction, coupled with solar powered/ gas boosted hydronic underfloor heating, contributing to ongoing and long term energy savings. A central courtyard, between the old and new, provides winter sun to otherwise south facing living areas.
The construction team from Buildability, led by foreman Matt Raap, were a major factor in the success of the project.
Photos: Brett Boardman Photography
The Ranchero is a modern ski cabin designed by CAST Architecture nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the small community of Mazama in Washington State’s the upper Methow Valley. The Ranchero is a base camp for a family of four, offering year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family. The architects responded with a simple, rugged design that is responsive to the environment and low on maintenance, letting the family focus on the outdoors. The open plan home offers 1,600 square feet of living space plus 800 square feet of covered outdoor space.
The deep veranda, over-sized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.
A view from the south shows how the house is split into two components linked by a single sloped roofline. To the right is the 1,400-square-foot main house, and on the left is a 200-square-foot sauna. The sauna area includes a covered wooden shed and a wax room for preparing skis in the winter.
A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.
With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.
Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.
The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing. The corridor beyond the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms as well as the bathrooms, laundry and a small office.
Made from low-maintenance, paint-free aluminum panels, the white ceilings reflect sunlight into the home to make the interior brighter and less reliant on artificial lighting throughout the day.
The furnishings throughout the house pick up on the ruggedness of the architecture as well as the character of the landscape. Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.
Peeling of steel also occurs at the entry, creating a shelf for keys, wallets, hats and so forth.
Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.
Many of the unique details that take advantage of the materials are very subtle. In one corner of the kitchen, for example, the steel peels up to hold chalk for writing notes or drawings pictures on the wall.
The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.
The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.
Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.
A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.
Photos: Courtesy of CAST Architecture
Russet Residence is a modern project with dramatic cantilevers designed by Splyce Design in West Vancouver, British Columbia on a steep site with mature cedar and douglas fir to the west and an ocean view to the south. The 4,600 square foot, five bedroom, five bathroom house responds to these conditions by nestling itself into the hill while also projecting out over it to maximize views and connectivity to the landscape.
Due to its proximity to the rugged and sloping creekside bank to the west, the house was subject to strict environmental and geotechnical conditions, including a required setback from the top of the bank that pushed the building’s foundation eastwards. The resultant footprint was awkwardly narrow, so to gain back valuable space, a portion of the main and upper floor is cantilevered back out past the foundation, allowing the native creekside vegetation to grow up, under and around as an uninterrupted, wild, forest floor.
Tucked into the hill, the front of the house is deceptively modest in scale, set off by the large mature cedar that anchors the front yard. A discreet overhang is all that distinguishes the garage, which is covered with Swisspearl, a cementitious panel with integrated color that requires no painting. (The same material is repeated on the barbecue pit out back.) The rest of the facade is covered in western red cedar — a nod to the towering evergreen that dominates the front yard.
The dining room cantilevers 15 feet from the foundation. The glass walls extend below the floor plane and above the ceiling plane, minimizing divisions between the interior and exterior.
The topography of the site reveals itself as one descends the exterior stairs adjacent to the forest and follows the exposed concrete wall to the main entry. Continuing through to the interior, the wall rises up seventeen feet to help frame the bright circulation volume, with stairs leading to the upper floor and down to the main living spaces.
A stairway on the east side of the house provides access between the living room deck and the yard and pool below. The adjoining wall screens bathers as they dart between the two.
The floors throughout most of the house are polished concrete. As the slurry set, it was agitated with power trowels to give the surface a mottled patina.
“We wanted the walls to dissolve into the forest,” states the architect. He joined the dining room windows with black silicone in lieu of frames to minimize the structure. Stepping into the space, you can see the woods straight ahead or turn to the left to view the bay.
“We wanted everything to be simple and timeless and to not distract from the outdoors,” states the architect. The custom cabinets are finished in white oak and Formica’s ColorCore laminate, which the designer considers a more durable alternative to lacquer. The perimeter counters and backsplash are black honed granite; the island is topped with Caesarstone.
Parish warmed the room with white oak floors and cabinetry. B&B Italia’s low-profile Charles coffee table is echoed in the Panavision proportions of the gas fireplace, which emits a ribbon of flames.
The front door opens into a split-level entry dominated by a dramatic staircase. The white oak treads project from the concrete wall at right but are not supported on the other end, defying gravity and adding drama to the ascent.
In a house with so many remarkable design elements, one that provokes a fair share of comments is this guest bathroom off the pool. A single stone bench extends from the shower to the cylindrical sink, with a Duravit toilet discreetly mounted between the two — atop what is, essentially, the vanity. The architect insists he came up with the plan simply to save space, but admits it’s become a conversation piece at parties.
In the master bedroom, a custom bed backs up against a white oak wall that divides the space from the dressing area behind it. Walls of glass overlook the adjacent forest, assuring privacy and an ever-changing panorama of flora and fauna. A portion of the master bathroom is visible at the back.
A mirrored wall behind the vanity reflects the neighboring woods, making the narrow master bath appear much larger. “You can sit in the tub and feel like you’re sitting in the trees,” states the architect.
Photos: Ivan Hunter
The two top floors of the iconic Westbourne Grove Church were converted by DOS Architects into a stunning home in the heart of Notting Hill, London, England. The clients wanted to create a space of openness and transparency, combining their desire for cutting-edge technology with a love of clean, luxurious designs, while respecting the traditional Gothic details of this historic building. The entire 4,300 square foot apartment is centered around a large double-height, light-filled space framed by spectacular arched windows, perfectly encapsulating the views beyond.
Our clients wanted interiors and design features to highlight, and not compete with the beauty of the church. In this way, the cantilevered glass staircase and glass-walled master bathroom are perfectly set-off against the Gothic arched windows. The new lay-out adds space and natural light to the entire home, while allowing for a seamless balance between areas to entertain in and those which remain private throughout this spectacular penthouse.
Photos: Courtesy of DOS Architects