Sunset Point Residence is a stunning contemporary property designed by David Vandervort Architects, perched on the shoreline of San Juan Island, Washington. This 2,365 square foot home looks northwest over Sunset Bay, Haro Strait, and occasional whales passing by. In order to utilize this small, medium bank waterfront property to best advantage, the home was designed with two mirroring curved glass walls that frame views, and let maximum light into the home. The architecture is composed of two pavilions arranged to embrace the site and the natural forces acting upon it.
Designed for a couple seeking comfort and security, the exterior materials allude to island appropriate but substantial design, with CMU block, naturally stained cedar siding, hot rolled steel and metal roof being the predominant elements.
These materials are brought inside as structure and accent, with the great room fireplace set in CMU and steel columns evident throughout. These columns support a nearly 2 story curved window wall and loft overlook in the Great room.
The Kitchen and Dining areas complete this space and visually connect to outdoor entertaining patio, natural landscaping and the walk to the beach.
The main floor of the home also contains a full master suite, utility area and 2 car garage. Upstairs, a glass bridge adjacent to the loft connects to a Guest Suite and Exercise area. This space also has a curved glass wall mirroring the great room feature and looking out over Victoria and the Olympics.
Photos: Michael Shopenn
Cliff House is a sleek modern dwelling that has been designed by Dualchas Architects, located in Galtrigill, Isle of Skye, Highland, United Kingdom. The site is located in North West Skye, overlooking Loch Dunvegan. It manifests itself as a contradiction: far reaching views to the North East and harsh winds from the South West. The constant is the horizon.
An existing ruin marks the entrance situation of the croft, while the edge of the cliff locates the dwelling on its site high above the water’s edge, giving the connecting path a distinguished end.
In order to address the site conditions, the building consists of two volumes; one closed, the other open. The first contains all serving functions to support the main open rooms. Together a place is created that provides shelter and privacy whilst maintaining focus on its surroundings.
The 1,237 square foot (115 square meters) building is first seen from the curved path as a wall in front of the dominant background. As the path unfolds and cuts deeper into the landscape, this relationship changes, with the building becoming the dominant focal point. This suspense is released upon entry. One wall of the main open volume is omitted and the visitor stands in front of a fully glazed screen atop of the cliff. The topography of the site allows the surrounding landscape to be experienced as a panorama. The built space ends with the horizon.
On the interior, materials are omitted to give dominance to the characteristics of the site acting as a gallery filled with the objects and memories the client surrounds themselves with.
While the typology of the building is specific to its surroundings, it was necessary to detail its appearance in a language that is commonly understood. Both the location and function of the two volumes are confirmed by the use of material. Caithness stone for the retaining wall and larch for the open plan main rooms. The height and hue of the horizontally laid courses correspond and merge both volumes into one building. The continuous horizontal plane of the polished concrete floor, acts to further blur the relationship between interior and exterior. As nature reclaims the site it is only the trampled grass of the path, that becomes domesticated in the landscape.
The geometry of the two volumes are not only offset in length but also in height. The voids created are fully glazed and the volumes and their location remain readable from the inside. They act as vistas, remaining open in the in-between and looking back on both the building and its setting. Additional light enters the dwelling at in its center, between the exposed rafters running the full length of the building.
Living is a decision that is also defined by the choice of place. This dwelling seeks an answer through the specific means of architecture of how the qualities that make a place can be distilled into built matter in our times. The idea of contradiction, as expressed in the elementary geometry of the building, is not only a reminder of the isolation and mystery of its location but also of the rarity of being able to live amongst the drama of the ever changing atmospheric conditions in this part of the world: the reason behind a client’s decision to purchase a plot in the first place. The dwelling can only provide the frame.
Photos: Andrew Lee
How much building is required to inhabit a place?
This stunning weekend house was designed by architecture studio SPBR, as a retreat in the city centered around a pool, garden and solarium, located in São Paulo, Brazil. Completed in 2013, this 1,969 square foot (183 square meters) modern property features a rooftop swimming pool to capture the heat of the sun, gardens to soften the hardscape and a solarium to avoid the shade from the closely-packed neighboring residences.
Dug into the air – a swimming pool in Sao Paulo. Clouds, drizzle, rain, snow or hail, in all its physical states water is related to sky. However, if we are requested to think about a [swimming] pool, our imagination automatically starts to dig into the ground. Seas, lakes, and ponds explain the reason we react in that direction: essentially, a pool feels like a piece of a lake. It makes sense, the image corresponds to the word, water that rests smoothly on the ground. Water defines the surface.
But if I mention a specific type of pool, a water tank or a water tower, we first imagine an elevated volume of water, a pool detached from the ground level. In this case, hydrostatic pressure is a requirement to fulfill pipes, to supply water. Water level holds a potential possibility.
While walking on the ground,we could ask: where is the surface? In the specific sense of the word, surface has no layers or thickness. However, if one walks in a city like São Paulo [or New York], the ground level does not correspond to the surface anymore. There are some pieces of the ground that haven’t been touched by the sunlight for decades since buildings have permanently shaded them.
In this specific site, the neighborhood’s average height is defined by the zoning code: 6 m high. No side setbacks are required. The east neighbor building shades our site the entire morning until noon, when the west neighbor building starts to shade it for the whole afternoon. Therefore, if there is a pool to be built, exposed to the sunlight the whole day, it is crucial to define its surface: six meters above the ground level.
The assumption here is like to swim in a water tower and to enjoy that potential as a design possibility. One more water ‘state’ related to the sky of São Paulo.
A WEEKEND HOUSE IN THE CITY
São Paulo is a metropolis of 20 million people. It is approximately one hour from the coast. Because of severe traffic jams, its inhabitants spend hours commuting every day. On weekends, especially in the summer, hundreds of thousands drive to the beach causing jams on the roads as well.
In order to avoid being stuck in traffic during weekends, we received an unexpected but rather logical demand as a counterflow action: a weekend house in downtown São Paulo.
As an anti-FAR [floor area ratio] approach, a swimming pool, a solarium and a garden are the main elements of this project. In a properly inverted hierarchy, everything else on this program is complementary: a bedroom, a small apartment for a caretaker, and a space to cook and receive friends.
The site is very central, between an arterial avenue, Avenida Faria Lima, and a metropolitan infrastructural axis [road and railway] built on the Pinheiros river shore. Also, the site is exactly under the airport conical zone, meaning all flights coming from Rio de Janeiro fly over the site about each 7 minutes.
Pool and solarium were displayed as parallel volumes. Two columns were located in the 1 m wide gap between them. The 12 m span is faced on one side by beams supporting the pool and on the other by beams that support the solarium and also hang the floor underneath. Structurally, the mass of the pool counterweights the volume which holds inhabited spaces. In other words, water is balanced by the beach.
The ground level was kept free from any construction in order to achieve the maximum garden area ratio. As a result there are three different layers or three levels for three different moods: ground level [garden – introspective or encompassed by the site limits], apartment level [the only indoor space floating above the ground and underneath the pool], and rooftop [swimming pool and solarium, an extroverted or panoramic space].
This building and its program differs from the focus of traditional architectural projects in two ways: the metropolis becomes a possible place to stay and enjoy during the weekends and elements generally considered secondary in a big house become fundamental components.
Photos: Nelson Kon
The Cliff House is a conceptual design by Australian architectural firm Modscape of a five storey modular home that clings to the side of a sheer cliff face. The concept was born in response to a growing demand from Australians wanting to live life on the edge. The design is a theoretical response to clients who have approached Modscape to explore design options for extreme parcels of coastal land in Australia.
Inspired by the way barnacles cling to the hull of a ship, a concept was developed for a modular home to hang off the side of a cliff as opposed to sitting on top of it. The home is visualized as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape, creating an absolute connection with the ocean.
As the design itself would make conventional construction prohibitive, the concept utilizes Modscape’s modular design and prefabrication technologies to deliver a series of stacked modules that are anchored into the cliff face using engineered steel pins. Entry to the home is through a carport on the top floor, where a lift vertically connects the user through each of the descending living spaces.
Internally, the living spaces feature minimalistic furnishings to ensure that the transcendent views of the ocean and the unique spatial experience of the location remain the integral focal point of the design.
Photos: Courtesy of Modscape
The DOGBOX is an affordable hillside dwelling designed and built by Patch Work Architecture, located in Whanganui, a sleepy provincial city located two and a half hours north of Wellington, New Zealand. Construction of the DOGBOX was completed in December 2012. The home was a collaborative effort between three designers who wanted to jump start their practice by building this affordable home. The 970 square foot residence came in at about $130 per square foot and taught them the value of onsite decision-making, which will inform the budding firm’s future projects.
The design of the DOGBOX was directly influenced by 4 rusty trusses we bought off Trademe, and a small (but very sunny) area of flat ground at the top of a steep section.
The number and dimensions of the trusses defined the overall width and shape of the roof. The house is two stories, with half of the area under the roof being interior space (88 square meters) and half exterior. The exterior half serves as circulation, and includes outdoor rooms which are semi-enclosed by moveable screens.
The lower floor has a poured insitu concrete wall along the back, working both as thermal mass and as a retaining wall to the steep bank behind. This level contains the laundry, kitchen and living areas, and large sliding doors open out onto the garden and the wharf deck.
The upper floor is much lighter in comparison, with plywood lined timber framed walls supporting the steel trusses, which though incredibly heavy are visually light. Twinwall polycarbonate panels separate the rooms and allow for soft high level light.
The house is well insulated, double glazed, and has a Tiny-Rad woodburner for heating the space and hot water.
Herzelia Pituah House 3 is a minimalistic structure designed as a single family residence by Tel Aviv based studio Pitsou Kedem Architect, located in the beachfront district of Herzliya Pituah, Israel. The main idea behind the design was to work on a rectangular grid where all the functions merge into it, even the parking structure that is usually a small and separate structure at the front of the 4,036 square foot residence. The architect created a clean rectangular mass with vertical and horizontal openings breaking into it that allow for movement within them and the entry of natural light.
The front of the house has three levels completely impervious to the street with two courtyards on the right and on the left and excavated to the level of the basement floor, allow for the entry of light and air into the lower level. Thus, a situation is created where the pathway leading to the entrance is a bridge suspended over one of the excavated courtyards.
Once inside, the almost monastic impermeability of the frontal facade is converted with impressive openness that invites you into a well lit open space where the entire long facade of the home kisses a swimming pool set against the entire length of a massive glass wall. The open space rises to a height of six meters with a sky light the full length of the ceiling that empowers the drama of the space.
The entire ground floor is a public space that contains a long kitchen painted a glossy black that reflects the swimming pool opposite, a spacious salon that opens into the rear courtyard and designed with careful minimalism and a dining table. The entire public area has the appearance of a modern and spacious loft.
The bedrooms are situated on the second floor with the communal space connecting them, looks over the swimming pool. In the basement, that appears as an island floating between the two excavated courtyards, can be found games rooms and a movie room.
The central motives of the architectural design: a clean configuration, moderation in materials and subdued colors find an expression in this project. The sparsity of materials and the reuse of materials such grey limestone that covers the entire external facade of the house and one of the internal walls, imparts a feeling of concrete minimalism, Corian that the architect used in the design of the sinks and partitions in all the bathrooms, and black basalt that covers the walls of those same rooms.
By using the same elements, the architect is attempting to make the spaces meditative in their feel and attraction and that blend with the architecture of the structure, one complete and unified mass.
Photos: Amit Geron
Hudson Woods is a unique collection of locally sourced dwellings designed by Lang Architecture, located in the Hudson River Valley, Kerhonkson, New York. Developed, designed and built by the architecture team, Hudson Woods offers modern, sustainable design at exceptional value to buyers. This project is scheduled for completion in 2016.
100 miles from New York City, 26 modern, refined and energy efficient homes on large lots are nestled into the forests and meadows of the 131-acre site. With an emphasis on responsible land use, including active forest management and on-site agriculture, Hudson Woods aims to nurture and protect the extraordinary natural beauty of the region. With a diverse offering of options, including a wood-burning stove, outdoor cooking, greenhouse, tree house and more, residents can assemble their own vision of a retreat into nature.
Humble and private upon approach, the simple vernacular house form fits sensitively into the topography of each site. Once inside, expansive views to the surrounding landscape are framed through custom mahogany windows. The interior is modern and warm, with an abundance of local white oak surfaces and details. Throughout the home, craft is on display from solid wood doors with sand cast bronze hardware to custom freestanding kitchen island and pantry units produced in collaboration with local craftsmen.
Photos: Courtesy of Lang Architecture
RV House is a modern minimalist pad designed by architects Alejandro Restrepo Montoya, Camilo Andrés Mejía Bravo, and Andrés Felipe Mesa Trujillo, and is located in Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. The 4,467 square foot (415 square meters) house is held lightly on the top of a hill, generating exterior and interior spaces for the family life. The access of the house is to melt with the landscape and discover new spaces.
A game of sensations defines the first steps. Through the stairs located in the welcome patio, you arrive to a walkway that is extended through the vegetation of the house over a water feature as a previous zone before entering in the house. The access to the house dismisses the difference between city and landscape, melting the city into the daily family life.
The house is a filter between the landscape, the domestic spaces and the city. The social zone, designed as a free plan, incorporates the dining room, the living room and the studio, and next to it is the big terrace, conformed as a reinterpretation of a gathering place outside the house.
Exterior spaces are the continuity of family life: a big esplanade starts just after the terrace and it is the place to play, observe and feel the relationship of the house with the landscape.
This terrace-balcony that works as a transition between the house and the landscape, is a place that allows this relationship and also works as a sun protector to avoid sunlight coming into the house during the afternoons. The room zone, located in the same level, generates in the exterior, a patio limited by the house itself and a little hill with native species planted.
The service zone, garage and laundry are located in the lower level, enclosed by walls of black stones. The contrasts between lightness and strength between the materials and the shape of the house generate the appearance of a light box suspended over the lot.
Long Courtyard House is a contemporary addition to a turn of the century terrace house designed in 2013 by SCALE Architecture, located in Alexandria, a suburb in the inner-east of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. By reorienting the courtyard to the side of the block, the project challenges the typical terrace configuration. It creates a north-facing side garden extending the full length of the addition.
The project is a compact building with a slender footprint, where each interior space relates to a new garden room. An equivalency of interior and exterior space is created, expanding the spatial relationship beyond the building envelope.
The addition is made up of two pure forms, each addressing its own garden. The concrete volume on the ground floor opens north to the long garden court, while a cantilevered timber box floating above opens east to a roof garden.
These discrete forms define the spatial arrangement – living takes place on the ground floor, inside the solid and elemental concrete form, while bedrooms are contained in the lightweight timber box above.
SCALE Architecture is a Sydney based practice committed to excellence in Architecture, design and urbanism. SCALE is a multiple award winning practice led by Matt Chan, established in Amsterdam (2002) and Sydney (2004). Our growing portfolio is extended by collaboration with architects, planners, artists and students both locally and internationally. The studio’s focus on architecture is cross fertilised by our active engagement in research, education, publication, exhibition and talks.
Photos: Brett Boardman
Apple Bay House is a holiday retreat for extended family designed by Parsonson Architects Ltd, nestled on a west facing bush clad hillside of Apple Bay, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. The property is located in the Marlborough Sounds, which is at the north end of the South Island of New Zealand. It is accessible by 4 wheel drive vehicle and boat from the nearest township Picton.
We intended to create a delicate platform amongst trees for life to unfold. The house is in two parts, each with a fine roof that follows the slope of the land. The upstairs living areas are configured as a large elongated space with decks at each end to enjoy both the morning and afternoon sun and with retreat and service spaces serving these. Downstairs bedrooms float amongst the trees with windows opening across the tree tops. The gap and junction between the two building parts is a continuation of the path up from the boat house.
Parsonson Architects was established in 1987 and is based in Wellington, New Zealand. The practice has focused primarily on individual houses and aims to produce work with a high level of sensitivity and discipline, engaging the spirit of each owner and site. More recently projects have included apartment buildings, retail fit outs in North America and Europe and competition entries across a variety of building types and project scales.
Photos: Paul Mcredie