Pine Forest Cabin cantilevers over a hillside offering unobstructed mountain views in Winthrop, Washington, designed by Balance Associates Architects. In order to meet the client’s budget goals, an efficient plan and cost effective selection of building materials reduced construction costs and led to the simple 850 square foot box design. The use of sheet materials both inside and out maximized material efficiency while emphasizing the simplicity of the cabin’s form.
Two concrete walls cradle the box and allow it to cantilever over the hillside, reducing effective site disturbance. Elevating the cabin allowed for unobstructed views down slope and to the mountains beyond, transforming a modest living space from ordinary room to a viewing platform that extends from inside to out.
This project demonstrates Balance Associates Architects’ belief that architecturally interesting solutions can be achieved for budgets of all sizes without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.
Photos: Steve Keating Photography
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
Feldman Residence is a single family contemporary home situated next to a roaring river in the mountains of Woody Creek, Colorado, designed by David Johnston Architects. Situated on a steep, wooded bank (the lot slants up to 30 degrees) a mere 10 feet from the Roaring Fork River on Lower River Road in Old Snowmass, the three-level design is virtually suspended above the water among the branches, like a modern interpretation of a treehouse. Throughout the 4,500 square foot home, one can hear the river, which is particularly true of the second level, where the kitchen, living room and dining room are located. Features like floor-to-ceiling window walls, tilted windows and a cantilevered third story loft bring the river into the elevated space.
The 1960′s-era home was discovered by the Feldman’s in 2003, one of the few home sites lower than the highway, so noise was not an issue. They had their sights set on building a new home since the original one was very compact and not to their liking. But there was a catch, in 2006, the county began requiring that new homes be pushed back 50-100 feet from the river—unless they’re built on an existing foundation. So when they hired the architects, the challenge was to design a new home to fit the original foundation. The tight building envelope posed a dilemma, but it also resulted in a category-defying design.
The architects used cantilevered masses throughout the second story to expand the size of the house without violating codes. The result was a kitchen that extends eight feet from the original footprint and a dramatic entryway bridge suspended in the trees.
According to the architects: The design was largely dictated by the constraints we were faced with. Angled cantilevers were put where they are because it was literally the only place we could go beyond the foundation. That’s also why we have a bridge to the entry rather than a retaining wall. The resulting design was unique because it was created from the site rather than on it.
The steep lot also inspired other angles throughout the design, like the custom slanted windows and off-camber rooflines. The wood, glass and stone exterior allowed the space to be modern without clashing with its natural surroundings. That’s carried through the interior with slate floors, Brazilian Palladio granite countertops (a unique cut consisting of large multi-colored stones that mirror the river bottom), and, of course, some fish-themed art.
Interior designer Robyn Scott was commissioned to come up with some of the more detailed touches, such as a railing for the stairway and loft that is the same as the one on the bridge entryway, blurring the lines between indoors and out.
The third floor is used as a media and family room and features yet another double-cantilevered loft that looms over the river without any sense of its surrounding banks and gives the feel of the observation deck of a boat.
The lowest level features the master bedroom and Feldman’s beloved tequila bar and an ample slate terrace furnished with a fire pit and plush outdoor furniture for comfortable river viewing.
Photos: Courtesy of David Johnston Architects
Pond House is an exquisite summer cottage inspired by local fishing shacks and wharf buildings dotting the coast of Mount Desert Island, Maine, designed by Elliott + Elliott Architecture. The re-imagined cottage interweaves large glazed openings with simple taut-skinned New England shingled cottage forms. Three simple cottages linked by a series of decks make up this summer compound which extends over the site of an existing condemned structure. Inspired by local fishing shacks and wharf buildings dotting the coast of Maine, this retreat interweaves large glazed openings with simple taut-skinned New England shingled cottages. This skin is incised to open views to the sea beyond and relies on light steel framing and thin braces to preserve the simple forms eroded toward sweeping views. The main ‘wharf’ cottage extends over the tidal salt pond below with a structural steel frame anchored to the pond’s granite basin and contains communal living spaces: kitchen, dining, and living rooms. Linking interior space to the views beyond is a cantilevered deck which appears to float above the water. The flanking cottages contain private sleeping quarters and frame views to the surrounding moss covered forest.
The imposing set of cubic volumes overlapping each other creates a striking modern dwellings in the Brazilian town of Londrina. This three level house has been designed by Studio Guilherme Torres for a young couple, in which the architect has dispensed traditional partitions and spaces. The 4,413 square foot (410 square meters) project had to adhere to the conditions of the site, located on a plateau high in the highest point of the land. They designed a large perimeter wall with white plaster that surrounds the entire main floor and delimits the set, in addition to providing privacy. The upper volume is an encased large box of concrete, coated in large part with wood of cumaru, which cantilevers over the street leaving an area shaped trapezoidal and flat where the garden and the swimming pool are located.
The main door leads guests to skirt the pool to enter directly – through giant windows pivoting – a generous central open double height space from which communicates throughout the house. This environment is monopolized by the living area, working as a liaison between the inside and outside, and serves as a connection with the kitchen and dining room. Cleverly located stairs lead to the upper floor, where the bedroom is separated from the central area through glass walls and only the bathroom is protected.
A single room divider rises in the ample space and has been decorated with a fun PAC-man game vinyl.
The kitchen and dining room are integrated into the same space. The back wall has been designed as a niche with racks stuffed into the wall to act as storage. The same color is repeated, just like the furniture, in order to achieve the desired camouflage effect.
The bathroom is located next to the entrance to the top floor, as a continuation of the staircase. Against the warmth of the cumaru wood floor is the basin designed in Carrara marble. Opposite, the spaces that host the shower and toilets have been closed with translucent glass doors.
Photos: Nuevo Estilo
The Eyebrow House is the brilliant renovation of a 1941 Cape residence situated in Portland, Oregon that uses a contemporary aesthetic with affordable, off-the-shelf components. New York-based Edgar Papazian Architecture, took the existing structure and reshaped it into a modern home, resembling the arches of an eyebrow. This house has been featured in the IFC television show “Portlandia” as the site of a Durian fruit home invasion, as well as Portland Monthly Magazine and ReadyMade Magazine.
From the architects, “Plans for a small home renovation in Portland’s southeast quadrant open up the rear of the house to the backyard and create vaulted interior bedrooms on the second level by using prefabricated galvanized elliptical arches (commonly used for simple storage structures) in a novel way. By opening up the rear of the house and cantilevering off it, we wished to integrate the existing site terracing into the house and allow views of the backyard from most points inside. Emphasis is placed on the kitchen/dining area at the expense of the traditional living room.”
Photos: Lincoln Barbour
The Locomotive Ranch Trailer has been designed by Andrew Hinman Architecture situated along the Nueces River in Uvalde, Texas. The home consists of an all steel open deck that supports a 360 square foot, one bedroom vintage 1950s 40-foot trailer and a 200 square foot sleeping loft and concrete tower as well as two full bathrooms. The steel structure has a deck that cantilevers about 30 feet out over a river with a structural depth of only 16 inches, on concrete piers anchored 25 feet into the ground.. The concrete tower houses a restroom at the lower level and a viewing deck at the upper level.
From the architects, “One of the client’s cherished possessions is a vintage streamlined aluminum house (not travel) trailer, and he wanted to relocate the trailer to the family’s favorite spot on their South Texas ranch overlooking the Nueces River. Given the fragile geology and the flash-flood prone nature of the riverside location, the trailer’s foundation and protection required special considerations. The resulting solution is a steel-framed, metal-roofed cradle, right at home amongst the existing rain barns and ranch equipment sheds. The cradle lifts the trailer above the flood plain and provides accessory components, sweeping river views, and safe access to the fishing/swimming hole. The cradle is anchored by a concrete blockhouse containing utilities, storage, and bathroom and topped by a screened sleeping loft. Rainwater harvesting is SOP in South Texas. The trailer interior is refurbished with bamboo panels. Interior lighting is provided by LED cove & mini-spots. The Ipe and Douglas Fir decking is FSC certified.”
The structure itself — built by Boothe General Contracting — is almost completely composed of steel tubes that were all welded together onsite. Hinman calls the structure surrounding the trailer a “Swiss Army knife. The whole project is an accessory to the trailer.” The redwood hot tub was salvaged by the homeowner.
Many people think the porch is encased by glass, but the material is actually fine fabric mesh screens from Phifer.
The trailer isn’t enclosed in the screened porch, but rather attached by a gasket connection method.
A sliding barn door leads to a fully air-conditioned bathroom wrapped in oiled ipe wood. The homeowner had a mesquite wardrobe that he re-purposed as the vanity.
The mirror can slide over the porthole window for privacy. The lights are recycled shop lamps.
The metal roof reflects sunshine, while the Douglas fir ceiling helps insulate the home from radiating heat, as well as acts as a sound buffer during rainstorms.
The trailer was also renovated by gutting its moldy pine interior and adding bamboo walls, ceilings and floors, and expanding the bedroom. LED can lights replaced original 1954 glass-reflector lights. The original refrigerator was too old and too loud to be recycled. Sub-Zero freezer drawers were installed in its place. Formica countertops and retro diner chairs nod to the 1950s era of the trailer.
Hinman removed the trailer’s shower to expand the bedroom, which holds a queen-size bed.
The homeowner’s teenage boys love using the tree-house-recalling sleeping loft at the top of the tower.
Photos: Courtesy of Andrew Hinman Architecture
The Bridge House is comprised of 1,184 square feet of living space, suspended above a creek in Adelaide, Australia, designed by Max Pritchard Architect. The clients requested a permanent home with an office on their small property, which would “touch the earth lightly.” An idyllic site, a bend in the winter creek that divides the property, creates a billabong (a deep waterhole) bounded by a high rocky bank. A house was required that would allow appreciation of the site without spoiling its beauty, but at a budget comparable with a “prefabricated” dwelling or an “off the plan” developers design.
The design solution is a narrow bridge like structure spanning the creek with glazing on either side which provides the experience of living amongst the trees in an almost untouched beautiful setting. Winter sun through the north facing windows heats the black concrete floor for reradiaiton at night. A wood combustion heater supplements the natural passive heating. Double glazing to the living area helps retain the heat. Perforated steel louvres shade the north windows in summer. The narrow plan form allows cross ventilation and is combined with ceiling fans to provide sufficient cooling for summer comfort. Solar hot water heating and photovoltaic cells positioned on the garage roof compliment the sustainable character of the house.
Kaipara Bridges House is a contemporary property designed in 2009 by architect Simon Twose in South Head, New Zealand. The lake house is composed as a simple horizontal form part dug in and part spanning over the dunescape. The building is ‘wrapped’ in a timber skin which forms the cladding and soffits, and also continues inside as flooring and sarking. A single species of timber is used to form this timber skin which has a texture of horizontal joints to reinforce the level aspect of the house – in response to the lake. The timber has been left to weather naturally; the ordered nature of the composition softened by the irregularity of the elements.
The plan has simple hallway circulation to the private areas and a loggia that forms an exterior hallway, linking all the rooms: closing an ambulatory circle around the house. A studio space at a lower level is accessed from outside via a landscape stair. The interior is generous and sparse and textured by the pattern of the flooring and the sarking which mirror each other. The timber flows out from the floor and ceiling to the decks and soffits and, being the same species, is conceptually the same surface inside and out.
The house has been carefully proportioned according to the timber. All the vertical dimensions are based on the cover dimension of the weatherboards, and the plan dimensions on the cover dimensions of the floor and ceiling boards.
The building is conceptually a timber house, so the timber choice and detailing was crucial to the success of the project. The textures and colors inside and out are governed by the single species of timber chosen and everything is designed to support the idea of the timber ‘skin’: there is no concrete or steel structure evident, and all downpipes have been concealed.
Photos: Patrick Reynolds
Coolum Bays Beach House was designed by Aboda Design Group for a family with three children nearing or at adulthood, taking advantage of the amazing potential for white water views in Queensland, Australia. The client wished to create a home with a refined, clean lined, modern but informal home with dramatic street presence. The home was to cater to the family’s independence for their differing lifestyle patterns, yet create a base for them to come together.
Images of modernist style building examples were shown, which included strongly articulated external form and bold use of materials for both the home and surrounding landscape. The home was to harness the best of laidback and unpretentious living in Coolum but at the same time being testament to the life’s efforts of the clients and the exceptional skills of their building team.
Is there any element of the project you wish to highlight specifically?
The difficult site constraints formed the basis for the drama of the design, considerations included – topographical constraints (very steep site), height limit limitations including side setback challenges (relatively narrow site for inclusion of side driveway and below-house parking, at ninety degrees to the driveway, all within 17M overall width) + steep cross fall, driveway location and gradient (1 in 4 maximum allowable , solar orientation, sub terrainean rock as close as 300 mm below surface, maximum projection/ cantilever to secure vistas.
The projection of the building, cantilevering out towards the ocean, was determined by the minimum distance eastwards (down the site) to obtain unobstructed northern views to Noosa Heads and around to the south east with views of the Coolum Bays.
Describe the style and theme of the design, or talk about the philosophy behind the home.
The arrangement of the home was determined by the complexity of the site. From the start this determined the location of the driveway, the driveway gradient and below-house car parking. Once resolved, the house was then arranged above as a series of cascading half-levels, which would achieve vistas front to back, and connect all living spaces via a single flight of steps.
The suspended concrete construction enabled large span floor plates, cantilevered floors and the use of raking and upturned beams, which in turn became critical elements in the final external composition. The use of structural steel in the roofs again enabled dramatic projection of the main roof out and over the pool and deck, maintaining excellent weather cover and also views uninterrupted by the intrusion of building structure.
What materials were used and where? How are these suited to the location?
The client requested clean, simple, durable, generally low maintenance materials due to the exposure to the coastal weather, which is destructive, particularly from the south east. Materials selected included fibre cement cladding, polymer rendered blockwork, sealed off-form concrete, aluminium and polycarbonate feature awning, steel roofing, aluminium windows, feature tiled walls, cedar battens screens, with hardwood decking, hardwood flooring and porcelain tiles internally.
The unfinished concrete, stone and wire gabions, textured tile wall cladding and rough sawn timbers were selected as they were in keeping with the exposed, raw nature of the site and for their strong contrast to the refined finish of the crisp white render, aluminum and glass.
Does the home feature any notable sustainable elements or products designed to reduce environmental impact or cost?
Highly operable windows (large format multistacking doors, louvres, gas strut awnings) and their placement achieve year round cross flow ventilation, negating the need generally for air conditioning (Master Bedroom only).
Concrete slabs and feature concrete walls increase thermal mass, maintaining warmth in the house through winter. Heat is excluded in summer and retained in Winter via above-compliance foil type insulation throughout.
Sun control devices (large overhangs, operable blades, cedar batten screens) all control solar heat gain whilst maintaining views and ventilation. Low energy LEDs are used almost exclusively throughout the home.
Rainwater is harvested from rooftops and stored in a 22KL rainwater tank constructed below the pool and used throughout the home. Photovoltaic array and heat pump water heaters installed.
Are there any other comments you’d like to make about the project?
The challenges of the site, combined with the boundless enthusiasm for the project from the clients, and the known competence, commitment and skill of the clients and their team acting also as builder created an amazing opportunity to work unwaveringly together to realize an adventurous but very comfortable home, to the delight of the designers, the clients and their family.
Photos: Paul Smith Images