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
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
Solis Residence is a breathtaking house set within its stunning natural surroundings on Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia. Designed by Renato D’Ettorre Architects, the home has been 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.
The Armada House is a modern post and beam home designed by Canadian firm KB Design, set among Garry Oaks on a rocky slope in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Set in the Ten Mile Point/Wedgewood Estates neighborhood, Armada is a perfect convergence of concrete, glass, steel and wood, built by Abstract Developments. In 2008 it garnered 10 Gold awards including Project of the Year and Best Custom Home in Canada. Its entry atrium’s grand but welcoming stairs and five-foot wide Douglas fir door establish a sense of volume and scale that defines the residence. Exposed glu-lam fir beams and plenty of windows compliment the open plan kitchen, living, dining space of this 5,299 square foot property. This facilitates a delicate balance between spaciousness for entertaining and intimacy for daily living.
Photos: Courtesy of Keith Baker | KB Design
The Naked House has been designed by architect Marc Gerritsen as a single family contemporary home for himself in Koh Samui, Thailand. The site location was chosen for the large expanse of the surroundings and quietness. Life in Taipei is very hectic, so the architect needed a place to escape, a quiet area with fabulous views. He wanted an open plan living room with doors that can totally slide away, overlooking a pool and the ocean, something he had been dreaming about for a long time. With this plot he was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. “The house was a return to the basic values in life: good clean air, wide open space, quiet solitude. With these basic values you can be in a space that is uncluttered, and your mind can become still.” This was also the reason behind the basic materials that were applied to this project: concrete, wood, steel and glass. With no embellishments, the focus was applied more heavily on the space rather than the materials.
I originally planned three stories: two bedrooms on the bottom; the pool, living area and kitchen on the middle level; and an office on top. But I’ve added a bathroom on the living room level, a laundry room and pantry. I wanted a simple kitchen, with no overhead cupboards or tall fridge, so the pantry is good for storage. I added a freestanding open-air bathroom, as the top room became a magnificent master bedroom which needed an en-suite. The tank and plant room became a large open room with a swing bed, underneath the deck I added a steam room, and the space below the bedrooms now houses an office and maid’s room. So it ended up being five stories – the result of a work in progress.
My work over the last few years as an architectural and interior photographer has taught me what not to do. Looking at all the incredibly fine detailed properties I photographed in Asia. I thought: “Is this really necessary to be comfortable? If I walk on a concrete floor or if I walk on a marble floor, is it going to make my living experience so much better?” No. You just need a floor to walk on. I am interested in a return to basics, in a luxury monastic way of living.
Photos: Marc Gerritsen
Casa Zapallar Papudo is a stunning beachfront property that has been designed by architecture studio Raimundo Anguita, and is located on the coast, in the coastal way between Zapallar and Papudo, Chile. The area is one of the more exclusive and elegant places of summer vacation on the central Chilean littoral. This beach home, with an area of 3,000 square meters, is the only one of its kind with this permission, rests along the broad seashore, a domain of the whole north coast. The 5,382 square foot (500 square meters) house consists of two clearly distinct areas that flow outward to an external central courtyard surrounded by public property. This courtyard has the distinction of visually linking enclosures and light with morning sun throughout the interior of the house.
The entrance to the property is through a covered garden area outside of the bedrooms which leads to a hall through which you reach a higher viewpoint to visualize and understand the house and its relationship with the environment. With the exception of this space, the rest of the house is on the ground level with the arranged with the intention of facilitating gatherings and family life, essential elements of the second housing.
The sea is visible from every part of the house, prioritizing all the bedrooms and living and dining rooms, enclosures that are designed as spaces of contemplation.
A curved roof of exposed concrete covers the hall, living and dining rooms, and terrace- giving it a unique specialty and creating, in balance with the maritime environment, an atmosphere of tranquility and belonging.
The Confluence House is the primary residence designed by Incorporated Architecture for a young couple in Harlemville, New York. The home has been developed for the award of a LEED rating for residential construction by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The form and orientation of the house is optimized to enhance heat gain in the winter and keep the house cool in the summer. Cross ventilation moves through the transom windows on either side of the house. Other green aspects of the home include solar panels, environmentally friendly kitchen cabinets, FSC certified windows and doors, bamboo floors, low flow plumbing fixtures, recycled glass tile, low VOC paints and sealants, and soy based insulation. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were also engineered to comply with the LEED rating system and Energy Star for Homes system.
Photos: Courtesy of Incorporated Architecture
Veronica Beach House is a unique contemporary residence that has been recently designed by Longhi Architects, situated in Lima, Peru. The materiality of this incredible 7,000 square foot (650 square meters) house is solved with the balanced use of five main materials: Cast Stone concrete, with colors derived from natural rock context.
Here is a description of the project from the architect: Peru is known for its food and its music as a cultural representation, the attempt by its architecture to be known, has become one of the most important motivations of our work. This attempt was conducted in a more intuitive than rational way, more feeling and reacting to our own nature that analyzing or justifying our actions with history or references. This is how we present this home to our clients and this is how we learned the many complexes that we have for recognizing us as Peruvians.
In our environment, it is more difficult to try to offer Peruvian architecture than foreign architecture, complicating the attempt when commisions often arrive with specific orders oblivious to what should be in a proper context styles. Veronica house was a great opportunity to explore this search of our architecture in a context that is better related with the international style.
The intervention was seen as the happy meeting between the artificial and the natural. The pool of almost 40 meters long and a staircase of several levels are the architectural landscape elements that allowed integration with the place always seeking a balance between the natural (rock site) and artificial represented by the same architectural elements.
The social area is at the terrace swimming pool level on a raised platform, carved into the hill, it has a glass enclosure that based on a rail system allowing all partitions come together on the north side of the house making integrated spaces living room, kitchen with terrace and pool.
Beton and Pulish concrete, applied to specific architectural elements, such as an artistic beam that supports the glazing system at the level of the deck, and in some steps of the main staircase, window frames and doors. Shihuahuaco wooden balconies and elevated terraces, walls and ceilings painted white and “volumes” of glass.
Intimate areas are accommodated in a volume of two levels that “floats” above the terrace. This volume generates a nice architectural dialogue with the rock side both north and south of the lot, with a bulk composition that could be interpreted as the geometrization of the nature of the place.
In conclusion it was attempted a house that feels comfortable in its place resorting to the only thing that can unite a community, their culture.
Photos: Juan Solano
House Boz is a spacious and luxurious residence designed by Nico van der Meulen Architects situated on a hill within a secluded nature estate in Pretoria, South Africa. The clients requested that this stunning contemporary four bedroom house had an emphasis placed on the design of the living rooms. Ensuring that the magnificent views were optimized was of utmost importance and the design of this 8,288 square foot (770 square meters) house responds well not only to the client’s requirements but also to the context of the site.
The concept of a bush lodge arose from the vastness of the site and the natural setting of the stand within the estate. Werner van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects was inspired to design a house that resembled a bush lodge in the way it responds to nature and its immediate surroundings. Translating this concept into a contemporary home was almost effortless thanks to the location, orientation and natural beauty of the site.
Phia van der meulen and the M Square Lifestyle Design team strategically linked spaces through their use of various natural materials in the interior spaces. The design exposes the truth of the materials by using them in their purest form such as incorporating in situ-concrete, quartzite cladding and rusted mild steel in the design.
Regardt van der Meulen’s original steel sculptures were chosen for the project, as they fitted perfectly with the steel theme of the project.
Approaching the stand via a long driveway, you are afforded the opportunity to appreciate the design from a distance before actually getting close enough to appreciate its spaces. The striking square and rectangular forms are strategically positioned to capture your attention while the rusted steel boxes and stone-cladded walls aid in camouflaging the house creating a sense of unity between building and site.
The stretched screen walls seem to want to reach beyond their borders while floating steel boxes are gracefully suspended in mid air. The prominent east-west and north-south axes link and connect all the spaces while this point of collision and interception of the axes becomes the center of the home and it is here where we find the living room and covered patio. Thanks to the views being orientated towards North, the entire Northern facade has the ability to open up and live out onto the expansive views thus also naturally lighting and heating the house in winter, while carefully designed overhangs and brise-soleil keep the summer sum out.
The entrance hall positioned between the double garages is distinctively located alongside a partially covered atrium that gently introduces you to several views through the house as you’re welcomed in. The koi pond introduces water as you approach the front door while various podiums add depth and dimension to this space. An elevated sculpture podium and interlocking planters bring this atrium to life. At the same time it makes it possible to sleep with open doors as it is impossible to get into the atrium once the Mentis grating gate to the driveway is locked.
Every design decision communicates and reinforces the concept, as can be seen in the selection of materials used and the way the internal spaces relate to the outdoors. Limiting the choice of materials to predominately natural materials and earthy colors, it is evident that even the smallest of details make reference to the concept in a very unique way. Initially the site revealed itself as a mound of quartzite rock which was excavated and hand cut for the gabion walls and the stone cladding used throughout the house.
The double volume entrance hall is framed by a back-lit perforated skin of scaffolding boards bolted to a wall, creating the perfect backdrop for the sculptural looking concrete staircase with steel inlays and the sculpture under it by Regardt van der Meulen.
The interiors feature linear and monolithic forms that complement the architect’s vision for this house. Many of the functional elements were designed to become beautiful features that visually connect the spaces and create links throughout the house rather than just remaining purely functional. An example of this would be the way the staircase relates to the aluminum ceiling which features in both the main living room as well as in the main bedroom.
The selection of furniture pieces once again continued this theme where splashes of orange were used in the living room making reference to the orange seen in the rusted metal cladding. The overall charcoal color range used in this house complements the shades of grey found in the off shutter concrete walls.
The kitchen overlooks the lanai and garden while the frameless folding doors create an invisible threshold between the inside and out. These doors, when completely open, allow for the kitchen and dining room to overflow onto the lanai and bar, making entertaining effortless and enabling adults to keep an eye on children in the pool, a mere meter away.
The lanai with a sunken jacuzzi is snugly positioned between the pool on one side and a stone-cladded wall on the west which screens the afternoon sun to ensure the lanai’s temperature remains moderate. It is these design decisions that truly set this house apart from the rest.
All four en suite bedrooms are situated on the first floor with all of the bedrooms having their own private balcony. The three children’s bedrooms are situated on the western wing of the house while the main bedroom is located on the eastern wing. A suspended walkway with steel sheeting as floor tiles, overlooking the atrium links the two wings and creates a sense of privacy for the main bedroom.
Challenges arose during the construction process; however Nico van der Meulen Architects clearly pushed the boundaries on this design. This house prides itself in its design for luxury indoor/outdoor living in the heart of nature where internal spaces effortlessly expand beyond their often invisible borders to a world of beauty outside.
The variety and combination of textures used in this design create a synergy in this home which makes it truly unique.
Photos: Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects
West Seattle Residence is a modern house comprised of concrete, glass, and steel, designed by Lawrence Architecture, situated in the West Seattle district of Seattle, Washington. The 3,800-square-foot house sits on top of a steep hill looking westward with dramatic views of Puget Sound. It’s essentially a loft-like glass curtain wall pavilion that sits on top of an opaque and rectilinear podium next to a similarly massed 925 square foot detached garage. A road runs along the rear of the house on its opaque east side, where the main entry is. Parallel to this road is a tall concrete wall up to twenty-four feet high that shields the house and a side patio for privacy. This wall then extends to the garage and living space unit next door where the client’s parents often stay when they’re visiting, blocking views into the main house’s master bedroom and keeping family at a comfortable distance. “They didn’t want to have to put up blinds,” Lawrence says.
The wall is also the organizing element for the circulation including the stairs with cantilevered steel treads. Supported on steel frames and triangular steel trusses, the roof swoops over the concrete wall capping the pavilion. Eight by sixteen foot sections of the curtain wall pivot for ventilation.
The house’s roof is its most engaging and formal feature. Lawrence describes the arcing shell as “springing over” the house from the rear privacy wall. The garage and loft apartment building has a similar curved roof. Both create a dynamic formal tension with the largely rectilinear buildings below.
An interior and exterior fireplace on the north side connects the house to its patio.
Several wood flourishes warm the inside and outside of the house. Douglas fir is used on the underside of the roof and on the ceiling of the kitchen. The opaque facades of the building are covered in metal panels. Inside, the floors are terrazzo and many of the walls are raw concrete. A steel slab floating stair adds more cool, industrial sophistication.
The house sits on a long, rectilinear podium that contains four bedrooms, a family room, bathrooms, and a media library, occupying the daylight basement level. Upstairs, the main level is an open plan, loft-like living room and kitchen, bathed in light and air through the curtain wall’s operable windows and steel structure. The top level of the house contains the master bedroom and bath. There is additional living space above the garage accessible via stair or future elevator.
The stair has demountable guardrails which are normally in place but were removed for the photographs.
Photos: Benjamin Benschneider