The Conrad Residence is a modern property redesigned to maximize views and living space by Swatt | Miers Architects, located in Sausalito, a San Francisco Bay Area city in Marin County, California. The residence was built over the footprint of a 1950’s residence by noted Bay Area modernist Rodger Lee that over the years had suffered irreparable structural damage.
The new design doubles the area of the house to 2,700 square feet while maintaining the original emphasis on the expressive use of wood and the distribution of public and private spaces.
The new design retains the spirit of the original on the exterior and the interior through its expressive use of wood structure and finishes. Strip windows and cedar siding emphasize the horizontality of the design, extending the lines of the house into the site, and helping nestle the house into the hillside.
Post-and-beam construction is used to reveal the structure of the house and articulates the grid upon which is it is base. Tongue and groove cedar soffits visually connect interior spaces to decks and terraces beyond.
Exposed woodwork, concrete, and stainless steel details complete the plan.
Photos: Cesar Rubio
LA House is a modern single family residence just recently designed by Elías Rizo Arquitectos in collaboration with interior designer Kárima Dipp, located in Mexico. Breaking with the norm established by all the houses in the vicinity, the residence recedes a considerable distance from the setback line, to yield a large open space below the tree canopies, a stark welcome gesture.
The main entry into the complex proceeds to an open passageway that runs along a rough-hewn stone wall and postpones the access into the house an additional number of meters. A glazed box containing a studio protrudes from the building. It hovers above a large pond that can be crossed via a series of stone pavers that rise above the water and lead directly into the public areas of the house. The garage, concealed on the other side of the stone wall, compels cars to park sideways so as to render them invisible from any space in the house.
The entry sequence into the building presents a series of layers, starting with the garden space beyond the setback lines, following through the open corridor past the pond, and crossing through the central courtyard all the way to the living spaces at the back of the main building.
A central courtyard scheme was implemented to introduce natural ventilation into every space of the house without compromising privacy. The corridors around the courtyard on the ground floor are defined by a series of operable windows that allow the kitchen and living spaces to bleed out into the exterior, when the weather allows it.
Expanding on the theme of permeability that dominates the ground floor, similar solutions were implemented throughout the living quarters on the second level, to allow for the private, open spaces. Such is the case with the small, glazed atrium that ventilates the master bathroom and the deeply recessed balconies that yield generous exterior areas to all bedrooms.
Dark gray steel, glass, wood, concrete and stone compose the greater part of the material palette throughout the house, wich is complemented by accents in leather and stainless steel. The master bathroom receives a special treatment as it is covered almost in its entirety with white marble.
Crossing the lawn, beyond the living spaces on the ground floor, a pool and a concrete volume containing an entertainment room overlook a small ravine outside of the property. Below this volume a staggered pathway descends gently to negotiate the changes in topography on a pronounced cliff, leading down to a lower landscape area.
Photos: Marcos García
Casa MM project is comprised of two contemporary homes on one property, just recently completed by Elías Rizo Arquitectos, located in Tapalpa, Mexico. Two brothers who owned a considerable stretch of land in Tapalpa approached the architects with the intention of building two separate houses. As they delved into the project´s needs, they realized that both clients had similar needs and while they didn’t mind, and in fact preferred, that the houses share a common language, each one had to convey its own singular personality. The topography of the site imposed its own set of variables that resulted in further slight alterations in the design of each house.
A similar set of priorities was implemented in dimensioning spaces and establishing spatial relationships between functions.
Access to both buildings became a primary concern in our design. Although the entry layout and sequences were mainly driven by function, the clients expressed a desire that entrance into the houses be conceived as an experience in its own right. We then proceeded to articulate the entry modules with their various spaces (mud room, garage, storage, and service quarters) around open courtyards that catch the eye and allow daylight in.
Both buildings are shaped by a need for flexible use of space, and a desire to connect with outdoors. Throughout the houses one finds that a large extent of walls and windows are in fact operable partitions that can be hidden entirely from sight to connect adjacent spaces with kindred functions, or to expose the house to its surroundings.
House A, which was built on the higher part of the property, maintains a more introvert disposition. Its floor plan displays a slight angularity that distinguishes in from B, and all of its spaces are arranged around an open yard. Aside from the master bedroom, which stands off-axis and partially detached from the rest of the house, all dormitories contain a mezzanine level with additional beds.
House B shares to overall layout and spatial sequence of House A, but displays a strict, rectilinear floor plan which looks out beyond the property´s edge. Unlike House A, its dormitories are on a single level.
The exposed steel structure, with its clean lines and its stark geometry, acts as disciplined three-dimensional contour, framing planes and volumes clad in raw texture, which in turn a direct relationship to the building´s natural setting.
Photos: Marcos García
NR2 House is a modern single family residence completed in 2012 by Roberto Burneo Arquitectos, located in Balcon de Valle, Quito Canton, Ecuador. Situated in a private development in the valley of Cumbaya, the NR2 House responds to the natural ground, to a stunning landscape and to the project requirements. To the east you can find the Los Andes Mountain, while to the west the private areas of entertainment are located.
At the top level of the 9,730 square foot (904 square meters) house you can find the bedrooms and common areas such as the kitchen, dining room and entertainment areas. On the lower level, at street level, you find the service areas including the parking lot.
We propose transparency, volumetric composition, and materiality as design strategies. In order to use the privileged view of the landscape, several perspectives from different areas of the house are handled. Also, the front of the house meets the street in an unobtrusive way.
Materials such as concrete and burnished metal are used in the construction of the house. The kitchen and dining area are located in the northern part. The living room, gym and bedrooms, are unified by a pergola of laminated wood, which covers great part with the terrace, creating a gathering space that brings together the private, social, and pool area.
The relationship between interior and exterior spaces is based on the controlled management of natural light. The volume of the spaces causes light contrast and this occurs because the dim light travels through the house.
Photos: Sebastián Crespo Camacho
SF House is a contemporary residence designed for a couple and their two teenage children by Studio Guilherme Torres, located in Londrina, Brazil. Completed in 2006, the 5,887 square foot (547 square meters) project was planned on an upward sloping terrain allocated in three floors. The first floor, built at the street level, contains the laundry area which cannot be seen due to the span that forms the garage.
Above the garage one can find the living area and the guest’s bedroom. The big wood brise indicates the stairway that leads to the house. On the third floor, you will find the bedrooms which face a vast terrace. The access to the bedrooms is through a long corridor, brightly illuminated by glass sealed slabs on the ceiling and walls. Light is this project’s main property. It is free, rich, abundant and generous.
In this house, different environs are found with total synergy among the different parts of the house. The dining room, balcony and the home theater have no obstacles between them and can be closed with glass doors that are allocated in the walls. On both floors and walls one can easily notice the materials used: cement, bricks and cumaru wood.
The furniture never fails to match couple the precise and economical features of the house yet following a rejuvenating idea proposed by the family. The materials used either as floor or wall coatings allow room for a new interpretation to the basic Cartesian plans. In other words, the material which is supposedly made for walking on can actually be touched and vice and verse.
The house architecture carries several antagonistic symbolism’s – solidity, lightness, coziness, modernity, warmth, freshness – and complementary so as to shorten the distance between our dreams and achievements, an antidote to the boredom of traditional houses.
Photos: Beto Consorte
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?
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.
Casa Sierra Leona showcases a daring modern design where steel, concrete and glass take center stage, designed by architect José Juan Rivera Río, located in the residential area of Sierra Leona, on the outskirts of Mexico City, in Lomas de Chapultepec, Mexico
Apparent simplicity and exquisite details, this house is resolved with flat roofs between a courtyard and a garden in which ambiguously intersect interior and exterior facings which stand out clearly the constructive system based on concrete, glass and steel.
This residence was built with the characteristic style of architecture from the years 60´s inspired by modernism. The program includes two levels on the access platform and a basement which is accessed from the bottom of the street, this leading to the parking lot.
Quality materials, clear colors and fleeting reflections on glass are at the service of comfort and design, to gardening camouflages the borders and builds a landscape and atmosphere of privacy.
Photos: Nasser Malek Hernández
We just love the new Corvi Concrete Wine Cooler, an extravagant design for wine lovers and those who just love to entertain, by designer Fran Corvi of Argentina-based studio PPi3D. The wine cooler is a sleek and stylish alternative for those searching for a sophisticated way to store their most prized bottle of vintage. Inspired by the simplicity of stone, the cooler’s clean, sharp lines offer a refined interpretation of the features of a gem. The product is handmade in Chicago from soft concrete, a material developed in Sweden, which conveys strength in a slender profile; the vessel feels smooth to the touch. This strikingly modern piece is rooted in designer Francisco Corvi’s heritage: “In Argentina, wine is a symbol of high society. The wine cooler is a piece of me, my roots and my life.”
This stunning product retails at $75 and can be found at the unique online establishment of IntoConcrete, where you can find everything you need to outfit your home.
Aside from its contemporary appeal, concrete is a perfect practical medium for temperature maintenance. After being placed in the freezer, it stays chilled for quite a while because of its mass. Single coolers can be stacked in endless design arrangements to make a customized wine cellar.
- Dimensions: 100 x 100 X 250 mm
- Weight: 1,700 g
- Color: Gray
- Material: Soft Concrete
- Handmade in the United States
About the designer: Francisco Corvi
Industrial Designer Francisco Corvi is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who graduated from the National University of La Plata. He specializes in the development of furniture, stands and displays. “I am a very simple man, in love with the little things,” he explains, noting that he is simultaneously focused on the larger picture and continuously improving his products and prospects. Francisco teamed with Leonardo Anbinder, a Da Vinci School graduate and multi-media designer, to form PPi3D. The Buenos Aires-based creative design studio is known for producing visually striking and unique contemporary forms. Each piece is the result of a meticulous blend of its creators’ expertise and individual philosophies. Their distinctive creations feature beautiful, functional elements that are aesthetically and structurally built to withstand the test of time.
MODECO residence is a modern single family property designed by Modern House Architects, located in Los Altos, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. This spacious newly built family home features open plan living, comprised of materials of wood, concrete and glass.
We were fortunate to have been commissioned by an owner/developer who wished to create a new home that was both site specific and sensitive to the remaining mid-century character of existing homes left in this neighborhood. We drew upon archetypes of the 40‘s and 50‘s, such as limited front facade fenestration and appropriately located roof overhangs, while using materials more common to current modernist homes.
The floors in the kitchen are plain sawn white oak, no stain.
The structure incorporates passive house standard technology that approaches the current European model of passive home. MODECO utilizes natural ventilation and light, solar photovoltaic (PV), and a mechanical/fresh air system with heat recovery. Concrete walls have a thermally broken core, and all other exterior walls and roof have 1.75 inch ridged outsulation wrap.
Photos: Assassi Productions
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