The Orchard Willow Residence is a contemporary three level single family residence designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, located in Chicago, Illinois. The clients sought a home that balanced an abundance of natural light and direct connections to nature with a need for privacy. Located adjacent to a schoolyard, the site affords an open southern side yard, unusual for Chicago. The exposure provided an opportunity to access natural light throughout the day while challenging how to achieve privacy.
A board-formed concrete wall poured just above eye level encircles the property. With the first floor set down at natural grade, the textural wall provides complete visual privacy within the garden, allowing the wooden framed interior living space to be enclosed with glass. Large sliding doors and a continuous stone floor connect the interior and exterior as a single room.
Above the wooden pavilion, a narrow, copper-clad volume floats on a clerestory band of windows, bringing light deep into the broad living space below. Within the bedrooms, deeply recessed balconies are carved out of the copper enclosure to form light courts that shade the glazing, provide privacy, and direct views away from the neighboring school to the distant Chicago skyline and sunset.
Photos: Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing
Cottage de Brebeuf is the conversion of a duplex cottage by Atelier BOOM TOWN into a rustic chic home comprised of steel, wood and concrete, located in Brebeuf, Quebec, Canada. The transformation was based on replacing the original structural axes. On the ground floor, bearing walls bordering the existing central circulation are replaced by a structure of beams and raw steel columns, allowing the creation of an open area for living areas (kitchen, living and dining room).
Small openings in the back yard are enlarged to maximum capacity, allowing at the same time easy and smooth access to outdoor space. Wood joists above the ground floor are exposed, increasing the height effect under the ceiling. Technical block housing a small toilet room and various storage is covered with concrete panels.
The wood recovered during the demolition is reused to cover the kitchen island to build shelves and sliding doors. The staircase is at the heart of the ground floor, becoming a characterizing element and allowing arrival at the center of the floor, under a new skylight where bedrooms are easily accessible without suffering a loss of space for traffic.
The upstairs bathroom enjoys a wide window veiled by a frosted glass, diffusing light and providing privacy.
Photos: Angus McRitchie
Nestled in the cliff-top estate “The Cove” in Pezula, Knysna, South Africa, Cove 3 House was designed by SAOTA and Antoni Associates to be integrated into the topography and natural color of the fynbos, maintaining a seamless connection with landscape and ocean. “The brief was to create a home for a Johannesburg based family that could eventually be used as a family home but would initially be used for holidays. The site enjoys spectacular views and it was important that the connection to these views was maximized,” says Greg Truen, Project Partner.
The site is in The Cove development at Pezula Estate outside Knysna. It enjoys fantastic sea views to the East and to the South. The approach is from the North West and there are houses that overlook the property from the East and the North. The site slopes from the North West to the South East.
The primary idea driving the design was to create a single living space with a single roof element floating over it that responded to the slope of the site. The roof is set at a sufficiently high level so that it is out of one’s line of sight from the living space, creating the illusion that one is sitting in the landscape rather than in a room looking out into a landscape. A large triangular cut-out in the roof reinforces a connection with the sky.
A very detailed solar analysis was done of the building to try and get direct sun (other than the rising East sun) out of the building. As a result, a mid-level horizontal sunscreen was added to the double height glass facade and the skylight is protected by a timber screen that hangs into the space to mitigate the scale of the double volume space. Care was also taken in selecting performance-glass that would minimize the impact of direct sun.
The building is approached from the North West at the top of the site. This elevation is low and horizontal. The choice of materials, off-shutter concrete, Rheinzink roofing, timber cladding, stone and exposed aggregate will allow the building to fade into the landscape as it ages. The building is orientated towards the view; one enters at the upper level of the double volume looking towards the ocean. The contrast with the external approach is very powerful. A grand stair pulls on onto the living level which holds the kitchen, dining room and living room. To the right the landscaping is pulled into the building, blurring the distinction between the inside and the outside.
A spiral stair connects the living level to a private lounge and the master bedroom on a mezzanine level. This stair was conceived as a sculptural element in the large volume to again mitigate the scale of this space. This spiral drops through the floor to a lower level which houses a guest bedroom, a home theater and a living room.
An L-shaped extension to the South West houses the two children’s bedrooms. The bedrooms have curved curtain tracks that create very intimate sleeping spaces at night which contrast with the very open daytime character. Water is a critical issue in this part of the world and a huge underground cistern was created under the garden terrace to harvest rainwater to minimize the houses’ reliance on the municipal water system. A heat pump and water based under floor heating system uses less energy than would ordinarily be required for a house of this magnitude. The concept behind the landscaping was to reinstate the fynbos and let the building float over this restored surface.
“The interiors are uncluttered and reflect the easy living requirements of the clients. Spaces are sparse, and have been furnished minimalistically which emphasize the strong architectural lines and volume of the architecture. The furniture is modern, and a number of bespoke pieces were sourced from the designer’s retail outlet OKHA. A neutral palette of ivory, stone and shell complement the natural architectural timber and concrete finishes selected throughout,” says Mark Rielly of ANTONI ASSOCIATES.
Photos: Micky Hoyle COURTESY OF VISI
13th Beach Brick House is a new three bedroom house designed by Auhaus Architecture, located adjacent to a coastal golf course fairway in Melbourne, Australia. The layout, form and construction of the house is designed to counter winds that roll across the dunes and the golf course and provide privacy from the daily procession of golfers whilst also giving views to the golf course.
The embracing masonry walls wrap around a central, north facing courtyard, giving the house an immense sense of privacy and seclusion from neighboring properties and passing golfers.
The encircling plan allows for light, curated vistas and an inherent interconnectedness between the building and landscape. The entry slips between two soaring blade walls into a double height space, the void carrying through the living zone and giving the house a heightened sense of light and space within its contained footprint.
The sculpted interior provides distinct yet connected living zones, while the limewashed brick walls create a luminous and tactile surface finish. A cantilevered study perches over the entry, connecting the two living levels. The house offers a robust, low maintenance and serene internal environment with punctuated views to the landscape.
Redux House has been designed by Marcio Kogan’s Studio MK27, located in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil, in a gated community called Quinta da Baroneza. The open land, on a downwards slope terrain and with a west facing view, is on the edge of a large environmental preservation area of a native forest, aspects which determined the implantation as well as the residence’s architectural parti.
The house was built on the highest level possible, respecting the existing topography in order to could gain the view of the sunset and the vegetation with the least impact on the surroundings. The project is composed of a slab floor, 4 programmatic boxes and a slab ceiling. Externally to the slab of the floor there appears a great concrete volume, pool and deck, which is projected along the decline of the site and terminates floating through a
small although striking span.
The slab of the floor, at 50cm above the ground is supported by beams set back, intensifying the delicate shape in which the projected was implanted onto the land. Visually, the house seems to float. The program was divided into four programmatic blocks. The first block contains the intimate area (4 bedrooms and sauna), the second only has the master suite. On the third we have the services area (kitchen, laundry room, sitting room, bathrooms and maids rooms). Finally, in the last block we have the garage and the technical area.
The distribution of the blocks in the slab floor created interstitial spaces, configuring circulation, terraces and the large space for the living room. This latter, enveloped by a skin of glass with sliding panels open and create a dialogue between the internal and external (native forest and the west). The slab of the roof, the same size as the slab on the floor, overlaps the programmatic volumes which, because of the different heights, here it leans on the roof there it has a reduced ceiling height. The emptiness between the volumes and the slab create an inner rhythm and, simultaneously, makes it possible to have improved natural lighting in the house.
The two main volumes that include the bedrooms are completely clad in vertically slatted wooden panels which open almost entirely. In the day, the panels filter the sunlight creating a texture of light and shade and, at night, it transforms the boxes into large lanterns which light up the land.
Photos: Fernando Guerra
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
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