Fairfield Hacienda is a stunning contemporary dwelling that was the vision of MRTN Architects, located on the fringe of Melbourne, Australia’s inner suburbs. The new family home sits in an established residential street of Victorian villas and Californian bungalows. From the street, the angled roof home seems to fit into the landscape of single-level homes, effortlessly picking up the street’s original pattern of hipped and gabled roof forms. A closer look however, reveals that this new house sits unusually behind a sunny, walled courtyard. This room without a roof, except for a sheltering courtyard tree, is an extension of the living and dining spaces that open onto it.
The enclosed courtyard is located to the north of the house and creates a buffer between the street and the house allowing the living spaces to open up to and access northern light and warmth.
The front wall of the courtyard matches the front setback of the adjacent neighbors. In holding the typical front setback of houses along the street, and setting the house to the south, a sun filled outdoor area is created that can be used as a living, dining or play area. The courtyard space also becomes a semi-public space allowing interaction between the owners and local passerby’s; responding to the owner’s desire that the house engage with the established residents in the area.
The concrete block walls of the courtyard continue without interruption through the house’s main living areas. These walls remain unchanged except for the patina. Outside they are rough and weathered, but become polished and honed once inside. The design is not precious of the courtyard walls; eventually vines and creepers will take over the exterior concrete block and create a walled garden that will change by season.
The living spaces are covered with an undulating canopy of cedar, a warm blanket of timber. From the exterior the roof form relates to the neighboring roof geometries along the street but from inside the roof dips and rises to define the dining, kitchen and living spaces below. The timber ceiling is kept clear of down lights and services; all lighting is provided by concealed perimeter uplighting, at night the roof appears to float over the masonry walls below.
Beyond the living spaces the private zones of the house are arranged as two wings, a parents wing and a children’s wing, that wrap around a small courtyard. This central planted courtyard provides light and ventilation to the center of the house. Currently parents and young children can see each other through this void but over time planting will create greater privacy for older children.
The owners’ brief was to create a long-term family home, somewhere they could become a part of the street and its ongoing history. The Fairfield Hacienda sits comfortably within its local context while creating a contemporary light filled home that is orientated to the north and provides a variety of spaces to live in, both inside and out.
Photos: Peter Bennetts
Querosene House is a modern three story home showcasing an incredible library design that contains 7,500 books, designed by architects grupoSP in São Paulo, Brazil. A large portion of land where the house has been built lies three meters below street level, so the design of this urban home of 10X40 meters enabled a large open space that is straightforward and transparent. This space is defined in one side by the north face structure, a parallel free wall which houses a library containing 7,500 volumes and on the other side by a parallel block, an all closed space – a block with three stories that contains all the services, equipment and dormitories.
To access this block concrete stairs positioned parallel to the south limit of the bath, to access the wall of books metal platforms connected to the service block placed in an interleaved manner.
The design takes advantage from the difference between the street level and the lower level of the plot, by positioning the living room in this lower level which ensures the required privacy and maintains the view of the distant landscape through the void. This simple home adopts simple constructive solutions, reducing the actions required for its achievement.
The structure of the volume is resumed to masonry walls and reinforced concrete. Installations are apparent and performed without interference. After that the finishes are simple: monolithic concrete flooring and white Portuguese Stone. The walls without finishes are ready as it built. A single exception: the wall with books, finished with time and history.
Photos: Nelson Kon
Casa Varatojo has been designed by Atelier Data, for a family who desired to be close to the city whilst enjoying views of the surrounding landscape of Varatojo, just east of the city of Torres Vedras, Portugal. Set in a polygonal configuration plot and given its sun exposure (predominantly North/South) and also its main Northern wind direction, the design strategy began by considering the following issues:
Promoting relationship between building and landscape, taking advantage of the place’s overlooking position over the city, castle and surroundings;
Encouraging a strong complementarity between the house and the garden in order to create an intense visual relation between the inside and the outside, between construction and natural elements;
Creating transversal relations between the North Side – (view) and the South side – (inner garden) mainly through the pool on the lower floor and modeling land of the garden;
Recycling of materials such as the walls of wooden pilings (former railway sleepers), introducing a certain experimentalism and innovation from the way the material is usually used for and thought to be;
Encouraging the use of native vegetation in the garden.
The 4,090 square foot (380 square meters) house is shaped by a spiral gesture intending to take advantage of the plot outline.
We opted for the construction of a limit, a kind of line that gradually takes shape and thickness to accommodate the housing program.
This gesture starts with the ramped access to the lot and ends on the opposite side of the house, achieving at this point two-stories high, thereby the contour of the house also reinforced this “gesture in spiral”.
The adopted design strategy allowed us to create a living space on the site’s south side, protected from the strong Northern winds, which forced the existence of the main construction on the north side.
From a functional standpoint, the program is distributed in three floors.
The groundfloor centralizes most of the program.
There is located the common areas – kitchen, living room and dining room – constrained to a single and continuous open space, enhanced by the ceiling plan. On the other hand, the rooms’ wing (with a much more restricted access) contains guest and children’s rooms, separated by a playing/studying room.
On the 1st floor is located the master bedroom with a deep balcony facing North, and on the South, there is a bathroom with a big window facing a small garden as its background.
Still on this floor there is a library, a mezzanine space over the living space.
On the lower floor the pool is the central space through where it is possible to connect with both north sights and south private garden, and also to enjoy the reflected landscape on the water.
On one hand we opted for the use of traditional materials and coatings, as exemplified by the cementitious materials, plaster, timber and cork, and, on the other hand, we considered the reuse of railway sleepers within a distinct logic of its conventional use introducing some innovation and experimentation in the search for new possibilities of materials’ use.
Thus we suggest new interpretations from the current and traditional construction, through design but also through material options.
Vegetation: Elasticity and Plasticity
Define a grove of Quercus faginea subssp. broteroi (Portuguese oak), seeded the phytogeographic association where the plot is located. The dominant choice of native vegetation for the garden (trees, shrubs and herbaceous) takes advantage of site soil and climate characteristics, creating an ecological system integrated into the Landscape of the Region (Genius loci).
On the North hillside, a Kermes oak shrubland, appear in a limestone substrate. Exposed to the wind, the Kermes oak shrubland have as main actors the Quercus coccifera and mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) that associates with various species such as: the Mediterranean buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus); the Flax-leaved Daphne (Daphne gnidium); the Sage-leaved Rock Rose (Cistus salvifolius); the Lusitanian gorse (Ulex densus); the Rough bindweed (Smilax aspera) and the Etruscan honeysuckle (Lonicera etrusca). On the sheltered South side, arises the Portuguese oak with arborescent shrubs like Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus); the single-seed Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna); the Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and herbaceous like Bear`s breeches (Acanthus mollis) and yellow irises (Iris pseudacorus).
Photos: Richard John Seymour
The House in Frogs Hollow is a country retreat designed by Williamson Chong Architects, located on a long slope of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Georgian Bay, in Grey Highlands, Ontario, Canada. The property is a collection of eroded clay hills and protected watershed zones blanketed with a dense field of hawthorn and native grasses. It is not picturesque, but tough and rather impenetrable.
The clients, who gather at the property throughout the year, are avid cyclists who spent months on the 100 acre property prior to construction cutting in discreet mountain biking trails and learning the paths of the horses and snowmobiles as they emerge from the community over the seasons. Because of their connection to the landscape, a primary site strategy was to resist the inclination to build on the top of the hills where one could survey the property in its entirety and instead carve out a building area at the base of the hillside.
The 2,000 square foot house is not the final destination, but a stopping place within their network of activity. Carved into the landscape, the muscular tectonic of the long concrete wall figuratively clears the site for building while bridging the natural and tempered environments. The concrete has a toughness that mirrors the landscape, providing protection from the prevailing winter winds. During the summer months the wall provides patio shade, creating pools of cooler air that are passively drawn through the house.
Entry is at the west end of the concrete wall and into a service bar containing the stair, kitchen, office, bike workshop, storage room, and mechanical room. This functional zone serves as a backdrop to the glassed in living area that opens on three sides to an extended view of the rolling landscape.
The first and second floors are connected by a figured stair enclosure. This digitally fabricated element is designed to filter light from the clerestory volume above. At the ground floor it carves into the area below its upper run to gather more space at the entry and allow for a seating area.
The second level hovers above the concrete wall and living space. It contains the bedrooms, bathrooms, and family room in a tight wrapper of customized ship lap siding. Designed as an undulating rhythm of varying widths, thin boards are CNC milled to a shallow depth while wider boards are milled with deep striations, casting long shadows that track the sun as it moves around the house. The siding is stained with a linseed oil based iron oxide pigment that requires reapplication only once every 15 years.
The house’s connection to the land is reinforced not only in its architectural form, but also in its environmental footprint. The house is heated with radiant floor loops that supplement the passive winter heat gain from south facing windows. In addition, there is no mechanical cooling. Instead, the stair tower and operable windows facilitate passive ventilation that draw cool air through the house from shaded exterior areas. Natural materials and pigments were used throughout and a small square footage was maintained to further reduce construction costs and keep future energy consumption to a minimum.
Photos: Bob Gundu
House in Nishiochia is a bright and minimalist concrete family home that has been designed by Suppose Design Office, situated in Nishiochiai, Tokyo, Japan. Completed in 2014, the owner wanted to enjoy a house with beautiful light and rich spatial meanings. The house also needed to balance tranquility and warmth. For this, the design team proposed a new style of the Japanese small residence of only 1,022 square (95 square meters) in the context of the big city.
Usually, stairs and corridor spaces are seen as auxiliary space. In the case of this house the stairs extends into the rooms and creates a fuzzy space without defined borders. These auxiliary space becomes integral to the design and manifest as thresholds which the owner can make meaning of the spaces as they inhabit.
The spiral room and the large atrium void creates a stack effect for natural ventilation. Openings and canopies are placed sparingly to create just enough light into the space, such that the result is a cozy interior with a dramatic tranquility.
Photos: Courtesy of Suppose Design Office
DM House is the stunning modern transformation of a home for a couple and their three young children, by Studio Guilherme Torres, situated in São Paulo, Brazil. After living in Europe for a decade the family had decided to come home to Brazil. It took six months for the architect, Guilherme Torres, to get to know the London based couple who’d contracted him in São Paulo. “All our meetings were via Skype, but their camera was never working, so I barely saw them throughout the whole process”, says the architect. The project, which was initially an interior design job, grew into an architectural one and Guilherme chose to convert the 1970’s residence into a much more spacious and well-lit house. of 3,767 square feet (350 square meters).
The home-owner proved to be an excellent designer, which made the process a great deal more pleasant and enabled the architect to suggest really vibrant and colorful decoration. A large multi-color lacquer cabinet was the starting point for the whole project, traversing the rooms, organizing the circulation and giving the house a unique atmosphere.
The dining-room table was designed by the architect and built in concrete during the construction phase, contrasting the mosaic tile wall. All the furniture was bought in London and brought back to Brazil when the family came home.
Another highlight of the Project was the revolution in the usage of space. The architect chose to put the children’s bedrooms and games room on the ground floor, and created a living room and kitchen on the basement level.
To replace the old, damp cellar, he created a living room surrounded by gardens and a swimming pool.
Photos: Denilson Machada
This incredible modern beach house has been designed by West Chin Architects, located in Long Beach, New York. The home features a 26 foot wide, 3-ton airport glass hanger door in the living room that opens to the Atlantic Ocean. The residence is sited on a 60′ wide x 100′ deep corner lot on the Atlantic Ocean is an addition to the fabric of a community which is a city by the sea; an absolutely beautiful dichotomy of nature and man.
This is the first house in the United States to use the environmentally conscious structurally dynamic BBS wood structural panels from Austria. These panels allow a minimal floor slab thickness and large spans, and in the same breadth provides insulation value. The BBS acts as the interior and / or exterior finishes in many cases; this was a warm balance to the vast amount of glass on the facade and the exposed reinforced thermal concrete wall.
The use of a solar panel on the south facing roof will put energy back on the grid during the week, when the house is not in use. And during the weekends it will supplement the electrical needs of this 5,500 square foot house.
At the top of the interior stair one will find the 26’ wide bi-fold garage door that opens up to an unobstructed view of the ocean, beaches and horizon. Every element of this beach home takes advantage of its natural surroundings.
Photos: West Chin Architects
Toro Canyon Residence was envisioned by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, nestled on a 10 acre parcel in Toro Canyon, Los Angeles, California, among natural groves of oak and eucalyptus trees. A seasonal creek to the east and Toro Canyon Creek to the west flanks the secluded building site. The house is approached via a narrow, tree covered drive, which ends at a small clearing and presenting the ocean and islands in the distance. The residence is sited on axis with the canyon and views beyond. The building parti presents three one story, wedge shaped volumes; a carport /service volume to the north, a public living volume to the south west and a private sleeping volume to the south east. The volume enclosing the carport intersects the living volume and is offset to showcase the glass entry pavilion separating the volumes.
Constructed of laminated glass beams and roof panels, with glass doors, this entry space is conceptualized as an exterior circulation connection between the private and public wings of the house. The exterior walls are constructed of 12” thick insulated cast-in-place self consolidating concrete, and a metal roof helps to provide maximum fire resistance in this secluded canyon. Interior floors are lightweight concrete.
The exposed concrete is warmed with doors and windows of natural mahogany and interior millwork and ceilings of natural eucalyptus. The main floor of 4,700 square feet includes a studio, family room, kitchen, dining room, living room, office and master suite. A lower floor of 2800 square feet includes guest rooms and an exercise space and mechanical space.
Photos: Ciro Coelho