K4 House Vaucluse is a contemporary renovation of a family home with views to the harbor in Sydney, Australia, completed by Bruce Stafford Architects and interior designer Milenka Kolenda. The elevated family home had been given an extensive renovation, which involved working with a significant proportion of the existing fabric, resulting in the need for a carefully resolved internal layout.
Given the clients’ penchant for entertaining, an additional floor was added which takes advantage of the expansive Sydney Harbour views. Conceived as a “New York style” lounge bar, it features luxurious finishes and bespoke joinery items like integrated leather bench seating and a marble-clad bar area. Another key intervention was the inclusion of a double volume entrance zone which creates a visual connection between the entry level and the upper floor as well as the opportunity for the clients to welcome their arriving guests from the top floor.
BSA worked closely with the clients to choose all the interior finishes, thereby ensuring that the overall architectural design matched their personal vision for their home.
Photos: Castle + Beatty
San Vicente House was designed for a family with three small girls to respond to the busy street it is located on by McClean Design, situated in Ramona, San Diego County, California. The architects came up with a sequence of entry which uses several devices to separate the occupants from the noise beyond. The drive court is screened from the street by high gates and tall landscaped elements. This area connects to an inner courtyard through a curving glass screen designed to allow the light to pass through but shield from the cars and noise. The courtyard contains a waterfall and an infinity edge pool both of which help to instill a feeling of calm as you approach the house.
Our hope is by the time you enter into the two story entry hall you have left the rest of the world behind. The L shaped plan of the house maximizes the expansive back yard while further screening potential noise such that the rear yard is extremely quiet and peaceful. The garden also contains a pool and guest house.
The house consists of master plus four bedrooms on the upper level with a family room, art room and gym. The lower level has formal living and dining rooms, family room, media and office plus associated secondary spaces. The house is finished in cool grey and cream limestone with light plaster and paint tones and bronze metal accents.
Photos: Courtesy of McClean Design
Bondi House is a row house designed by Fearns Studio in Sydney, Australia’s Bondi Beach neighborhood showcasing how light and framed views define a space. The client requested the need for more privacy and lack of natural light filtering into the narrow Victorian terrace house. The resolution for both issues was to confine most sources of natural light to the ceilings. The 2,800 square foot house was originally built in 1980 and various remodels were done over the years. It’s one house in a row of four. It is nestled on a narrow lot that is about 20 feet wide by 139 feet long, it’s apparent that privacy — for both the homeowner and the neighbors — was a primary issue.
A garage and guesthouse loft are nestled into the back of the lot. Tasmanian oak doors slide open, connecting the garage, landscape and main house seamlessly. The same polished concrete floors used in the main house continue in the garage.
Fearns resolved privacy by designing the home like a tube. “The purpose of the tube idea was simply to direct views from the house away from neighboring properties by placing openings only at the ends,” he says. “I wanted to leave the side elevations largely clear of windows to de-clutter them, as well as eliminate the overlooking impacts.”
Deep door frames capture exterior moments like paintings. Light and shadow play animates the bare walls.
The back deck, shown here, projects off the master bedroom.
Though this was primarily a contemporary renovation, the home shows its age through subtle details like this archway and the baseboards. Fearns brought sunlight to central areas of the first floor with multiple skylights. The natural light works as a push-pull tool: the dark, compressed hallway pushes you toward the glowing light at the end of the tunnel.
The living area rounds out the great room. It can be difficult to create intimate spaces in open plans, but Fearns employed various techniques to bring the home down to human scale. “In this case the rhythm of solids and voids [walls and glazing] primarily helps create a sense of smaller spaces within the open plan,” he explains. The walls and door frame various areas of the great room, suggesting how to furnish and lay out the space.
The ground level is broken up into various zones that can be opened or closed off to maximize flow, while always maintaining strong visual connections between spaces. “When doors are open, the rear portion of the site effectively can become a single open space — albeit modulated by various smaller areas within it,” Fearns says. A skylight directs more sunlight into the living room.
The materials and finishes developed as the project progressed. “The palette in the end was limited and simple and comprised mainly [of] clear sealed hardwood doors, windows, flooring and joinery — almost all Tasmanian oak with some blackbutt,” Fearns says. Polished concrete floors connect all the spaces in the great room.
The dining area connects to the kitchen — the heart of the house, as Fearns calls it. “It’s set between the lounge and dining areas to be a hub for both,” he says. Though oversize and solidly built, the Tasmanian oak island and cabinets inhabit the room, rather than dominating it. Fearns detailed the kitchen features to “look like items sitting in the space, rather than elements which the space has been built around,” he says.
The sliding doors in the main living room are hardwood, with bottom rolling hardware and low-e glazing. “The reveals are about 2½ feet deep on the side elevation, because the doors are mounted externally,” Fearns says.
In the dining-kitchen area, the void (as Fearns calls it) brings light from the roof down to the first floor. The skylight is roughly the size of a queen bed and is central to the design of the house. In addition to illuminating the space, the light creates permeable boundaries that define the eating space within the open floor plan.
Vintage dining chairs by Australian American sculptor Clement Meadmore and a vintage dining table by Alessandro Albrizzi disrupt the otherwise linear language of the kitchen.
The master bedroom and bathroom are upstairs.
Unlke the first-floor bathroom, the master bath couldn’t have a sliding glass door to connect it to outside. “I didn’t want a window there to keep the side clear, so I convinced the owner to have a hatch,” says Fearns. After trying out various mechanisms, they ended up using a heavy floor-spring pivot that works like a friction hinge.
With the natural light from the skylight, the pivot window isn’t necessary, but Fearns has discovered its other charms. “From the bathroom it also manages to frame a very small view of mature planting on the rear lane, so it’s a nice space to use,” he says. It also “adds a sense of oddity to the side elevation. People have to look twice to figure out what it’s doing.”
Smaller rooms on the first floor open up onto the deck, including this bathroom. The sliding glass door provides natural light and an outdoor connection. (This part of the path is closed off and private.)
Photos: Tom Ferguson
Pass Residence is a stunning contemporary desert home that opens up to incredible views extending 40 miles in the very exclusive area of Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona, designed by Tate Studio Architects. The home was built as a dream retirement for a couple who loves spending time with family. The home is carefully oriented on a 5-acre lot with overhangs that protect the interiors from the relentless desert sun. Outdoor living was a priority as well, so there’s an outdoor kitchen, a lounging patio, a pool and a hot tub. The interiors are comprised of 5,600 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and office and exercise room. The home has solar panels that generate electricity the power company buys; the pool is also heated by solar energy.
A small fountain sits between two of the cacti in the middle of this photo. “Javelinas love to come up and drink from the small fountain,” states the architect. “That window you see here is in the dining room, so the family enjoys watching them while they eat dinner.”
The stucco wall here is part of a long, curved wall that extends the length of the house; sandblasted concrete blocks make up the wall on the right. The design of the square openings repeats throughout the house.
“I wanted to create an inviting entry that didn’t show you everything at once,” states the architect. A large steel beam draws you toward the front door, and a small fountain draws you in with a gurgling sound that echoes through the entry.
The front entryway is all glass yet does not reveal the views; one discovers those after entering the house. The bottom two-thirds of it is flow glass, which provides light as well as privacy. “The glass creates a beautiful glow,” states the architect. “It has iridescent dichroic flakes in it that make it shimmer and change color throughout the day.”
Beyond the front door, suspended reclaimed barn beams create a rhythm down the gallery. To the left, the open fireplace is repeated outside on the patio. To the right, the end of the gallery becomes part of the master bedroom; the reclaimed barn doors slide across to enclose it.
Looking back toward the front door, Alpaca limestone continues from indoors to out, as does the Arizona brown schist seen around the fireplace. Large windows bring in the expansive desert views; the bottom windows are operational and let in the breeze from the valley. The open fireplace divides the living room from the hearth room. Snapped-edge limestone makes up the hearth and mantel; copper covers the uplit fireplace.
“We combined some traditional and contemporary touches in the kitchen,” states the architect. White oak Shaker-style cabinets and brown schist stone lend a warm, contemporary feel. Behind the range wall, you can see how the roof floats, providing clerestory windows that let in additional daylight.
“The clients love to have everyone gather in the kitchen; the wife loves to cook, and everyone can gather at the granite bar,” states the architect. Better yet, they can walk right outside to the outdoor kitchen and the TV lounge on the patio.
The master bedroom and the gallery share space; the gallery ends in the view of the cactus when the barn doors are left open.
The master bath combines several beautiful textures. The tile in the shower stall is a mix of stone and shell, the tub surround is concrete and the sandblasted block wall continues from inside to out. Three niches next to the bathtub echo the openings out the window.
The far edge of the pool has an 8-inch-deep area with two lounge chairs. Toward the back is the outdoor kitchen and TV lounge; to the right is the riparian corridor. “You can lean on the infinity edge of the pool and watch the deer and other animals in the wash below,” states the architect.
The patio has a series of outdoor rooms. “My client wanted to be able to sit outside in the shade while the pool was sunny, so all of the overhangs were very carefully designed,” states the architect. The overhangs also protect the house itself from direct sunlight.
A large open fireplace echoes the one indoors; there is another small fire feature at the end of the patio next to the hot tub. If you look closely, you can see the city lights in the distance.
The form of the house follows the terrain, stepping down the hillside. The neighborhood was built in a way that does not deter the natural movement of local deer, javalinas, mountain lions and coyotes.
Photos: Mark Boisclair
Seaview House is a contemporary three story dwelling that has been designed by Parsonson Architects, sited over the botanical gardens out to Wellington Harbour in Wellington, New Zealand. A neighboring house sits much higher to the north with another lower to the south. The site loses sun directly to the north, but receives both generous morning and afternoon sun and being set down from the road the prevailing northwesterly winds blow over the top. The house is laid out around two main outside areas, east and west.
The owners have a large family, with both older and younger children. The house is arranged to accommodate these different age groups with bedrooms on different levels and a variety of living spaces in the middle with walls to house art and a swimming pool for the keen swimmers in the family.
Two main formal gestures define the house. Simple corrugated iron roofs wrap and frame the house, which help create a relationship with the houses of the area. The green color of these also helps the house recede into the backdrop of greenery. In contrast to this, and housing the garage and bedrooms, a more organic wooden clad element runs between the corrugated iron roofs. This element is influenced by the landscape and as it glides through the house it creates a darkness and woodiness that is intended to replace some of that lost by the removed vegetation. Sections of it have been folded or cut to house the lighting for the main downstairs living areas. Downstairs there is a pool and simple bedrooms for extended family.
Photos: Paul McCredie
Smee Schoff House is a contemporary single family home with industrial features designed by Sam Crawford Architects in Petersham, New South Wales, Australia. The project is a great example of how dedicated and engaged clients together with a challenging set of site constraints make for a rich and unique design outcome. Having considered several alternate and distinct design solutions it is now clear that this particular response to the site and design brief is the right one for our clients. Key constraints were: inconsistent council requirements for street-scape and heritage, the need to maintain the privacy and solar access of neighboring properties, multiple poorly devised and implemented alterations to the existing cottage, access to winter sun to the necessarily south facing living areas and views to the park and access to the winter sun available only to the existing bedrooms. The brief also included an atypical requirement for an eat-in kitchen and an melded dining/ lounge/ music room.
Our clients have a wonderful art collection, and their own unique style, which contributed to the industrial/ craft aesthetic of the new work.
Recycled bricks are used extensively for environmental and aesthetic reasons, on both internal (painted) and external (bare-faced) walls. Black painted, lightweight steel framed windows and doors accentuate the very tall brick walls of the central court and dining room. Exposed, over-sized recycled timber beams scale the 4.5m high ceiling of the dining space. Timbers recycled from demolished portions of the building and our client’s cherished Scandinavian hand-painted ceramic tiles are incorporated into new joinery work.
The design sits on a clear continuum in our work; of pushing for maximum thermal comfort with minimal ongoing energy use. This involves a relatively large upfront cost; in the provision of substantial thermal mass via exposed concrete slab floors and brick and reverse brick veneer wall construction, coupled with solar powered/ gas boosted hydronic underfloor heating, contributing to ongoing and long term energy savings. A central courtyard, between the old and new, provides winter sun to otherwise south facing living areas.
The construction team from Buildability, led by foreman Matt Raap, were a major factor in the success of the project.
Photos: Brett Boardman Photography
Chameleon villa offers unique architecture and design in the exclusive area of Son Vida, Spain with breathtaking views to the sea, the city and the harbor of Palma. Spotted on Sotheby’s, the Chameleon house is comprised of 26,867 square feet (2,496 square meters) of living space with 10 bedrooms and nine bathrooms. The villa attracts through its exceptional light effects, which accomplish a true miracle of light; finest crystal on which surface has been installed with a special LED technology that can be programmed in its colors corresponding to your wish. The villa consists of three buildings. The main house is divided into three floors with living room, library, TV room, bedroom suites, kitchen and wine cellar. The second building offers the pool, wellness and fitness area. The third building is used as the guest house with 200 m2 of living space.
Special features of this exceptional villa includes, wine cellar/grotto, water view, various terraces/outdoor space, immaculate gardens, steam room, staff quarters, steam spa/hot tub, indoor and outdoor pool, gym, media room/home theater, prestige fitted kitchen, lift, living and dining room with fireplace, library, laundry room, stone floors, underfloor heating throughout, intelligence system, electric gates, installed music system and security system, as well as a guest apartment and garage.
This spectacular property is listed for sale from here.
Photos: Courtesy of Sotheby’s
The two top floors of the iconic Westbourne Grove Church were converted by DOS Architects into a stunning home in the heart of Notting Hill, London, England. The clients wanted to create a space of openness and transparency, combining their desire for cutting-edge technology with a love of clean, luxurious designs, while respecting the traditional Gothic details of this historic building. The entire 4,300 square foot apartment is centered around a large double-height, light-filled space framed by spectacular arched windows, perfectly encapsulating the views beyond.
Our clients wanted interiors and design features to highlight, and not compete with the beauty of the church. In this way, the cantilevered glass staircase and glass-walled master bathroom are perfectly set-off against the Gothic arched windows. The new lay-out adds space and natural light to the entire home, while allowing for a seamless balance between areas to entertain in and those which remain private throughout this spectacular penthouse.
Photos: Courtesy of DOS Architects
Net Zero Energy House is modern two-level home completed in 2011 by Klopf Architecture, situated in Cupertino, California. The goal of this project was to score as high as reasonably possible in the “GreenPoint Rated System”. The owners de-constructed their existing home when they realized that any single-story design would completely eliminate their back yard. They wanted the design to be a contemporary interpretation of Eichler in style yet keep their single story neighborhood happy. They wanted to maintain their privacy but also wanted a design that was open and light-filled.
The solution: directed openness, low profile and net-zero energy. The site is a cul-de-sac lot which was the not large enough for a single-story home that would fit the needs of these owners who both work from home. They wanted this to be their “final” residence so Klopf needed to design a larger-than-normal home to suit their lifestyle needs. Instead of adding a second story (and annoying the neighbors) they opted for a partially-submerged lower level that Klopf designed furthest from a basement as possible (with a pulled-back floor plate, a light-filled “atrium” and a lower level light well).
To preserve privacy and bring in light while minimizing unwanted solar heat gain and provide connection to nature, the design team oriented a large window wall north to the back yard while sloping the ceiling of the great room up to increase the light and connection to nature. The sloping roof also provided a surface suitable for mounting the 13.4 kW PV system compared to other building faces that have smaller, punched windows that maximize privacy. The owners were very concerned about the environment, specifically about energy and resource efficiency. They directed Klopf to use materials that would last as long as possible while avoiding “food for termites” and design a high-performance sustainable home.
In conjunction with the Mechanical Engineer they designed a net-zero energy home featuring insulated concrete forms (ICFs), structural insulated panels (SIPs), high-performance windows, cementitious siding, and a 13.4 kW solar Photovoltaic (PV) system sized to cover all the energy use in the house. The new open and light-filled house offers a connection to nature while maintaining privacy. Natural gas would not be used in the home with the possible exception of a backyard BBQ.
Photos: Mariko Reed
The Jesolo Lido Pool Villa is the first of a development for 9 single family residences by JM Architecture, located in the beach town of Jesolo Lido, Italy. The villa is a custom designed prefabricated wood structure, and it was built and furnished in only 6 months. Energy-saving high standards have been applied to the shell to guarantee maximum comfort and almost zero costs throughout the four seasons. The building features wood structures as a flexible and anti-seismic system which also avoids thermal bridges. The 31 centimeters of perimeter insulation, argon-gas insulated glass facades, 10 kw of photovoltaic panels installed on the roof and the interior / exterior led light fixtures co-operate in making a technologically contemporary building. Because of the small dimensions of the plot, the design goal has been directed in leaving as much open space as possible.
The indoor living area has transparent sides which opens towards two different-sized patios. The largest one, to the west, features a long swimming pool, which takes the entire length of the space, and two planted square inserts. An olive tree is the main three-dimensional element in the patio and it’s placed next to the staircase which leads to the underground level, where the storage and technical rooms are located.
The smaller patio, to the east, also features two planted inserts with another olive tree to counter balance the other side. The outdoor areas, as a client’s main request, needed to be low maintenance, so most of the surface was paved and the plants in the inserts where selected in order to live with the least care possible. The 4-meter roof overhang to the west allows to have enough shading during the hot summer months and allows to place a covered outdoor seating and dining areas.
Interiors are custom designed with typical JMA solutions, like audio/video walls, custom designed solid-surface kitchen, motorized roller shades which disappear into the dropped ceiling for maximum continuity of indoor-outdoor areas, integrated indirect lighting and home automated electrical system.
The radiant floor heating system is powered with an electric heat pump which takes the energy from the photovoltaic panels. The air-conditioning system is fully integrated in the dropped ceiling with linear diffusers and hidden intakes. As always for JMA, the pursuit of simplicity and linear solutions represented a large part of the design work.
Photos: Jacopo Mascheroni