East Austin is a lively mix of commercial buildings, Victorian architecture, and bungalows. The lifestyle there is casual. It was important to the homeowners that their new 2235-square foot, two-story home fit into its friendly neighborhood setting while also expressing their contemporary tastes. To achieve that purpose, the architects designed a gabled house with a minimalist palette of white siding and contrasting bronze windows and steel detailing. The profile is simple and modern, yet also iconic: The long side of the house faces the street and an over-sized front door encourages visitors to drop in.
Inside, a sleek Lueders limestone fireplace surround anchors the all-white living room. The exterior’s contrasting palette is carried through to the adjacent kitchen, with black Shaker-style cabinets highlighted by Carrera countertops and white subway tiles. Vertical steel slats on one side of the room are a dramatic screen for the stairs and also allow light from the second story to filter into the open dining area. Upstairs, two bedrooms and a flex space are connected by the spacious and light-filled book-lined landing.
The Final Result
This house looks timeless while melding with the here and now.
Photos: Ryann Ford
A children’s treehouse inspired the major redesign of this ranch-style house by Stephen Moser Architect, located on the western edge of Saxon Woods Park in Mamaroneck, New York. Originally built by a developer in the late 1950s, the ranch-style residence faced away from the wooded park. Several additions, including an indoor pool, further obstructed the park views.
The treehouse, which the clients had built some years ago for their grandchildren, sits on stilts among the trees, and guided ideas about the redesigned house’s silhouette, orientation, interior spaces, and materials.
Highlights of the 6,600 square foot redesign include a new covered entrance supported by two tree-like steel columns; a single large sloping roof that unifies the north side of the house and opens up the office and kitchen to the park; a new three-sided glass family room facing park and pool; the addition of a second-floor master bedroom suite with treehouse views; and the thematic use of wood slats in the detailing of both exterior and interior.
Los Chillos House is a contemporary residence designed in 2012 by Diez + Muller Arquitectos, located in Valle de los Chillos, Cuenca Canton, Ecuador. The design of this 5,920 square foot (550 square meters) house arises from previous research and understanding of the regional architecture of the Ecuadorian highlands, and how it engages with a modern system through understanding the place, tectonics and space of each, creating a tension between the two systems.
In an area of approximately 2 hectares with a steep slope, the house is implanted in the highest part of the site, with a privileged view. In plan, the house is designed linearly, taking advantage of the views from every room. The design in section becomes important, access is from the upper level of the site to the social area, kitchen and terrace. The most private areas and bedrooms are on the lower floor.
First are the traditional architectural and spatial elements, such as the courtyard, the wall, porch and slope. At the same time, the open plan and the continuous space are modernist concepts contrasted with the elements previously mentioned. The material palette includes local stone, wood and tile as local or endemic materials, and exposed concrete, steel and glass as modern materials. This mix not only expresses a formal idea, but also a structural and constructive idea that reinforces the argument.
The house is stratified into two zones: the stone base and glass box on top. The base is a stone bearing wall, where private areas are distributed. This base, true to its characteristics, is the support of the house on the ground, and contains the excavated soil for its settlement. It comes into view in full from certain viewpoints, while from others it is half-buried and seems to arise. At the back and at the entrance of the house, a large cut in the ground generates a submerged courtyard which serves mainly to illuminate and ventilate the bedroom areas on the ground floor. At the same time, it becomes one of the most important areas of reference of the house. It is contained by an exposed concrete wall, contrasting with the stone wall, thus creating tensions between the two systems.
The arrival to the house is through a steel and glass bridge that intersects with the stone wall, and opens the space to a large steel and glass nave that contains the social areas of the house on the upper floor. On this nave rests a traditional mud tile roof.
Finally, the finishes of the house are simple materials like concrete and wood on floors, concrete walls, wood deck, etc.. The lightness of the glass top volume is even more evident at night when artificial light exposes its permeability and the great nave of the roof, which is juxtaposed with the monolithic volume of the base on which it rests.
Photos: Sebastían Crespo Camacho
Moor Street Residence is a contemporary renovation for a family of four, designed by Andrew Maynard Architects, located in Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. The family had lived in this modest, aging house for almost eight years. As the children neared their teenage years something had to be done. Abandoning their home and moving elsewhere was not an option as the family was an important part of a thriving community. The tricky yet fun part of this home re-design was creating a new house in a narrow plot of only 4.5 meters.
Within this pocket of Fitzroy is a dense mix of workers’ cottages and small terraces. All are modest in size, many are dark and cold. Many of the cottages and terraces are in original condition, with a simple facade hiding an assemblage of brick and weatherboard lean-tos in the rear yard looking onto bluestone laneways. These lean-tos create a mesh of detailed and varying volumes, in stark contrast to the simplicity of the street front. When building in the rear of a property in this context, facing onto the laneway, one is acutely aware of the smallness and texture of the existing built form. Within this context the burden is on the designer is to respond to the assemblage of small volumes while also maximizing the potentials of the owners’ brief.
As Fitzroy has gentrified we have seen renewal take place in unsympathetic ways. There are numerous examples of this assemblage of dark brick and weatherboard being replaced with large contemporary objects that dominate its context. The tactic at Moor Street was to maximise the interior functions and available space, while also responding to the context by creating a single building out of three small objects rather than a single contemporary monolith. The tired lean-to which housed the kitchen, bathroom, dining and laundry were removed. These functions were relocated and updated along with the addition of a master bedroom over. The original brick terrace was retained, tidied and brought back to life.
In the center of the original house was a small light well containing a beautiful, yet constrained, Japanese maple tree. The family often found themselves conversing through this lightwell. Conversations took place, through the maple, from upstairs bedroom to kitchen opposite, to study space and even the bathroom. The maple was retained and the lightwell expanded and surrounded in glass, bringing the tree into the living spaces. The conversations between spaces and levels, through the maple, are better and easier than ever.
The separate boxes on the upper level contain the master bedroom. This space is surrounded by the canopy of the maple to the south and the canopy of a large gum tree to the north, making the master bedroom feel much like a treehouse. Through the gum’s canopy are views over Fitzroy, revealing the detailed assemblage of the brick and weatherboard lean-tos of the surrounding workers’ cottages and small terraces.
Photos: Peter Bennetts
The 9th and Hudson townhouse project is the complete gut renovation and two story extension by Jensen C. Vasil Architect of a four story plus cellar structure, located in Manhattan, New York. The total living area of this stunning contemporary residence is 4,644 square feet. The residence showcases hardwood flooring throughout most of the interiors, high ceilings, white plastered walls, crown moulding and in some areas exposed brick.
Jensen C. Vasil Architect is a multi-disciplined firm serving the Metro New York and New Jersey areas. We are committed to providing the highest quality service to our clients from inception to completion and can provide proven experience in a wide variety of buildings and uses.
Photos: Jennifer Brown
Oakwood Residence is a stunning two story contemporary pad that has been designed by Boswell Construction, located in Los Angeles, California. This newly constructed home boasts 6,500 square foot of living space, showcasing beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces with corner glass multi-slides, expansive 30 foot ceilings at the entryway, and an exterior waterfall movie projector. This home was built for entertaining in mind, where guests can interact with each other in cozy living spaces. The open plan enables the homeowners to cook in the kitchen while allowing them to visit with family and friends who are residing in the living room.
Working in custom residential new construction, large residential renovations, value engineering and design build services, Boswell Construction builds trust and partnerships with each client through our integrity, dependability and transparent communication.
Photos: Courtesy of Boswell Construction
A modern home built for outdoor living, Villa Escarpa was the vision of architecture studio Mario Martins, located near the village of Praia da Luz, in the district of Lagos, Algarve, in the South of Portugal. A condition of the planning permission was that the new house be constructed in the space occupied by a previous building. This had little architectural or technical merit, but was located in an exceptional position on an escarpment overlooking the Algarve coastline and village of Praia da Luz.
The footprint was therefore predetermined; on a very steep slope, and exposed to the prevailing winds. Paradoxically, it is these constraints and difficulties that underpin the conceptional basis of the project.
In an architectural language, pure and contemporary, we created sheltered terraces and courtyards for outside living. These are cut from the horizontal volume which is white and highly transparent. This volume gently sits upon an exposed concrete support giving the appearance of the house floating above the landscape. The touch on the environment, which we want to preserve, is minimized and resolves the difficult balance of the building with its physical support . This ensures a desirable visual lightness.
The house merges with a long water surface which dissects the wide living and kitchen spaces. These spaces are complimented by terraces protected from the wind, but open to the sun and impressive views. This is the social area of the house; open and fluid.
Four bedrooms are located in a private area with access from a corridor that runs alongside a central courtyard. In this private courtyard the natural light is filtered, creating an intimate and desirable space.
The lower area provides garaging and technical support. The roof terrace accentuates the visual lightness of the floating building in its environment.
Sonoma Modern Barn is a tranquil retreat built in 2010 by Castor Architecture, surrounded by open space, vineyards and an organic farm in Sonoma, California. Situated on the site of the Old Lawrence Hot Springs Spa, a private gated driveway bridges the nearby world of historic Sonoma Square with a contemporary tranquil estate. The 5,000 square foot, four bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom property takes full advantage of the hillside site, which offers views, a sense of openness, and terrific lighting to the south and west. The modern floor plan creates a series of outdoor terraces with prime exposure between the two arms of the house. This beautiful property fuses rustic contemporary architecture with historical influences in a sophisticated modern style.
We spotted this sensational property on Sotheby’s, listed for sale at $5,200,000.
Features include living room, open dining room, gourmet kitchen, den/office, family room, master suite, bedrooms, powder room, media room/home theater, loft, two car garage and sumptuous outdoor living. Outdoor living features includes, beautifully matured landscape, outdoor gas fireplace off living room and office, 100 year old original rock wall made of very rare blue stone, sparkling pool with cover, marquis spa, covered patio for shade at pool, and wine cellar.
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