Water is a constant presence throughout this Washington Park Hilltop Residence by Stuart Silk Architects, set on a bluff in Seattle overlooking Lake Washington. Views of the vast lake, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades dictated the orientation and transparency of the elevation facing the water. A plan then evolved to integrate water features into the home, to be experienced from inside and out.
An unequal-sided “H” plan places the entry, living and dining areas in a central pavilion, while flanking wings contain the family’s private rooms. The passages to the wings are compressed between gently moving water courses inspired by the canals of Suzhou and Venice. These serve not only as ever-present reminders of the beauty of water, but also the nature of passage through life as one navigates across the home’s interior and exterior spaces. The alignment of the canals also focuses the building’s orientation toward the views.
The mood of the house is quietly contemporary. The clients sought a quality of architecture that would outlive passing trends. They were also vitally concerned with the home’s sustainability; the architects incorporated many options that contribute to the projects durability and efficiency. Some examples include a green roof, gray water collection system, and solar panels for water heating.
Though the building is geometrically simple, it offers a rich juxtaposition of solidity, transparency, and liquid movement.
Photos: Rob Perry Photography
This stunning 1950s ranch house remodel project has been designed by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, situated in the southwest Portland hills, Oregon. The house sits on a steep lot, with the front door on the upper level and the lower level opening out to a beautiful south-facing garden. In the first phase of the remodel, the designer conducted space planning for the entire project, but only completed a remodel of the upper floor. The lower floor, which will include a new master suite, will be remodeled in a few years. The upper floor remodel included the kitchen, dining room, living room and hall.
After worrying about how to address a back hall that felt like a dark narrow tunnel, we decided to just accept it and painted it a dark charcoal grey. We embellished the walls with abstract modern flowers in various shades of grey and black, and added a big mirror as well as a mirrored cabinet at the end of the hall, to add sparkle and light.
The original kitchen and dining room had dark wood panelling, and only a few small windows despite the beautiful south facing views. We added windows and french doors along the whole south wall, and removed a wall separating the kitchen and dining room. We designed a new bright and functional kitchen with lots of storage in white lacquer and bamboo cabinets.
The new kitchen has a generous island as well as an inviting breakfast nook, with a custom table of our design, built by our friend Kari at merkled. The living room painting is by one of our favorite Portland artists, Kelly Neidig. We freshened the dining set, which was a family heirloom that the clients wanted to keep, by lacquering the chairs in a fresh pale blue-green and reupholstering the seats in a bright red.
Photos: Lincoln Barbour
Thistle Hill Farm is a single family sustainable home designed by Northworks Architects, located upon a 200-acre farm of rolling terrain in Western Wisconsin. This contemporary 4,500 square foot home (418 square meters) with 3 bedrooms plus bunk room and 3½ bathrooms is a second residence for a Chicago-area family. The property implements today’s advanced technology within a historic farm setting. The farm had been in the family for more than 25 years, and they had forged a strong connection to the property. The old barn, near the top of one of the rolling hills, was in a bad state of disrepair; they had it carefully disassembled in a way that they could reuse the materials in the future. The architects sited the new house just above where the old barn had stood, incorporating the remains of its limestone foundation walls around the pool. Meanwhile, the family made plans to use as much of the old structure as possible for future projects and in some of their furniture.
The arrangement of volumes, detailing of forms and selection of materials provide a weekend retreat that reflects the agrarian styles of the surrounding area. The materials emulate those of barns in the surrounding countryside, with red cedar siding and a tin-coated copper roof that will develop a patina over time. The site has a natural slope, however the architects cleverly designed the lower level to be above-grade on all sides. The lower level contains two guest suites and a large bunk room; guests who come out to the farm usually stay overnight. The bridge leads to a recessed ground-level entryway that in turn leads into the dining area.
Open floor plans and expansive views allow a free-flowing living experience connected to the natural environment. The large hearth is crafted from local limestone, as was the original barn’s foundation. The hearth is two-sided; the other side serves the large front porch. Doors on either side slide into pockets hidden by the fireplace surround, inviting in the summer breezes. The rhythm of the trusses is the same from indoors to out, but they change from Douglas fir inside to steel outside.
The homeowners found the large sign at a salvage place (look closely at the upper-right corner of this photograph and you’ll see the other half). The sign halves silde along barn door tracks and serve not only as art but also as doors between the bridge and the master suite.
Two large ceiling fans provide plenty of cool air. The home is powered by a field of solar panels just southwest of the house. The panels generate energy to power the home and pool equipment and send leftover power back to the grid. The construction is timber frame with structural integrated panels (SIPs) at the roof. The original barn’s rustic purlin and rafter roof construction inspired the structural system, but the new trusses have a cleaner, contemporary look. The wood for the ceilings, soffits and trim is Douglas fir with a clear coat.
The doors on the right lead to the bridge. The barn structure lends itself to a wide-open floor plan, perfect for large gatherings and enjoying the views. The floors throughout are heart pine, salvaged from river-bottom trees. The homeowners saved what they could from the original barn for furniture projects, including the dining table, which a friend made for them. The homeowner made the light fixture himself from metal pipes.
Simple Tolix stools provide perches for plenty of folks to gather around the large island. The large island’s top is butcher block; both the owners are big cooks and enjoy spending time in the kitchen. The rest of the countertops are highly compressed recycled paper.
One of the home’s most contemporary elements is the staircase, but it still nods to the agricultural architectural vocabulary. The stairs are laminated wood and cantilever off a bracket bolted through to a timber stringer beam. The metal railing brings back the traditional farm feeling; its grids were inspired by the kind of fencing one might see around a pig pen.
The top level contains the master suite and this office loft. A patchwork cowhide rug is modern yet references a dairy farm, and plays off the grids on the railings.
The doors lead to a garage built into the hillside and with a garden on top. The outbuildings in the distance are original to the property; you can see some of the crops growing in the distance.
The old barn’s original limestone foundation walls form a terrace between the pool and the house. The pool surround is ipe, a durable and low-maintenance wood.
Photos: Courtesy of Northworks Architects and Planners
House N is a contemporary property completed in 2001 by Dana Gordon + Roy Gordon Architecture Studio, situated in Hadar Yosef, Tel Aviv, Israel. After years of living in Jerusalem, the client moved to Tel Aviv, seeking to renovate the new home, illuminating it with natural light, color and space. The two-story home is comprised of 1,614 square feet (150 square meters) of living space. The main emphasis in planning was the creation of continuous space between floors and the structure of the collection, in order to create a sense of space and take advantage of the natural light. On the first floor is where the public spaces are most concentrated – living room, dining area, kitchen, living room and bathroom. The second level functions as a private space for the tenant-sleeping and bathing.
One of the most important tasks in renovating the House was choosing the finishing materials and combinations of materials with each other, selected materials for the home are mainly natural. The furniture, accessories and selected images are also out of a desire to create an atmosphere that is similar to the atmosphere in the Jerusalem apartment, with a strong emphasis on color and textures.
On the ground floor of selected flooring is a natural stone and oak parquet floor sleeping porch tree Tabebuia was between the two levels, the staircase was designed from oak footholds on steel profiles. The rail steel shafts designed for concrete anchors.
The kitchen is designed to be functional ingredients that are selected for the kitchen are made of wood; The cabinets are made of three fold oak, bamboo work surface, coating the island. The kitchen is open to the living room and a dining area.
This level is also the workshop functions as a guest room when needed, its front door is made of iron and glass of milk there is eye contact between this room and the rest of the House through a window that opens to a library that is unique, designed for the dining area, which is across the living room wall. This directory, in the Act of a Carpenter, was designed to accommodate the collections and books of the tenant. White sliding doors that fit with Oak veneer and variable composition generator library.
The seating in the spacious and bright living room with the windows in this area.
Guest bathroom in natural stone, covered with stucco decor heart in dark blue. Iron sink cabinet is designed with natural bamboo sink.
The private bathroom area selected materials such as concrete, tiles floors, painted wall plaster, decorative blocks are shaded in gray and sink unit specifically painted iron and bamboo.
Bedroom wall cabinet-level space designed in a way that integrates in the room and caught a white wall. Roof Windows were added to bring light to this level and staircase.
Using special natural raw materials has become home to a living space, open, colorful, functional and stylish that suits the character and way of life of the tenant.
Photos: Galit Deutch
Prospect Heights Row House is a stunning renovation project carried out by Delson or Sherman Architects situated in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York. On a tight budget, architect Jeff Sherman purchased this wrecked row house, which in it’s previous life had been used as an illegal breeding kennel. Even before its fall the home suffered from common row-house ailments: dark in the middle and spatially flat. The architect worked as his own contractor and builder for ten years, transforming the scariest building on the block into a high-design home for about $100 per square foot. The entire center section of the house was opened up to draw light in and counteract the darkness which is typical of row houses. Now, a long slot of skylight spills daylight into the double-height dining room, about which the rooms on both floors are arrayed. To disperse the light, one bedroom wall is translucent; the other, open shelves. A two-story storage tower wrapped in copper defines the foyer.
After the architect cut a giant hole in the center, the room configuration quickly laid itself out. The kitchen went in the back, the living room in the front, and the two-story space became the dining room. Upstairs, there’s a bedroom in the front, a bedroom in the back, and a catwalk connecting the two. “I also wanted to separate the living room from the foyer and to activate the full height of the space, so I built a volume that contains storage space and extends from the first floor to the roof. I covered it in inexpensive copper flashing so it would read as a single object,” states Sherman.
To make sure the light well over the dining area read as “a hole, rather than just a bending of the Sheetrock plane,” Sherman clad the first-floor ceiling in inexpensive tongue-and-groove cedar closet liner from Home Depot. Bonus: “I like the smell of cedar,” says Sherman, and now the house carries a faintly woodsy scent.
The marble fireplace was uncovered by the architect under a half dozen layers of paint.
The dining area is bright and airy, thanks to the skylight-topped hole cut in the center of the structure. The ceiling is clad in cedar closet liner; the dining chairs and table base are from Ikea.
To consolidate most appliances and food storage, keep his compact kitchen looking neat, and save money on cabinets, Sherman built a closet into the kitchen wall (“Cabinets are expensive but closets are cheap,” he offers). Inside is a countertop, blackboard surface, toaster oven, garbage cans, magnetic knife rack, and plenty of shelves. When the doors are closed, the unit recedes from view.
The copper-covered volume extends from the first floor, where it contains coat and shoe storage.
To cover up his shoe-storage shelves, Sherman bought bamboo bead curtains from the Callaloo Company emblazoned with an image of the Madonna. He separated out every other strand to create two curtains from one, resulting in twinned pixelated images. The resulting pattern is “like a Chuck Close that everyone can afford,” says Sherman.
The master bedroom wall that faces the light well is made from a double layer of corrugated-plastic panels, with a sheet of vinyl from Canal Plastics Center sandwiched between them for translucency. The wall lets sunlight and moonlight into the room while still maintaining privacy.
The copper-covered volume proceeds to the second floor, where it forms a storage wall in Sherman’s home office.
The tin panels lining the stairs are original to the house.
Sherman sits in front of his Prospect Heights home. The front door is made from etched Lexan bulletproof glass.
Photos: Hulya Kolabas Photography / Dustin Aksland for Dwell
This penthouse condo project was completed by Design Milieu, who joined two adjacent units to create a beautiful two bedroom, three bathroom home, situated in Rosslyn, Virginia. Design Milieu is a Washington DC-based firm who believes that “place–milieu–deeply influences the psyche. The spatial qualities of a place as defined by the architectural elements (floor, wall, ceiling, roof, door, window, and stair) combined with the material expression of those elements and of all the interior elements contained within affect our emotions and activities.”
Designing these architectural and interior elements is a great responsibility because we all have relationships with them. We touch them every day and are immersed in the aesthetic: sensual characteristics, functionality and craftsmanship. I believe that my role as a designer is to develop the relationship between people and milieu, to develop the beauty of the places in which we live our lives.
Photos: Stacy Zarin Goldberg
North Kingsway Residence is the renovation and addition to a post-war house into a contemporary home by Altius Architecture in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. In doing so, one of the main challenges was to take what was a very awkward existing facade to the streets edge, and without major renovation work, strengthen the relationship aesthetically to the more contemporary 750 square foot rear addition. The single family home is comprised of 1,600 square feet of living space.
As well, we sought to preserve as much of the existing building structure as possible, and thus although much of the revised external facade treatments appear visually quite different from the existing building state, the structure beyond actually changed very little; existing openings were re-used, and the bare bones of the heavy masonry were retained. In essence we simply tried to retain whatever we could in order to restrain the construction budget whilst trying to deliver a product that our client desired in the most sustainable manor possible.
By insulating the house on the outside all of the thermal mass could be utilized to both moderate indoor temperatures and humidity and facilitate a nighttime ventilation strategy that greatly reduces cooling requirements. Space heating is delivered through a retrofit staple-up radiant heat application to all floors within the existing building, whilst the rear addition makes use of new in-floor radiant heating throughout. The application of a new external cladding system to all existing facades offers the opportunity to re-insulate all external walls above grade, thus helping to stabilize heating and cooling strategies within the buildings envelope. Along with the re-insulation of the existing basement floor slab and the strapping out and re-insulation of all external basement walls heat losses are now minimized.
The main living areas to the rear addition maximize passive heat gains through the introduction of larger expanses of glazing to the south facade, whilst at the same time enhancing the overall connectivity between internal and external spaces. The second storey has been designed in such as way as to cantilever past the ground floor along both the south and west facades, this in turn creates a brise-soleil, and a means of controlling over-exposure to the sun; eliminating fears of overheating.
Program and Spatial Optimization, Passive Solar Heating, Natural Ventilation and Passive Cooling, Natural Daylighting, High Performance Envelope Design, Reclaimed and Recycled Materials, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Non-toxic Materials and Finishes, Radiant Heating, Heat Recovery Ventilation, Low Energy Lighting & Appliances, Water Conserving Appliances & Fixtures.
Photos: Courtesy of Altius Architecture
La Vinya is a two-level home designed by Lagula Arquitectes which effortlessly melds the exterior environment into the home through expansive terraces on both the lower and upper levels, situated in Caldes De Malavella, Costa Brava, Spain. This 4,306 square foot, four bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom home separates the entertaining areas with the private living areas. Each of the four bedrooms offers their own en-suite, while the downstairs area is ideal for social gatherings with a half-bath available and an open plan for living, dining and kitchen areas.
With its very high-quality range of finishes and fittings, rational use of materials and the integration and full appreciation of the resort’s privileged natural setting, the home is a successful example and benchmark for the style and quality of life that PGA Catalunya Resort offers. Listed for sale at $3,044,140, from here.
While the interior is spectacular, the villa´s outdoor terraces, outdoor kitchen and custom-designed infinity pool will captivate its future owners.
Leaving behind a world of urban routines, the client commissioned GarciaGerman Arquitectos to design Ex House, to achieve a feeling of retreat and isolation in the rural setting of the Somosierra mountain range of Spain. The client had abandoned their life of living in downtown Madrid and the term “Ex” refers to this process of leaving and the disadvantages of leaving this world behind. The home’s location takes full advantage of its close proximity to the city, with the property at just 1km. distance from the N-1 highway and one-hour drive from Madrid. A way of life in tune with nature but accessible from the city, appropriate for young dwellers.
The 1,453 square foot (135 square meters) house, camouflaged inside a dense forest, manages to face the views of the granite Somosierra and La Pinilla peaks to the south while looking at the same time to the reddish vast sediment plains that extend to the north, sitting in this geological transition and facing both directions. These views are formalized in two large identical 4,50m. openings situated in opposite sides of the central square-plan living area. This living area has a fireplace and is double-heighted to the north, regulating the inside temperature of the house.
Building systems incorporate high-tech devices in construction methods with a predominant concern for sustainability in the processes and materials employed, offering environmental standards that combine a contemporary level of comfort with the recovery of a secluded lifestyle with all of its charms.
The use of wood and its qualities, not only technical (insulation, easiness in handling, waste reduction) but also cultural and somatic (awareness of a sustainable living, warm textures, comfort connotations), determines the entire working process, providing the house with its characteristics natural and friendly finishes.
The working process was drastically reduced from the usual 13-14 months in buildings of this size (120-140m2) to 3 months, allowing for the house completion in about 8 months from the first drawings, lowering the costs by minimizing transport, reducing displacement of all parts involved and minimizing management phases. The quartering of high-strength cross-laminated wood panels is modulated to fit one single truck which is driven from the Austrian factory. The panel are then assembled on-site by skilled labour (3 people) in a 5 day process.
The house is built without earthworks and placed gently in the shade of a group of existing trees, rehearsing an essential lifestyle which mixes contemporary devices with the recovery of basic activities: fireplace, vegetable garden, septic tank and heat generation system through fire-heated water are combined with 18 cm. mineral-wool thermal insulation, triple gas filled anodized aluminium glazing 6 / 6 +12 +4 mm. and green roofs with a multilayer cover. All these devices add up to a drastic reduction in maintenance costs.
Facades are done with 16cm. wide toothed wooden planks manufactured from cheap local Valsaín (Segovia) pine, recovering a XVI Century local tradition from the Austria-dynasty-era and in disuse nowadays. This closes a circle which starts with the high-tech-prefab “pan-European” structure of the house and ends with the reactivation of a beloved local craft in the house’s enclosures.
Photos: Jorge López Conde
The Walnut Residence, designed by Modal Design, is located in Venice, California, a beachside community characterized by small lots, an eclectic mix of architecture and a unique blend of personality. This is a low-maintenance, multi-generational home for the principal architects parents, his family, his brother’s children and their many pets. While the tight square footage of the lot and an existing tree constrained the organizational possibilities of the home, the connection to the community, the need for privacy and security, and interest in natural lighting, offered endless possibilities. The 2,700 square foot, three bedroom, single family residence draws upon the site and context for inspiration with a highly efficient layout and indoor-0utdoor connections.
The home is carefully sited to preserve an old-growth pine in the rear yard, which provides generous shade to the main living space and serves as an organizational hub for the exterior program. An exterior Cor-ten wrapper juxtaposes the order and tidiness of the interior and offers a dynamic expression of the client’s tastes and character and lends an almost sculptural quality to the structure. To minimize the building’s impact, efficient design practices and sustainable systems are used throughout.
On the first floor, an open plan flows from living to kitchen to outdoors in one linear motion. Concrete floors, dark-colored furniture and large open spaces negate any need for delicate care, instantly putting everyone at ease.
There kitchen features ample storage areas along the 70-foot long walnut wall-slash-cabinet. The refrigerator, kitchen items and other goods easily disappear into the wall when not in use. The nonporous, stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant Caesarstone countertops make for easy cleanup.
Trex was used on the deck outside, made from recycled plastic and waste wood. The deck is weather-resistant and will never need painting or staining.
The office offers generous views of the backyard, pool and Jacuzzi.
The Cor-ten steel curtain punched with holes keeps the home’s sense of privacy while allowing copious amounts of light to shine through to the interior.
The circular cutouts are re-purposed into a staircase balustrade that adds an artistic element to the home.
The quality of light changes all throughout the year. During the winter, the shadows created by the circles climb up the entire wall of a room; during the summer, they only reach up to the floor. The panels also have a cooling effect, shading the rooms from the sun’s hot rays.
The stone pine tree reveals itself from the backyard looking over the Venice neighborhood. Its canopy stretches over the first floor of the home and can be glimpsed by the skylights placed strategically above the living area.
Before the family purchased this property, it was in the sorriest of states. It was home to a rundown 1920s dwelling piled high with trash and on its last legs. “We walked in for a minute and had to walk back out to get a breath of air then walk back in. It was really thick and moldy—really bad,” states the homeowner of walking through the original home.
Photos: Benny Chan