Ravine Residence was designed to accommodate the integration of life with nature by Hariri Pontarini Architects, located in an area of North Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The 12,000 square foot (1,115 square meters ) contemporary home was completed in 2006, situated within a large ravine system. This private residence not only takes advantage of the surrounding expansive natural vistas, but also creates a close relationship with its immediate environment.
Designed to accommodate the integration of life with nature, the external treatment of this house explores a carefully honed language of natural materials, while the slightly curved front facade is carefully sculpted, presenting a solid entity to the street. The house opens to the back, inviting nature to interact with the everyday living of its residents.
Accented in earthy tones of French limestone, wood detailing, rift-cut oak and teak windows, this private home is juxtaposed with the natural greenery of the adjacent ravine. The property is, in essence, a two-acre room enclosed by a natural wall of fir trees. Settled within the center of the site, the two storey house is designed to enhance the views to the two pyramidal oaks and catalpa tree in the front with a silver maple and Japanese maple at the back.
The sculpted space of this private residence resonates an understanding of human comfort. Carefully carved windows penetrate the facade, allowing arrays of natural light within, while the finishes add a warm touch. Utilizing a consistent palette of limestone and walnut flooring, the interior provides a sophisticated setting for a family residence and flows easily from the front entrance to the third floor family room with views focused towards the heavily forested ravine.
This residence employs two volumes with carefully choreographed openings, each addressing the public street while preserving domestic privacy. The rear of the house takes advantage of the picturesque ravine landscape by maximizing the flow of natural light into the space, and providing stunning landscape views.
Green construction practices on site were encouraged through the use of local materials, by maximizing natural light, and by minimizing damage to the existing ecosystem and habitat. The construction team established a process for the reduction of waste, reuse of materials and control of generated emissions.
Various construction systems were employed in the design of this residence, including a “poured in place” concrete foundation system and structural steel framing. This framing, which uses chimneys as lateral bracing elements, allows for expansive widths while permitting light flow throughout the house, to ensure a lasting comfort and an uplifting experience. The completed design underscores the client’s desire to create an enduring generational home.
Photos: Ben Rahn/A-Frame
Gridiron Ranch showcases posh contemporary interiors, designed by Furman + Keil Architects, located sixty miles from Austin in the Texas Hill Country of Spicewood, Texas. This stunning residence was completed in 2012 and was the result of a three year collaborative effort between Mark Ashby Design, architects Furman + Keil, and builder Classic Constructors.
With its extensive indoor/outdoor spaces, including an open sleeping porch and a separate poolside guest house, this home takes full advantage of its expansive views.
Guest House Interior
The award-winning firm, Furman + Keil Architects, is dedicated to providing a design-focused service meeting the specific needs of our clients through a collaborative team approach. We strive to create timeless, sustainable buildings rooted in local traditions, built to be enjoyed by our clients for generations.
This casual compound has been designed as a vacation retreat by the San Antonio architecture firm Lake|Flato, located high above Lake Austin, Texas. This is the second home for a busy couple who lives near San Francisco and loves the water.
High above Lake Austin, the main house keeps the couple walking on air, thanks to a catwalk that connects it to one of the three out buildings.
Interior designer Fern Santini’s ruggedly casual decor makes for relaxed living, and is punctuated on high with stylishly whimsical pendant lighting. Porches encourage outdoor living, and separate yoga studio and exercise room are for well-being. A lake pavilion and boat house complete the setting.
This incredibly stunning home is is open and airy and has wonderful flow. The beautiful furnishings throughout has a modern yet cottagey feel.
Photos: Nick Johnson
Cove House is a contemporary remodel of a dreary 1980s tract house designed by Furman + Keil Architects, located on a narrow peninsula in Lake Austin, Texas. The site was incomparable, with the lake fronting two sides of the property. The new owners loved the location and even wanted to save the house, which spoke to them about casual lakeside living. The architects worked largely within the constraints of the existing footprint, inheriting many of the quirky geometries of the floor plan.
The entry courtyard was redesigned to allow visitors to penetrate deeper into the site, extending and enhancing the entry transition.
New panoramic windows allow the inhabitants to take in the natural surroundings, while massive sliding doors connect the living room to a new screened porch, engaging with views of the lake beyond.
The architects rendered a stunning renovation to the wood and glass building, turning it into an indoor-outdoor house that’s perfect for entertaining both formally and informally.
Fern Santini Design played up the new architecture with elegantly relaxed furniture and an expertly curated array of contemporary art by local artists. Touches of absolute luxury—such as plaster walls in the master bedroom, all-out glamor in the gold-and-white tiled master bath, and a Kyle Bunting rug in the dining room—are reminders that being casual doesn’t preclude being very very stylish.
Overcoming the challenges of the lot and the geometries of the existing house led to an unexpected design which takes full advantage of this spectacular site.
Photos: Nick Johnson
Chicago Residence is a modern home built for a family that showcases a sophisticated selection of materials and architecture, designed by Dirk Denison Architects, located in Chicago, Illinois. The residence maintains the urban townhouse relationship with its neighbors. Dynamic spatial relationships are created through overlapping materials and the layering of interior and exterior. Visual connections are created from indoor spaces and passages to garden terraces, outdoor landscaping and the adjacent park. Fine articulation and craft of a simple yet rich palette comprise restrained minimal spaces that emphasize the family’s activities, artwork and extensive fish collection in large, integrated aquariums.
From the entrance up through three floors to the roof deck terraces the main stair is the vertical core of the home. At the top of the stair a large light monitor allows natural light deep into the building, while a railing of stainless steel and translucent glazing reflect and diffuse the light, adding to the dynamics of the space. A central pendant light fixture composed of many silken cords each holding a lamp, stretch throughout the stairway, lighting one’s path upward through the home. The solid ash of the floor carries through to the treads of the stair, further connecting each level.
The home utilizes sustainable and environmentally friendly materials and technologies such as green roof systems, automated shade controls, geothermal heating and cooling, a highly insulated building envelope, and low VOC-emission substrates. Windows are fabricated with insulated, low-e coated glazing, with an additional UV film installed on its interior pane. In addition, the outer pane of glass consists of two laminated glass layers, adding to the insulating quality of the glazing while minimizing exterior sound absorption. The shifting volumes and primary southern exposure maximize daylighting throughout the home, minimizing the family’s dependence on artificial lighting. The building’s products and materials inform a responsible and enduring design.
Photos: The Michelle Litvin Studio
This Martis Camp Estate Home is a contemporary mountain property that has been designed by BAR Architects, located in Truckee, Nevada County, California. One of the original objectives of BAR’s design was to orient this custom mountain home to take maximum advantage of the spectacular views to the Carson Range and Northstar’s Lookout Mountain afforded by this amazing lot in Martis Camp. To achieve this, the primary rooms of the 7,580 square foot house – living, dining, kitchen, family room, master bedroom and kids’ bedrooms – are aligned along the hillside to front towards the view.
A large great room has large sliding doors that pocket into the walls to allow the interior to completely open up to the exterior and the views. In addition to providing maximum views, the careful planning of this upslope lot preserves a large existing pine tree at the center of the lot as a feature that brings the forest right up to the front door, and provides for indoor/outdoor living for all seasons.
The home was laid out as three separate gable structures. One gable for the garage and guest rooms; another housing the great room pavilion; and the third housing the master bedroom, TV room and study. The three camp buildings are linked by a glazed flat roof breezeway housing the entry, boot/coat room, powder room and stair to the lower level.
The design of the floor plan results in a home that is both comfortable for the owners when they are there by themselves, yet expandable to comfortably accommodate up to 18 friends and family. The architecture brings together simple traditional mountain building forms with large openings and contemporary detailing to the great satisfaction and delight of the owners.
Photos: Courtesy of BAR Architects
Sound House is a contemporary waterfront property that has been designed by Roger Ferris + Partners, located in Fairfield, Connecticut. Completed in 2009, this 1,500 square foot house is located on an unusually narrow waterfront site along the Long Island Sound with spectacular views, while preserving privacy from adjacent properties. An angled entry wall captures the sunlight and orients views while the interplay of solid siding and open and screened glass balances privacy and transparency.
The design responds to strict site land coverage and setback requirements, as well as FEMA guidelines regulating first floor elevation and setbacks from the shoreline. Side yard zoning rules limit the building width to less than twenty-eight feet. The angled entry wall creates, within these constraints, an opportunity to capture sunlight, orient views, and provide formal interest.
The house is clad in stained cypress. Its glazed volumes contain feature the living room and master bedroom on one end and the kitchen and guest bedroom on the other. The low rectangular mid-section, clad in contrasting dark cypress, contains the entry hall, staircase, bathrooms, and support spaces. The glazed end rooms offer framed views to the water to the south and inland down the street to the north. The windows integrate retractable shades for sun control or privacy. The bedrooms have cypress louvers for these purposes.
The loft-like interior spaces open to glass curtain walls at each end. Screened side walls provide visual separation from neighbors.
The angled north elevation leads to the front door at the midpoint of the house. This angled wall also orients the kitchen and breakfast room to the morning sun and captures a view down the street and across an adjacent property. The water view one sees entering the house is framed with a perspective defined by the angled stair. The open first floor plan provides interior spaces with loft-like proportions, increasing the scale of the major interior spaces.
The interior finishes continue the loft aesthetic, with kitchen cabinets of natural white oak and ribbed glass doors. Counters and back splashes are granite. Floors are white oak throughout. Interior illumination includes indirect uplights and recessed down lights.
Dani Ridge House is a gorgeous contemporary vacation retreat carved into a hillside, designed by Carver + Schicketanz, located in Big Sur, California. The 1,900 square foot home looks upon the Pacific through floor-to-ceiling windows that nearly stretch the perimeter of the house, which uses daylighting and shading to control temperatures. Hoping not to obstruct their neighbors’ views, the clients asked the architects to add a native green roof, which from above looks essentially identical to the surrounding greenery. In fact, it blends so well into the landscape that if you drive by, you just might miss it.
In order to conceal this home from its uphill neighbors a shelf was cut into the narrow slice of grassland located between an access road on one side and the steep slopes of the West Coast on the other. The uphill land extends as a green roof over the underground portions of the home-terminating on the gently curved roof of the living room.
All utilities, including the 5,000 gallon water storage tank, were placed underground in order to preserve the surrounding landscape.
Purpose of the home for the client: To be used as a vacation home for a family with two young daughters. Three bedrooms, two bath rooms, modest living area, integrated/ open kitchen and take advantage of the great views.
Design concept of the project: To interrupt the native landscape to the least extent possible, to interlock the structure with the land as much as possible.
The design process: We decided to cut a wedge into the gentle hill side and tie the house to the hill and accommodate many functions (garage, laundry, powder room, pantry, mechanical room) underground. As a result the native meadow rolls onto the northern part of the house and ties the building to the landscape. Therefore the house is barely visible to the uphill neighbors.
What is inspiring about this place / setting to architect: The views, the landscape, the adventurous clients. What were the goals we sought to achieve? How did we achieve them? We wanted the home to blend with the land, and give the clients a perfect retreat. We accomplished this by cutting a wedge into the gentle hillside and using this space to accommodate multiple functions (garage, laundry, powder room, pantry, mechanical room) underground.
As a result the native meadow rolls onto the northern part of the house and ties the building to the landscape. Therefore the house is barely visible to the uphill neighbors. Process for the material and finish selections for the project: We were looking for durable and easy-to-maintain finishes which are soothing to the eye and compliment the native grass land.
Photos: Robert Canfield
Mop House is a two story contemporary property that has been designed by Kuwaiti studio AGI Architects, located in Al-Nuzha, a suburb of Kuwait city, Kuwait. The site can be accessed from either side of the surrounding streets to allow for both a private and a public entrance. After moving along a curved wall that guides the visitor from the exterior of the plot into the center, one reaches the main entrance into the house.
Upon entering through the main door frame, the space opens up to reveal the swimming pool and the public living areas of the house. The form of the residence is reminiscent of the movement patterns of a mop, from which flexible volumes are organized diagonally around a central axis. This axis twists upwards to generate spaces that are channeling the vision in different directions: the front side of the house, side gardens and angles of the back street.
The circulation surrounding the patio on the first floor contrives of a succession of living spaces, which not only communicate to one another, but also relate visually the interior of the patio to the exterior. The first floor overhangs to shade the rooms on the ground floor, and the patio is designed to define a break in between the volumes of the house, which subtly reveals a side garden.
The residence was originally planned to house one family with two small children, however in the future it could be divided into two units. The structure of the house and the distribution of the circulation, as well as the positioning of the entrances and lift allows for guaranteed privacy between parents and children in the prospective future.
Photos: Nelson Garrido