State Street Townhouse was designed in 2012 as a typical American family house but in an urban context by Ben Hansen Architect, located in Brooklyn, New York. This stunning four-story contemporary townhouse is comprised of 3,444 square feet (320 square meters) of living space, designed with specific family needs.
In many ways, the historic New York City townhouse is not compatible with a contemporary family’s way of life. The first and most important concept was to reinterpret the classic townhouse but customize it to the client’s request of having a join family space at the parlor level, where members of the family move fluidly between the kitchen, dining and living rooms; and have a visual and program connection with the rear courtyard; another interpretation of the typical American family house but in an urban context.
The rest of the floor levels were strictly defined by their own program and vertical circulations, allowing the most efficient way of space planning; and having as much natural light and ventilation as possible, especially in the core of the floor plate, which in the majority of historic townhouses are dark and unpleasant spaces.
While the design of the building is unquestionably contemporary, it relates to its classic NYC context as an abstract reinterpretation of the classic Brownstone Townhouse, from the materiality to the alignment of the facade elements. The front facade is pushed in and out to align with the neighboring building and the used of the classic steel and brick but with a strong contemporary language, that it’s consistent throughout the entire building, stands out in its immediate context.
The design of the exterior areas of the house were as important as the interiors, as a couple with 3 kids, the client needed to have as much patio area as possible, from playground areas in the ground floor, to more private and serene balconies, to a orchard roof deck, and all these landscape program needed to be harmoniously connected with their correspondent interior spaces.
13th Beach Brick House is a new three bedroom house designed by Auhaus Architecture, located adjacent to a coastal golf course fairway in Melbourne, Australia. The layout, form and construction of the house is designed to counter winds that roll across the dunes and the golf course and provide privacy from the daily procession of golfers whilst also giving views to the golf course.
The embracing masonry walls wrap around a central, north facing courtyard, giving the house an immense sense of privacy and seclusion from neighboring properties and passing golfers.
The encircling plan allows for light, curated vistas and an inherent interconnectedness between the building and landscape. The entry slips between two soaring blade walls into a double height space, the void carrying through the living zone and giving the house a heightened sense of light and space within its contained footprint.
The sculpted interior provides distinct yet connected living zones, while the limewashed brick walls create a luminous and tactile surface finish. A cantilevered study perches over the entry, connecting the two living levels. The house offers a robust, low maintenance and serene internal environment with punctuated views to the landscape.
LA House is a modern single family residence just recently designed by Elías Rizo Arquitectos in collaboration with interior designer Kárima Dipp, located in Mexico. Breaking with the norm established by all the houses in the vicinity, the residence recedes a considerable distance from the setback line, to yield a large open space below the tree canopies, a stark welcome gesture.
The main entry into the complex proceeds to an open passageway that runs along a rough-hewn stone wall and postpones the access into the house an additional number of meters. A glazed box containing a studio protrudes from the building. It hovers above a large pond that can be crossed via a series of stone pavers that rise above the water and lead directly into the public areas of the house. The garage, concealed on the other side of the stone wall, compels cars to park sideways so as to render them invisible from any space in the house.
The entry sequence into the building presents a series of layers, starting with the garden space beyond the setback lines, following through the open corridor past the pond, and crossing through the central courtyard all the way to the living spaces at the back of the main building.
A central courtyard scheme was implemented to introduce natural ventilation into every space of the house without compromising privacy. The corridors around the courtyard on the ground floor are defined by a series of operable windows that allow the kitchen and living spaces to bleed out into the exterior, when the weather allows it.
Expanding on the theme of permeability that dominates the ground floor, similar solutions were implemented throughout the living quarters on the second level, to allow for the private, open spaces. Such is the case with the small, glazed atrium that ventilates the master bathroom and the deeply recessed balconies that yield generous exterior areas to all bedrooms.
Dark gray steel, glass, wood, concrete and stone compose the greater part of the material palette throughout the house, wich is complemented by accents in leather and stainless steel. The master bathroom receives a special treatment as it is covered almost in its entirety with white marble.
Crossing the lawn, beyond the living spaces on the ground floor, a pool and a concrete volume containing an entertainment room overlook a small ravine outside of the property. Below this volume a staggered pathway descends gently to negotiate the changes in topography on a pronounced cliff, leading down to a lower landscape area.
Photos: Marcos García
Casa MM project is comprised of two contemporary homes on one property, just recently completed by Elías Rizo Arquitectos, located in Tapalpa, Mexico. Two brothers who owned a considerable stretch of land in Tapalpa approached the architects with the intention of building two separate houses. As they delved into the project´s needs, they realized that both clients had similar needs and while they didn’t mind, and in fact preferred, that the houses share a common language, each one had to convey its own singular personality. The topography of the site imposed its own set of variables that resulted in further slight alterations in the design of each house.
A similar set of priorities was implemented in dimensioning spaces and establishing spatial relationships between functions.
Access to both buildings became a primary concern in our design. Although the entry layout and sequences were mainly driven by function, the clients expressed a desire that entrance into the houses be conceived as an experience in its own right. We then proceeded to articulate the entry modules with their various spaces (mud room, garage, storage, and service quarters) around open courtyards that catch the eye and allow daylight in.
Both buildings are shaped by a need for flexible use of space, and a desire to connect with outdoors. Throughout the houses one finds that a large extent of walls and windows are in fact operable partitions that can be hidden entirely from sight to connect adjacent spaces with kindred functions, or to expose the house to its surroundings.
House A, which was built on the higher part of the property, maintains a more introvert disposition. Its floor plan displays a slight angularity that distinguishes in from B, and all of its spaces are arranged around an open yard. Aside from the master bedroom, which stands off-axis and partially detached from the rest of the house, all dormitories contain a mezzanine level with additional beds.
House B shares to overall layout and spatial sequence of House A, but displays a strict, rectilinear floor plan which looks out beyond the property´s edge. Unlike House A, its dormitories are on a single level.
The exposed steel structure, with its clean lines and its stark geometry, acts as disciplined three-dimensional contour, framing planes and volumes clad in raw texture, which in turn a direct relationship to the building´s natural setting.
Photos: Marcos García
City House was designed for a single client as a retreat from a busy professional life by architecture studio Architex, located in Auckland, New Zealand. Completed in 2011, this 4,305 square foot (400 square meters) inner city home was purchased with an approved Resource Consent for a family home – and so a revised brief was developed to fit into the approved envelope.
The site is developed to its maximum both visually and physically, with a play on transparency and the flow of spaces from in to out. A variety of outdoor rooms complement the bold pavilion forms. They are linked by a circulation gallery – which also creates an axial focus for the full length of the site on entry.
The street pavilion has the potential to become two guest rooms which share a bathroom and lounge area. The rear pavilion is private and contains an indulgent main bedroom suite.
Sliding glass panels disappear into pockets to create open balconies for living and sleeping, and focus on the central courtyard as their oasis. The street facade is particularly private with only a hint of the sophistication that lies beyond in the selection of color and materials.
The City House is a recent winner of the New Zealand Architecture Award 2011 for Residential Architecture.
Photos: Simon Devitt
Thayer House is a simple, yet elegant home that incorporates outdoor living, designed by Neumann Mendro Andrulaitis Architects, located in Montecito, California. The residence offers an open floor plan that allows for both comfortable family living and entertaining. Over the years many of the firm’s clients have preferred project designs that have tended to be larger, more detailed and more elaborate. The owner’s vision was something much simpler. For this home design they went back to the basics.
We went with what is essential and needed for modern living. Nothing extra, over the top, or overdone. The resulting size, scale and the understated feel of the home is special. It has everything that is essential for modern living, but it also has a Zen-like simplicity and elegance. There is definitely something to be said for going back to the basics and focusing on the essentials.
The design throughout the home is termed as soft modernism, carried out by local interior designer, Micholyn Brown. She has a great sensibility and everything she does is refined and elegant. But unlike many modern interior designs, it is also natural, tactile, and soft around the edges.
Transfused throughout her interiors and the building design. The result is elegant, modern, yet comfortable living spaces. You don’t feel like you’re living in a precious hard-edged glass house and that your life is dictated by the design. It is rather the opposite; the house is the perfect backdrop for comfortable elegant modern living and entertaining. And the owner’s outstanding taste in design and artwork certainly added to the process and final design.
The great room design is accommodating for both living and entertaining. The size, scale, furnishings and amenities of the space are ideal, making it comfortable for the owner when he is alone and when family is visiting.
The space also works well for larger gatherings and entertaining. With the flow of the space, the kitchen, dining, living room arrangement, the way the room opens up seamlessly to the north and south courtyards, the house can comfortably accommodate entertaining on a grand scale.
The team started with the idea of a courtyard design. The house embraces the site with north and south courtyards. Large door and windows open directly onto the landscape, the fountain pool, and the distant mountain views. It is quintessential California indoor-outdoor living.
The indoor/outdoor relationship is key. The owner had lived in the Hedgerow neighborhood for years and had never noticed the quiet property behind the large hedge. To his credit, he wanted to preserve that secluded hedgerow feel and have the house design take advantage of and build upon the beautiful landscape.
General contractor Rich Coffin was involved from the beginning of the design process. The architects worked closely with him, tailoring the design to meet the homeowner’s budget and to build the home in the most efficient cost-effective way possible. The house was constructed in only six months, on budget, with practically no changes and no compromises in quality.
Photos: Ciro Coelho Photography
Herzelia Pituah House 3 is a minimalistic structure designed as a single family residence by Tel Aviv based studio Pitsou Kedem Architect, located in the beachfront district of Herzliya Pituah, Israel. The main idea behind the design was to work on a rectangular grid where all the functions merge into it, even the parking structure that is usually a small and separate structure at the front of the 4,036 square foot residence. The architect created a clean rectangular mass with vertical and horizontal openings breaking into it that allow for movement within them and the entry of natural light.
The front of the house has three levels completely impervious to the street with two courtyards on the right and on the left and excavated to the level of the basement floor, allow for the entry of light and air into the lower level. Thus, a situation is created where the pathway leading to the entrance is a bridge suspended over one of the excavated courtyards.
Once inside, the almost monastic impermeability of the frontal facade is converted with impressive openness that invites you into a well lit open space where the entire long facade of the home kisses a swimming pool set against the entire length of a massive glass wall. The open space rises to a height of six meters with a sky light the full length of the ceiling that empowers the drama of the space.
The entire ground floor is a public space that contains a long kitchen painted a glossy black that reflects the swimming pool opposite, a spacious salon that opens into the rear courtyard and designed with careful minimalism and a dining table. The entire public area has the appearance of a modern and spacious loft.
The bedrooms are situated on the second floor with the communal space connecting them, looks over the swimming pool. In the basement, that appears as an island floating between the two excavated courtyards, can be found games rooms and a movie room.
The central motives of the architectural design: a clean configuration, moderation in materials and subdued colors find an expression in this project. The sparsity of materials and the reuse of materials such grey limestone that covers the entire external facade of the house and one of the internal walls, imparts a feeling of concrete minimalism, Corian that the architect used in the design of the sinks and partitions in all the bathrooms, and black basalt that covers the walls of those same rooms.
By using the same elements, the architect is attempting to make the spaces meditative in their feel and attraction and that blend with the architecture of the structure, one complete and unified mass.
Photos: Amit Geron
Long Courtyard House is a contemporary addition to a turn of the century terrace house designed in 2013 by SCALE Architecture, located in Alexandria, a suburb in the inner-east of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. By reorienting the courtyard to the side of the block, the project challenges the typical terrace configuration. It creates a north-facing side garden extending the full length of the addition.
The project is a compact building with a slender footprint, where each interior space relates to a new garden room. An equivalency of interior and exterior space is created, expanding the spatial relationship beyond the building envelope.
The addition is made up of two pure forms, each addressing its own garden. The concrete volume on the ground floor opens north to the long garden court, while a cantilevered timber box floating above opens east to a roof garden.
These discrete forms define the spatial arrangement – living takes place on the ground floor, inside the solid and elemental concrete form, while bedrooms are contained in the lightweight timber box above.
SCALE Architecture is a Sydney based practice committed to excellence in Architecture, design and urbanism. SCALE is a multiple award winning practice led by Matt Chan, established in Amsterdam (2002) and Sydney (2004). Our growing portfolio is extended by collaboration with architects, planners, artists and students both locally and internationally. The studio’s focus on architecture is cross fertilised by our active engagement in research, education, publication, exhibition and talks.
Photos: Brett Boardman