Downley House is a large new country house designed by BPR Architects in the South Downs coastal range of Petersfield, England. The client called for a tranquil yet playful place, full of natural texture, contrasts, and indigenous materials. BPR created an entrance sequence which commences in a circular stone entrance court, extends along a pergola into an inner court bounded by a ruined wall and through the house to a roof terrace where a stair bridges into the landscape.
The house is divided into a family wing and a guest wing linked by a barrel vaulted dining hall centered on the ruin entrance. The barrel vaulted hall opens at each end onto courtyards which receive sun in the morning and evening. The form of the dining hall is like a foudre wine barrel and reflects the clients love of wine. The circular glazed stair ascends to the roof terrace.
Downley House is constructed of timber elements prefabricated in Swizerland and erected over a two month period. The family and guest wings are constructed of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and the barrel vault is made of a CLT timber shell and glue lam ribs. The low-embodied energy of the construction, the efficient envelope, ground source heat pump and heat recovery system create a highly sustainable and energy efficient building.
Photos: Nick Kane
Centennial Tree House is an exciting contemporary home designed by architecture firm Wallflower Architecture + Design featuring a central courtyard which brings in plenty of light and air, situated in East Coast Parkway, Singapore. The owner’s request of their ideal home was to create external blank walls with fixed screens and a center courtyard, creating a protective enclosure of solitude. This protective barrier creates positive energy for the homeowners who thrive on self-reflection and contemplation. This strength is visually given expression by a hundred year old frangipani tree literally found within, centered in a large grassed courtyard surrounded with water. The tree was given a new lease of life having been rescued from a Holland Road site slated for new development.
True to the owners’ requirements, the facade is entirely sealed off in most areas, and veiled by fixed timber screening in others. The purity of intention to internalize results in a purity of architectural elevation on three sides; there is no yard, opening, back of house, but a pebbled path between a rhythmic timber screen and a lush wall of polyalthias. Visually, the aesthetics exclude both physically and psychologically, but the timber screens along the periphery of the 1st storey allow breezes to comb through, refreshing the sheltered corridors and living spaces.
The central court encourages this, acting as both a light and air well. Throughout the day as the environment changes, the breezes shift, the house breathes. The only area where the timber screens can be opened is between the second storey master bedroom and the court. Motors silently fold the screens away, linking the court to the bedroom.
The central air and light well is key to the experience and enjoyment of the house through the day as the light shifts, different walls, passages, are literally seen in a different light, or shade or shadow. The centennial tree awakes, basks, and rests; and the surrounding spaces share that experience. The aesthetic encounter is intensified perhaps because there are no distractions from the world outside; Even the world outside is acquired as the sky above is framed by the court and forms part of the spatial composition. The elemental reduction of sky above, water surrounding an island of grass below, all axially centered by the stolid tree distils for the owners what life can and should be; a re-focus on the basics being pure, simple, and celebrated.
Photos: Albert Lim
Midvale Courtyard House is a renovation and addition of a 1960s mid-century modern ranch house situated in Madison, Wisconsin, designed by Bruns Architecture. The scope of the project was to balance the introverted nature of a courtyard with the bold personality of an extrovert all while managing matters of privacy. This renovation builds on its solid mid-century roots. The renovation includes the addition of a proper entry, elevated master suite, and covered parking, but also pierces and stretches the solid forms to create connection between indoor and outdoor spaces. The interior design of the home was carried out by design firm MANI & Company.
Exterior courtyard frames two story entrance featuring cedar plank siding as wall treatment.
Open entry hall with reclaimed sheep barn timber stairs.
Exterior courtyard with view to upper level master suite, catwalk and spiral staircase.
Exterior enclosed courtyard with customized wood burning fireplace tower, pigmented concrete patio.
Living room with split faced slate stone facade, built in buffet cabinets and library shelves.
Open plan dining area, living room and fireplace showcasing built-in buffet and book shelves.
Open plan kitchen area with leather finished granite counter tops, subway tile back wall, italian slate floors and hardwood floor and ceiling treatment.
Open plan kitchen area into hallway showcasing enclosed courtyard/patio, hardwood floor and ceiling treatment.
Open staircase showcasing upper master suite, exposed beams, steel cable railings.
Master bedroom suite with floor to ceiling windows, exposed custom wood/steel ceiling trusses.
Master bedroom suite with floor to ceiling windows, exposed custom wood/steel ceiling trusses, skylight over sink area in master bath behind wall.
Open plan master bathroom sits behind wall of master suite, soaker tub sits atop Cumaru wood floor and surround creating spa experience, glass enclosed shower behind tub, poured concrete double sink and wall vanity in background.
Upper deck surround off master bedroom suite, exterior gas fireplace.
Photos: Tricia Shay
Casa de las Estrellas or ‘House of the Stars’ is a modern Mexican home created by San Francisco architects House + House, situated in the historic center of the beautiful 450 year old colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. The home lies just four blocks from the main square, the ‘Jardin’ or Garden, of this lovely village. Filled with gardens and light, this 2,000 square foot home offers three bedroom, two bath home embraces a lush courtyard. At the first floor the entry, living room, dining room, and kitchen open onto a plant-filled patio. Grids of steel windows span floor to ceiling, linking inside to outside, creating vista through layered space.
The first floor bedroom at the rear is set slightly above the patio with its own private garden. The upper floor bedrooms, each with a private balcony, share a covered terrace and a bathroom with a 14-foot-tall cylindrical shower open to the sky. Polished burgundy columns and counters are inlaid with glass beads. The floors are made from local slate, carried from the mountains on donkey back and hand-cut to fit tightly together in random patterns. Luminous skies give a magical glow to lime washed walls in mango, cobalt, and sage. Materials are traditional, as are the construction techniques, but the forms derive from organic geometries responsive to the sun, winds, and modern life.
This home is available to rent as a vacation retreat from $1,300 per week, from here.
Red and ochre river rocks twist against a charcoal background in the courtyard. The 20-foot-high blue wall of the patio is sprinkled with lights of handmade frosted-glass stars, which seem to pull heaven right down to earth.
Shafts of light spill between square columns onto a 200-year-old carpenter’s table, framed to become the 11-foot dining table.
In the covered living terrace handmade, rusted, perforated-steel light fixtures march in rhythm with skylights, railings, and open windows.
Sinuous stairs snake upward to the upper floor while frosted star light fixtures sparkle against the 20 foot tall blue patio wall. Rusted steel sconces march in rhythm with skylights and railings. Grids of steel windows span floor to ceiling, linking inside to outside in an invisible embrace.
Harborview Broadmoor is a hilltop home nestled on the upper tier of a residential development overlooking Newport Bay, California, designed by Laidlaw Schultz Architects. While the standard residential pad offered little in terms of inspiration, the creation of a faux topography offered the possibility of a new context and something greater than its surroundings. An abstract hill was first developed, which served as the starting point for the design of the home. This conceptual hill is intersected by two diverse outdoor spaces, one affording panoramic views from Laguna to Palos Verdes and beyond to Catalina, while the other forms a more intimate private-entry courtyard. The home itself capitalizes on these outdoor spaces, with the main living level offering a view to both. Hidden beneath the hill, in a large cavern, are the wine storage and tasting rooms. The home’s many sensual qualities are rooted in a simple palette of board-formed concrete, Texas Shellstone, Ipe siding, and white plaster. Capitalizing on the intrinsic nature of these materials reduced the overall impact on both cost and the environment, and enforces the honest essence of the home. The interiors draw from this palette, always using light to magnify the unique textures that form the backdrop to this home. While rooted in the finite — concrete and stone — this home manages to touch the infinite with its subtle use of light and volume.
Photos: Courtesy of Laidlaw Schultz Architects
This new residential project has been designed by bfs Design Flachsbarth Schultz, a 1957 atrium house (bungalow) in the middle of the Tiergarten Park in the center of Berlin, Germany. The former one family house was built for the International Building Exhibtion 1957 (Hansaviertel) and has not been changed until the new owner took over that building from an old lady. When he asked the architecture studio to create a contemporary and very special and fully furnished home and garden for him and his model casting agency, they were more than happy. Because the entire building including the garden was protected as an historic monument the architects had to work carefully.
Nestled on a knoll top within an expansive West Marin ranch, this California compound designed by architects Turnbull Griffin Haesloop creates a gathering place for an extended family. The cluster of buildings shapes a courtyard that frames a view back to Mount Tamalpais. The courtyard shields the strong winds and creates a warm sunny spot for the plunge pool and hot tub. Inside the main house, a large living /dining /kitchen space allows sixteen people to gather. Bedrooms and bunkrooms let them sleep over. The house is filled with inviting spots to read or play games. The house is designed to be net zero with a remote photovoltaic array providing power. Many sustainable features are designed into the house such as high R-value insulation, reclaimed wood floors, and zoned radiant heat with passive cooling. A rainwater capture system is used for toilet flushing. The house is Western red cedar with a corrugated zinc roof. Stainless steel sunshades protect the windows from solar heat gain. Jeannie Fraise of Lotus Bleu was the designer of the furnishings. The landscape architects, the SWA Group, were responsible for extensive site restoration and native project plantings.
Photos: David Wakely
Ramchandani Residence has been designed by Intexure Architects, which integrates the owners’ Indian heritage with a modern lifestyle in Houston, Texas. An indoor “courtyard” help to form the center of the home, following Hindi tradition. With a roof seemingly to float overhead, this soul space is infused with light, air and openness. Separate living suites for the owners, apartment style quarters for grown children, and guest suites for family from India all surround the courtyard space, providing both privacy and connection amidst a dynamic extended family environment.
Sustainability is achieved through smart design solutions such as careful building orientation and window placement. The insulated fiberglass wall system on the west facade minimizes heat gain yet acts as a luminous screen, flooding the interior with soft natural daylight while maintaining privacy from the street. The opposite end of the great room opens to the east, sheltered by the backyard tree canopy and large roof overhang. The exterior utilizes local materials including honed Texas limestone, structural clay tile, and Galvalume siding. Interior finishes include renewable bamboo flooring and recycled quartz countertops.
As a living space for a physician’s family, the house is mindful of physical healing and wellbeing. Ergonomics, accessible design, and spiritual spaces are integrated within the home and in an outdoor meditation platform. Operable windows and large sliding doors bring in fresh air, natural light and dissolve boundaries between the interior and exterior. The house and landscape were designed together to focus views and allow occupants to experience nature throughout the day.
Photos: Courtesy of Intexure Architects
Newport Beach Residence is a modern family home designed by Paul Davis Architects, situated on a narrow lot, representing a departure from typical suburban site planning in Newport Beach, California. Rather than placing the house in the middle of the site as an object with front and rear yards, the building mass of this residence is structured as a bar along the north edge of the site with open spaces along the south. Punctuated by secondary volumes, these open spaces serve as discreet public and private courtyards into which indoor spaces flow.
Living spaces and children’s bedrooms are located at grade. A master suite stretching the width of the site is perched atop this lower bar. Accessible from the master suite, roof decks extend living spaces outdoors much as the courtyards do at grade level. A guest room is situated above the garage.
The house’s principal volume is rendered in steel-troweled stucco and secondary volumes are clad with stained cedar boards. To maximize the feeling of openness, the courtyard facades feature the extensive use of glass and sliding doors.
Photos: Clark Davis
The Goodman Residence, designed by Abramson Teiger Architects, epitomizes the Southern California lifestyle by uniting the home, garden and pool. Its massing is conceived as one linear bar running the depth of the lot that has two smaller masses attached to its side. The combination of the three masses, some open, some closed, sets up a dialogue of solid and void, covered and uncovered, indoor and outdoor and creates an interaction and flow of functions. The north facade enhances privacy with a sculptural composition of layered depths of smooth steel trowel stucco with minimal windows; while the courtyard facade is very open, organized in a horizontal pattern of Phenoelic Resin Panels that shift in alignment with the window and door systems. Sliding and bi-fold doors on the courtyard open up to allow access across the entire length of the compact 40’x135’ urban lot. The outdoor living spaces become rooms, some with roofs, some open to the sky, all partially enclosed either by the house itself or the property line walls. The conscious attention to bring natural light into all parts of the home imbues a sense of tranquility, a lightness that raises one soul, making this home a private sanctuary.
The residence is situated on a long narrow lot; the design challenge was to position it accordingly on the site in order to preserve an openness that is fully integrated both inside and out. The resultant massing is that of a long “bar” with “transparent” covered rooms added to it. A dialogue of solid and void, covered and uncovered, indoor and outdoor is established. The living room, with its tall doors that disappear into pockets, the garden courtyard and pool, and the outdoor covered patio are aligned to allow site lines from one end of the site through to the other.
Along with the importance to address the linearity of the site, natural light plays an important part in the space, helping to imbue the home with a sense of tranquility and lightness, thus transforming the home into a private sanctuary. Attention was also paid to articulating the “bar”, by creating a visually interesting, sculptured exterior.
Photos: Jim Bartsch Photography