Situated on a lot with nine mature post oak trees, Under Tree House has been designed by architecture studio Loop Design in Austin, Texas. The architect designed the home for clients that are good friends, which is a big part of why they were hired for the project. They wanted the house to grow from this bond, to be a place that feels particular when you walk through it, because it was conceived with people who know them and love them. They wanted it to feel like home before they even moved in. The home features a modern exterior and a streamlined, brightly-colored interior, which is comprised of only 1,900 square feet, but feels quite spacious due to its outdoor areas like the breezeway, decks, second floor terrace, and courtyard.
The lot had never been developed and was covered with mature post oak trees; nearly every buildable square foot was in a root zone. The architect protected the trees by designing around them—they are as integral to the house as its walls and windows. To minimize root zone compaction, the driveway is short, with the carport set to the front of the lot. The house floats behind on concrete piers with cedar decks that terrace down to the ground. The screened breezeway is a front porch, an entry foyer, and a pleasant place to play cards even on a hot summer night.
The house is thin and uses a pier and beam foundation so as not to disturb the trees—light, air and views of tree and sky reach in from all sides. The approach to sustainability is largely low–tech: build in an existing neighborhood where you plan to stay, keep conditioned spaces small through good connection to outdoor spaces, make the sun and shade work for you, collect the rain, plant a garden. On this shady lot, the garden had to move upstairs, where it is the railing of the roof terrace. It is here, up in the only spot of open sky, your perspective of the site and the house changes—no longer under the tree canopy, you’re up in it.
Photos: Whit Preston
48 Gravatt Drive Residence is located in the hills of Berkeley, California overlooking the entire San Francisco Bay Area offering panoramic views from every room and vantage point. Designed and owned by Charles Debbas of Debbas Architecture, the house is sunken down into the hill, allowing for direct level access to a backyard and opens up a generous entry courtyard to the house as well as a series of level gardens as one makes their way through the house, challenging the notion of perched hillside home, detached and offering no direct access and dialog with the land and their surroundings. The whole western facade slides open, making the indoor spaces one with the Bay.
The main idea behind the concept was to puncture and carve simple volumes with glass, views and materials and sculpt light and space into a soul enriching experience, one that, like a sundial, constantly redefines the character of the house, day to day and hour by hour. Although modern, it conveys feelings of something very familiar through the choice of materials, colors, day lighting and the size and balance of the spaces within and without. In defiance to the belief that contemporary homes are cold and uninviting, the house is warm, very intimate and most of all quiet in every sense of the word.
Solar and sustainable issues were incorporated into the design by sinking of the structure into the earth to engage the insulation properties of the land. Light shelves were incorporated into the design on the west facade (view facade) to prevent direct sun and heat from entering the house while enjoying uninterrupted views of the Bay.
The house exterior was designed to maximize the use of renewable materials. The cladding panels on the garage portion are concrete fiberboard (green) from Switzerland, the house itself is clad with resin fiberboard that is made to look like wood also renewable, from Holland. Most decks are tiled with ceramic slats the look like wood (again to minimize the use of real wood).
The roof is powder coated metal and most of the trim is anodized aluminum to match the giant doors facing the view. The architect tried to make the house as “green” as possible, but his main goal was to make it as maintenance free as possible, considering the western exposure. All of the exterior materials require only a power wash every once and a while. No painting, warping, or discoloration.
This Chilean home is that of architect Carolina Katz, her husband and four children, where trees are a part of the home’s original design that was constructed 27 years ago by well-known architect Fernando Castillo Velasco. The interior courtyard features four ficus trees and one almond tree, which is part of what drew Katz to this beautiful home; along with the high ceilings, simple floor plan and a fabulous location in Santiago’s Vitacura neighborhood. The 2,475 square foot (230 square meters) home did need some interior renovations, Katz made sure to retain the architectural history and embrace its quirks, which includes the ficus trees. This interior patio was once the home’s dining room, but since the large space is in the center of the house, Katz turned it into a central hangout spot.
A chandelier hangs amidst a grove of ficus trees.
Katz and her husband have a love of contemporary art, rotating their collection and personal work around the house.
A portable fireplace adds a cozy element to the high ceilings in the interior patio.
Several main windows were opened and widened during renovation.
Katz loves modern furniture, especially Scandinavian pieces, and warms up their simple lines with hand-crafted Chilean pottery and rugs. The elegant coffee table is one of Katz’s designs.
Bright white modern shelving and cabinetry contrast against the home’s original brick walls in the office.
A colorful rug hand-crafted in Chile and bold red chairs reflect Katz’s signature contemporary style in an adjacent family room.
The kitchen has been completely renovated, except the brick walls, which have been preserved to keep the home’s identity and unity. Ceramic floor tile, updated appliances and custom-designed cabinetry transformed it into a functional space. The kitchen dining table is partially hidden in one of the shelves and pulls out when needed.
The dining room was originally where the kitchen was.
The racquets above her son’s bed were Katz’s husband’s tennis and squash racquets from the late ’70s. The golf clubs were Katz’s father’s.
A small patio sits just outside the home office, it has been redesigned as an easy-to-access home garden. Old CD shelves hold pots of herbs and other plantings.
The square-shape patio is almost 250 square feet. The patio space was not being utilized so instead the family decided to turn it into a garden, planting lemon, orange and tangerine trees, as well as lettuces, tomatoes, spinach and herbs.
Photos: Courtesy of Carolina Katz + Paula Nuñez
Angophora House has been designed by architect Richard Leplastrier, sited on the Eastern tip of the extended grove of Angophoras that makes up the iconic Angophora Reserve in Avalon, New South Wales, Australia. The house is a pavilion-plan, where the design has been informed by the location. Comprising six pavilions, they seemingly waltz in harmony with the existing Angophoras, creating a courtyard feel. The layout of the buildings has a practicality that slowly becomes apparent; the separation of the master bedroom; further bedrooms rising through the tree canopy; adjoining living and dining areas; and a multitude of uses for the guest pavilion.
Sheltered from the harsh southerlies in winter, in summer a cool north-easterly breeze ventilates this little valley with help from a canopy of Angophora leaves and remnant rainforest Lily Pilly. This creates a micro-climate that is about three degrees cooler than the temperature on the street.
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To enter the house one is drawn between the guest and main bedroom pavilion into the internal courtyard, down three steps to the front door, detailed with blue and yellow glass to either side.
The pavilions facing one another create a space that is one of reflection and perhaps even best described as ‘internalized’. There is an order and a hierarchy to the design. The scales of the pavilions are quite different. One is just 1.3 x 3.2m, to the main living pavilion, comprising a three-storey tower that draws one up into the tree canopy.
Even though it is a highly designed space, the house feels relaxed and natural at every turn. The honesty of the material palette creates an easy relationship with the environment.
A series of floating decks with wooden steps join the main pavilions, creating a walkway between the spaces. One engages with the environment. This house is as far away from being an air-conditioned executive box as one can get.
The simplicity of palette in materials and meticulous construction creates a soothing ‘easy on the eye’ calmness. The architect has complimented the owner builder during the final construction phase saying that this quietness is very hard to achieve.
Integral to this is the detailing. And there are numerous details to speak of; the three-storey tower pavilion with external spiral staircase encapsulated in chrysalis-like form within the structure of a remnant rainforest Lilly Pilly.
The guest pavilion’s 6m x 4m floor, comprised of five slabs of Jarrah, the outside wain edge being retained showing the history of scrub fires that harassed the tree in life but now locked into a floor by stainless steel chains and mirroring our majestic Eastern Seaboard coastline.
There are many more details that surprise and delight; from the beautiful handmade copper sinks and light fittings down to the smallest of details such as the handmade whipped leather front door handle covers.
The property is perhaps best summed up by the current owners who say, ‘We have had great pleasure in living here and being a custodian of this iconic treasure. Unfortunately, we are passing the baton to someone else who I am sure will love and cherish this house. Numerous architectural students from all over Australia and from Gifu wood working university in Japan have seen this house and it has given them much pleasure, as I am sure it will for others into the future.’
Table Hat is an extension of a two-story wooden house designed by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects on a peaceful residential street in Odawara city, Kanagawa, Japan. The extended part was planned for a small cafe of 532 square feet and residence. The basic structure is built up with ten wooden big-size tables with 42mm-thick flames and 9mm-thick plywood top panel. Each of them with different sizes and heights create various spaces below with suitable furniture, lighting and plants. A connection of ten tables looks like they are being floated on a 250mm-thick concrete slab which stands 1.8 meters higher from the foundation around the residence.
There are tables, chairs and roof which covers them and this place becomes cafe when a freshly poured cup of coffee comes. This primitive scene is considered as a structure for making this architecture. Each space offers a place for reading, gathering, having a view of trees outside and so on. Taking small scales of furniture in cafe as foot in the door for planning, all the places including boundary of inside and outside are gradually separated but are connected and shares this place at the same time. It is a cafe like a park in a peaceful residential street where people chose a favorite place and take a cup of coffee for relaxing.
Photos: Kai Nakamura
Cement, wood and glass comprise this simple yet stylish Finnish home as spotted on Nuevo Estilo, created by two designers, Ulla Koskinen and Sameli Rantanen as a prototype for construction company Kannustalo. The home, whose model name is called Lato (which means ‘barn’ in English), is now their own residence and center of operations. Ulla has designed from known Finnish companies, Marimekko and Artek, among other firms. Her husband is a graphic designer and photographer who lives and works in this house, just outside of the city of Helsinki. The 5,758 square foot (535 square meters) home has been portioned between study, housing and store to create an environment full of peace and quiet.
The home was been designed on the estate of Sameli’s parents, conceived as a cross between farm and country house to merge with the environment. Almost half of the total area corresponds to the seating area, open-plan, where areas intended for kitchen, dining room and lounge flow without barriers while maintaining their independence. This great atmosphere shares space in the lower part with the master bedroom and the office, while the first floor is destined to the nurseries. “Distribution offers a strong sense of union and peace of mind, and open space is sufficiently large so that all functions are developed without interfering,” says Ulla. The building, which resembles the old farms of quadrangular structure and central courtyard, is notable for the large windows, which draws in natural light and invites you to enjoy a natural setting that is part of the decoration.
The materials selected for the exterior are simple and rustic: wood, cement and glass, while the colors of the decoration follow this same simplicity. Black and gray combine with natural elements in shades that are well adapted to the location. Much of the wood used in the construction comes from trees felled on the ground where the house stands. Load-bearing walls are made of the same material and have been plastered with a cast that looks like cement. Inside, the contrasts attracts everywhere and every detail has been carefully chosen. “The best of living here is the amplitude of spaces, peace and quiet of the views. And that we are now more aware and sensitive to seasonal changes,” stresses the owner.
Open span allows access from the living room to the master bedroom, where other similar opening gives way to the dressing room.
Natural light penetrates the dining room from the courtyard.
Wall plaster treated to resemble cement provides insulation to the kitchen. In addition, it acts as support for a great module that houses the cooking zone, which it has attached a practical bar created with a simple envelope of untreated wood and simple legs of steel.
Conceived as a suite, the views from the bed are spectacular. The headboard rests on a wall painted in blue that is in tune with the quilt, a Danish design.
On the dresser, Muurame signature, a picture painted by the owner and several vases collected over the years. The lamp was bought at a flea market in Paris.
The en-suite bathroom, with access from the bedroom and also from the dining room, has a large window that introduces the landscape inside.
For their views, a terrace, covered in wood, like the facade, runs around the front of the House.
The Villa Extramuros was built in Arraiolos, a small city north of Evora, the Capital of Alentejo, the largest province of Portugal well known for its unspoiled beautiful nature, historical treasures and quiet lifestyle. Villa Extramuros invites us to follow the orders of the name itself; Extra-Muros stands for staying outside of the walls. The minimalist architecture combined with the whitewashed open plan kitchen, reception and dining area revive the traditional and medieval, surrounded by cork oaks and olive trees.
Jordi Fornells and Rolf Heinemann of Vora Arquitectura have made sure that the living spaces are well protected retaining the visitor’s privacy without compromising the diffused, natural lighting and view from the inside of the Villa. This relaxing view of orange trees with the water basin out in the open central courtyard makes the Portuguese guest house a perfect destination all year long.
The emblematic local materials of the Alentejo region as well as marble and cork, have been generously used for both decoration and constructional purposes. Villa Extramuros provides three standard rooms in addition to two superior rooms located on the first floor complete with private terraces with spectacular views and numerous facilities.
Additional materials used for the Villa’s interior spaces include waxed concrete for the floors and staircases, sliding glass doors and marble finishes. The local natural cork though, with its smooth texture and light aroma, applied to a selection of exterior walls and ceilings, dominates the guest house’s atmosphere.
The styling carried out by the Parisian owners introduces unique design pieces ranging from the late 1920’s to the 1950′s showcasing artworks from a wide range of well-known artists such as Jean Prouvé, Marc Newson, Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrison. Additionally, local, traditional handicrafts are mixed with the design objects as well as with pieces of work by young contemporary photographers such as Edgar Martins and Adrià Goula.
This incredible home was designed for an extended family in Johannesburg, South Africa by Saota Architects. Situated in Houghton on a gentle slope, the site is surrounded by trees and has views from the upper levels. The site was split into two separate sites organized around a common entrance and driveway providing access to both houses. The houses have a U-shaped configuration organized around an internal courtyard and allow access to all of the living spaces and the swimming pool. A perforated wall separates the public forecourt from the private spaces.
Internally the spaces pivot around a central volume with a ribbon like spiral stair. The living spaces, kitchen and private garden are to the north, while the games room, pool and gym are to the west. All of these spaces connect to the courtyard which in turn connects back to the main house and its living spaces.
Because of the west facing facade, a set of large shutters, which drop below the level of the first floor slab, provide shade and protection from the setting sun. Care was also taken in selecting performance-glass that would minimize the impact of direct sun. The bedrooms and study are on the upper level. The passage to the children’s bedroom runs along the perforated wall that separates the building from the driveway.
ANTONI Associates were appointed to create a contemporary interior which needed to reflect their family lifestyle. The decor and furniture selected are modern and have strong lines to complement the linear architecture. A number of bespoke furniture pieces were designed by OKHA Interiors.
Neutral palettes with accent colors have been used throughout. Strong graphic rugs add drama and texture to the rooms which offset against the solid architectural surfaces. Curated art by South African artists amongst others Lyndi Sales and Philip Barlow have been placed throughout the house.
Photos: Adam Letch, Elsa Young
This ultra fabulous and unique New York style warehouse residence is situated in South Brisbane, Australia. This converted freestanding two-story warehouse has been turned into a spacious and prestigious home with almost of 4,843 square feet (450 square meters) of designer living space. The residence features expansive open plan living with high ceilings, beautiful timber flooring and exposed 100 year old brickwork give warmth and character throughout. The Ralph Lauren styled master bedroom and en-suite is very spacious with an open air feel. Additional features include a beautiful internal courtyard, and a rooftop garden. Unique in both its style and location this property has spectacular skyline and ocean views.
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The Courtyard House is situated in the newly developed outskirts of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, designed by Hiren Patel Architects. There are two bedrooms located downstairs, for the parents and guests. Two bedrooms are found upstairs for the young couple and their young children. There are large expanses of windows to enhance the views and bring nature indoors. There are seven foot overhangs and wide verandahs to protect the home from the scorching rays of the summer sun. The verandahs get used by the family whenever the weather permits.
The central focal point of the outside courtyard is the wall with the Buddha. The wall behind is a boundary wall, so it has been elevated for privacy. ’We ended up with some pockets, so we decided to install a Buddha with a wooden backdrop,’ states the architects. A triangular wooden grid is interspersed with a metallic, backlit one in a delicate lacy design, to create an ambience of sheer magic. One of the architects main concerns for this home was that the children shouldn’t get spoilt, growing up in an atmosphere like this. He ensured this, ‘not in any forceful way. But being surrounded by so much greenery, I think people imbibe lessons from nature itself,’ he says.