Westboro Home was designed to revolve around a two storey light filled raised garden courtyard by Kariouk Associates, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The contemporary residence was completed in 2013, sited on a narrow lot in a downtown neighborhood.
The site for this home was a narrow lot in a downtown neighborhood, which carried with it extensive code limitations on side windows. A further challenge was negotiating the difference in grade between the two neighboring lots: an already steeply sloping site, the neighbors to the West raised their rear yard an additional 1.5 meters, ultimately creating a difference in neighboring lot heights of approximately 2.5 meters.
The design of the home revolves around a two storey, light-filled raised garden courtyard. The garden takes a “bite” out of the tight, permissible building area, however it allowed for an extensive amount of glass that otherwise, due to restrictive building code requirements, would not be possible. The courtyard’s lot-line side remains open, while its three interior sides are filled with windows and bring natural light into the heart of the home on both living floors. The courtyard is filled with ornamental plantings, and while it serves as a “daylight-magnet,” it also serves as a lush, visual focus for each of the primary living spaces of the home.
Upon stepping into the foyer, one is immediately presented with a series of linked views that unite the very front of the home to the very back of the property. The opposing wall of the interior foyer is entirely glass and shows the exterior, raised garden courtyard; this view continues through the courtyard and joins the interior of the formal dining room; this view then extends to an exterior garden bridge over the lower rear yard that ultimately joins visually to the interior of a three-season reading pavilion set in the rear yard.
A sense of privacy is created, despite the numerous and large windows that were achieved, as the main living areas begin a full-flight above street level; a slate and glass entry stair and walkway create a generous arrival point for visitors. Likewise, the entry stair/foyer volume is clad in white masonry in order to visually advance and welcome visitors towards the walkway (while the volume housing primary living spaces as well as the garage below is clad in black clapboard in order to recede from the sidewalk). A continuous visual and spatial gap cuts entirely through the home between the light and dark volumes; an open-riser stair is inserted into that void, set against the backdrop of the garden courtyard.
Photos: Courtesy of Kariouk Associates
Corte San Pietro Hotel is an abandoned structure that was beautifully restored into a luxury hotel by architect Daniela Amoroso, located in Matera, Italy. Matera is one of the most ancient cities in the world and its territory contains the evidence of human settlements as from the Palaeolithic times.
The Sassi districts, World Heritage site, are the original urban core of the city and, based on natural caves, they have been further extended over the millenniums to be turned into even more complex structures.An intricate network of streets, alleyways, inner courtyards and neighborhoods overlooked by habitations of all sizes, ancient defensive walls, towers, warehouses, wine cellars and cisterns. A never-ending excavated and built system.
In the very heart of the Sassi district, an abandoned structure in disuse dating back to the XVII. C and which surrounds an internal courtyard has been restored and reinvented to be turned into new spaces of a 5,381 square foot (500 square meters) hotel.
Useless architectural contaminations and superfluous layers of pavement have been removed, uncovering the original tufa stonework topped with vaults: the historical structure has been laid bare, as an architectural evidence to confront and dialogue with. In this search for essence, authentic, pure space free from excess, we can recognize the Wabi spirit conceived by the Belgian Axel Vervoordt.
The historical places, full of an attractive identity, harmoniously and precisely combine to the comfort and to the refined and elegant design.
Turned into refined hotel rooms, the former habitations at the ground floor overlook an internal courtyard which, thanks to long and accurate restoration works, is characterized by an original stone pavement called “a chiancarelle”.
Enlightened with candle lights in the evening, the courtyard becomes very cozy and intimate, giving a sense of protection.
The rooms located all around the courtyard are rigorously monochromatic, characterized by chestnut brown shades, from the beige of the stone to the brown of the wood and the weathering steel. Soil, stone pavement and the natural colour of the stone become wall, ceiling and sitting.
The constant search for a connection between the various inner rooms and the landscape is the very base of this combination of local stone, wood and iron in each single room with different proportions according to a linear and essential design. Poor elements usually combined to a country style become light and modern.
The linen curtains of the entrance doors skillfully made by hand let a bright light reach the first area of each room dedicated to sitting/living area and relax whereas the following private areas carved out from the rock face, are enlightened through skylights from the vaults. These small windows, from above, allow beams of light to alternate with large dark intimate areas.
Tufa arches introduce to bathrooms, intimate and cozy spaces featured by niches and cavities now containing large stone bathtubs or showers.
The interior design is based on restored vintage furnishings and typical tools. Nature and timeworn objects perfectly suit each single room through various furnishing elements: old benches in century-old chestnut tree become either doors, shelves or tables, old wooden chairs frames become towel holders, tree logs become stools or bedside tables.
The whole hotel develop horizontally all around an area, the courtyard, characterized by slight differences of level and surrounded by five rooms, the reception hall and the breakfast room, in an ancient typical system which features the whole structure.
Under the hotel, below ground, are located eight bell-shaped cisterns, evidence of the former system for the collection of the rainwaters and excellent example of sustainability. Rainwaters were forwarded through gutters, drainpipes and channelings down to the cisterns connected to the habitations. Cisterns are visitable through narrow inner passages. Going through the changeable silence of a cave and adapting ourselves to these dark environments means to be immersed into another dimension, where it is possible to seize the deepest and ancestral meaning of these places, of this land. It is a place where to feed our souls and feel a strong well-being.
From the entrance in Via B. Buozzi, visitors are greeted as in a private house in the graceful and cozy reception, elegantly furnished, through which it is possible to access the private courtyard.
Photos: PierMario Ruggeri
02 House was designed as a modern and luxurious single story property by Daffonchio & Associates Architects, located in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. The house is set on a secluded, tranquil stand surrounded by established trees. The main house consists of 2 wings: the living wing and the bedroom wing. Both wings have long, low roofs which appear to float over and past them. These roofs are supported on external steel posts, as all of the walls stop short of the ceiling, with clerestory windows on top of all internal and external walls.
The clerestory windows allow views of the trees from inside the house, and admit a soft, diffused light into the house during the day. At night, the ceilings are lit up by means of fluorescent lights concealed below the clerestory windows. This creates a soft, ambient light, and enhances the floating effect of the roofs. The deep overhangs of the roofs and the generous concrete aprons around the house extend the house into the garden both spatially and visually. The deep roof overhangs also shade the glazing in summer, protecting the house from solar heat gain.
Along the full length of the northern side of the living area is a 16 meter long floor to ceiling motorized frameless glass sliding door. When opened, the door disappears into cavity walls, and the living area effectively becomes an open covered patio, with 2 large cavity sliders on the south side opening onto a secluded courtyard.
The entrance door was designed by South African artist Marcus Neustetter. It comprises a sheet of laser cut steel on the outside and laser cut walnut on the inside, with clear glass in between to let light shine in during the day and out at night. The laser cut image originates from a Google Earth image showing the topography of Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. The minimalist architecture, expansive spaces, soft natural daylight and white walls in the house serve as a backdrop for other artwork throughout the house.
The ecopool has been designed to read as part of the garden, with gravel banks acting as the transition between the garden and the pool, and planted wetlands blending visually with the surrounding landscaping.
Photos: Adam Letch
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
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