Carmel Residence is an incredible modern home design completed in 2008 by Dirk Denison Architects, situated in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California. The house is nestled on a dense site facing Carmel Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The clients were keen to be fully cognizant of this amazing setting in all areas of the home. As such the house was conceived as a central room comprised of the courtyard, living room, and bedroom, bordered by niche spaces for the kitchen, breakfast nook, office and master bath. Fully folding doors/walls adjacent to the courtyard from the living room and bedroom literally open the full space up, and the rhythmic edge of vertical screen elements (solid mahogany and steel) create a loose border that stretches and compresses along its lengths.
Viewed at an angle, the screen reads opaque, but viewed closely or straight through, the screen is visibly porous allowing both light and air to travel through and across the central space. All other rooms on the main floor abut this border screen, creating a reference of place throughout the house, and providing a dynamic reading of visual connections as one moves through the space. This central heart of the house is protected from strong seawater winds of the ocean by a glass roof, designed to allow for clear views upward and to maintain a warm center space.
The steel columns that anchor the steel cable and strut trusses are integrated into the vertical wood screen – matching the changing rhythm and yet independently identified by a deep charcoal color. When a sweeping breeze is needed, the large sliding windows between the office and the courtyard are easily opened to allow full cross-ventilation. The house lives and breathes through the courtyard, and our clients live fully in this “large” room, even soaking in the Japanese Ofuro installed beneath the glass roof to watch the evening sky.
The second floor is accessed by an exterior cantilever stair, which is structurally and materially integrated into the vertical screen system. Atop the house is a small second floor enclosure between two porches with dramatic views. This space is primarily used as a meditation room – and the large scooped skylight draws attention towards the changing blue of the sky and movement of the stars. Hidden below the inset Tatami floor is a guest mattress, ready to be revealed for guests to sleep among the cypress treetops.
Photos: David Matheson
The Curved House is a modern residence with distinctive lines by design build firm Hufft Projects, situated in Springfield, Missouri. Conceived in plan as a U-shaped form, this residence features a courtyard that allows for a private retreat to an outdoor pool and a custom fire pit. The master wing flanks one side of this central space while the living spaces, a pool cabana, and a view to an adjacent creek form the remainder of the perimeter.
A signature masonry wall gently curves in two places signifying both the primary entrance and the western wall of the pool cabana. The curving form of the terra cotta Spanish tile reflects, on a more detailed scale, the gesture of the curve. Both the fire pit and the pool’s design play upon the sinuous motif as well. An eclectic and vibrant material palette of brick, Spanish roof tile, Ipe, Western Red Cedar, and various interior finish tiles add to the dramatic expanse of the residence. The client’s interest in suitability is manifested in numerous locations, which include a photovoltaic array on the cabana roof, a geothermal system, radiant floor heating, and a design which provides natural daylighting and views in every room.
Interior details and finishes are highly refined. Intricate tile work, well crafted casework, and the complete integration of the constituent parts assure a rich experience for the residents. Hufft Projects and its sister company, Edwin Blue, are currently in the process of designing furnishings for the residence as well.
Photos: Mike Sinclair
The Wall House was designed by FARM architects as two separate volumes that have been connected through a central courtyard in Singapore. The project is a tale of two houses – similar looking, yet independent and coming together to form a coherent whole. The two blocks sit on a sprawling piece of land, belonging respectively to the retired parents and one of their children.
This separation of the house into two blocks, in part a response to the sheer scale of the land, is also a requirement brief given by the clients. Programmatically, it consists of a two-storey block with the main living and master bedroom area, and a single-storey block housing the entertainment areas of the house.
What links these two volumes together is the huge central courtyard at the entrance expressed in an austere geometry of granite floor and wall, an organically shaped oculus and a minimalist planting of six willowy trees. Like a sparse yet artful Chinese landscape painting, this sets the tone for the rest of the spaces.
The landscape design, similar to the house, is also experienced in multiple correlated layers. It takes its inspiration from the philosophy of classical Chinese Garden where views are borrowed through cutouts and vistas, and where sight lines and spaces begin to overlap.
Photos: Bryan van der Beek and Edward Hendricks
The Sunshine Beach House is a family vacation retreat that was designed by Wilson Architects, and is situated on Sunshine Beach, Queensland, Australia. The home was previously known as the Prell House, designed by renowned architect Gabriel Poole in 1997. The design reflected an abstraction of Mediterranean and Mexican influences to present a series of living and sleeping spaces around a central courtyard on a steeply sloping site. The careful arrangement of the spaces protected from the prevailing sea breezes, opened up to the Northern aspect while maintaining privacy.
In many ways the house is an idiosyncratic design and the new owners sought changes that would enable more living space and all weather connections between the sleeping quarters, without sacrificing the unique character of the place.
The key to the design remains the central Outdoor Room, now roofed with a translucent battened roof, linking the living spaces during all but the most inclement weather. The timber seating, landscaping and green wall maintain the outdoor feel and the space is softened by soft furnishings and cushions.
The kitchen and dining space have been extended to open up to expansive ocean views with the capacity to filter harsh light and strong breezes that come with an Eastern aspect. A subtle lowering of the balcony keeps the balustrade below the view line of seated diners.
Upstairs a new corridor connects the house with the backyard and draws breezes through the outdoor room. A new main bedroom takes advantage of an expanded ocean view with an arrangement of frameless glass windows and retractable louvres that enable the conditions to be moderated.
Photos: Brent Hardcastle
Rockledge Residence is is a modern beach house perched atop the vertical face of a rocky, coastal promontory in Laguna Beach, California, designed by Horst Architects together with interior design firm Aria Design. This residence responds directly to the owner’s brief for a relaxed family beach house where they could engage family and friends, while also enjoying the views and natural surroundings of the site. The mild coastal climate also created the opportunity for the seamless integrate of interior and exterior space.
The design solution consists of a main residence and a detached guest house organized around a series of connected courtyards. Native, drought tolerant vegetation forms the connective tissue of the various exterior spaces. Sliding, concealed pocket doors and the continuity of materials both inside and out, help to dissolve the boundary between interior and exterior space.
Materiality and formal choices were informed by a desire to root the structure into the site. Indoor and outdoor living is orchestrated by balancing views with privacy, communal space with intimacy. Rockledge is a place of meditation where one can contemplate the ocean and sky.
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