Albizia House is a contemporary family home envisioned by Metropole Architects, nestled on a one acre site in Simbithi Eco Estate, South Africa. The client’s brief called for a home with an overriding sense of simplicity but with a high degree of sophistication.
The architectural style of the home is heavily influenced by the ‘Googie’ architecture of the American architect John Lautner. The origin of the name ‘Googie’ dates to 1949, when architect John Lautner designed the West Hollywood coffee shop, ‘Googies’, which had distinct architectural characteristics.
‘Googie’ architecture is a form of modern architecture and a subdivision of futurist architecture with stylistic conventions influenced by, and representing 50’s American society’s fascination and marketing emphasis on futuristic design, car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.
‘Googie’ was also characterized by design forms symbolic of motion, including upswept roofs, curvaceous geometric shapes, and the bold use of glass, steel and neon, the spirit of which is embodied in Albizia House.
The extensive use of water in the design of the home includes a 25 meters lap pool with a glass panel between the water and the basement cinema room, and a shallow but expansive reflective pond on the approach side, which mirrors the building day and night, and evokes a sense of tranquility.
The palette of natural materials including timber screens, decking and cladding, off-shutter concrete and stone cladding juxtapose with the aggressive architectural form making, creating a home that is not only visually and spatially exciting, but also comfortable and intimate.
All the living areas and bedroom suites face onto a panoramic vista, which includes a dense forest down-slope from the house.
Photos: Grant Pitcher
Float House is a modern single story, private residence that has been envisioned by Pitsou Kedem Architects, situated in Tel Aviv, Israel. The architectural concept was to create a structure with a continuous, wide space, divided by internal courtyards and movable partitions into smaller spaces used for a variety of different functions. The different spaces and internal courtyards are joined together into one structure by two, ultra-thin roofs supported at one central point, seeming to float in the air. The home offers a beautiful open concept floor plan consisting of 5,920 square feet (550 square meters) of living space.
The two roofs merge, one into the other and extend for five meters over the building front walls. The entire roof is constructed from lightweight materials and, in order to provide a thin, wispy look at its edges, it is constructed with a moderate slop towards its center.
The structure itself is constructed from a series of spaces that are conceivably internal and conceivably external spaces. The entrance is framed with a wall of wooden slats which constitute what could be considered the initial boundary between the outside and the inside.
A ribbon window running along the building’s facades serves to emphasize the roof floating above the structure walls and cancels out the feeling of mass that its size suggests.
A long, narrow reflection pool follows the structure’s walls, reflecting and emphasizing their covering and texture.
When entering the space, we pass through a space resembling an entrance lobby – again, conceivably internal and conceivably external – which embodies the soft seam between the outside and inside areas.
Whilst walking through the entrance lobby space, we cross a transparent pool, studded with large basalt rocks and trees that seem to float on the water. As we enter the entrance lobby, we experience the illusion that the house is floating and being reflected, just as the roof appears to be floating above the structures walls.
Photos: Amit Geron
Toro Canyon Residence was envisioned by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, nestled on a 10 acre parcel in Toro Canyon, Los Angeles, California, among natural groves of oak and eucalyptus trees. A seasonal creek to the east and Toro Canyon Creek to the west flanks the secluded building site. The house is approached via a narrow, tree covered drive, which ends at a small clearing and presenting the ocean and islands in the distance. The residence is sited on axis with the canyon and views beyond. The building parti presents three one story, wedge shaped volumes; a carport /service volume to the north, a public living volume to the south west and a private sleeping volume to the south east. The volume enclosing the carport intersects the living volume and is offset to showcase the glass entry pavilion separating the volumes.
Constructed of laminated glass beams and roof panels, with glass doors, this entry space is conceptualized as an exterior circulation connection between the private and public wings of the house. The exterior walls are constructed of 12” thick insulated cast-in-place self consolidating concrete, and a metal roof helps to provide maximum fire resistance in this secluded canyon. Interior floors are lightweight concrete.
The exposed concrete is warmed with doors and windows of natural mahogany and interior millwork and ceilings of natural eucalyptus. The main floor of 4,700 square feet includes a studio, family room, kitchen, dining room, living room, office and master suite. A lower floor of 2800 square feet includes guest rooms and an exercise space and mechanical space.
Photos: Ciro Coelho
S House is a contemporary concrete and glass single family home that has been designed by Domenack Arquitectos, situated in Lima, Peru. The design brief necessitated three important factors to be incorporated into the design of the 5,382 square foot (500 square meters) home. First it needed to satisfy the functional needs of the family. Second, it had to adapt to a difficult sloping topography without resorting to complicated and expensive structures. Lastly, the home needed to capture the views towards a golf course, even though the plot is not adjacent to it.
The design of the house is planned over an existing natural platform located 3m above street level. This decision allowed locating only the parking and service areas at street level, while the rest of the program is located above the natural platform. The house is developed in 3 levels, following the rocky ascending topography of the plot. The functional and spatial distribution derives from the customs and needs of the clients. The main garden, pool and social areas are located in the first level, while the private areas are located in the second and third levels.
The project´s elevated position allows taking advantage of the views of the golf course, located to the south of the plot, from the social and master bedroom areas. The rest of the house enjoys different views and scenarios of the surrounding natural environment, through patios, gardens and platforms generated by following the ascending topography. The design of the house promotes adequate ventilation, lighting and thermal control in order to reduce energy consumption.
The house´s composition is framed in a double height exposed concrete structure that directs the views to the golf course and contains the inner volumes of the house. Space within this frame flows freely, visually integrating different areas of the project and its natural surroundings. The premise of adapting the house to the plot´s natural topography, based on ecological and economic criteria, determined the rest of the house´s posterior facades.
Photos: Juan Solano
H House features a modern glass facade designed by Wiel Arets Architects, situated in a leafy area of suburban Maastricht, The Netherlands, just south of the city’s center. The homeowner’s are a dancer and an actor, who are also landscape architects, locating the 3,229 square foot (300 square meters) home within an existing formal garden that the owners had cultivated over the years. Composed of two concrete floor slabs wrapped in an all glass skin that varies in shades of opacity–from transparent to opaque–the interior is organized so that it assumes the characteristics of a single, open, loft-like space. The two exceptions to this completely open living situation are the contiguous volume of the upper story bathroom, which cantilevers over the terrace entry off the kitchen below, and that of the front entry, which projects from the main volume to create a roof terrace.
The house’s staircase is suspended from the first level so that it does not touch the ground floor; its lower portion is composed of movable units that also function as storage for the ground floor kitchen and living space. Small rectangular columns support the house’s concrete slabs.
The owners are able to reconfigure their interior spaces, due to the numerous curtains–whose tracks are recessed within the floor slabs–and the lower components of the staircase; ephemerally defining rooms reflective of the seasonal changes within the surrounding formal garden.
Photos: João Morgado
San Vicente House was designed for a family with three small girls to respond to the busy street it is located on by McClean Design, situated in Ramona, San Diego County, California. The architects came up with a sequence of entry which uses several devices to separate the occupants from the noise beyond. The drive court is screened from the street by high gates and tall landscaped elements. This area connects to an inner courtyard through a curving glass screen designed to allow the light to pass through but shield from the cars and noise. The courtyard contains a waterfall and an infinity edge pool both of which help to instill a feeling of calm as you approach the house.
Our hope is by the time you enter into the two story entry hall you have left the rest of the world behind. The L shaped plan of the house maximizes the expansive back yard while further screening potential noise such that the rear yard is extremely quiet and peaceful. The garden also contains a pool and guest house.
The house consists of master plus four bedrooms on the upper level with a family room, art room and gym. The lower level has formal living and dining rooms, family room, media and office plus associated secondary spaces. The house is finished in cool grey and cream limestone with light plaster and paint tones and bronze metal accents.
Photos: Courtesy of McClean Design
Solis Residence is a breathtaking house set within its stunning natural surroundings on Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia. Designed by Renato D’Ettorre Architects, the home has been carved into a steep edge of Hamilton Island, brilliantly sculpting three interlocking levels to frame extraordinary views of islands in the Whitsundays waters. The home is sculpted from concrete, stone, block work and glass resulting in a sequence of dramatic volumes incorporating airy living spaces and private sheltered outdoor zones. the building elements are intertwined with reflection ponds and a swimming pool, lending a sense of tranquility and sensuous tactility whilst providing casual, elegant outdoor living amid the beauty and serenity of the island.
From the architect: As a design practice, our aim is to create evocative architecture which satisfies the human need for textural and tactile experience. Solis on Hamilton Island draws inspiration from its magnificent location and Mediterranean coastal architecture: simple, permeable volumes opening and unfolding, capturing distant views of water and land.
This site, within its luscious natural setting, brings the weather seasons into focus with the vegetation’s glorious display of color, texture and flower – nature’s constant reminders of life’s cycles. Remaining connected to these surroundings was one of the key elements driving the design of the house.
Terraces are fluid extensions of internal spaces capturing cooling breezes and allowing cross ventilation. Bedroom terraces frame magnificent views of water and garden, distant lands and the horizon, so that falling asleep or waking is never a mundane ritual. Special attention was taken designing the bathrooms:eliminating superfluous detail and relating to the natural surroundings imbues the spaces with a sense of well-being and purity that is invigorating for the body and stimulating for the mind.
Always connected to water, the interiors are sheltered and cool: swimming pools, reflection ponds and strategically positioned trickling waterfalls soothe both indoors and outdoors, as each rain droplet resonates through the spaces.
In contrast to this sense of tranquility, equally critical to the design was to provide a high degree of safety to the occupants by integrating building regulations so that the house is able to withstand the destructive forces of tropical cyclones that are common in this region of Queensland.
Construction method and material selection was influenced not only by the climate but also the client who had expressed preference for low maintenance materials on a sub-tropical site with extreme weather: long periods of hot, humid conditions and prolonged heavy rain during the wet season limit material lifespan.
Another factor was regional Council’s limit on colors: white and primary colors were not permissible. For these reasons concrete became the primary material; utilizing its eternal qualities of extreme resiliency, excellent thermal properties, the textural quality and hue of rough sawn timber boards echoing the trunks of gum trees and large grey weathered boulders on the site. Further, concrete allows for a ready-made finish eliminating the use of render and paint as well as lending instant patina.
Wall and floor finishes, such as polished concrete, unfilled honed travertine tiles and textured internal renders were selected for their durability and tactile qualities; the irresistible urge to experience the house bare-feet whilst enjoying the touch of the smooth, cool stone.
The design seeks to balance the human spirit by the enriching experience gained in re-connecting with nature through the simple act of observing the wonders of its ever-changing scenery and by harnessing its benefits: off-shore cool breezes, warm evenings, spectacular sunsets, lush vegetation and the beauty of tropical rainfalls.
The Armada House is a modern post and beam home designed by Canadian firm KB Design, set among Garry Oaks on a rocky slope in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Set in the Ten Mile Point/Wedgewood Estates neighborhood, Armada is a perfect convergence of concrete, glass, steel and wood, built by Abstract Developments. In 2008 it garnered 10 Gold awards including Project of the Year and Best Custom Home in Canada. Its entry atrium’s grand but welcoming stairs and five-foot wide Douglas fir door establish a sense of volume and scale that defines the residence. Exposed glu-lam fir beams and plenty of windows compliment the open plan kitchen, living, dining space of this 5,299 square foot property. This facilitates a delicate balance between spaciousness for entertaining and intimacy for daily living.
Photos: Courtesy of Keith Baker | KB Design
This sensational cedar and glass house is one of nine secluded homes constructed around the edge of Little Lovett Bay, an inlet accessible only by boat less than an hour from Sydney. The open living room has timber floors and a wood-burning stove. The kitchen is connected to the outdoor deck with folding timber windows, and skylights bring in sunlight filtered through the spotted gum trees that surround the house. The countertops are granite, and the stainless steel sink and drain board match the stainless steel gas appliances. A built-in bookcase holds cookbooks. The ground floor has two guest bedrooms and a full bath. There is an additional downstairs room that could be used as a bedroom or a formal living room. The master suite is upstairs, and includes a bedroom with a peaked ceiling, an en suite bathroom with a soaking tub and a sitting area. A walkway suspended above the living room connects the master suite with another bedroom and an office nook.
This spectacular five-bedroom house is on the market for $2 million (2.25 million Australian dollars.)
Kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras frequent the national park behind the house.
Timber-framed folding doors in the living room and kitchen lead to a deck that overlooks the bay.
The living room has timber floors and a wood-burning stove. Above, a sky walk connects the bedrooms on either side of the house.
Large windows and skylights in the kitchen frame a view of the spotted gum trees that surround the house.
Another view of the deck. The house was built ten years ago.
A ground floor bedroom behind the kitchen has direct access to the deck.
The sky walk on the second floor leads to the study, with a guest bedroom beyond.
A skylight bathes the master bedroom with natural light.
One of two guest bedrooms on the ground floor.
The dining room windows face the back of the house and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, a wild expanse of pristine bush.
This extra room on the ground floor is currently configured as a den.
The property has a guesthouse with a sleeping loft, a full bathroom and a kitchenette.
The house is one of nine on a secluded inlet north of Sydney. There is no road access to the house. It’s ten minutes by boat to Church Point, and from there it’s a 45 minute drive to Sydney’s Central Business District.
The Naked House has been designed by architect Marc Gerritsen as a single family contemporary home for himself in Koh Samui, Thailand. The site location was chosen for the large expanse of the surroundings and quietness. Life in Taipei is very hectic, so the architect needed a place to escape, a quiet area with fabulous views. He wanted an open plan living room with doors that can totally slide away, overlooking a pool and the ocean, something he had been dreaming about for a long time. With this plot he was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. “The house was a return to the basic values in life: good clean air, wide open space, quiet solitude. With these basic values you can be in a space that is uncluttered, and your mind can become still.” This was also the reason behind the basic materials that were applied to this project: concrete, wood, steel and glass. With no embellishments, the focus was applied more heavily on the space rather than the materials.
I originally planned three stories: two bedrooms on the bottom; the pool, living area and kitchen on the middle level; and an office on top. But I’ve added a bathroom on the living room level, a laundry room and pantry. I wanted a simple kitchen, with no overhead cupboards or tall fridge, so the pantry is good for storage. I added a freestanding open-air bathroom, as the top room became a magnificent master bedroom which needed an en-suite. The tank and plant room became a large open room with a swing bed, underneath the deck I added a steam room, and the space below the bedrooms now houses an office and maid’s room. So it ended up being five stories – the result of a work in progress.
My work over the last few years as an architectural and interior photographer has taught me what not to do. Looking at all the incredibly fine detailed properties I photographed in Asia. I thought: “Is this really necessary to be comfortable? If I walk on a concrete floor or if I walk on a marble floor, is it going to make my living experience so much better?” No. You just need a floor to walk on. I am interested in a return to basics, in a luxury monastic way of living.
Photos: Marc Gerritsen