The Off-Grid itHouse is a design system developed by architecture studio Taalman Koch in Pioneertown, California that utilizes a series of components prefabricated off-site to help better control the construction waste, labor, and quality of the finished product. Conceived as a small house with glass walls and open floor plan, the itHouse maximizes the relationship of the occupant to the surrounding landscape while minimizing the building’s impact on delicate site conditions.
Energy efficiency is achieved in the itHouse through passive heating and cooling, utilizing site orientation and cross ventilation, radiant floor heating, hi-efficacy appliances & equipment and the use of solar photovoltaic & thermal panels.
To further enhance the experience of living in a glass house, a graphic design is mapped to discreet areas of the glass walls, creating framed views, sun-shading screen patterns and privacy zones. Artists Sarah Morris and Liam Gillick custom designed the graphic outfit for the off-grid itHouse.
Photos: Gregg Segal
Joyce & Jeroen house renovation was an overhaul of a traditional townhouse in The Hague, Netherlands by Dutch studio Personal Architecture. The dilapidated state has necessitated a thorough reinforcement of the foundation and load-bearing structure of the entire house, opening up extraordinary possibilities in an otherwise commonplace apartment renovation. The combination of ambitious design visions and a large measure of trust from the client have resulted in a rigorous and uncompromising redesign, in which voids and split levels accentuate the full height of Den Haag’s typical row houses.
They added mezzanine floors, a glass elevation, a triple-height kitchen and a spiral staircase. Whilst the front half of the house retains its original facade and layout, the architects removed the brickwork garden elevation and replaced it with a steel framework and full-height glass wall, generating an optimal source of daylight. The interplay of voids, the split-levels and the glass facade, all create a spectacular drama between interior and exterior on the one hand, and between the existing and new floors on the other.
The intervention in the back of the house can be interpreted as a three-dimensional, L-shaped element of five storeys, accessed by a new steel spiral staircase. The staircase brings a new dynamic between the different parts of the house and makes a separation between owners and guests possible. Vertically, the L-shaped element ends in a roof-terrace with jacuzzi and outer kitchen that lies far above the balconies of the lower floors.
Small sets of steps connect the four mezzanine levels with the three existing floors of the house, while the original staircases provide a link between floors at the front of the house.
Above the kitchen, a translucent polycarbonate wall lets light into the master bedroom though a walk-in wardrobe positioned at its back.
A wire-fence balustrade creates a balcony on the second floor, so residents can look down from an office to the kitchen below.
Four new mezzanines overlook the kitchen from the side of the house, providing a new bathroom, library and pantry that feature untreated pine walls and floors. A steel staircase spirals up between the levels and leads up to a rooftop terrace and hot tub.
The architects cut away sections of the first and second floors, creating a triple-height kitchen filled with natural light.
Photos: René de Wit
Architect Chris Tate’s Forest House is a modular glass structure perched in the branches of the densely forested hills of the Auckland suburb of Titirangi in New Zealand. This is a residence that Tate uses himself as a weekend getaway retreat which has very little site impact. The glass home is tucked away in a deep ravine, which stands out with its flat black roof punctuated by four glass skylights with a slender set of wooden stairs snaking down next to it. The staircase leads to a small outcrop of decking in front of the home’s entryway. From the entrance, the house can be seen for what it is, a glass box perched amidst the bush with nothing around it except for massive trees.
The concept of the design was to focus more on the environment than on the house. This is particularly emphasized by the striking puriri tree that angles out from the bank and curves around the side of the house. The house has been designed around the curve of the trunk, using it as a main focal point. Nothing has been disturbed in this environment, there are no concrete foundations or retaining walls, and it feels more like a camping retreat, where Tate has deliberately not installed a TV, dishwasher or microwave.
The steep site was a challenge for the builders, yet no excavating was necessary on the sight, not even leveling. All the trees were enclosed in scaffolding to protect them and then 16 poles were entrenched into the earth, with the house constructed upon them. The home was designed with a minimalist approach, with no hidden storage spaces in the living area, but the study, bedroom and bathroom provides the perfect amount of comfortable living for two. The bedroom area is at the opposite end of the house up against the bank. Along this wall is a floor to ceiling curtain that conceals open shelving and wardrobes. Tate’s home is dominated by a black and white color palette and many elements inside the home have a botanical theme, such as the upholstery.
Integrated within the striking natural surroundings, Espinoza House is a single family home that derives its characteristics from the landscape around it, integrating, stone, wood and glass and opening up to the bay. Designed by Chilean architecture practice WMR the 1,506 square foot (140 square meters) home is nestled on the mountains surrounding Matanzas beach, on the Chilean central coast.
The architects sought to integrate the building within its striking surrounding landscape, deriving its characteristics from the environment in which it is inserted. The house is dug into the hill in such a way that it allows for a patio invaded by the morning light, while offering protection from the wind and a view of the sea.
Next to the patio, the architects have inserted the kitchen, dining and living spaces in a lower level, all built out of stone, sharing the materiality of the mountains. The rest of the house’s structure consists of a combination of Oregon pine wood and steel beams, and opens up with large windows that overlook the beach. Here, a living space, which is — conceived as a yoga room — is articulated with two bedrooms.
Photos: Sergio Pirrone
Tres Hermanos Cabin was designed by Chilean architecture studio WMR, a low-cost residence located on a spectacular cliff in Matanzas, off the Chilean central coast, which seeks to reflect the lifestyle of its young surfer inhabitants. In the same spirit of the architect’s project for Puccio House, WMR have worked with a striking location, and sought to make a minimal, rational intervention that wouldn’t destroy the slope.
Expertly using wood and glass, the studio designed a 3 x 6 meter two-storey volume with open, flexible spaces that intertwine the exterior and interior. With a total of 344 square feet (32 square meters) of living space, the ground floor features a living area, alongside a dining area and a kitchen. On the first floor, two sliding doors are the only elements defining the space, which contains a bathroom, bedroom and hall.
Photos: Sergio Pirrone
This rural Connecticut getaway is owned and designed by Lisa Gray and Alan Organschi of Gray Organschi Architecture. The Shepaug River Valley Railroad, which ran along the Bantam River in the late 19th century, stopped at this location, once the site of a tiny local train depot. The architect saved and reinforced the existing 19th century rubble foundation, using it as the base for this new house. Two simple gable structures, oriented perpendicularly to each other, create space for a large open plan between them and refer, through their forms, to neighboring barns and to the region’s agricultural heritage. The house interior is lined with bleached pine; kitchen, dining, living and family rooms overlap each other and create a rich series of spatial experiences that accommodate relaxed weekend living. The living spaces open onto a lap pool which is edged in stone-lined gabion baskets and is surrounded by a cedar deck. The six and a half acres of outdoor spaces provide views across the meadow to the Bantam River.
Consisting of two barnlike volumes set atop a stone foundation, the Depot House offers a locally rooted vision of New England modernism.
The couple made the house feel even more spacious by flooding a series of levels with natural light.
The family relaxes in their home’s dining room, sited atop the old foundation. Organschi designed and fabricated the table of wenge wood; the chairs were inherited from his uncle; and the pendant lights are Bertjan Pot designs for Moooi.
The swimming pool offers an alternative plunge to the nearby Bantam River.
The architects orchestrated all the material handling for the Depot House, from the prepainted wood siding to the fabricated stairs.
Sitting on the top two floors by Paris’s Place de la Madeleine, this 1,500 square foot (140 square meters) residence was created by unifying 12 maids’ rooms on two levels. Designed and owned by architect Michael Herrman, the result is a three bedroom duplex apartment that both preserves the character of the 200 year-old building in which it is located, yet is a uniquely loft-style space in the heart of Paris, France. The apartment is based upon the concept of a museum: the original limestone walls and oak beams have been excavated and displayed with archaeological precision. The addition of a glass floor and walls allows each room to retain a powerful sense of openness, to be visually connected with one another and with the views of the sky and rooftops of Paris.
In one corner of the apartment there is a courtyard terrace, surrounded by five-meter tall glass walls. The terrace appears to be an interior room, containing an antique marble fireplace, mirror, and chandelier against the backdrop of the living “wallpaper” of a seven-meter tall vertical garden that rises up through the two levels of the apartment. The courtyard was conceived as a large glass display case containing a traditional salon of a mid-19th century Parisian apartment. In contrast, the interior fireplace, stair, and other details are contemporary. Inside and outside are strongly contrasted through their design while at the same time the edge between the two is blurred by the vertical garden that continues inside and the floor tiles which appear to pass through the glass and continue outside.
The apartment takes on a surreal feeling through this blurring of the edge between the interior and exterior, as well as the multiple layers of transparent and reflective glass surfaces. All of the elements in the apartment are functional, whether inside or outside, including the exterior fireplace. The use of glass is carried through the design, and includes the glass cabinets in the kitchen, and glass tiles, counters, and fixtures throughout the apartment. The three bedrooms are located on both levels at the opposite end of the apartment, served by private bathrooms, and organized around a separate courtyard.
Mapledene Road house is situated in a conservation area in Hackney, London. The property had been stripped of virtually all its period features and had become run down and used as a “crack den” leaving it ripe for modernization. Refurbishment was conceived of as a landscape of interventions and new components by London-based Platform 5 Architects. The cellular ground floor was opened up and extended to the rear to allow the spaces to flow into each other and to the garden whilst the existing layout to the first floor was largely retained. Each room maintains an individual character giving a varied experience as you move through the house.
The kitchen and patio areas are unified by a power-floated concrete floor and London stock brick garden wall giving the internal space an external character. The existing flank wall has been removed and the kitchen is applied as a lining to the rough brickwork. A modern structural glass oriel window lined with cherry wood projects into the garden and juxtaposes with the Victorian bay that projects into the street. The expansive glass roof over the kitchen opens up the view to the sky; you can watch the planes fly over and the swifts catching flies.
Daylight is brought in from above to illuminate previously dark spaces, the walls, floors, roof, glazing and appliances have been upgraded to modern standards for insulation and efficiency. Overheating and glare in the kitchen is managed by shading from the surrounding buildings and trees, high thermal mass and the use of solar-control glass and blinds.
Photos: Courtesy of Platform 5 Architects
Perched on a hilltop in a suburban neighborhood of Bellevue, Washington, DeForest Architects designed this ground-up remodel to take full advantage of light and views while maintaining privacy from close-in neighbors. Transplants from Scotland by way of the east coast, these empty nesters loved the location of their home and its great views… but not the wasted space and dark awkward rooms. They boldly chose to downsize their existing home, making it friendlier for simplifying life and welcoming family from near and far. Timeless materials like oak, walnut, glass and steel combine with modern details to frame simple volumes filled with natural light.
Photos: © Benjamin Benschneider
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