Cliff House is a sleek modern dwelling that has been designed by Dualchas Architects, located in Galtrigill, Isle of Skye, Highland, United Kingdom. The site is located in North West Skye, overlooking Loch Dunvegan. It manifests itself as a contradiction: far reaching views to the North East and harsh winds from the South West. The constant is the horizon.
An existing ruin marks the entrance situation of the croft, while the edge of the cliff locates the dwelling on its site high above the water’s edge, giving the connecting path a distinguished end.
In order to address the site conditions, the building consists of two volumes; one closed, the other open. The first contains all serving functions to support the main open rooms. Together a place is created that provides shelter and privacy whilst maintaining focus on its surroundings.
The 1,237 square foot (115 square meters) building is first seen from the curved path as a wall in front of the dominant background. As the path unfolds and cuts deeper into the landscape, this relationship changes, with the building becoming the dominant focal point. This suspense is released upon entry. One wall of the main open volume is omitted and the visitor stands in front of a fully glazed screen atop of the cliff. The topography of the site allows the surrounding landscape to be experienced as a panorama. The built space ends with the horizon.
On the interior, materials are omitted to give dominance to the characteristics of the site acting as a gallery filled with the objects and memories the client surrounds themselves with.
While the typology of the building is specific to its surroundings, it was necessary to detail its appearance in a language that is commonly understood. Both the location and function of the two volumes are confirmed by the use of material. Caithness stone for the retaining wall and larch for the open plan main rooms. The height and hue of the horizontally laid courses correspond and merge both volumes into one building. The continuous horizontal plane of the polished concrete floor, acts to further blur the relationship between interior and exterior. As nature reclaims the site it is only the trampled grass of the path, that becomes domesticated in the landscape.
The geometry of the two volumes are not only offset in length but also in height. The voids created are fully glazed and the volumes and their location remain readable from the inside. They act as vistas, remaining open in the in-between and looking back on both the building and its setting. Additional light enters the dwelling at in its center, between the exposed rafters running the full length of the building.
Living is a decision that is also defined by the choice of place. This dwelling seeks an answer through the specific means of architecture of how the qualities that make a place can be distilled into built matter in our times. The idea of contradiction, as expressed in the elementary geometry of the building, is not only a reminder of the isolation and mystery of its location but also of the rarity of being able to live amongst the drama of the ever changing atmospheric conditions in this part of the world: the reason behind a client’s decision to purchase a plot in the first place. The dwelling can only provide the frame.
Photos: Andrew Lee
How much building is required to inhabit a place?
This stunning weekend house was designed by architecture studio SPBR, as a retreat in the city centered around a pool, garden and solarium, located in São Paulo, Brazil. Completed in 2013, this 1,969 square foot (183 square meters) modern property features a rooftop swimming pool to capture the heat of the sun, gardens to soften the hardscape and a solarium to avoid the shade from the closely-packed neighboring residences.
Dug into the air – a swimming pool in Sao Paulo. Clouds, drizzle, rain, snow or hail, in all its physical states water is related to sky. However, if we are requested to think about a [swimming] pool, our imagination automatically starts to dig into the ground. Seas, lakes, and ponds explain the reason we react in that direction: essentially, a pool feels like a piece of a lake. It makes sense, the image corresponds to the word, water that rests smoothly on the ground. Water defines the surface.
But if I mention a specific type of pool, a water tank or a water tower, we first imagine an elevated volume of water, a pool detached from the ground level. In this case, hydrostatic pressure is a requirement to fulfill pipes, to supply water. Water level holds a potential possibility.
While walking on the ground,we could ask: where is the surface? In the specific sense of the word, surface has no layers or thickness. However, if one walks in a city like São Paulo [or New York], the ground level does not correspond to the surface anymore. There are some pieces of the ground that haven’t been touched by the sunlight for decades since buildings have permanently shaded them.
In this specific site, the neighborhood’s average height is defined by the zoning code: 6 m high. No side setbacks are required. The east neighbor building shades our site the entire morning until noon, when the west neighbor building starts to shade it for the whole afternoon. Therefore, if there is a pool to be built, exposed to the sunlight the whole day, it is crucial to define its surface: six meters above the ground level.
The assumption here is like to swim in a water tower and to enjoy that potential as a design possibility. One more water ‘state’ related to the sky of São Paulo.
A WEEKEND HOUSE IN THE CITY
São Paulo is a metropolis of 20 million people. It is approximately one hour from the coast. Because of severe traffic jams, its inhabitants spend hours commuting every day. On weekends, especially in the summer, hundreds of thousands drive to the beach causing jams on the roads as well.
In order to avoid being stuck in traffic during weekends, we received an unexpected but rather logical demand as a counterflow action: a weekend house in downtown São Paulo.
As an anti-FAR [floor area ratio] approach, a swimming pool, a solarium and a garden are the main elements of this project. In a properly inverted hierarchy, everything else on this program is complementary: a bedroom, a small apartment for a caretaker, and a space to cook and receive friends.
The site is very central, between an arterial avenue, Avenida Faria Lima, and a metropolitan infrastructural axis [road and railway] built on the Pinheiros river shore. Also, the site is exactly under the airport conical zone, meaning all flights coming from Rio de Janeiro fly over the site about each 7 minutes.
Pool and solarium were displayed as parallel volumes. Two columns were located in the 1 m wide gap between them. The 12 m span is faced on one side by beams supporting the pool and on the other by beams that support the solarium and also hang the floor underneath. Structurally, the mass of the pool counterweights the volume which holds inhabited spaces. In other words, water is balanced by the beach.
The ground level was kept free from any construction in order to achieve the maximum garden area ratio. As a result there are three different layers or three levels for three different moods: ground level [garden – introspective or encompassed by the site limits], apartment level [the only indoor space floating above the ground and underneath the pool], and rooftop [swimming pool and solarium, an extroverted or panoramic space].
This building and its program differs from the focus of traditional architectural projects in two ways: the metropolis becomes a possible place to stay and enjoy during the weekends and elements generally considered secondary in a big house become fundamental components.
Photos: Nelson Kon
The Cliff House is a conceptual design by Australian architectural firm Modscape of a five storey modular home that clings to the side of a sheer cliff face. The concept was born in response to a growing demand from Australians wanting to live life on the edge. The design is a theoretical response to clients who have approached Modscape to explore design options for extreme parcels of coastal land in Australia.
Inspired by the way barnacles cling to the hull of a ship, a concept was developed for a modular home to hang off the side of a cliff as opposed to sitting on top of it. The home is visualized as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape, creating an absolute connection with the ocean.
As the design itself would make conventional construction prohibitive, the concept utilizes Modscape’s modular design and prefabrication technologies to deliver a series of stacked modules that are anchored into the cliff face using engineered steel pins. Entry to the home is through a carport on the top floor, where a lift vertically connects the user through each of the descending living spaces.
Internally, the living spaces feature minimalistic furnishings to ensure that the transcendent views of the ocean and the unique spatial experience of the location remain the integral focal point of the design.
Photos: Courtesy of Modscape
This Tribeca Loft project encompasses a complete modern renovation of a 10th story loft by architect Aaron Schump, located in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. Extensive glazing on three facades presented a unique design challenge for this project.
A bar of walnut housing the kitchen and service areas organizes the plan. Bedrooms were pushed to the south and west, leaving the north-west corner free for entreating and unobstructed views of the Hudson river. Aaron Schump served as project manager at SPaN overseeing the entire project from design to construction administration.
AS//A is an architecture, urban design and research studio operating at the intersection of civic and ecological systems, urban and rural environments, and digital and physical processes. We explore the complexity of these relationships through a rigorous and collaborative design process aimed at uncovering the specifics of place, culture and materials to create buildings that are environmentally and culturally responsive. Focused on crafting value at multiple scales, we aim to achieve maximum aesthetic and social influence while employing minimum economic and environmental impact. We believe that well crafted spaces can positively affect our quality of life by creating sustainable places to live, work and play while maintaining respect for people, cities, and nature.
Photos: Courtesy of Aaron Schump
Hudson Woods is a unique collection of locally sourced dwellings designed by Lang Architecture, located in the Hudson River Valley, Kerhonkson, New York. Developed, designed and built by the architecture team, Hudson Woods offers modern, sustainable design at exceptional value to buyers. This project is scheduled for completion in 2016.
100 miles from New York City, 26 modern, refined and energy efficient homes on large lots are nestled into the forests and meadows of the 131-acre site. With an emphasis on responsible land use, including active forest management and on-site agriculture, Hudson Woods aims to nurture and protect the extraordinary natural beauty of the region. With a diverse offering of options, including a wood-burning stove, outdoor cooking, greenhouse, tree house and more, residents can assemble their own vision of a retreat into nature.
Humble and private upon approach, the simple vernacular house form fits sensitively into the topography of each site. Once inside, expansive views to the surrounding landscape are framed through custom mahogany windows. The interior is modern and warm, with an abundance of local white oak surfaces and details. Throughout the home, craft is on display from solid wood doors with sand cast bronze hardware to custom freestanding kitchen island and pantry units produced in collaboration with local craftsmen.
Photos: Courtesy of Lang Architecture
RV House is a modern minimalist pad designed by architects Alejandro Restrepo Montoya, Camilo Andrés Mejía Bravo, and Andrés Felipe Mesa Trujillo, and is located in Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. The 4,467 square foot (415 square meters) house is held lightly on the top of a hill, generating exterior and interior spaces for the family life. The access of the house is to melt with the landscape and discover new spaces.
A game of sensations defines the first steps. Through the stairs located in the welcome patio, you arrive to a walkway that is extended through the vegetation of the house over a water feature as a previous zone before entering in the house. The access to the house dismisses the difference between city and landscape, melting the city into the daily family life.
The house is a filter between the landscape, the domestic spaces and the city. The social zone, designed as a free plan, incorporates the dining room, the living room and the studio, and next to it is the big terrace, conformed as a reinterpretation of a gathering place outside the house.
Exterior spaces are the continuity of family life: a big esplanade starts just after the terrace and it is the place to play, observe and feel the relationship of the house with the landscape.
This terrace-balcony that works as a transition between the house and the landscape, is a place that allows this relationship and also works as a sun protector to avoid sunlight coming into the house during the afternoons. The room zone, located in the same level, generates in the exterior, a patio limited by the house itself and a little hill with native species planted.
The service zone, garage and laundry are located in the lower level, enclosed by walls of black stones. The contrasts between lightness and strength between the materials and the shape of the house generate the appearance of a light box suspended over the lot.
Casa Sierra Leona showcases a daring modern design where steel, concrete and glass take center stage, designed by architect José Juan Rivera Río, located in the residential area of Sierra Leona, on the outskirts of Mexico City, in Lomas de Chapultepec, Mexico
Apparent simplicity and exquisite details, this house is resolved with flat roofs between a courtyard and a garden in which ambiguously intersect interior and exterior facings which stand out clearly the constructive system based on concrete, glass and steel.
This residence was built with the characteristic style of architecture from the years 60´s inspired by modernism. The program includes two levels on the access platform and a basement which is accessed from the bottom of the street, this leading to the parking lot.
Quality materials, clear colors and fleeting reflections on glass are at the service of comfort and design, to gardening camouflages the borders and builds a landscape and atmosphere of privacy.
Photos: Nasser Malek Hernández
Tresarca Residence is a sensational modern designed family home that was the creative vision of assemblageSTUDIO, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada is a state of two worlds, one of glitz and glamor on the Las Vegas Strip which seeks to transplant imagery from around the globe to mesmerize the minds of 40 million tourists. While the latter develops its architecture from local materials, whose vernacular represents function over form.
At Tresarca, the materials develop a layering of mass as you move from the basement to the private realm. Each layer is representational of the stratification of the nearby Red Rock Mountains. Change of materials provides the variety of textures associated with the rock formations. Crevices between the masses form an oasis where landscape and water cool the space. The mesh screen provides both a protection from the harsh sun on the interior spaces and a play of shadows among the forms.
Blurring of the line between inside and out has been established throughout this home. Space is not determined by the enclosure but through the idea of space extending past perceived barriers into an expanded form of living indoors and out. Even in this harsh environment, one is able to enjoy this concept through the development of exterior courts which are designed to shade and protect. Reminiscent of the crevices found in our rock formations where one often finds an oasis of life in this environment.
The residence is comprised of 4 Bedrooms, 4 Bathrooms, 3 Powder Rooms, Great Room, Office, Gym, Entertaining Room, Media Room, Wine Room, Family Room, 5 Car Garage, Roof Deck, 4 Exterior Courtyards and a Pool.
The materials are kept clean and to a minimum. Continuous from exterior to interior they enable the life of the family to be what is cherished. It is with their activities that the design becomes a home.
The entry sequence begins with a formal drought tolerant landscape designed for seasonal change with signature object trees spread throughout the front yard. Upon passage through the secure entry gate one encounters the first court. Shaded by the structure above, the court is able to employ a new landscape variety, more lush than the entry. The landscape contributes to the cooling of the space.
The actual “front door” is through a small crevice in the main mass. Marked by the floor to ceiling glass wall which highlights the main staircase, the door is encountered by following the change in paving material.
Photos: Bill Timmerman, Zack Hussain