Set high in the hills of the São Conrado neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro is this spectacular home designed by Studio Arthur Casas, with views of the ocean and Pedra da Gávea, a 2,769-foot granite dome that is a popular spot for paragliding. This private residence is that of Brazilian television show host Alex Lerner, who interviews celebrities for his show, “Behind the Fame”. The homeowner had several requests for the architect, he wanted a big pool since he swims several times a week. He wished to live the same way he did while vacationing in St. Barts when he as at home. Cleanliness was equally important, he wanted a low maintenance home. Mr. Lerner was so particular on the details, he actually left his television job in 2011 so that he could keep on eye on the construction.
The immaculate home is comprised of 5,200 square feet of living space, which cost approximately $213 a square foot to build. It feels light and airy despite all that stone that was used in the the design, due in part to the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass panels used in front and back. The floors and much of the millwork are cumaru, a hardwood that Mr. Casas said “is extremely tough and great for outdoor use.”
On the ground floor are apartments for the gardener and the maid, as well as two guest rooms; the master suite is on the third floor. Visitors enter on the second level, which opens onto the pool, with a view of the ocean beyond. (Mr. Casas cleverly raised the foundation of the house, so the neighbor’s roof below is obscured.) The poolside chaises, like most of the furniture in the home, are white, with covers that can be removed and washed, or scrubbed clean, to Mr. Lerner’s delight.
The Ibiza chaises from Restoration Hardware ($1,095 each) have washable covers, which pleases Mr. Lerner. “I like things very, very clean,” he said.
Mr. Lerner insisted that the material used to build his house be the same peach-beige-gray stone he had seen years before at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem.
A nearly 12-foot-tall door beside the hot tub leads directly into the master suite.
The central stair adds a vertical element to the horizontal house. On one side it is open; on the other, a recessed slot in the wall holds a handrail.
Steps up from the third-floor landing, where Mr. Lerner has his home office, is the master bedroom. On the wall is a movable artwork by Sérgio Machado: a procession of metal insects, secured with adhesive.
In the master bedroom, a 19th-century French chest sits beside the bed. The linens are from Restoration Hardware, as is the bench at the foot of the bed. The chair is by Aristeu Pires, a São Paulo designer.
A massive stone wall on the street shields the home’s occupant from the public; the front door opens onto the second-floor living area.
On the lower level are the guest rooms and the maid and gardener’s apartments. Upstairs is the living area, and above that, the master suite.
Sliding doors throughout the house offer the option of privacy as well as a sense of openness.
Arthur Casas, the architect, raised the foundation so the house below is hidden from view. At night, Mr. Lerner can go skinny dipping in relative seclusion. “I wanted to find a place for privacy,” he said. “I live alone, and here I can be naked.”
North Rim Residence is a gorgeous two story custom designed mountain home by architecture firm Mount Bachelor Design Studio, located in Bend, Oregon. The home was designed for a down-sloping mountains-facing lot. The main level includes a central gourmet kitchen, surrounded by an east-facing nook, formal dining, and Great Room. A large master suite and laundry room complete this level, with a detached casita just off the main entry.
The lower level houses children’s bedrooms, along with media and entertainment spaces. The top level serves as a family exercise room. The west facade incorporates many innovative and contemporary sun control features, while preserving the Cascade mountain views.
Photos: Courtesy of Mount Bachelor Design Studio
El Viento residence has been designed by architects Otto Medem de la Torriente, perched on a steep slope in Collado Villalba, Madrid, Spain. Inspiration for the interior and exterior spaces of the 9,030 (839 square meters) home came from the large blocks of natural marble emerging from the steep slope and breathtaking views over the mountains of Madrid.
The environment strengthens the architectural qualities, making nice emotions that we discover while we walk through the different areas. We created a very private access to the housing, with walls that shroud you and hide the environment from you. Therefore you will discover it gradually thanks to the big windows.
From indoors the openings put in a frame the wonderful views of the environment. As a result the views turn into daily elements in our lives. We created an architectural path to show the main facade, and going down by the gentle staircase we arrive to the main porch, from where we can go into the house.
This house has three floors. Crossing the main entrance we find the amazing hall. It is surprising due to its verticality. This is the most important area in the house, from where you gain access to the other ones. The daylight goes straight through the high windows to fill the main hall. These windows have narrow dimensions and are placed at 6.5 meters from high up. Furthermore they are strategically oriented towards two waterfalls that we can find in the eastern slope of the mountain.
That hall is the center of the house, the starting point to discover the architect and the environment, the place where all different areas are organized. Most of the activities we can do in the house take place in the living-room. It is based in a large block of natural marble that we found originally in the plot. We decided to leave it intact, and to convert it into a key element for the architecture.
From outdoors the living room gains more intensity thanks to the large block. It becomes a link between the living room and the swimming pool, with the best orientation for enjoying it. The lower level of the house is south-facing and it is adjusted to the slope. However the upper level, with western orientation, is floating over the lower ones. It seems to be based on the clouds. One of the more gratifying things in this project is to see how people are delighted with our architecture, it evokes feelings.
Photos: Otto Medem de la Torriente
The Desert House is an organic modern estate that has been designed by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, situated in Joshua Tree, California. Comprised of 4,643 square feet of living space, work begun on the three bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home started in 1988 and was completed in 1993. The sprawling residence is nestled on 10 acres of desert landscape, sheltered by large boulders. The interiors were meticulously designed by John Vugrin. The end result is a dwelling in concrete, steel, glass, and copper, flawlessly blending in with its rocky landscape.
This spectacular home is currently listed for sale at $3 million, from here.
The most important architectural house you may have never seen. It is physically of the desert, a part of its surroundings. The strength of the hard and rugged protective shell exterior is drawn from the desert. The interior is a warm intimate space of flowing organic shapes wrapping gently around its inhabitants. Light enters through continuous openings that separate the towering concrete panels. The textures provide the touch and feel of the desert as materials were meticulously selected from the desert. The property highlights the masculine and feminine forms that are the hallmark of organic architecture.
This waterfront mid-century modern home features spectacular mountain and lake views, situated in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb east of Seattle. This house was custom built read more
Pine Forest Cabin cantilevers over a hillside offering unobstructed mountain views in Winthrop, Washington, designed by Balance Associates Architects. In order to meet the client’s budget goals, an efficient plan and cost effective selection of building materials reduced construction costs and led to the simple 850 square foot box design. The use of sheet materials both inside and out maximized material efficiency while emphasizing the simplicity of the cabin’s form.
Two concrete walls cradle the box and allow it to cantilever over the hillside, reducing effective site disturbance. Elevating the cabin allowed for unobstructed views down slope and to the mountains beyond, transforming a modest living space from ordinary room to a viewing platform that extends from inside to out.
This project demonstrates Balance Associates Architects’ belief that architecturally interesting solutions can be achieved for budgets of all sizes without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.
Photos: Steve Keating Photography
Pass Residence is a stunning contemporary desert home that opens up to incredible views extending 40 miles in the very exclusive area of Desert Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona, designed by Tate Studio Architects. The home was built as a dream retirement for a couple who loves spending time with family. The home is carefully oriented on a 5-acre lot with overhangs that protect the interiors from the relentless desert sun. Outdoor living was a priority as well, so there’s an outdoor kitchen, a lounging patio, a pool and a hot tub. The interiors are comprised of 5,600 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and office and exercise room. The home has solar panels that generate electricity the power company buys; the pool is also heated by solar energy.
A small fountain sits between two of the cacti in the middle of this photo. “Javelinas love to come up and drink from the small fountain,” states the architect. “That window you see here is in the dining room, so the family enjoys watching them while they eat dinner.”
The stucco wall here is part of a long, curved wall that extends the length of the house; sandblasted concrete blocks make up the wall on the right. The design of the square openings repeats throughout the house.
“I wanted to create an inviting entry that didn’t show you everything at once,” states the architect. A large steel beam draws you toward the front door, and a small fountain draws you in with a gurgling sound that echoes through the entry.
The front entryway is all glass yet does not reveal the views; one discovers those after entering the house. The bottom two-thirds of it is flow glass, which provides light as well as privacy. “The glass creates a beautiful glow,” states the architect. “It has iridescent dichroic flakes in it that make it shimmer and change color throughout the day.”
Beyond the front door, suspended reclaimed barn beams create a rhythm down the gallery. To the left, the open fireplace is repeated outside on the patio. To the right, the end of the gallery becomes part of the master bedroom; the reclaimed barn doors slide across to enclose it.
Looking back toward the front door, Alpaca limestone continues from indoors to out, as does the Arizona brown schist seen around the fireplace. Large windows bring in the expansive desert views; the bottom windows are operational and let in the breeze from the valley. The open fireplace divides the living room from the hearth room. Snapped-edge limestone makes up the hearth and mantel; copper covers the uplit fireplace.
“We combined some traditional and contemporary touches in the kitchen,” states the architect. White oak Shaker-style cabinets and brown schist stone lend a warm, contemporary feel. Behind the range wall, you can see how the roof floats, providing clerestory windows that let in additional daylight.
“The clients love to have everyone gather in the kitchen; the wife loves to cook, and everyone can gather at the granite bar,” states the architect. Better yet, they can walk right outside to the outdoor kitchen and the TV lounge on the patio.
The master bedroom and the gallery share space; the gallery ends in the view of the cactus when the barn doors are left open.
The master bath combines several beautiful textures. The tile in the shower stall is a mix of stone and shell, the tub surround is concrete and the sandblasted block wall continues from inside to out. Three niches next to the bathtub echo the openings out the window.
The far edge of the pool has an 8-inch-deep area with two lounge chairs. Toward the back is the outdoor kitchen and TV lounge; to the right is the riparian corridor. “You can lean on the infinity edge of the pool and watch the deer and other animals in the wash below,” states the architect.
The patio has a series of outdoor rooms. “My client wanted to be able to sit outside in the shade while the pool was sunny, so all of the overhangs were very carefully designed,” states the architect. The overhangs also protect the house itself from direct sunlight.
A large open fireplace echoes the one indoors; there is another small fire feature at the end of the patio next to the hot tub. If you look closely, you can see the city lights in the distance.
The form of the house follows the terrain, stepping down the hillside. The neighborhood was built in a way that does not deter the natural movement of local deer, javalinas, mountain lions and coyotes.
Photos: Mark Boisclair
JH Modern is a contemporary mountain retreat for a couple from Texas designed by Pearson Design Group, situated in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The owners, one a physician turned entrepreneur and the other an oncologist, wanted a house that took full advantage of the outdoors. After having visited the area eight years ago, they had decided that this is where they wanted to be. With the Teton Range to the west and the Gros Ventre Range to the east, it’s hard to avoid having a spectacular view. In 2011, the couple purchased a five-acre lot for $1.2 million, turning it over to Montana-based Pearson Design Group whose firm had a 5,400-square-foot home built and furnished for them in just 16 months, for about $4 million. General requests by the homeowners included wanting the home to blend with the outside. “We wanted to be able to leave the doors open, and walk in and out. And have living areas outside,” states the owners.
In place of a formal entry hall, the architects substituted an outdoor room.
The outdoor room features an outdoor fireplace, something that comes in handy when the weather is frigid and the snow is knee-deep, as it is in Wyoming during the winter. There are also sliding barn doors, in case it gets too windy. The entry features the best view of the whole house.
The furnishings were chosen to withstand the elements, but the owners do bring the cushions and the pendant light in when they’re not here.
On the floor below the bison heads on the wall is a panel of chevron-patterned French oak set into poured concrete.
Each of the fireplaces is anchored with a slab of Two Dot stone.
In a corner of the living room is a New York Chair from Alchemy Collections; the vintage arrows were found on Etsy.
In one of the bathrooms, a Siena Tamburo Vessel sink from Stone Forest sits on a counter of Claro walnut.
The solid walnut kitchen cabinetry was custom made, with Shift knobs by Ted Boerner for Rocky Mountain Hardware.
The hand-cut plywood letters in the kitchen are from Gregory Morris’s Etsy shop, SlippinSouthern.
The black walnut slab kitchen table is surrounded by Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs from Design Within Reach. The hanging fixture was made by IronGlass Lighting.
The black walnut staircase has LED lights mounted beneath each riser to illuminate the way at night.
In the master bedroom is a custom-designed Claro walnut bed. Over the shagreen-covered Sorin Dresser from Made Goods hangs “A Calf in Between,” by Craig Spankie. The antler chandelier is by Frank Long.
A fuzzy Cortina chair from Refuge sits beside a Modo desk lamp by Jason Miller for Roll & Hill.
In the master bathroom, Ronbow round ceramic sinks with Purist fixtures from Kohler sit on Calacatta marble counters. The Bella Modern Pendant Light is from Niche.
A custom-made cabinet in the master bedroom has Brut Pendant pulls by Ted Boerner for Rocky Mountain Hardware.
Mr. Pearson said he thought of the house as “an extension of the landscape.” He added, “A mountain home is part of something much grander.”
Leaving behind a world of urban routines, the client commissioned GarciaGerman Arquitectos to design Ex House, to achieve a feeling of retreat and isolation in the rural setting of the Somosierra mountain range of Spain. The client had abandoned their life of living in downtown Madrid and the term “Ex” refers to this process of leaving and the disadvantages of leaving this world behind. The home’s location takes full advantage of its close proximity to the city, with the property at just 1km. distance from the N-1 highway and one-hour drive from Madrid. A way of life in tune with nature but accessible from the city, appropriate for young dwellers.
The 1,453 square foot (135 square meters) house, camouflaged inside a dense forest, manages to face the views of the granite Somosierra and La Pinilla peaks to the south while looking at the same time to the reddish vast sediment plains that extend to the north, sitting in this geological transition and facing both directions. These views are formalized in two large identical 4,50m. openings situated in opposite sides of the central square-plan living area. This living area has a fireplace and is double-heighted to the north, regulating the inside temperature of the house.
Building systems incorporate high-tech devices in construction methods with a predominant concern for sustainability in the processes and materials employed, offering environmental standards that combine a contemporary level of comfort with the recovery of a secluded lifestyle with all of its charms.
The use of wood and its qualities, not only technical (insulation, easiness in handling, waste reduction) but also cultural and somatic (awareness of a sustainable living, warm textures, comfort connotations), determines the entire working process, providing the house with its characteristics natural and friendly finishes.
The working process was drastically reduced from the usual 13-14 months in buildings of this size (120-140m2) to 3 months, allowing for the house completion in about 8 months from the first drawings, lowering the costs by minimizing transport, reducing displacement of all parts involved and minimizing management phases. The quartering of high-strength cross-laminated wood panels is modulated to fit one single truck which is driven from the Austrian factory. The panel are then assembled on-site by skilled labour (3 people) in a 5 day process.
The house is built without earthworks and placed gently in the shade of a group of existing trees, rehearsing an essential lifestyle which mixes contemporary devices with the recovery of basic activities: fireplace, vegetable garden, septic tank and heat generation system through fire-heated water are combined with 18 cm. mineral-wool thermal insulation, triple gas filled anodized aluminium glazing 6 / 6 +12 +4 mm. and green roofs with a multilayer cover. All these devices add up to a drastic reduction in maintenance costs.
Facades are done with 16cm. wide toothed wooden planks manufactured from cheap local Valsaín (Segovia) pine, recovering a XVI Century local tradition from the Austria-dynasty-era and in disuse nowadays. This closes a circle which starts with the high-tech-prefab “pan-European” structure of the house and ends with the reactivation of a beloved local craft in the house’s enclosures.
Photos: Jorge López Conde