Gubbins House is a contemporary property designed by Antonio Zaninovic Architecture Studio in collaboration with Rees Roberts & Partners, located at the base of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The project won a 2010 Honor Award from the American Society and Landscape Architects for its many sustainable features and its incredible local flora garden.
Surrounded by protected natural parklands on three sides, the house was built on an exceptional plot at the base of Table Mountain with sweeping views down to the city and harbor below. The site lies alongside a ravine, where amid the dense vegetation a stream flows in an uninterrupted path from the mountain parks above all the way to the city dams below.
Tucked in against the mountain, the structure was designed to integrate as much as possible with its surrounding landscape. An excavated courtyard gives access to the house, ensuring total privacy from the street and an adjacent neighbor and also protecting its inhabitants from the strong southern winds. This tranquil space complete with a pond and sculptural indigenous trees leads to the six-meter-high foyer tower which articulates the different elements of the house that continue out from that central focal point.
From there, the sleeping quarters branch off to the west and hover over the ravine and trees. The more public entertaining spaces extend towards the north, and by cantilevering these spaces over the garden and swimming pool below, views afforded to the forest, city, and ocean below were maximized. Towards the south, the kitchen and service rooms enjoy the protection of the mountainside from the fierce natural elements.
In terms of energy and functional programming, the foyer is the central location for various processes that keep the house running efficiently. A reflective pond filled with borehole water flows from the interiors to the outside; in turn, breezes travel over the water back inside through low windows, helping to cool the house in the summer. Once outside, the pond continues into a waterfall, which becomes a filter for the natural swimming pool below as well as a seamless water wall for the sauna room behind. The foyer’s roof also houses the solar components that provide under-floor water heating during the winter months, in addition to hot water year round.
While the house was designed to employ cross-ventilation, temperature control is also achieved through the inclusion of semi-excavated rooms in the built house, which allow the stable temperatures of the earth to act as a climactic moderator. Heat-repelling glass and appropriate cantilevers to the north combined with highly insulated glass to the south keep heat in or out, depending on the season. Notably, the house was built with locally produced materials to maximize constructive potential by utilizing the craftsmanship and techniques native to the region.
The landscape draws on the context of the site by continuing the Fynbos, a natural heathland vegetation native to a small belt of the Western Cape, down from Table Mountain and through the garden landscape, effectively marrying it with the surrounding mountains. Garden pathways and steps meander through the varied planting areas, creating a seamless connection between interior and garden rooms. An outdoor seating area is nestled in the plantings away from the mountain winds, yet has dynamic views of the Cape Town Harbor below. In addition to the waterfall, the natural swimming pool also uses plantings to filter the water, giving the experience of swimming in a crystal clear lake. Ultimately, the landscape is designed to fully integrate the built house with its natural surrounding environment.
The design strategy for the interiors also takes cues from the surrounding site. Rich carpets and fabrics are juxtaposed against hard concrete floors and other simple surfaces. Modern furniture with clean lines is employed along with more sculptural pieces and artwork that add character and vitality to the interior mood. The simple color palette of the house gives a bright and airy feeling that defers to the views outside. The outdoors is also actively engaged, as in the case of the Master Bedroom and its free form plan that extends toward an open air screening space. Despite its carefully planned and richly treated interiors, the house retains a comfortable and relaxed style that draws upon recognizably native elements such as local wood paneled walls and pieces by local artists.
Hillside House is a contemporary single family property designed by GASS Architecture Studios, situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The residence is simultaneously arresting and juxtaposed as it fits flawlessly into its surroundings, nestled between rolling vineyards, a koppie (small granite hill) and a river below
You approach the house up a steep driveway meandering through the vineyards. The driveway and the forecourt are a modern interpretation of a traditional farmhouse. This is characterized overall by the planning of the house’s location but also more specifically by the gravel driveway, expansive forecourt, drive-in open garaging reminiscent of a barn and water feature evocative of an animal’s drinking trough. This modern drinking trough is then fed by a modernist architectural waterspout from the roof of the house.
These farmhouse characteristics are not just visual either. Other senses are also stimulated: your scent is stimulated by the smells of the farmlands and rural surrounding as is your auditory sense when you hear the gravel beneath the car’s tires.
There is a genuine sense of arrival every time you visit Hillside. Access to the front door is gained from a double-sided staircase from left or right of the gravel arrivals courtyard. This short stairway is a nod to the Colonial influence of traditional Cape vernacular typical to architecture seen in the Cape (many buildings in and around Cape Town like The Castle of Good Hope, the City Hall and Tokai Manor House, for example, boast this kind of double-sided arrival staircase).
As visitor – and homeowner – you are fully aware of the amazing setting but on arriving within the farm yard style forecourt the scale of the house changes from a 3-story to a double volume dwelling – so you don’t really get a sense of all the floors and levels. Beyond this point it is by no means farmhouse, well not in the traditional sense of the word anyway.
Before walking up the steps to the solid timber double front doors you also have the choice of going downstairs to the guest suites (that are currently being used by the home owner’s older children when they’re not at university).
A repetitive architectural feature of the house is the many stacked granite stone walls. Most of the stones for these have been harvested from the site. The front door is also situated within one of these granite feature walls. Before entering the house one has no idea what to expect on the other side – it’s a kind of tardis with unexpected treasures beyond! As you walk through the threshold you are immediately greeted by a giant picture window showcasing the inner courtyard around which the home is designed and the koppie (small granite hill) to the rear of the house. The koppie (small granite hill), as with the rest of the garden, boasts local fynbos and indigenous flora and a kitchen garden to the side.
From the home owners:
We wanted a home that merged the inside and the outside and that gave us beautiful changing visual cameos wherever you looked. Our architect managed to masterfully capture our need for simplicity, nature and a very serene ambiance that is then offset by our somewhat mad and effusive large family.
Photos: Kate Del Fante Scott
Martis Camp 506 is nestled on a steep slope with phenomenal views of the Carson mountain range in Truckee, Nevada County, California, designed by Blaze Makoid Architecture. Martis Camp is a 2,200 acre multigenerational ski and golf club located between historic Truckee, California, and Lake Tahoe. Over 600 one to five acre single family lots are planned with small groups of lots being released at a time. This 6,000 square foot development project is sited on an acre of steeply sloping, wooded terrain, with phenomenal views of the Carson mountain range to the north and west. The placement and footprint of the house preserves the natural site features through minimal grading and tree removal.
Accessed from the lower part of the site, the house is a simple ‘L’, with the two wings linked by the double height glazed entry and stair hall, located at the intersection of the two geometries. A stone plinth mediates the steep pitch of the site creating both a cloistered parking court as well as a base on which the two story house rests. High stone retaining walls along the high point of the site combine with a dramatically cantilevered roof to provide extensive, sheltered outdoor patio space that includes outdoor cooking, dining and living areas.
These program elements surround the open plan great room that contains living, dining and kitchen. The den to the northwest projects out beyond the stone base, creating a secluded, glazed refuge and serves as a balance to the roof projection on the opposite side of the house.
Black stained cedar siding will allow for the house to blend with the landscape during the summer and fall and pose as a dramatic counterpoint to the snow cover through the winter months.
This speculative project is being produced in partnership with the developer and is planned for completion spring 2014.
Photos: Vance Fox Photography
Casa Val is a stunning private contemporary dwelling designed by Jaime Rouillon Arquitectura, located in Escazú in the province of San José in Costa Rica. In this project completed in 2012, a courtyard provides intimacy holding water, light, and greenery. The materials’ surfaces interact and respond to the degree of enclosure between social functions. All family members dwell within a sacred space; a place where interaction and contemplation to a distant city and mountain views is experienced. The home is nestled into the hillside taking full advantage of the incredible views and to allow unobstructed vantage points from each of the rooms through extensive glass windows. The contemporary interior is comprised of 6,027 square feet (560 square meters) of living space showcasing luxurious materials and ample natural light.
Jaime Rouillon Arquitectura (JRA) was established in 1994, as an architecture firm specialized in “ high end custom design” with a precise distinction for detailing; each project as each client is different. Jaime Rouillon “ gives a complete personalized” treatment in close contact from beginning to conclusion of the project, always assisting the client. Our seal is one where craftsmanship is determinant for that unique result. Materials are chosen carefully as a representation of the client’s need. Both interior and architecture design result in “one on one” as an intrical result of both texture and space, an identity of its own. Understanding the environment helps design a better functional “healthier” project.
Photos: Sergio Pucci
Villa Mana is an exceptional holiday retreat embracing spacious and stylish interiors, located in tropical Canggu, Bali, Indonesia, featuring spectacular rice terrace vistas read more
This stunning mountain modern home features a family friendly open layout designed by Ward Young Architecture & Planning, located in the luxury community of Martis Camp, found between historic Truckee and North Lake Tahoe, California. The 4,500 square foot residence showcases vistas from every room and on axis with circulation/hallway/gallery spaces.
The exterior of the home is composed of cedar siding, cor-ten panels, and ledge stone veneer. The interior features stained concrete floors, cedar ceilings, and stained rift-sawn white oak trim and cabinetry. Several custom precast concrete elements were fabricated by Concreteworks of Oakland, California.
Working closely with San Francisco based interior designer Martine Paquin, Concreteworks fabricated many pieces throughout this modern vacation home. Concreteworks features two fireplaces with custom floor to ceiling board form finish and satin stained pattern finish surrounds, a square Japanese style soaking tub with integrated heating, sinks and vanities throughout, stair treads and landings, and a Tinder outdoor firetable.
Throughout the interior, Paquin balanced an earthy palette of wood, stone, metal and glass against very refined, clean surfaces, textures and materials. The chocolatey-hued concrete floor running throughout the lower level quietly complements the home’s elemental material palette.
An open kitchen sits at the south end of the great room with thin, gleaming white Caesarstone countertops floating atop crisply assembled rift-sawn oak casework; a generous built-in banquet accompanies the kitchen, dressed in supple white leather sitting snug against tall walls of east- and south-facing windows.
The upper floor features a bridge from the stairs to the play room, and all the children’s bedrooms. The Great Room flows onto a terrace through a folding Nan Wall door system that allows the wall to fully open, capturing views toward the east of the Carson Range.
Photos: Mariko Reed
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