Blue Hills House has been designed by la SHED architecture, perched on the edge of a mountainous slope in Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada. The single story 2,152 square foot (200 square meters) residence is nestled on a large forested property, sitting gracefully between the trees and is only hardly visible from the street. As per the occupants’ and architect’s wishes, the house has a dual relationship with its environment; from the outside, it is camouflaged in its setting and is as discreet as possible.
In order to create an inconspicuous house in the landscape, the house was conceived all on the same level. The exterior is completely covered with natural white cedar siding which will become grey over time so that the residence will be even more unnoticeable behind the bark of the surrounding trees. The simple and elongated volume of the house is punctuated with perforations forming white alcoves in which were installed the windows.
The interior is all organized around the kitchen, which is the center of the house. The kitchen is characterized by the presence of two large kitchen islands which are functional as well as creating a convivial ambiance. The living space (living room and dining room) are located on each side of the kitchen. These spaces also extends to an outdoor veranda, integrated in the volume of the house. Large openings on both sides of the house helps giving a feeling of being outside while creating frames on the landscape. Inside, the polished concrete slab floor extends outside, both in the veranda and in the small alcoves.
From the inside, the house is completely open to its surroundings, and its occupants are met with scenery that is in constant evolution. In both cases, the house gives way to the wild grandeur of the Laurentians.
The Blue Hills House, through its refinement and simplicity, allows for a harmonious coexistence between man and nature. By establishing a comfortable, relaxed and light environment, living in this home is akin to perpetual holiday.
Photos: Maxime Brouillet
Casa no Banzão ll is a contemporary property that has been designed by Frederico Valsassina Arquitectos completed in 2007 in Pinhal do Banzão, Colares, Portugal. The house is siutated in the pine forest Banzão in Sintra, overlooking the mountains and represents the desire of the house designed for rest after many years living in the bustle of the city. There was a pre-existing structure with which the clients had a great connection, so the architects preserved a few of the materials in order to reuse them. In this case the place was already established, it is projected on the basis of some key elements in conjunction with the program.
The living room also had to be a ‘music box’ has been studied as such, becomes the core of the house where everything happens: the entryway, the view of mountains, the pergola, garden, patio with olive trees, the change to the area of rooms or technical areas. The experience of the house focuses on contemplation.
The suite is privileged with a view of the mountains while the remaining quarters live around the pool and its seating area and have direct access to the outside.
Photos: © Courtesy of Frederico Valsassina Arquitectos
Black Desert House has been designed by Oller & Pejic Architecture, situated in Yucca Valley, which is located near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles in the high desert near the Joshua Tree National Park. Upon first meeting the clients, the architects had found that they shared a common aesthetic and process and after seeing the property. They knew the project was like nothing else they had ever done, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Beyond the technical and regulatory challenges of building on the site- several previous owners had tried and given up– there was the challenge of how to build appropriately on such a sublime and pristine site. It is akin to building a house in a natural cathedral.
Here is a description of the project from the architects: Our client had given us a brief but compelling instruction at the start of the process- to build a house like a shadow. This had a very specific relevance to the desert area where the sunlight is often so bright that the eye’s only resting place is the shadows.
Unfortunately, the site had been graded in the 1960′s when the area was first subdivided for development. A small flat pad had been created by flattening several rock outcroppings and filing in a saddle between the outcroppings. To try to reverse this scar would have been cost prohibitive and ultimately impossible. It would be a further challenge to try to address this in the design of the new house. The house would be located on a precipice with almost 360 degree views to the horizon and a large boulder blocking views back to the road.
A long process of research began with the clients showing us images of houses they found intriguing- mostly contemporary houses that showed a more aggressive formal and spatial language than the mid-century modern homes that have become the de-facto style of the desert southwest.
We looked back at precedents for how architects have dealt with houses located in similar topography and found that generally they either sought to integrate the built work into the landscape, as in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and later Rudolf Shindler or to hold the architecture aloof from the landscape as in the European modernist tradition of Mies van der Rohe. While on a completely virgin site, the lightly treading minimalist approach would be preferred, here we decided that the Western American tradition of Land Art would serve as a better starting point, marrying the two tendencies in a tense relationship with the house clawing the ground for purchase while maintaining its otherness.
The house would replace the missing mountain that was scraped away, but not as a mountain, but a shadow or negative of the rock; what was found once the rock was removed, a hard glinting obsidian shard.
Concept in place, we began fleshing out the spaces and movement through the house. We wanted the experience of navigating the house to remind one of traversing the site outside. The rooms are arranged in a linear sequence from living room to bedrooms with the kitchen and dining in the middle, all wrapping around a inner courtyard which adds a crucial intermediate space in the entry sequence and a protected exterior space in the harsh climate.
The living room was summed up succinctly by the homeowner as a chic sleeping bag. The space, recessed into the hillside with a solid earthen wall to lean your back against as you survey the horizon is a literal campsite which finds its precedent in the native cliff dwellings of the Southwest.
The dark color of the house interior adds to the primordial cave-like feeling. During the day, the interior of the house recedes and the views are more pronounced. At night the house completely dematerializes and the muted lighting and stars outside blend to form an infinite backdrop for contemplation.
The project would never have come about without the continued efforts of the entire team. The design was a collaborative effort between Marc and Michele and the architects. The patience and dedication of the builder, Avian Rogers and her subcontractors was crucial to the success of the project. Everyone who worked on the project knew it was something out of the ordinary and put forth incredible effort to see it completed.
Split View Mountain Lodge is a private holiday retreat designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, located near the mountain village of Geilo, a popular skiing destination in Havsdalen, Buskerud, Norway. Ski resorts are abundant around the lodge, with a freestyle terrain park right next to the site. Out of winter season, the mountains provide excellent hiking opportunities as well as other sporting activities. The family of four with anticipation of a fifth addition provided a straight-forward program for their 1,400 square foot (130 square meters) mountain lodge: four bedrooms, separate living and dining areas, a youth lounge and a mezzanine for the younger children. In addition a small annex would accommodate guests and visiting grandparents.
Our response was a cabin of clear and clean-cut expression with a continuous skin of timber cladding on the exterior walls and roof, which will acquire a grey patina with time. The volume consists of a main body, housing mostly bedrooms, which follow the natural contours of the landscape and splits into two living zones. This shift in program and use of multiple levels allows the building to adapt to the slope of the site. The separate volume of the annex is placed in extension of the main body, contributing to the three characteristic split views through fully glazed end walls.
The cabin is entered beneath the cantilevered glazed volume into a hall with polished in-situ concrete floor, functioning as an intermediate zone to remove ski boots and outdoor clothing. A wooden stair ascends from the low basement and opens onto the generous space of the living quarters, capped by a complex ceiling of pitched planes high above. At the core of the holiday home, where the separate wings branch off from the main body in plan, is the kitchen. Its countertop of glass fiber reinforced concrete is cantilevered into the center of the space and anchored by a two-sided fireplace at the other end. Steps go onto separate spaces for dining and relaxing by the suspended second fireplace.
The extruded form of the structure frames the spectacular views from within the cabin, while strategically positioned smaller openings along its volume provides glimpses of the immediate surroundings. The elevated levels of the living and dining areas provide its occupants with a high degree of privacy, further enjoyed by ample seating niches within the outer walls. The interior floor, walls and ceiling are homogenously lined with virtually knot-free joinery timber, while all opening frames are concealed or discrete. The attention to detail and high quality is comprehensive and coherent throughout the project.
Through sliding doors along the hallway of the narrow main body is each of the bedrooms as well as a bathroom with sauna. The master bedroom opens onto a gable-shaped window extruded through the side wall for an outlook onto the night sky, while each of the children’s bedrooms has a loft bunk bed for visiting friends. At the far end of the hall is the youth lounge and overhead mezzanine with views through the glazed gable end straight onto the ski slope.
The mountain lodge is a continuation of Norwegian building traditions in form and materiality, perched beautifully within its landscape and responding to its context.
Photos: Søren Harder Nielsen, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter
This cozy cottage is nestled in an idyllic spot among olive trees, with stunning views to the Sierra de Gredos mountains, Cáceres, Spain. The successful transformation of the home has been carried out by architect Alfonso Monteagudo, where the original structure was maintained and recovered materials resulted in a warm country home with discreet traditional details. The owners have opened their doors to turning this home into a vacation refuge called ‘Vaquería CantaElGallo.’
The home feature a discrete range of neutral paints, stucco walls, concrete ceilings with exposed wood and concrete floors that extends environments. This skillful handling of infallible tools such as color, light and coatings, transmits tranquility and order. The furniture, masonry and wood mostly define the country style but with a dose of tradition, and even notes through stately pieces brought from different parts of the world and rescued from antique shops.
The main entrance to the house is surrounded by nature, which seeps into the interior through the glass door and fixed window. That feeling of openness and blending with the environment is found in the continuity in the decoration through the materials.
Another special feature of this home is its distribution: a large central room where shared-use is the living room, dining room and kitchen — are attached two rooms designed as small apartments with living area and integrated en-suite bathroom. Each room worships comfort with simple and functional furniture, with complements of antique mirrors, earthenware containers or glass jars) that blend compositions full of charm. The luxury: space and simplicity.
Photos: Mi Casa
House in Yatsugatake is a minimalist home designed by Kidosaki Architects Studio, located on a sloping mountain ridge at the foot of the Yatsugatake Mountains, in Nagano, Japan. this house was designed on a piece of land that offers spectacular views that are rarely known. Seeking for the best in picturesque scenery, the client took up residence in Tateshina, and spent many years searching for the ideal site for building his house.Inevitably, the main aim of this project is to meet the client’s expectations to incorporate these stunning views in to the design.
From the architect: When I visited the site, my first impression was that this untapped and expansive nature must be embraced into the interior to the greatest extent possible. I decided to arrange the house in such that this horizontal expanded scenery must be maximized. In order to realize this design, I introduced mega structures column enabling half of the house to extend into the air. To support this large overhanging floor, 2 diagonal bracing steel cylinders, each 300 mm in diameter is introduced. With this, the house is floats in to the midst of a glorious natural surroundings. With this overhanging structure, the breeze of the mountain plateau flow through the interior, makes you coexistent with nature.
When you are invited to the entranceway, after passing through the restrained space of the hallway, and as you enter in to this dramatic space, magnificent and impressive scenery spreads out before your eyes. Living / dining / kitchen area, the majestic panoramic view extends on all three sides is something you can’t find anywhere else, but here in this space. And the scenery is all to your own.
This space is an extravagant experience that only those who have given a privilege to be invited can truly enjoy. Other rooms are planed to offer differing views of the mountains, enabling a variety of views from each of the rooms. The high ceilings and wide wood deck and eaves enable a space steeped in the overwhelming presence of the panoramic views of the area.The feeling is so intense that it is almost as if you are living on a cloud.
The various components have been elevated through careful attention to detailing, and the refinement of the structure gives a sense of tension and unity to the space and adequate materials, achieving the proper balance between a dominance over and a harmony with the surrounding natural environment. The character and humility of this dwelling, constructed without compromising the vision of the architect, expresses a dignified reverence for the scenery surrounding it.
Photos: Junji Kojima
Lahontan House 356 is a stunning rustic mid-century home designed by Ryan Group Architects in the community of Lahontan, on the 14th Fairway in Truckee, California. Lahontan is a 906 acre community nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in a secluded valley just moments from the clear water shores of Lake Tahoe. Lahontan’s golf and living experience rivals the finest private golf communities in the nation. The clients, who are from San Francisco, asked the architects to design a home that is sensible, practical and understated. The programming required distinct zoning, living space appropriately scaled for two people and a love of natural, beautiful materials, the simplicity and function of a 1950s aesthetic became obvious. The majority of the 5,076 square foot house sits on one level, reaching out horizontally to capture spectacular views of Lookout Mountain and the Pacific Crest from almost every space.
The scale of the entire house hits the perfect note between wide open and warm cocoon. The entry is instantly warm and inviting, the daisy-shaped wood veneer light fixture in the foyer, the first of many whimsical touches. As the entry opens to the living spaces beyond, the soothing ambiance created by the surrounding natural finishes and muted tones are dotted with punctuations of orange. Except for a few gable forms, rooflines are mostly low-pitched sheds, keeping the structure humble and deferential to the landscape. A transitional space that pulls together the interior and exterior, the backyard fire pit area features a bench whose detailing embodies the simple elegance of the home’s design and contextual response to the neighborhood.
The exterior is finished cleanly with basalt fieldstone, cedar siding and hot rolled steel panels, all appropriate for its alpine setting, but the house sidesteps being neatly categorized as “mountain modern” with its surprisingly mid-century style.
The living room, located off the main entry and dining room, features a warm, comfortable interior with 1950′s-era furnishings.
Multiple layered lighting enhances the kitchen space when day lighting recedes.
The master bedroom boasts an elevated fireplace inside and a private balcony with views of the golf course outside.
All of the structural wood elements for this home are made from Douglas fir. The painted steel connectors were created by the design team for the specific location used.
Photos: Ethan Rohloff Photography
Haus Walde is a modern mountain retreat nestled in the luxury ski resort village of Kitzbühel, in Tyrol, Austria, designed by Gogl Architekten. The client requested an open, light-filled room with the garden and the beautiful backdrop of the Kitzbühl Alps integrated into the 4,122 square foot (383 square meters) living space. The site is located on a north-facing slope, bordered on its western edge by a stream and a path, on its southern edge by a street and on its eastern and northern edges by neighboring sites with freestanding buildings. The access road to the site is simultaneous with the street on the southern side. There is a listed building in the eastern half of the site, which had to remain unaltered. The biggest challenges were positioning the new construction on a difficult slope, the narrowness of the site and the architectural conflict with the existing house.
The new building is consciously presented as a contemporary counterpoint to the old house. Both buildings stand independently of each other as examples of construction from different epochs.
We attempted to adapt the new construction to the topography of the site and to embed it as well as possible into the terrain, at the same time making maximum use of the building regulations. The changes of level in all three storeys, which are adapted to the terrain, create differentiated zones while maintaining the open plan. A long wall of natural stone on the slope side gives the residents ‘backing’ from behind. The large-scale glazing, facing south towards the valley, opens up varied views on the wonderful backdrop of the Kitzbühler Alps. Moveable facade elements of wood ensure a feeling of spatial openness, while at the same time safeguarding the private sphere of the residents. The multi-layered structure of the facade and the interlaced rooms result in a complex spatial experience. The central element of the ground floor is an open fireplace which sends surplus heat to the geothermal heat pump and creates a cozy atmosphere.
As a modern contrast to the earthly materials of wood and natural stone, the ceiling in the ground floor is made of exposed concrete. In the bedrooms, oak wood dominates the floors and the ceilings. The terraced roofs with their broad projecting canopies give the building the character of an open structure embedded in the landscape with a panel-like form. The interconnected inner rooms are further enlarged by generous terraces without thresholds. The west-facing terrace, which enlarges the living area, ‘sways’ over the stream along the western edge of the site and thus makes optimal use of the limited space. The roof of the carport (which aligns with the street) is transformed into part of the garden through planting and is not visible from within the house. The southern part of the basement is built as a living and working area and is optimally lit from the south.
The long path between the street/carport and the basement (which is lit from above), serves as an art space for pictures and sculptures.
Photos: Mario Webhofer
Nestled along the majestic Beartooth Mountains of Montana, this family retreat designed by Porth Architects is an elegant structure blending reclaimed lumber with unique design ideas. The mountain residence handsomely displays vintage rafter stock, barnboard, antique hand hewn timbers, and corral board all supplied by lumber company Montana Reclaimed Lumber Co.
In the master bedroom retreat the material on the walls is Hand Hewn Slab Siding and the ceiling is Corral Board.
This beautiful kitchen features rich, rustic materials and gorgeous green cabinets. This is an example of a kitchen that would appeal to a wide range of tastes, even though it is colorful and has character. The floors are reclaimed American chestnut, the stain is a custom blend. The ceiling beams are non-structural.
Photos: Jessie Moore Photography
Farr Residence is a mountain contemporary home designed by Studio 80 Interior Design with a warm, inviting and elegant appeal in Colorado.
This double volume foyer has been transformed into a cylinder of rustic contemporary appeal that boasts a textural story of mountain life complete with random flagstone flooring that suggests the natural stone of the mountain side itself; walls clad in rough wood boards held together with metal strapping as though the room was the inside of a wine barrel; exposed ceiling beams that wrap the round room and come together in the center to form a turret with square clerestory windows repeated around the walls above the strapping. A stunning light fixture that is suspended at the same level as the metal strapping and tells the tale of a wagon wheel referencing the strapping as the wheel itself; and finally a round faux pony skin covered bench with shoe shelving that is reminiscent of a coin operated bull ride. This foyer is a fantasy come true for anyone with an imagination and a taste for whimsy.
After entering the home and passing through the foyer, the social zone continues to impress. Exposed hand hewn post, beams and window surrounds are balanced with the weight of the stone wall and fireplace facing of 12×24″ patina’d steel sheets. A second light fixture identical to the one in the foyer hangs above the seating arrangement, which just happens to include a fun bamboo accent chair suspended from the ceiling by rope.
A walkway is created behind the sectional for ease of movement around the room and the walkway is kept wide enough to allow for a nostalgic vignette of gears and wheels to be mounted on the wall. The gears continue the theme of naturally aged materials and rustic appeal while at the same time adding in an industrial flavour that is further enhanced by the choice of floor lamp.
The bamboo on the swinging chair has been sprayed to match the finish of the aged steel, creating a tone on tone effect that is further emphasized by their opposing textures, the seat is then emphasized with the selection of colour pops employed within its pillows.
The kitchen boasts all the modern essentials, complete with a commercial grade stove and center island. The island picks up on the dining room angles by being narrower at its base then the counter and this is further emphasized by the bar over hang. The bar stools bring in a vintage flare while the faux skin rug on the floor has a country appeal.
Beside the kitchen is a small niche that supports a private dining space just for the family. The glass-topped table features a contemporary metal base that is repeated in the benches on either side for a picnic table reference while vintage chairs are tucked in at the ends for extra seating. In the distance a hall travels to the private zones of the residence.
The hall is a cozy transition that features a magazine rack mounted on the wall, a window niche complete with bench and industrial lighting suspended from the fantastic detailing within the ceiling beams.
Much like the living room, the dining room features exposed posts, beams and window surrounds, but here they are featured in a room of angular dimensions. Narrower at the floor line then the ceiling, it is as though the pitched ceiling is pushing the walls outward with the only thing holding it together being a metal rod crossing the center section of the room. This metal rod is part of another wheel reference; only this time the visual is within the support detail rather then in the two simple pendants that are suspended from it. Creating additional flare within the room is a vintage china bureau and a contemporary table that is paired with modern chairs, all three creating a purposely-neutral color story that allows the fuchsia area rug to be the soprano within the room.
The country rustic elements are strengthened within this bedroom via the large folksy print of tree branches on the bedspread, the cobalt blue bed frame and the “found” boards that create the headboard.
The kids bedroom continues the country rustic decor via the patchwork quilt and found board bed frame. The small desk, floor lamp and safety rail on the suspended bed bring in an industrial flavor while the Lucite chair reminds us that this is a contemporary home.
The bathroom is accessed via a pivoting wood door and when opened offers a view of a freestanding tub with a metallic finish for an industrial makeover on a country element.
The counter on the vanity continues the color story of the tub and the contemporary faucet and mirror supports reinforce the industrial aesthetic.
The details within the vanity vignette are subtle but exquisite. First there is the mirror that slides on metal rods hiding a medicine cabinet recessed into the wall. Then there is the faucet of hot and cold pipes meeting together to create a waterfall spout that spews forth into the rectangular sink, which is part of the solid surface counter. Just these three items create a feeling of luxury within a tiny footprint. Adding to this luxury is the heated towel rack reflected in the mirror.
In the bathroom, each coin nickle has been glued individually, then grouted and sealed. It’s a lot of work but well worth the effort!
The bench tucks quietly below a large window, creating the perfect place to enjoy reading one of the magazines featured on the rack next to it. Uncharacteristically finished in a powder coating of rose red, the bench and the area rug add in a layer of liveliness to an otherwise utilitarian space.
The shelving unit is a contained vignette of wooden cubes supported by square metal tubing with exposed welding on corner seams. The boxes are of varying sizes and while some feature a red stain on the interior sides others do not. The piece is a work of art and would be just as beautiful empty as it is filled with personal items.
Photos: Courtesy of Studio 80 Interior Design