The Syncline house was designed as a place of solitude for a professional couple by architecture studio Arch11, located near Boulder, Colorado. Situated at the fold between the Rocky Mountain foothills and the Great Plains, the house mediates horizons and peaks, city and alpine meadows. Conceived as a frame for viewing the landscape, Arch11 meticulously modeled the residence within the site to ensure that planes of glass capture ridgetop views while respecting the city’s height restrictions.
A Pre-Paleozoic fold creates a distinction between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountain Foothills. Geologically referred to as a syncline, a crease caused by uplift of an ancient sea bed, the fold distinguishes the inhabited plains from mountain park space. The upward plane of the fold presents a landscape described and observed moving sectionally through the house.
The wedge shaped site was bound by numerous restrictive land use limitations: a wetland buffer, height restrictions, a solar access restriction, and multiple setback and easement boundary requirements. A three-dimensional computer model was developed describing the limits of the buildable envelope.
The project was conceived as a threshold between the city and the mountain park. The client, an entrepreneurial and professional rock climbing couple, requested the house to be “a place where town life can be left behind.” The house is a threshold between both the cultural and geologic creases: one between the domestic and the feral, the other between horizontal and vertical. Through a domestic grove of flowering trees, a solid wood wall, broken only by a perpendicular stone wall, opens to the house interior. Once inside, the stone wall becomes a thickened poche of mechanical and service elements leading through to the west wall of the house, a glazed wall framing the mountain parks.
The western wall phenomenally erodes, revealing the landscape with varying degrees of openness. At the entry, framed apertures provide controlled vignettes of the landscape from foreground meadow to high ground cliffs. As the entry opens to the living spaces the apertures transform in scale to reveal the expansive landscape in its entirety. At the southwest corner thirty feet of glass retracts into the walls, dissolving the boundary between the domestic and the wild; the living spaces are then bounded only by the uplifted cliffs beyond. Reciprocally, the native meadow to the west folds onto the garage roof providing easy outdoor access for visiting guests in the house’s guest suite.
A simple stair cantilevers from the stone wall. Climbing the stairs, the foreground, mid range, and ridge views are sequentially revealed. Experientially scissoring into the landscape and back into the house the stairs connect the mountain park with the house. The west wall of glazing extends the western room boundaries to the wall of rock and meadows beyond. The east wall remains closed, allowing only privileged, controlled views and light from the clerestory above.
Working within some of the strictest energy performance codes in the country, the house is designed to be self sustained utilizing a ground loop heat exchange system that taps into the very bedrock seen at the distant ridge. A ten kilovolt photo-voltaic electrical system powers pumps, compressors and the domestic electrical needs.
To support an envelope comprised of 50% glazing, a structural steel frame is used in place of traditional stick framing throughout the home. The western facade was challenged by height and wind exposure. The thickened wall is a steel brace frame that incorporates vertical vierendeel trusses to resist the 120 mile per hour winds coming down out of the mountains. Additionally, it accommodates the primary vertical mechanical chases.
Built with innovative renewable energy systems and materials crafted to last centuries, the house is a model of cutting-edge sustainable design and attains a LEED gold certification. Roof gardens allow the land to literally envelop the house, and expansive, retracting glass walls provide full views of the Flatirons to the west while connecting interiors with outdoor rooms. Executed with uncompromising detail, surfaces meet with quiet precision, creating a serene background for the landscape and mountains beyond.
Photos: Courtesy of Arch11
This Martis Camp Estate Home is a contemporary mountain property that has been designed by BAR Architects, located in Truckee, Nevada County, California. One of the original objectives of BAR’s design was to orient this custom mountain home to take maximum advantage of the spectacular views to the Carson Range and Northstar’s Lookout Mountain afforded by this amazing lot in Martis Camp. To achieve this, the primary rooms of the 7,580 square foot house – living, dining, kitchen, family room, master bedroom and kids’ bedrooms – are aligned along the hillside to front towards the view.
A large great room has large sliding doors that pocket into the walls to allow the interior to completely open up to the exterior and the views. In addition to providing maximum views, the careful planning of this upslope lot preserves a large existing pine tree at the center of the lot as a feature that brings the forest right up to the front door, and provides for indoor/outdoor living for all seasons.
The home was laid out as three separate gable structures. One gable for the garage and guest rooms; another housing the great room pavilion; and the third housing the master bedroom, TV room and study. The three camp buildings are linked by a glazed flat roof breezeway housing the entry, boot/coat room, powder room and stair to the lower level.
The design of the floor plan results in a home that is both comfortable for the owners when they are there by themselves, yet expandable to comfortably accommodate up to 18 friends and family. The architecture brings together simple traditional mountain building forms with large openings and contemporary detailing to the great satisfaction and delight of the owners.
Photos: Courtesy of BAR Architects
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.
Description of the project from the architects:
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 spacious 4,500 square foot residence showcases fabulous vistas from every room and is on axis with circulation/hallway/gallery spaces. The exterior facade of this vacation home is comprised of cor-ten paneling, cedar siding, and ledge stone veneer.
The interiors showcases a modern material palette of stained concrete flooring, cedar ceilings, and stained rift-sawn white oak trim and cabinetry. Throughout you will see custom precast concrete by Concreteworks. Interior designer Martine Paquin worked closely with the concrete fabricator to design these focal point features. These entail two fireplaces, a Japanese style soaking tub in the master bathroom, sinks and vanities throughout, stair treads and landings, and a Tinder outdoor firetable.
Throughout the interior the designer harmoniously balanced an earthy palette comprised of stone, glass, wood, and metal, which plays against sophisticated clean lines, materials and textures. Concrete flooring in a warm hue spans throughout the first floor, softly complementing this mountain pad’s material palette.
An open concept kitchen sits on one side of the great room with white Caesarstone countertops atop oak cabinets; a built-in banquet accompanies the kitchen, dressed in white leather sitting snug against tall walls of sunlit windows.
The upper level showcases a bridge from the stairs to the play room, and continues on to all the children’s bedrooms. The Great Room flows seamlessly onto a terrace through a folding Nan Wall door system, which enables the wall to fully open, capturing views towards 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.”
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