Trahan Ranch is a stunning residential modern compound designed by Patrick Tighe Architecture, situated in the heart of hill country in Austin, Texas. The 3200 square foot residence is on a fourteen acre sloped site with native oaks, natural springs and unobstructed views. The layout of the house is a direct response to the site conditions.
The plan is organized to integrate and enhance the many features of the landscape. A panoramic view that spans 260 degrees is experienced as well as other more site specific orientations. The front of the house is made of heavy materials that rise from the earth. The building is nestled into the brow of the hill and have an unassuming appearance when seen from a distance.
The heavy, solid, grounded front is in sharp contrast to the more ephemeral back. At the down slope side of the house, the structure becomes lighter and opens to the landscape. Steel pipe columns splay at unsuspecting angles dancing along the rugged landscape.
The architecture explores a series of counterpoints including heavy and light, front and back, open and closed and contemporary and vernacular. The grounded front is composed of heavy materials rising from the earth in sharp contrast to the more ephemeral back. The structure rises and becomes lighter at the down-slope side of the house as it opens to the landscape. The main house is a contemporary interpretation of Texas Hill Country post-and-beam construction that exploits regional materials and the expertise of local trades-people. The spaces of the main house flow from one to the other without doors while the guest room appendage is a more traditional layout.
The environmentally mindful design includes a hydronically-heated concrete slab on grade. The concrete foundation and walls provide high thermal mass. Large overhangs and covered walkways offer protection from the sun and cross- ventilation is used. Natural materials are used throughout including concrete, steel, stone and metals.
Texas Hill Country limestone was chosen from the site to create the over-sized Rumford fireplace that is central to the living space. An arbor connects building components and functions as an armature for solar photovoltaic panels that provide power for the property. The landscape consists of regional drought- tolerant plants that are native to the area and the local ecosystem.
The steel frame structure is a kit of parts prefabricated in a shop and erected on-site. The steel pieces attach to a series of exposed board-formed reinforced concrete pylons that are a vertical extension of the foundation.
Photos: Art Gray Photography
Prospect House is a result of celebrating a stunning Seattle panorama while accommodating a modest budget and a family with two young children, designed by Janof Architecture. The 5,663 square foot house honors the owner’s desire for a domestic refuge while maximizing the experience of its location.
We began with the domestic, and planted two gabled, bearing-wall “houses” deep into the hillside. These contain rooms requiring enclosure, and they give the house the conventional street facade that the neighborhood deserves. The steel-framed “glass box” occupies the view facade and sews the houses together. These simple parts, simply combined, create complex social and spatial relationships within the house.
The budget required basic construction using off-the-shelf parts. Rigorous but un-precious detailing followed. The greatest technical effort went into the design of the two-story window wall: residential wood windows assembled as a true curtain wall. The 19-foot-high dining room was designed for extraordinary nighttime views of the city.
The kitchen is a warm and functional space that utilizes custom walnut cabinetry, stainless steel, and extra-thick calacatta marble.
The breakfast area adjacent to the kitchen has an eclectic feel and commanding views of the city. The mural was created by the owners specifically for the space.
The delightful powder room of this house gets its charm from custom wallpaper designed by the owners.
The master bedroom has a top-of-the-world view that is made cozy by the inclusion of a fireplace and subtly concealed lighting.
The elegant master bath features callacatta carrera marble and polished nickel fittings.
The home office has a spectacular view; light is further introduced by the small dormer window above the desk.
The energy efficiency of the house was designed around the passive use of its southern orientation, with high-performance glass, cross-ventilating windows, and precisely calculated overhangs making air conditioning unnecessary this summer. The winter sun will bring warmth deep into the house, and the industrial-size fan above the dining room is designed to slowly move air throughout the house.
Sustainability was a constant topic. While the house meets Energy Star rating, much thought went into what sustainability really means. There is no bravura use of natural resources. Structural elements are sized at their calculated minimums. Precious materials were used sparingly, often where they would be touched by the user, and salvaged material was valued for its patina.
Photos: Benjamin Benschneider
Designed by Studio 27 Architecture, the House on Fire Island is a summer beach house in the resort community of the Pines on Fire Island, New York. The typology of the homes in the Pines is recognizable to anyone who has visited an East Coast Shoreline resort town. It is a builder-driven typology reflecting the pragmatism of the inhabitants of these coastal communities. Almost always the “good sense” pragmatism that allows these homes to be built affordably overtakes the inherent liveliness and natural spirit of the place and creates structures that are a bit dull.
This project inserts some of the “spirit of the shore” into this “Yankee thriftiness” residential typology. Common detail and material remain, but the volume of the 1,550 square foot house is expressed as a skin, rather than as a box-like container. The skin keeps the heat in. Over time, the skin of woven cedar boards will assume the same patina as neighboring houses. Large windows are introduced to reveal a luxurious light interior.
The organization of the plan creates a direct link between the occupation of the different spaces during the day and the sun’s path. Program adjacencies were carefully studied before identifying the swimming pool as the center of social interaction. Interior rooms and exterior spaces were arranged to track the path of the summer sun, connecting it to the rhythm of daily life: breakfast by the pool; cocktails and socializing on the front terrace; and evening dinners in the west light. Sleeping rooms form the backstage of the house.
Products in this project:
Bathroom Equipment: Kohler, Hansgrohe , Duravit, Vero
- Bathroom plumbing fittings by Kohler
- Bathroom plumbing fittings: Axor by Hansgrohe
- Bathroom plumbing fittings: Watertile by Kohler
- Starck 2 by Duravit
- Lavatory by Vero
Construction materials, Semi-finished materials: Caesarstone
- Countertops: Concrete by Caesarstone
Floor: Globe, Ann Sacks
- Stones 1 by Globe
- Luxor Gray by Ann Sacks
Heating and Ventilation: Gavin Scott
- Fireplace: Vision by Gavin Scott
- Entry doors by Andersen
- Windows by Andersen
Kitchen Equipment: General Electrics, Fisher & Paykel, Cascade Faucets
- Refrigerator: Monogram by General Electrics
- Oven: Monogram by General Electrics
- Dishwasher by Fisher & Paykel
- Range: Monogram by General Electrics
- Tower Tech by Cascade Faucets
Lighting, Heating, Home/building automation: Contrast, Meltemi, Wever Ducre, Delta, Artemide, Wandleuchte, Cirius
- Lighting fixtures by Contrast
- Lighting fixtures by Meltemi
- Lighting fixtures by Wever Ducre
- Lighting fixtures by Delta
- Lighting fixtures by Artemide
- Lighting fixtures by Wandleuchte
- Lighting fixtures by Cirius
Walls: Sherwin Williams
- Paints/Stains: Escape Gray by Sherwin Williams
- Paints/Stains: Pure White by Sherwin Williams
Photos: Judy Davis
This private house in the foothills of northern Italy was designed by Caprioglio Associati Architects for a couple who wished to trade a tiny apartment for a renovated farmhouse in the country. The couple wanted to move out of the city of Asolo to move to the country where they could start a family. They moved a short drive from Asolo to an area called Monfumo, or “silent hills.” After two years of searching and three real estate agents later, they found a crumbling and abandoned farmhouse with an overgrown vineyard, tucked away amidst the rolling hills. They were not able to raise the existing structure due to strict government protections of existing buildings. It would have been faster and cheaper to tear down the existing structure, yet the homeowners liked its character so much, they wanted to keep thinking their home would be the old structure.
After preserving the exterior facade, the interior was given a modern update. Because this was once a farmer’s house to store crops, the rooms were tiny and there were a lot of them. The homeowners wanted a luminous space to capture the beauty of the surrounding environment. They wanted their living areas to be at the very top to make the most of the light. The most defining element of the first floor is a massive central staircase and catwalk system composed of glass and steel. Due to the high volume of the structure, the team decided that the home would be comprised of four floors connected via an elevator accessed from an underground garage and wine cellar.
The homeowners wanted. The homeowner stated that
Photos: Courtesy of Caprioglio Associati Architects and
Albizia House is a contemporary family home envisioned by Metropole Architects, nestled on a one acre site in Simbithi Eco Estate, South Africa. The client’s brief called for a home with an overriding sense of simplicity but with a high degree of sophistication.
The architectural style of the home is heavily influenced by the ‘Googie’ architecture of the American architect John Lautner. The origin of the name ‘Googie’ dates to 1949, when architect John Lautner designed the West Hollywood coffee shop, ‘Googies’, which had distinct architectural characteristics.
‘Googie’ architecture is a form of modern architecture and a subdivision of futurist architecture with stylistic conventions influenced by, and representing 50’s American society’s fascination and marketing emphasis on futuristic design, car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.
‘Googie’ was also characterized by design forms symbolic of motion, including upswept roofs, curvaceous geometric shapes, and the bold use of glass, steel and neon, the spirit of which is embodied in Albizia House.
The extensive use of water in the design of the home includes a 25 meters lap pool with a glass panel between the water and the basement cinema room, and a shallow but expansive reflective pond on the approach side, which mirrors the building day and night, and evokes a sense of tranquility.
The palette of natural materials including timber screens, decking and cladding, off-shutter concrete and stone cladding juxtapose with the aggressive architectural form making, creating a home that is not only visually and spatially exciting, but also comfortable and intimate.
All the living areas and bedroom suites face onto a panoramic vista, which includes a dense forest down-slope from the house.
Photos: Grant Pitcher
AA House was designed by Parque Humano as a man-made pavilion for observing and living in close proximity to nature, situated in Mexico City, Mexico. The home is an exploration on the trace of a variety of formal and architectural lineages in the ongoing transformation of the modern dwelling that ranges from Neutra´s Kaufmann House to the Case Study Housing Program.
Organized around an open landscape, the result is an L-shaped plan one room wide, an intersection of the two axes radiating from the central living / dining space in which all rooms flank the swimming pool and face the view of the park.
Pushing the limits of interior space through the use of floor to ceiling glass openings, we sought to bring house and landscape into a higher unity. More than a composition on lines and planes, this residential design provides a framework for appreciating nature.
Through the use of a steel structure we created a greater feeling of lightness and openness. Through the use of overhangs we provided shade and reduced glare. Brick was a fundamental material in the house, brick provided insulation for extreme temperatures primarily from the intense summer heat. We created a special composition whereby walls organize space but do not bear weight.
The rectilinear composition is supported by the straightforward landscape designed by Pamela Burton. The pool, not only recreational asset, also intensifies the view from the interior through its constantly changing reflections of the sky and clouds.
Photos: Paul Rivera, ArchPhoto
This private family villa is an incredible completely transformed country house, the vision of Zanon Architetti Associati, situated in Treviso, Italy. The home experiences new life through the renovation of its interior and expansion of the living room designed in glass and Corten steel. The new volume reflects the natural landscape through wide windows and gives the impression of being outdoors as the living room becomes one with the countryside.
Surrounded by greenery and protected by a romantic curtain of ivy, the building has found new life in the interior renovation and expansion of the area, thanks to the juxtaposition of a structure in a contemporary style with large floor to ceiling windows. The home seems to blend with the surrounding environment, creating a sort of indoor garden that communicates with the interior.
The overall result is a family home of timeless elegance , the interior – spacious and airy – are furnished to a very sober with iconic objects like the Lounge Chair and Ottoman Eames produced by Vitra, the Marshmallow chair for Vitra for George Nelson and the Arco floor lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos. In addition to these are works of art that lends a strong personality to the rooms.
Photos: Paolo Belvedere
The Sunshine Canyon Residence has been designed by THA Architecture, nestled at an elevation of 7,000 feet in the mountains just west of Boulder, Colorado. Completed in 2013, this home was a replacement to a home that the owners had lost the Fourmile Canyon fire of Labor Day weekend in 2010. They sold their property and purchased a larger parcel of eight acres for $150,000 on a higher perch, seven miles above downtown. The new structure was more modest in size to their previous home, coming in at 2,200 square feet and costing $1.2 million to build. The dwelling is set on tall steel columns and encased in corrugated, fire-resistant steel siding that is quickly taking on the patina of an old mining shack. “With passive house features, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and a solar array out back, the house is practically net zero in terms of energy consumption”, states THA Architecture.
The panoramic views are ever-changing and offer their own form of entertainment. Where others may have cleared away the expanse of burned trees, the couple saw beauty and left them standing.
The Ranchero is a modern ski cabin designed by CAST Architecture nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the small community of Mazama in Washington State’s the upper Methow Valley. The Ranchero is a base camp for a family of four, offering year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family. The architects responded with a simple, rugged design that is responsive to the environment and low on maintenance, letting the family focus on the outdoors. The open plan home offers 1,600 square feet of living space plus 800 square feet of covered outdoor space.
The deep veranda, over-sized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.
A view from the south shows how the house is split into two components linked by a single sloped roofline. To the right is the 1,400-square-foot main house, and on the left is a 200-square-foot sauna. The sauna area includes a covered wooden shed and a wax room for preparing skis in the winter.
A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.
With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.
Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.
The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing. The corridor beyond the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms as well as the bathrooms, laundry and a small office.
Made from low-maintenance, paint-free aluminum panels, the white ceilings reflect sunlight into the home to make the interior brighter and less reliant on artificial lighting throughout the day.
The furnishings throughout the house pick up on the ruggedness of the architecture as well as the character of the landscape. Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.
Peeling of steel also occurs at the entry, creating a shelf for keys, wallets, hats and so forth.
Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.
Many of the unique details that take advantage of the materials are very subtle. In one corner of the kitchen, for example, the steel peels up to hold chalk for writing notes or drawings pictures on the wall.
The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.
The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.
Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.
A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.
Photos: Courtesy of CAST Architecture