Portland Hilltop House is a single-family home with a simple, long bar plan designed by Olson Kundig Architects and situated in Portland, Oregon. Although primarily wood frame construction, many structural steel elements are contained within its design features. The two-story home features a rhythmical spacing of floor-to-ceiling windows providing a rigorous proportion and rhythm along the south elevation. Views across the main axis – from the courtyard to the south-facing balconies – provide a strong connection to the outdoors. A lantern-like entry vestibule surrounded by windows is covered by a large thin steel plate canopy that appears to float above it, welcoming visitors to the house from the motor court.
The main level includes living areas, an office, and a master suite. From the main level, the landscape slopes down to expose a lower level with a media room, pool room, and guest quarters, as well as a 100-foot library stretching along the entire north wall. The master suite angles away from the rest of the house, taking in the best views and seemingly hanging in the trees.
The architects applied an industrial aesthetic to the family room. Blackened-steel panels sheathe the fireplace wall; a concrete slab forms a minimalist hearth. The furnishings and rug echo the colors and forms of Kundig’s architecture.
Photos: Tim Bies Photography
The Promenade Residence is a luxury waterfront property that has been designed by Bayden Goddard Design Architects (BGD Architects), situated on an exclusive residential street in Queensland, Australia. This dream home was designed for a family of four with the brief to achieve ideal spaces for work, rest and play. The internal planning required a clever balance to achieve a house of private spaces with maximized outlooks to the Surfers Paradise skyline. Corten steel screens wrap the first floor bedrooms providing a veil for the bedroom spaces facing the river and the road.
The approach to the house, presents a structured and grounded design, balanced by the delicate screen pattern and soft landscaping. At night, the house transforms to a glowing lantern, welcoming guests for the views to come. Entry via the side arbour gradually opens upon a generous internal courtyard which looks through the main living area, framing the city skyline.
A major design feature was the inclusion of a luxury two storey space to the waterfront edge with custom double storey sliding doors. This enables views to be brought right into the heart of the house and across the internal courtyard to the street front rooms. Each layer of glazing and the waterfront screens can be pulled back almost out of sight to allow the house to breath effortlessly all day long. Louvered glazing has been utilized throughout the home to promote cross ventilation via natural breezes. The indoor / outdoor waterfront room, provides a multifunctional extension that capitalizes on the property locale and climate conditions.
The external finishes including recycled timber, corten steel and polished concrete provide a low maintenance and contemporary solution. The internal finishes compliment the external color palette and provide a practical and beautiful aesthetic.
Underground water tanks, solar hot water and LED lighting were incorporated to ensure efficient living for the owners and reduced environmental impact.
Wentworth Road House is a contemporary suburban home that was completed in 2012, by Edward Szewczyk Architects in Vaucluse, Sydney, Australia. This house takes full advantage of being on the sunny side of the street. Where sun access and vistas to Sydney Harbour are the same you have to embrace it. Three levels of the building topped with a roof terrace create dramatic composition above the street that is controlled by interplay of horizontal elements. Unusually for houses in the surrounding suburb, part of the outdoor functions are in the street frontage and above the street, rather than being hidden behind high fences. The Ground Floor is partially suspended. Connecting garden stairs and terraces are sandstone slabs lightly supported to emphasize position elevated above the ground levels.
The composition of the rear garden is controlled by the dominant presence of an old gum tree providing protected habitat for birds and with its form displaying beautiful shapes and colors of the trunk. The main Family Area at the ground floor level is positioned to benefit from both: distant northern views towards the harbor and intimate views to the gumtree. With the change of lighting, the distant views dominate during the daytime and intimacy of the gumtree takes over in the evenings.
External sandstone slabs change internally to much finer sandstone for the floor and coarse sandstone of wall cladding relates to the entry point. Timber used internally counterbalances stone finishes, slick metal cladding to Master Bedroom and solid steel plates to roof terrace. The building displays large transparency, while maintaining sufficient mass to provide feeling of sound shelter. Simplicity of spaces is enriched by fine detailing of timber and steel elements.
Photos: Justin Alexander
House Boz is a spacious and luxurious residence designed by Nico van der Meulen Architects situated on a hill within a secluded nature estate in Pretoria, South Africa. The clients requested that this stunning contemporary four bedroom house had an emphasis placed on the design of the living rooms. Ensuring that the magnificent views were optimized was of utmost importance and the design of this 8,288 square foot (770 square meters) house responds well not only to the client’s requirements but also to the context of the site.
The concept of a bush lodge arose from the vastness of the site and the natural setting of the stand within the estate. Werner van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects was inspired to design a house that resembled a bush lodge in the way it responds to nature and its immediate surroundings. Translating this concept into a contemporary home was almost effortless thanks to the location, orientation and natural beauty of the site.
Phia van der meulen and the M Square Lifestyle Design team strategically linked spaces through their use of various natural materials in the interior spaces. The design exposes the truth of the materials by using them in their purest form such as incorporating in situ-concrete, quartzite cladding and rusted mild steel in the design.
Regardt van der Meulen’s original steel sculptures were chosen for the project, as they fitted perfectly with the steel theme of the project.
Approaching the stand via a long driveway, you are afforded the opportunity to appreciate the design from a distance before actually getting close enough to appreciate its spaces. The striking square and rectangular forms are strategically positioned to capture your attention while the rusted steel boxes and stone-cladded walls aid in camouflaging the house creating a sense of unity between building and site.
The stretched screen walls seem to want to reach beyond their borders while floating steel boxes are gracefully suspended in mid air. The prominent east-west and north-south axes link and connect all the spaces while this point of collision and interception of the axes becomes the center of the home and it is here where we find the living room and covered patio. Thanks to the views being orientated towards North, the entire Northern facade has the ability to open up and live out onto the expansive views thus also naturally lighting and heating the house in winter, while carefully designed overhangs and brise-soleil keep the summer sum out.
The entrance hall positioned between the double garages is distinctively located alongside a partially covered atrium that gently introduces you to several views through the house as you’re welcomed in. The koi pond introduces water as you approach the front door while various podiums add depth and dimension to this space. An elevated sculpture podium and interlocking planters bring this atrium to life. At the same time it makes it possible to sleep with open doors as it is impossible to get into the atrium once the Mentis grating gate to the driveway is locked.
Every design decision communicates and reinforces the concept, as can be seen in the selection of materials used and the way the internal spaces relate to the outdoors. Limiting the choice of materials to predominately natural materials and earthy colors, it is evident that even the smallest of details make reference to the concept in a very unique way. Initially the site revealed itself as a mound of quartzite rock which was excavated and hand cut for the gabion walls and the stone cladding used throughout the house.
The double volume entrance hall is framed by a back-lit perforated skin of scaffolding boards bolted to a wall, creating the perfect backdrop for the sculptural looking concrete staircase with steel inlays and the sculpture under it by Regardt van der Meulen.
The interiors feature linear and monolithic forms that complement the architect’s vision for this house. Many of the functional elements were designed to become beautiful features that visually connect the spaces and create links throughout the house rather than just remaining purely functional. An example of this would be the way the staircase relates to the aluminum ceiling which features in both the main living room as well as in the main bedroom.
The selection of furniture pieces once again continued this theme where splashes of orange were used in the living room making reference to the orange seen in the rusted metal cladding. The overall charcoal color range used in this house complements the shades of grey found in the off shutter concrete walls.
The kitchen overlooks the lanai and garden while the frameless folding doors create an invisible threshold between the inside and out. These doors, when completely open, allow for the kitchen and dining room to overflow onto the lanai and bar, making entertaining effortless and enabling adults to keep an eye on children in the pool, a mere meter away.
The lanai with a sunken jacuzzi is snugly positioned between the pool on one side and a stone-cladded wall on the west which screens the afternoon sun to ensure the lanai’s temperature remains moderate. It is these design decisions that truly set this house apart from the rest.
All four en suite bedrooms are situated on the first floor with all of the bedrooms having their own private balcony. The three children’s bedrooms are situated on the western wing of the house while the main bedroom is located on the eastern wing. A suspended walkway with steel sheeting as floor tiles, overlooking the atrium links the two wings and creates a sense of privacy for the main bedroom.
Challenges arose during the construction process; however Nico van der Meulen Architects clearly pushed the boundaries on this design. This house prides itself in its design for luxury indoor/outdoor living in the heart of nature where internal spaces effortlessly expand beyond their often invisible borders to a world of beauty outside.
The variety and combination of textures used in this design create a synergy in this home which makes it truly unique.
Photos: Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects
West Seattle Residence is a modern house comprised of concrete, glass, and steel, designed by Lawrence Architecture, situated in the West Seattle district of Seattle, Washington. The 3,800-square-foot house sits on top of a steep hill looking westward with dramatic views of Puget Sound. It’s essentially a loft-like glass curtain wall pavilion that sits on top of an opaque and rectilinear podium next to a similarly massed 925 square foot detached garage. A road runs along the rear of the house on its opaque east side, where the main entry is. Parallel to this road is a tall concrete wall up to twenty-four feet high that shields the house and a side patio for privacy. This wall then extends to the garage and living space unit next door where the client’s parents often stay when they’re visiting, blocking views into the main house’s master bedroom and keeping family at a comfortable distance. “They didn’t want to have to put up blinds,” Lawrence says.
The wall is also the organizing element for the circulation including the stairs with cantilevered steel treads. Supported on steel frames and triangular steel trusses, the roof swoops over the concrete wall capping the pavilion. Eight by sixteen foot sections of the curtain wall pivot for ventilation.
The house’s roof is its most engaging and formal feature. Lawrence describes the arcing shell as “springing over” the house from the rear privacy wall. The garage and loft apartment building has a similar curved roof. Both create a dynamic formal tension with the largely rectilinear buildings below.
An interior and exterior fireplace on the north side connects the house to its patio.
Several wood flourishes warm the inside and outside of the house. Douglas fir is used on the underside of the roof and on the ceiling of the kitchen. The opaque facades of the building are covered in metal panels. Inside, the floors are terrazzo and many of the walls are raw concrete. A steel slab floating stair adds more cool, industrial sophistication.
The house sits on a long, rectilinear podium that contains four bedrooms, a family room, bathrooms, and a media library, occupying the daylight basement level. Upstairs, the main level is an open plan, loft-like living room and kitchen, bathed in light and air through the curtain wall’s operable windows and steel structure. The top level of the house contains the master bedroom and bath. There is additional living space above the garage accessible via stair or future elevator.
The stair has demountable guardrails which are normally in place but were removed for the photographs.
Photos: Benjamin Benschneider
A House in the Woods is a certified LEED Silver house designed by William Reue Architecture, located on a densely forested lot at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, New York. Nestled on 8.5 acres, the 4,800 square foot residence is the result of the studied relationship between two opposing geometries – a long sculptural wall clad in weathering steel and a mass of stratified bluestone that appears to have emerged from the boulder-strewn earth. Locally-sourced materials and strategic siting stitch the house into the natural world while contributing to its sustainability for the modern one.
The design for A House in the Woods was grounded in the owner’s desire to build an artful home that responded to her values of order, beauty, and environmental stewardship. The structure’s uncomplicated geometry is enriched by the boldness of its materials, resulting in a balanced composition that is both sensuous and refined. The house is a personal refuge that takes its design cues from the colors and textures of the natural landscape.
The site boundary is defined by a series of Norway spruces, the singular element guiding visitors to the secluded entrance. The curved Cor-Ten wall is heroic, yet pragmatically justified as it carves a modest entry court that amplifies the sound of the stream running parallel to the house. The wall also operates as a spine that organizes the interior spaces into a series of cinematic portals to the landscape. The character of the minimalist interior is profoundly impacted by the changes of the wooded site from season to season.
The high performance thermal envelope consists of 14 inch thick Structural Insulated Panels and quadruple-pane windows constructed with FSC-certified wood. The house employs a direct-exchange geothermal heating system, energy recovery ventilator (ERV), rainwater harvesting system, and many other sustainable building technologies. With a HERS Index of 44, A House in the Woods is over 55% more energy efficient than a typical new home. The project was certified LEED-Silver in February 2013.
Photos: Steve Freihon
Limantos Residence is a contemporary glass and steel dwelling designed by architect Fernanda Marques in the upscale neighborhood of Cidade Jardim (Garden City) in the West Zone of São Paulo, Brazil. The single family residence consists of 8,826 square feet (820 square meters) of living space, spread out over three levels on a steep 8,395 square foot (780 square meters) plot. The house is comprised of 13 rooms: living, dining, kitchen, mezzanine, kids’ playroom, three bedroom suites, powder room, two staff suites, plus laundry and garage. The family engaged Fernanda Marques to create a home – both the architecture and interior are by Marques – that functions well as an everyday residence for the active family, but also lends itself to frequent entertaining. Marques achieved a beautiful balance between maximum transparency and privacy, and managed to insert the building into a challenging plot while preserving the existing trees. Using glass, steel, and concrete, Marques created a timeless house in the spirit of Mies van der Rohe who was the architect’s inspiration for this project.
Photos: Fernando Guerra
House in Kitakamakura is a unique modern house comprised of glass, steel and concrete, designed by Suppose Design Office, situated in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan. The residence was built on an uneven site in the outskirts of Kita Kamakura. The architects devised a plan to create an appealing living space by building directly over the uneven land. From an architectural standpoint, with an upper and lower level, the influence of the footing and other aspects caused too many uncertainties in the support of the retaining wall. So the architects proposed to set concrete shafts slightly away from the wall and create a steel frame between the shafts in order to insure the safety of the living space and the site at the same time.
This also helps to keep the excavation which accompanies construction work on uneven sites to a minimum. In addition, the space between the two levels which is created by the shafts and the retaining wall can be used as a garden. Many kinds of natural spaces can be created, such as a Japanese Garden, Bath Terrace, or Green Garden. The concrete will create a quiet, enclosed space, while an open space is created by the steel framework. Through these — two structural forms you can feel connected to the surrounding nature in this wonderful living space.
With just a few techniques we can overturn the stereotypes associated with this type of site. What was once viewed- as a site with poor building conditions can be changed into land with great possibilities. Rather than looking at the negative side, we would like to continue searching for these possibilities by accepting all — that these sites have to offer.
Photos: Toshiyuki Yano from Nacasa&Partners Inc.
The Locomotive Ranch Trailer has been designed by Andrew Hinman Architecture situated along the Nueces River in Uvalde, Texas. The home consists of an all steel open deck that supports a 360 square foot, one bedroom vintage 1950s 40-foot trailer and a 200 square foot sleeping loft and concrete tower as well as two full bathrooms. The steel structure has a deck that cantilevers about 30 feet out over a river with a structural depth of only 16 inches, on concrete piers anchored 25 feet into the ground.. The concrete tower houses a restroom at the lower level and a viewing deck at the upper level.
From the architects, “One of the client’s cherished possessions is a vintage streamlined aluminum house (not travel) trailer, and he wanted to relocate the trailer to the family’s favorite spot on their South Texas ranch overlooking the Nueces River. Given the fragile geology and the flash-flood prone nature of the riverside location, the trailer’s foundation and protection required special considerations. The resulting solution is a steel-framed, metal-roofed cradle, right at home amongst the existing rain barns and ranch equipment sheds. The cradle lifts the trailer above the flood plain and provides accessory components, sweeping river views, and safe access to the fishing/swimming hole. The cradle is anchored by a concrete blockhouse containing utilities, storage, and bathroom and topped by a screened sleeping loft. Rainwater harvesting is SOP in South Texas. The trailer interior is refurbished with bamboo panels. Interior lighting is provided by LED cove & mini-spots. The Ipe and Douglas Fir decking is FSC certified.”
The structure itself — built by Boothe General Contracting — is almost completely composed of steel tubes that were all welded together onsite. Hinman calls the structure surrounding the trailer a “Swiss Army knife. The whole project is an accessory to the trailer.” The redwood hot tub was salvaged by the homeowner.
Many people think the porch is encased by glass, but the material is actually fine fabric mesh screens from Phifer.
The trailer isn’t enclosed in the screened porch, but rather attached by a gasket connection method.
A sliding barn door leads to a fully air-conditioned bathroom wrapped in oiled ipe wood. The homeowner had a mesquite wardrobe that he re-purposed as the vanity.
The mirror can slide over the porthole window for privacy. The lights are recycled shop lamps.
The metal roof reflects sunshine, while the Douglas fir ceiling helps insulate the home from radiating heat, as well as acts as a sound buffer during rainstorms.
The trailer was also renovated by gutting its moldy pine interior and adding bamboo walls, ceilings and floors, and expanding the bedroom. LED can lights replaced original 1954 glass-reflector lights. The original refrigerator was too old and too loud to be recycled. Sub-Zero freezer drawers were installed in its place. Formica countertops and retro diner chairs nod to the 1950s era of the trailer.
Hinman removed the trailer’s shower to expand the bedroom, which holds a queen-size bed.
The homeowner’s teenage boys love using the tree-house-recalling sleeping loft at the top of the tower.
Photos: Courtesy of Andrew Hinman Architecture
The Bridge House is comprised of 1,184 square feet of living space, suspended above a creek in Adelaide, Australia, designed by Max Pritchard Architect. The clients requested a permanent home with an office on their small property, which would “touch the earth lightly.” An idyllic site, a bend in the winter creek that divides the property, creates a billabong (a deep waterhole) bounded by a high rocky bank. A house was required that would allow appreciation of the site without spoiling its beauty, but at a budget comparable with a “prefabricated” dwelling or an “off the plan” developers design.
The design solution is a narrow bridge like structure spanning the creek with glazing on either side which provides the experience of living amongst the trees in an almost untouched beautiful setting. Winter sun through the north facing windows heats the black concrete floor for reradiaiton at night. A wood combustion heater supplements the natural passive heating. Double glazing to the living area helps retain the heat. Perforated steel louvres shade the north windows in summer. The narrow plan form allows cross ventilation and is combined with ceiling fans to provide sufficient cooling for summer comfort. Solar hot water heating and photovoltaic cells positioned on the garage roof compliment the sustainable character of the house.