Casa Cielo Azul designed with transparency and light by Signum Architecture together with Leslie Wilks Design, nestled in the hills above St. Helena, California. Upon approach to this property, the visitor does not witness the extraordinary view until arriving at the edge of the hill. Sited to capture that surprise and designed to invoke the response the owner had to a small, blue glass tile, the home exudes an exquisite tranquility. Once inside, the energetic juxtaposition of open and intimate spaces accommodates both private life and entertaining.
The soaring blue wall directs toward the main view, with texture giving it depth and two rectangular perforations connecting it to sky. When the light is just right, the wall and the sky appear to merge. The use of saturated color and large, flat planes recalls the sensual, modernist work of Luis Barragan, yet the transparency and the flow of the house is a clear expression of contemporary wine country life.
The purity of design has a very cool, calm effect on each room. Natural light plays on the plaster walls. Cross breezes keep the rooms comfortable all year. The house was designed to be almost transparent, with natural light and fresh air. An elongated blue stucco wall punctuates the low-slung residence. A concrete path leads to a pivoting glass front door. To the left of the wall is the garage.
The blue wall’s surface is stucco with gravel in the mix to create a rough- textured surface. The wall was painted with coats of blue paint. The dramatic hue was custom-designed.
The home includes two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, office, wine cellar and covered terrace. Floor to ceiling glass in the kitchen, where the owners spend most of their time, fills the room with natural light. Indoor materials and floor treatments flow out onto an open terrace, further blurring the boundary between outdoors and in.
Views of the valley are framed by Howell Mountain. San Francisco is visible, far to the south, on a clear day, designed as a see-through house.
Photos: Adrian Gregoretti
The Long Valley Ranch House is an incredible modern vacation home designed by Marmol Radziner, set on the crest of a grassy knoll in Mendocino County, California. The goal was to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the 160-acre property by siting the retreat in a careful and unobtrusive manner. The 10-module home forms an L-shaped plan, framing views of a canopy of mature oak trees to the south and east.
The main volume is oriented east to west and arranged in an open plan. The living room, kitchen, and dining room collectively open southward onto a covered patio with an outdoor fireplace and pool area. From the main volume, the master bedroom extends to the north, following the edge of the hilltop and ending in a private deck that takes in the morning light from the east.
Marmol Radziner is a full service architectural firm that provides architectural design, interior design, landscape design, furniture design, jewelry design and prefab. In addition, we provide construction services, as a design-build firm. We operate our own custom cabinet shop and metal shop. We want our collaborative design vision to be realized coherently and elegantly.
Photos: Joe Fletcher
Birch Residence is a two story modern pad designed by Griffin Enright Architects, located on a flat, semi-urban site in the design district of Los Angeles, California. The entire house opens and a pool extends the geometry of the curved skylight. The elegantly designed home is comprised of 4,600 square feet of living space showcasing stunning vistas to the city and landscape beyond.
According to the architect, “the residence is compact, yet designed to create a sense of expanded volume. A double story central volume curves through the house, creating extended views and maximizing daylight from the skylight and sunshade above. A sculptural stair punctuates the sinuous movement of the house, while a glass bridge reconnects the two wings of the upstairs. An elegant palette of contrasting materials contributes to the expansive feeling of this home. The backyard has a courtyard feel and a curved pool echoes the form of the central volume drawing attention through the house.”
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The pool extends the lines of the house and skylight beyond.
The master bedroom deck cantilevers over an outdoor room.
The master bedroom deck extends the space of the the room.
A stepped path leads to an entry into an open hall.
The curved skylight brings natural light to the center of the home.
The stair is sculpted to create varied spaces around it.
The Living room orients itself around a fireplace that is slotted into a window.
The open kitchen has an onyx counter on the island that is lit from behind at night.
The curve of the hallway creates a dynamic living room space.
A view from the landing seeing into the backyard.
Natural light animates the space.
The pool comes into the house.
The home extends vertically and horizontally.
The curved skylight follows the path of the sun.
The wood floor is carried up the wall to create an elegant master bedroom.
An expansive mirror brings the view of a Sycamore tree deep into the bathroom.
The pool extends into the backyard where it becomes a waterfall element.
The shade canopy lights up to compliment other ambient qualities of light incorporated into the project.
A concealed projector creates an elegant ambiance in this incredible living space.
Photos: Benny Chan Fotoworks & Art Gray
Silver Bay Villa is a luxury holiday home for a young family designed by SAOTA together with designers Antoni Associates, located in Shelly Point, South Africa. The residence is a contemporary interpretation of vernacular architecture. A wind protected courtyard houses a pool while a glass facade allows views of the beaches.
“The brief was to create a holiday home for a young family that could be enjoyed by an extended circle of friends and family. The house needed to create an internal environment that maximized the connection with the view, minimized views on neighboring buildings and created sunny wind free outdoor living spaces,” says Greg Truen, Project Partner.
The site is positioned at Shelley Point on the West Coast Peninsula which runs from Saldanha Bay in the South, to St Helena Bay in the North. Shelley Point sits on the Northern tip of the Peninsula and is a small spur of land that juts into the Atlantic with West, North and East facing beaches. St Helena Bay itself is made up of a number of bays and the site faces into one of the first of these, Stompneus Baai. Uniquely for the West Coast, the site faces East over the bay looking towards the mountains behind the small Swartland town of Aurora.
The bay is home to populations of common and endemic Heaviside Dolphins, Southern Right Whales and is an important stopping point for migratory birds. The climate is dryer and warmer than that of the Cape Peninsula and is characterized by strong South-Easterly winds in summer which switch to a North-West direction in winter. The site slopes from the street on the West down to the beach on the East by about 3000.
The design is largely formed by three contextual conditions. The first is the elevated entrance which placed the living spaces on the upper level and the bedrooms and playroom on the lower level. This decision allowed the living spaces to maximize the views of the bay and to see the water’s edge. The second issue is the prevailing South-Easterly wind. The challenge here is that the views are in this direction and a large set of glazed sliding doors allows the maximum view.
The third major issue is the sun on the North side. The response to this and to the South-Easterly wind was to position the pool in a courtyard on the Northern face that captures sun for the house and also creates a wind free outdoor space that can be enjoyed year round regardless of the wind.
The upper floor has been conceptualized as a single space holding the pool courtyard, an elevated entrance hall, a kitchen with a large table and a dining and living space on the East edge. The L-shaped space is broken up by level changes which create distinctly different spaces. A conical flue made from Corten steel forms a visual element around which the spaces pivot, the rusted surface reflecting the coastal environment.
The thatched roof is supported on a perimeter I-beam. The timber tie beams of the thatched roof are replaced by steel tie rods that allow the open volume of the roof to form the top of the space, the woven thatching grass and the latter forming a counterpoint to the granite floors.
A curved Corten ‘hat’ sits over the braai flue and watches over the pool courtyard, a playful companion for the Corten cone that sits on the other side of the courtyard. The North face of the courtyard is formed by a timber wall. On the lower level, the off-shutter concrete slabs form the ceiling. The slabs retain rust marks from the steel that was laid in the slab and the chalk markings of the contractor.
The simple cellular bedrooms have a serrated facade that allows for corner glazing to maximize views. The curtain track was cast into the slab with a radiused corner that creates a cave-like space at night when the curtains are closed. Simple glass walls separate the en-suites from the bedrooms, allowing the two spaces to share a larger volume. The stair connecting the two levels is also made from I-beams with 75mm thick Eucalyptus planks forming the treads.
“The interior is a sophisticated eclectic mix of easy living, laid-back, comfortable and robust furniture. Natural timber, charcoal and grey fabrics are accented with washed-out red patchwork kelims, and blue log stools. Natural materials and textures such as pewter-colored grass cloth wall coverings and woven baskets add tactile finishes that layer the spaces. Proportions are over-scaled and inviting. Large sofas are nested with clusters of cushions and throws and instantly reflect relaxation. Spaces are cocooned and layered and have a sense of home,” says Mark Rielly of ANTONI ASSOCIATES.
Photos: SAOTA, Adam Letch & Enda Cavanagh
02 House was designed as a modern and luxurious single story property by Daffonchio & Associates Architects, located in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. The house is set on a secluded, tranquil stand surrounded by established trees. The main house consists of 2 wings: the living wing and the bedroom wing. Both wings have long, low roofs which appear to float over and past them. These roofs are supported on external steel posts, as all of the walls stop short of the ceiling, with clerestory windows on top of all internal and external walls.
The clerestory windows allow views of the trees from inside the house, and admit a soft, diffused light into the house during the day. At night, the ceilings are lit up by means of fluorescent lights concealed below the clerestory windows. This creates a soft, ambient light, and enhances the floating effect of the roofs. The deep overhangs of the roofs and the generous concrete aprons around the house extend the house into the garden both spatially and visually. The deep roof overhangs also shade the glazing in summer, protecting the house from solar heat gain.
Along the full length of the northern side of the living area is a 16 meter long floor to ceiling motorized frameless glass sliding door. When opened, the door disappears into cavity walls, and the living area effectively becomes an open covered patio, with 2 large cavity sliders on the south side opening onto a secluded courtyard.
The entrance door was designed by South African artist Marcus Neustetter. It comprises a sheet of laser cut steel on the outside and laser cut walnut on the inside, with clear glass in between to let light shine in during the day and out at night. The laser cut image originates from a Google Earth image showing the topography of Johannesburg and the surrounding areas. The minimalist architecture, expansive spaces, soft natural daylight and white walls in the house serve as a backdrop for other artwork throughout the house.
The ecopool has been designed to read as part of the garden, with gravel banks acting as the transition between the garden and the pool, and planted wetlands blending visually with the surrounding landscaping.
Photos: Adam Letch
Kloof 151 is a family home with a guest and a ‘work-from-home’ wing spread over two levels, designed by architecture firm SAOTA, located in Clifton, Cape Town, South Africa. The home was designed to not only to enjoy the dramatic views of the Clifton beaches, but also to engage with the natural fynbos on the slopes of Lion’s Head to the North.
The house is a 3 storey building with building parking. The large entrance to the basement allows for direct sunlight and a pleasantly warm entrance to the house. At the ground floor, the main living room enjoys a fantastic position overlooking Clifton. The majority of the living levels – including the open plan kitchen – open onto the large well covered terraces to the West or North facing the mountain slope and Lion’s Head. The extreme heat and glare of the setting sun is addressed by the cantilevering balconies, extended irregular and striking hardwood screens and motorised vertical fabric blinds. These devices along with the performance glazing result in an all year round cool interior.
The terraces are surrounded to the most part with either planting beds that have been planted with indigenous flora to echo the adjacent nature reserve and to minimize the use for additional irrigation. On the North Western corner of the site, a rim flow pool is situated that creates a seamless connection to the ocean.
The ground floor is bisected by a double volume to enrich the spatial experience and create a dialogue with the double volume stairwell towards the rear. A more intimate second lounge and external terrace has been created which looks out onto the dense natural fynbos of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve. The finishes are characteristically clean and simple and include natural and robust finishes, such as wide plank Walnut floors, off-shutter concrete soffits as well as unpolished large porcelain floor tiles. This also allows features such as the imported kitchen and the stone clad fireplace to contrast with the less refined elements.
The first floor of the house accommodates 4 en-suite bedrooms, a gym and a studio space. To reduce the effect of glare experienced at the house, the finishes palette is rich and in deep colours. The bedrooms are generally lighter and contemporary with accents of classic pieces of furniture and a fresh fabric selection that create tranquil spaces. Frameless glass balustrades are used to the stairwell to increase the sense of openness and transparency in the stairwell.
Photos: Courtesy of SAOTA
Chalet Mont Blanc is a new mega-luxury ski chalet in Megève, a town well-known as a ski resort for its proximity to the Mont Blanc in the French Alps. This magnificent mountain retreat is one of the most exceptional properties available to rent in the world, offering ski-in/ski-out access to the Jaillet piste.
The chalet accommodates up to 12 adults and 4 children with over 7 en-suite bedrooms, a spa and a private heli-pad, with rates ranging from $200,540 to $376,014, from here.
There are four double suites in the master chalet and two double bedrooms in the guest chalet, alongside the specially designed children’s bedroom which sleeps four little ones. Each bedroom is beautifully designed and comes with plasma TV, mini-bar and safe.
The chalet complex spans two neighboring buildings and features a large outdoor heated infinity pool that overlooks Megeve. There’s a spa with indoor pool with jet streams, a sauna and hammam. The property also has a massage room and can arrange treatments, massages and in house hair styling. Mont Blanc also features a fully equipped gym.
The wine cellar completes this sumptuous chalet enabling indulgent evenings with the chalet’s à la carte wine list. After you have enjoyed the dinner created by your private chef, you could spend the evening relaxing watching a film in the home cinema, or with a cocktail in the heated outdoor lounge looking out over the resort.
The chalet benefits from its own helipad which makes arriving from Geneva quick and simple. Should you choose to arrive by car, the chalet has a garage that can house 12 cars and even has a professional washing area.
Situated on the Jaillet piste just above the Jaillet lift for easy ski in ski out access, and only a two minute drive from the resort of Megève via the heated driveway, the chalet is the perfect place to unwind for an unsurpassed ski holiday. Chalet Mont Blanc has to be the most luxurious residence in Megeve and one of the finest in the world.
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