Saratoga Creek House is a two story contemporary property that has been designed by WA Design, nestled on a two acre woodland site in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Saratoga, a city in Santa Clara County, California. The home is comprised of 7,000 square feet of living space, designed for a technology company executive and his wife. The property is shaded by mature heritage oaks, their dense canopies almost closing over the southern portion of the site. Defining the eastern edge of the property is a meandering seasonal creek. The creek is nearly dry in the heat of summer but swells to a rambunctious flow with the arrival of the winter rains. The riparian habitat along the creek is one of the strongest assets of the site. Dense growths of miner’s lettuce, native juncus, and bay trees crowd the water’s edge. The home is a response to the goals of preserving and enhancing the presence of the existing oak woodland and seasonal creek.
A series of roof vaults defines the various distinct yet interconnected volumes that comprise this large residence south of San Francisco. This distinction is increased by the use of various claddings — concrete, stone, rainscreen systems — towards breaking up the house into smaller parts and creating a variety of exterior and interior zones.
The house massing is a set of smaller structures interconnected by glassed-in walks and vaulted roof structures that wind through the oak canopy, responding in plan to the requirements of the protected driplines. Courtyards and outdoor spaces unite the house and landscape. The pool, pool house, and adjoining patio all step down a gentle slope to meet the large grass playfield to the north. The field is bordered by a cleaved granite walk that mimics the shape of the creek edge, effectively transposing the form of the creek itself onto the higher land. At the southern end of this path is a sculpture patio. The nine-foot-tall serpentine sculpture we designed is derived from the actual shape of the creek as it traverses the property.
The clients were deeply engaged in the design process and allowed us to raise the bar on finishes, landscaping, and details for this house. We designed a drop soffit of sheet bronze for the sections of the house with vaulted ceilings. The bronze reflects the adjacent exterior gardens during the day and adds a warm glow at night. We designed a unique, freestanding staircase with glass treads that becomes the centerpiece of the home’s circulation.
A modern palette of materials including swiss pearf cladding and fundermax siding enhance the strong presence of the house as it sits in its lush surrounding. Natural stone, concrete, plaster, and Wallnut wood are some other materials that make up the dynamic mix of materials on the interior.
White cement panel siding was selected to brighten the deep shade under the oak canopy. Zinc standing-seam roofing and a custom wood window system fill out the palette of materials on the exterior. Natural stone, concrete, plaster, bronze, and dark hardwoods combine in a rich palette of color and texture in the home’s interior. A high level of design went into almost every interior detail and required the skills of many of the Bay Area’s finest craftspeople to execute successfully.
Photos: Courtesy of WA Design
Casa HS na Quinta da Baroneza is a beautiful countryside home that has been designed by Studio Arthur Casas, built to be completely open to a beautiful golf course just outside of São Paulo, Brazil. The program is quite extensive, comprised of over 10,764 square feet (1,000 square meters) of living space. Its understanding is quite simple though: a volume for the children and guests, another one for the couple and the common spaces of the house. The dichotomy between these two programs generated a horizontal volume for the guests in contrast to a cube that hosts the parents, both are completely open to the landscape.
The couple hosts a lot of guests, but in the weekends where they’re by themselves they didn’t want to lose the domestic scale of the house. The solution found was to have all the necessary programs of the house in the first volume, with living room, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor, home theater and the master bedroom in the first floor.
Between the first volume and the guesthouse a patio establishes the boundaries of the programs. A retractable roof allows the sun and the wind to penetrate the space that has a vertical garden and a water basin.
Seen from the street, the house is a discrete building, with a long facade made out of perforated metal panels, protected from the view of the street by the landscape design with several trees and bushes. These panels can be opened revealing the bedrooms, large sliding doors integrate them with the corridor. Glass sliding doors also integrate the corridor with the landscape, transforming the volume in a pavilion completely open to nature.
In front of the guest pavilion a large wooden deck extends to the swimming pool, a space open to the golf course.
The living room has a Double height ceiling, with 6 meter tall glass doors that slide to the side integrating the space with both the terrace and the wooden deck.
Underneath the house there’s a private gym, sauna and technical spaces, forming the base of the house that takes profit of the high inclination of the terrain. On the side of the street the house appears as a low and long horizontal line, from the golf course the volumes sit upon a stone base, with a large water basin in front of it bringing lightness to the building
This house has a large variety of paths inside a rich program, through a simple design that allows a clear reading of the functions, an architecture that is open to contemplate nature.
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
JKC2 house has been designed by architecture firm ONG&ONG, comprised of three volumes positioned around a central courtyard interacting together to be viewed as an independent entity in Singapore. The home’s interiors and outdoor areas are configured with flexibility of space in mind so that the house can be adapted to suit a broad spectrum of homeowners.
A balance is struck between the man-made spaces and the natural ones, with the building formed from basic elemental shapes with raw-finished materials, such as fair-faced concrete, stone, mild steel, tropical wood and clear glass. The dialogue between the components of this palette reflects a sense of warmth and immediacy with nature.
Photos: Aaron Pocock
Kuruma House project is a modern remodel by Olson Kundig Architects of an existing house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Bringing light into the 2,230 square foot, three bedroom, three bathroom home and creating a stronger connection to the outdoors were important aspects of the renovation. In addition to extensive skylights, the rear of the house was transformed with the addition of a 10’x10’ custom designed jalousie window, and large sliding and pivoting windows and doors.
The interior of the home was updated to provide a comfortable space to live and work. A simple, dark material palette provides a unified backdrop for elements that carry significant personal connection for the client. Many of the home’s furnishings were custom designed, including a rolling office “kuruma”—a modern interpretation of a traditional wheeled storage chest.
Menlo Park Residence is a modern single family home that has been designed by Dumican Mosey Architects and built by Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders in San Francisco, California. The cool modern 5,500 square foot home gets its warmth from the architect’s intentions, the homeowners’ style and two kids just being two kids. While the design exhibits many trademarks of minimalism (clean lines, hard surfaces, high ceilings, and lots of glass), the architect also integrated antidotes to the inherently cool style: a U-shaped courtyard, raised sun decks and a sophisticated playground complete with pool, and raised sun decks. The result was a modern home that still embraces texture, warmth, lightness and a connection to the outdoors.
The ground up project features an aluminum storefront style window system that connects the interior and exterior spaces. Modern design incorporates integral color concrete floors, Boffi cabinets, two fireplaces with custom stainless steel flue covers. Other notable features include an outdoor pool, solar domestic hot water system and custom Honduran mahogany siding and front door.
The entryway, itself, features a living wall by Kevin Smith (no relation to the homeowner). The home has a high-tech system that unlatches as the homeowners approach.
The streamlined Boffi kitchen was customized to hide all the unsightly necessities of a family of four.
The home’s seamless connection to the outdoors is best represented by the great room’s clerestory windows, skylights and a 40-foot-wide series of sliding-glass pocket doors. During the day, this allows for an abundance of warm sunlight and fresh air, bringing life to the stark architecture. By night, the McIver-Smith household takes on a new vibe, when two fireplaces and an ensemble case of static light fixtures are turned on.
The dining room, located to the right of the entry, is like a glass vitrine at night with 36 Bocci pendants and a glossy white table. Is in the living room, the fireplace surround was custom-designed and fabricated by Concreteworks’ Mark Rogero.
Fatboy beanbags and playful “Scrabble” tiles by Justine King make the kids’ playroom the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon with movies or video games.
The master bedroom’s entire corner opens to the pool area by way of a sundeck featuring an automated shade canopy. Owner Bridget McIver furnished the house with Italian pieces from Dzine, such as Paola Lenti’s outdoor seating.
The integration of the pool area and patio with the living room allows for easygoing entertaining—as does a separate guest suite. The homeowners have hosted everything from a 40th birthday bash to a make-your-own-pizza social to a karaoke blowout.
Both of the kids’ rooms are decorated with Blik wall decals. This room has an added touch, a wall-mounted fishbowl.
The master bedroom uses a serene, relaxing color palette of soft greens.
The master bed and bath are tucked into the lot’s far corner, allowing for plenty of glass but ensuring privacy.
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.
Monsoon Retreat has been designed by Abraham John ARCHITECTS, situated in Khandala, a famous hill station in the Western Ghats in the state of Maharashtra, India. The 8,363 square foot (777 square meters) private residence is surrounded by a swimming pool and evergreen gardens. The living room was conceived as an “outdoor space” with abundant light and natural ventilation. It opens onto decks and gardens on either side, in keeping with the concept. A continuous wall serves as a textured backdrop to the living room and continues onto the deck, lending it a rustic feel. The cantilevered wood and steel staircase connecting the two floors is set against imposing double height windows; it is bathed in light, allowing luxuriant indoor plants to thrive. The indoor courtyard pathway continues from the staircase area towards the garden. Showers of light are suspended from the ceiling creating a serene ambiance.
The Villa showcases Five Bedrooms (optional Media Room) with attached Bathrooms and balconies. In addition there is a Staff Room, a Kitchen and a Powder Room.
Landscape and lighting design play an essential role in the project: outdoor areas and even indoor courtyards, namely the staircase and dining courtyards abound with greenery. Earth was mounded up, boulders & exotic plants were added to create an interesting entrance. The parking area was paved using green paver blocks which allow grass to grow.
The Dining Room suspends over the private pool, giving the room an island-like feel; the tree in the dining area adds an element of surprise. The Dining island becomes an exotic “outdoor” space where one can enjoy the breeze, the proximity to the water and to the greenery.
The open floor plan makes the Living – Dining – Swimming Pool and Deck areas feel like an expansive lounge.
Three bedrooms are situated on the first floor. The master bedroom is separated from the other two bedrooms via a bridge that spans across the double height space of the living room. The Master Bedroom is a complete suite by itself, made up of a large bedroom looking onto a private terrace, a master bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe. Wooden rafters span the entire Master Suite ceiling, giving it an earthy, out-of-town feel. The bedroom’s wooden flooring brings in beauty and warmth. A walk-on skylight is a unique feature between the bedroom and the terrace overlooking the garden.
One with nature:
The villa is designed in response to site conditions. Sloping roofs have been designed to withstand the extreme monsoons rains experienced in the area. This house allows one to experience nature. The indoor/outdoor boundaries disappear as every room opens up to a private outdoor space (terrace or garden). Outdoor decks and landscaped gardens serve as expansive entertaining areas with artful illumination and mood lighting. Indoor courtyards, skylights, double height sliding-folding windows add to the outdoor feel. Light and shadow add warmth & texture. The carefully chosen, limited palette of materials ensures consistency in design, minimizes maintenance and encourages sustainability.
Spaces created harmonize with their surroundings and encourage sustainability by using “green” materials that accentuate warmth & transparency, whilst aging beautifully: natural sandstone & engineered wooden flooring, large sliding and operable double–glazed windows, which cut down on solar radiation and air conditioning load, allowing for uninterrupted views and access to landscaped areas; automation & LED lights reduce electrical consumption. Cross ventilation ensures minimum use of the AC.
Photos: Alan Abraham
Westlake Homestead is a contemporary remodel and addition to an existing treetop home that has been designed by Michael Hsu Office Of Architecture in west Austin, Texas. The existing Fred-Day treetop home was modified to create a gourmet kitchen, an enlarged master closet, a laundry room, powder room, and a bridge to the addition. Other updates to the original house included an upgraded geothermal air-conditioning system, updates to make the envelope more energy efficient and expanding the front deck to accommodate dining. The addition, an elegant ‘shotgun’ style form, contains bedrooms, an exercise room, family room, garage and an herb garden. Using materials of glass, metal and concrete, the addition was placed at the back of the sloping lot so that it would not impede upon the unobstructed views to downtown and hill country beyond.
Photos: Ryan Farnau
Lookout Residence is set on a dramatically elevated spur of land overlooking the Los Angeles basin in Beverly Hills, California designed by Bertram Architects. A set of carefully arranged planes and volumes comprise this modernist home for a couple and their small child. Referred to as “the jewel box” owing to its finely articulated detailing, the four bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom house expresses its quiet luxury through white terrazzo floors, black walnut wall paneling, and imported limestone.
This is LEED certified home of the 21st Century. Solar panels feed the property and honeycombed heating convection flooring atomically senses an increase or decrease in the homes temperature and adjusts accordingly year-round. Built using green technology, utilizing solar power, and the highest efficiency products, appliances and technology available and low water/minimal maintenance landscaping. Lutron lighting and shade system, fully wired for sound in all common areas.
Designed in the International Style and using a palette of smooth coat stucco, steel, terrazzo, cork, walnut and glass, the rooms are visually seamless architectural elements that offer an array of quietly surprising details. Among them, floor to ceiling walnut panels, moving walls of glass, pocket doors and wide-view windows with concealed frames.
The house channels the Neutra spirit with touches including a sculptural staircase with floating terrazzo treads and a floating limestone wall with display niches lined in walnut. A sun drenched master bedroom with minimalist light displays and exploding city views.
Photos: Richard Horn