The Gambier Island House is a weekend retreat designed by Mcfarlane Green Biggar Architecture + Design for a young Vancouver couple with two children, located on Gambier Island, British Columbia, Canada. Located on the east side of Gambier Island, the steep and wooded waterfront site is only accessed by water and totally off the grid with independent sources for heat and electricity. In celebration of the rugged qualities of the site, the design is conceived as simple forms and modest materials touching the ground just lightly. Two stacked boxes are perched on the rocky cliff, clad in wood, cement board, and glass to fend off the elements.
Overlooking the wooded waterfront of Howe Sound and adjacent to a protected, forested watershed and private cove, the secluded home is only accessible via the water. Nested into the rugged topography, the remote and difficult access prioritized design solutions with a focus on formal economy and simple details. Design decisions minimized material requirements, specifically the sparse use of concrete and the prefabrication of certain elements offsite, and reduced the number of barge trips required to deliver the construction material and remove waste. This strategy ensured the construction process had the smallest environmental footprint and brought minimum disruption to the landscape.
The hybrid structure and clean design responds both to the rugged qualities of the site and the strict environmental controls related to the shoreline. Two stacked boxes clad in wood, cement board, and insulated glass house three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open plan kitchen, dining and living area over the two and a half levels. Throughout, the floors and ceilings are douglas fir, creating warm interior spaces and a cohesive frame from which to take in the sublime views to the sea and mountains beyond, or to cozily nestle into the rocky fir forests. Expansive roof decks seamlessly extend interior and exterior experiences.
Three-bedrooms and two bathrooms are complemented by an open-plan kitchen, dining + living area with simple lines to frame the amazing views to sea and mountains beyond, while expansive roof decks create a seamless connection with the spectacular setting.
Photos: Courtesy of Mcfarlane Green Biggar Architecture + Design
Vame is a spectacular summer holiday retreat that has been designed for a couple from New York by SAOTA Architects, located in Pearl Bay, South Africa. The clients were aware of the contemporary architectural trends, requesting a sculptured building with clean horizontal lines, large areas of glass and screens creating a space that is ‘open as well as private’. Their brief was a two bedroom home with indoor / outdoor living spaces and a studio to be used in their photographic and film related occupations.
The site is one of the few remaining sea-front stretches on the West Coast to be developed. Passing through the sleepy residential area of Yzerfontein one heads back South towards Cape Town. The site is one of a prize number located immediately behind the never-ending line of dunes. The climate on the West Coast can at times be idyllic and other times extremely harsh.
To maximize the views of the sea and waves over the dunes, the Ground Floor living areas were elevated above natural ground level. The L-shaped concept of two intersecting rectangular forms allow two full glazed sides to face the view and at the same time create a sheltered courtyard overlooking a long, rectangular pool. Sculptured rectangular forms, linear elements, expansive areas of horizontal glazing, sliding timber screens and the feature fireplace are the principal elements of the design.
The simple choice of materials complements the sculptural form of the house. The ceilings are off-shutter concrete with subtle wood grain patterns in the rectangular grids formed by the standard sized shutter boards. Walls are painted single coat plaster. Floors and bathroom walls are white cement screed throughout.
The principal neutral elements are complemented by the natural timber shutters and screens. These will mature in time to the silver-grey color of Balau timber. The full height internal doors and joinery are dark Walnut stained African mahogany; the cantilever staircase is rich red ‘Boire’ timber. Each bathroom is characterized by a feature wall in a carefully selected turquoise or green mosaic to complement the jade green slate vanity tops. Natural stone ribbon-clad features include the fireplace hearth, the red sandstone barbeque ledge recess and the rock-face jade slate pool spillway water feature. The basement courtyard has a Balau timber deck, highlighting the transition from the internal white cement screed to the dune sand. The high-gloss lacquered kitchen in yellow with seamless snow-white moulded counter tops is an unexpected surprise, for a functional element.
Raising the living areas above the natural ground level allows a one and a half volume high basement studio. Approached via an enclosed staircase, the basement comprises a large working studio, a study / third bedroom, bathroom and store room. The studio opens up to a courtyard, level with the sand of the valley between the site and the dunes. Floor-to-ceiling cavity sliding glazing allows the studio, courtyard and valley to become a single space – a natural daylight studio of infinite length. A dramatic stone-clad waterfeature cascades down from the pool on the enclosed side of the courtyard cooling the air of the sun-filled sheltered space.
The primary living level is raised above street level. The simplified street elevation comprises a natural timber garage door and is all that is required. One arrives at the front door up a gentle flight of stepping stones bedded in natural vegetation. The living area is made up of; an entrance hall with feature cantilever tread staircase, an open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge and the sea-facing balcony running the full length of the West facade as well as a covered terrace and linear patio cantilever over the sheltered courtyard garden and crystal-clear lap pool.
The First Floor has two bedroom suites. The main suite faces the sea and opens onto a terrace the length of the garden facade and has an accessible roof rock garden. The dressing room leads to the en-suite bathroom. The second bedroom en-suite is located at the inland end of the gallery passage space, and opens onto the same linear garden balcony.
The form of the house follows the required function. The L-shaped plan with its extended feature-wall towards the street creates the protected courtyard and living area. The sea-facing facade is glazed from end to end, encompassing the panoramic view from the North to Table Mountain in the South. The living area glazing can be completely opened up to allow the room to become part of the dunes, the ocean and horizon on a perfect West Coast day. The sliding Balau shutter screens provide protection from the setting sun over the Western horizon as well as privacy and security when required. The glazing to the covered terrace can also be completely opened, allowing the kitchen, dining area, covered terrace and courtyard to become one continuous entertainment area – open to the dunes and sea, or protected when the West facade glazing is closed. The screens to the covered terrace provide security and protection from the elements.
A second layer of architectural intent is evident in the carefully considered framed views and light sources. A slot skylight above the cantilevered staircase in the entrance hall throws a shaft of light into the center of the house. This casts a moving splay of shadows over the staircase treads. Framed vistas of sea and hilltop at each end of the basement staircase are viewed as one moves up or down between the cool enclosing walls. A picture window to the South of the main bedroom frames the view down the ridge of dunes towards Table Mountain.
Vertical and horizontal slot windows in the bathrooms allow views to the exterior while maintaining a sense of privacy. The butt joined glazed corners of the sea-facing facade enhance the panoramic view and floating horizontal lines. The experience of light climaxes in an almost laser show experience when the sliding shutters are closed during a sunset. The sun’s rays, as they filter through the minimal gaps between the horizontal timber slats create a magical experience as you move within the house. The cantilevered garden terrace extends the length of the house and wraps around to the fireplace, creating the impression that the building sits very lightly on the ground.
The house is essentially architectural and minimalist while at the same time being harmonious and complementary to West Coast vernacular.
Photos: Courtesy of SAOTA
House on Krk Island is a stunning waterfront vacation retreat that has been completed in 2012 by DVA Arhitekta, situated on the Island of Krk, Croatia. The client’s wish was to build a 4,154 square foot (386 square meters) vacation home with a prospect of becoming a permanent one, on the island of Krk, the northern part of Adriatic. The 8,611 square foot (800 square meters) site is located next to the sea, with the green zone and a promenade dividing it from the sea.
All important facilities are oriented towards the seaview, and space is organized to be used comfortably by three families (parents and two children with their families) at the same time.
Outside spaces vary in character, from completely open terrace to semi and completely covered one, and atrium onto which rooms that are in the ground reflect; all of which allow different happenings at the same time, without the crowdy feeling.
Base of the house comprises sleeping area, with direct acess to the pool area. Living area is on the top, with its own outside spaces due to the terrain configuration; gaining the best of view.
Photos: Robert Les
Four Barns Farm is an incredible weekend retreat built for a family to getaway from their fast pace life in New York City by Gleicher Design, located in Millbrook, a bucolic town tucked into the rolling landscape of the Hudson Valley, New York. The home is just an hour and a half’s drive from the city but worlds away from its frenzied lifestyle. These picturesque barns are nestled on the rolling hills of a 40-acre estate that was formerly owned by the composer Marvin Hamlish. Once a dairy farm, this exceptional piece of land dating to 1839 had an antique farmhouse and four substantial barns. Although the barns were in disrepair, the clients had a vision and their dream was to create a wonderful family compound, using the barns for gathering spaces and guest suites.
It was no easy task, with one of the barns having to be literally lifted off its foundation and gently set back down again. The barns surround a common courtyard, complimented by stone walls, a duck pond, a country farmhouse, and a small potting shed. All four barns and environs have been sensitively renovated and equipped with modern amenities, but in keeping with their historic character.
Local artisans were employed to create needed metal works, stone walls, fireplaces, and historic wood windows, antique hand hewn timber framing members and oak and pine plank flooring were reworked for their new uses. The barns now house a guesthouse, screening room, artist studio, garage, and bunk barn for teens and young adults.
Filling the “barn” with light also was critical to create the inviting spaces, so the architect grouped several windows together at the gable ends to flood the space with light.
In order to make the new barn weather-tight, the architects created a thick sandwich wall, which allowed for a blanket of insulation as well as space to hide ductwork. The hand-chiseled ancient beams were kept exposed to allow for a strong architectural design element in the space. Although the ceiling soars to 35 feet, the interiors were brought to a more human scale by introducing reclaimed horizontal oak boards to the lower portion of the interior wall and a reclaimed vertical oak board to the top portion.
Naturalistic landscaping completes the picture with new stone fences, a circular fire pit and bucolic meadows.
To maintain a cohesive look between the structures, the architect introduced the same siding, roofing and foundation materials and architectural design elements to each barn. A gravel courtyard in the center of the barns offers an outdoor common space for guests to gather when the weather cooperates.
Photos: Courtesy of Gleicher Design
Designed by Sarmento Melo Architecture this country weekend retreat is located in the region of Macacos, in the district of São Sebastiao das Águas Claras, Nova Lima – Minas Gerais, Brazil. This 3,013 square foot (280 square meters) house was idealized by the owners to be a place to getaway for the weekend, a meeting place for leisure with their large family and many friends.
The house is inserted into an extremely steep terrain privileged but surrounded with stunning views to the Atlantic Forest and the sea to the mountains of Minas, architects Ana Cristina Faria and Maria Flávia Melo were guided by the demands of family, developing a project to be built in stages, and idealized a complex guest house, recreation area and main house (still not completed yet), exploiting and enhancing existing natural features. Thus, an implementation was adopted against the views of the mountains and forests, the longitudinal field, in order to minimize the movement of the earth, despite the steep terrain, buildings without plans and movement between buildings and recreational area that is basically in the same ground level without this, significant changes were made to the topography.
The architects proposed volumetric architectural and constructive simplicity: a large vertical plane (wall) and visually defines constructive orientation of the main building - longitudinal and east to west; orders the gabled roof in just simple cuts and without defined sectors - in front of the “wall” is the recreational sector and private spaces; behind and across the sectors of service and support are located. Therefore, the layout of the rooms is simple, logical and orderly. The same architectural elements defined and ordered the small guest house: the social area in front and behind the “wall” above average level (sitting on floor) are the suite and bathroom. Ceramic tiles in opposite directions cover these two blocks.
Looking to create a cozy and rustic atmosphere, at about the same time thinking of an appropriate and functional contemporary home in time, the architects proposed the use of hand-carved wood to encase entire structural systems and the bulk of buildings, doorways and windows, stairs and other minor details like shelves, counters , main furniture and cabinets. For this reason, during the work , which was closely followed by the architects, they hired a team of skilled workers in building with wood, from southern Bahia and staying for months at the store, making a neat job work. This wooden structure, for example, are not apparent screws or tools: the whole system is done through sockets, slots, and internal plates junction, following the constructivist tradition of old coffee and cocoa plantations within Brazil and buildings without interior architects.
Being a weekend house, the recreational area was intended as the main attraction of the constructed set. The large swimming pool in L, vinyl coated, is located in the center of the buildings and in front of the view: it converges playroom, gourmet space, sauna and guest house. Its largest is for swimming and jumping, but the minor axis of the pool, with a depth of 50 cm, integrates with sauna and spa with a grill, which was designed primarily for adult relaxation.
From the wood structural system, the sealing elements explicit intention of developing their views in the house, as well as attention on the thermal comfort: the sunny traditional masonry facades are brick clay Massif (more heat) and revoked painted, but all the extra length of the front facades of buildings, oriented to the south (hence no sun in Brazil), and facing the mountains, is sealed in glass drawing in its immediate surroundings and the distant landscape.
Reinforcing the proposed initial concepts, all other details and finishing and coating materials were designed with the aim of fostering and practicality, tradition and modernity. In itself, the wood continues to be used as the lining of all environments, including railings, and floor heating the room and every residence as intimate TV room and loft. In kitchen areas, large slabs of black granite were the option for strength and easy cleaning. In the bathrooms, floors adopted hydraulic tiles, rescuing the tradition of building the start of the twentieth century. The walls of wetlands mixed in glass inserts and gypsum, contemporary coatings harmonized constructively with materials of more rustic character.Large living and leisure areas, internal and external, are rustic but contemporary.
Complementing the architectural design project was the outside landscaping by landscapers Thiers Mattos and Flávia Rennó and outdoor lighting by Mônica Rohlfs. In landscaping, the exuberance of Brazilian flora species was valued. The vast gardens of bromeliads, palms, swords of San Jorge, among others. Apart from their beauty, species are suited to the local climate, are resistant to strong sun by day and cool nights in the mountainous region of Macacos. In lighting, lights were directed to large flat walls and vegetation, buildings and enhances the pool, but does not hide the pleasure of seeing the wonderful sky that can be viewed here.
Photos: Gustavo Xavier
This Southampton beach house is a luxury summer retreat that has been designed by New York based studio Alexander Gorlin Architects, situated in Southampton, New York. This two story modern home was completed in 2008, built with European limestone and African hardwood. The 12,000 square foot home is located in the East End of the Hamptons and takes full advantage of its position between the bay and the ocean by offering sweeping views of the water. Entering the house, one is greeted by a dramatic cantilevered room on the upper floor that extends 20 feet over a patio. With an emphasis on entertaining, the house comprises three master bedrooms, three guest suites, staff quarters, an outdoor pool and a rooftop terrace.
Photos: Courtesy of Alexander Gorlin Architects
Timms Bach is a summer beach shelter that has been designed by Herbst Architects, situated on Kaitoke Beach, Great Barrier Island off Auckland New Zealand. The site is small and narrow at 16 x 52 meters and set back from the beach amongst a number of similar sites strung on either side of a dead end access road. The building is made up of three primary elements, a wall, a “container”, and the negative space between them.
To deal with very proximate neighboring buildings along both long boundaries, the functions that require complete weather protection; the bedrooms and bathroom, kitchen and lounge and the boat garage, are grouped into a long container like structure and positioned along the eastern boundary.
On the western boundary a gabion wall made of stone from a local quarry defines the edge.
The 2 positive elements are then connected by a roof structure which defines the pivotal negative space between, the covered living deck.
The gabion wall anchors the light structure and holds the negative space while the container peels open to connect the kitchen to the covered deck. Retractable screen walls on the north and south faces of the living deck allow selective editing out of the prevailing winds which blow from either SW or NE.
Photos: Jackie Meiring
Watch Hill House is a modern weekend retreat designed to frame its landscape by Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, nestled on a secluded plot of land in the coastal village of Watch Hill, Westerly, Rhode Island. When a lively family of five considered building this three storey weekend home to serve as a hub for their extensive network of family and friends, they selected a 3.5 acre site fronting a nature preserve. A visitor to the site first encounters the slender pool house, which introduces the recurring palette of cedar, copper, and slate. On the main 5,200 square foot house, cedar “straps” of horizontal siding rotate individually to become lighting-filtering railings, or fold in to create programmed porches. A journey across the site unfolds as a conversation between openness and constructed site lines.
A restrained materials palette was used on the exterior, which was inspired by the landscape. “Since the site is wooded and wild, we used natural materials like cedar and slate instead of synthetic siding,” states the architect. The facade was treated like a piece of millwork and spent nearly six months working with the contractor to come up with the pattern of the shiplapped boards.
In the stairwell, floor-to-ceiling glass walls showcase the outdoors. “As you move up and down the stairs you have a view in all directions. As you move off that axis into the rooms, the view is carefully framed,” states the architects.
Floor-to-ceiling glass was used for the mater bedroom, which leads onto a deck. “We wanted a place that just drew us up like a magnet,” states the homeowner about creating her dream home. “The house’s design, comfort, and style certainly achieves that.”
Photos: Chris Cooper Photographer
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