Wolf Creek Ranch is a modern day log home designed by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, located on 160 acres of working sheep ranch outside the Wasatch National Forest, in Woodland, Utah. The 8,600 square foot residence sits at 7,800 feet altitude with a 180 degree view towards Mt. Timpanogos. This region of forest is plagued by the bark beetle and millions of acres of standing dead trees contribute to unhealthy and dangerous forest conditions.
This house makes use of these dead trees in a cross laminated timber (CLT), solid wood thermal mass structure. Lumber is harvested from the ranch, cleaned and cut on CNC machines by a local timber mill, shop assembled into building panels and shipped to the site ready for install. From dead tree to standing structure is less than a 50 mile round trip.
Development guidelines call for traditional ranch architecture. The plan is separated into three of these basic forms: a sleeping wing, a living wing, and a parking wing. Each wing is turned to respond to arrival, site, and view, with the main living space, envisioned as an enclosed connective porch between wings; skewed off axis slightly to connect a direct line for sight to the peak of Mt. Timpanogos.
The rough traditional exterior materials, of which the exterior siding is reclaimed from the old Salt Lake trestles, become refined interior finishes of the same basic palette, steel, wood, and stone, but with a contemporary bias. The interior side of the solid wood walls and roofs are left exposed as an expression of the structural and thermal mass concepts, and its tag as the modern day log home.
Photos: Alan Blakely Photography
Nestled in the cliff-top estate “The Cove” in Pezula, Knysna, South Africa, Cove 3 House was designed by SAOTA and Antoni Associates to be integrated into the topography and natural color of the fynbos, maintaining a seamless connection with landscape and ocean. “The brief was to create a home for a Johannesburg based family that could eventually be used as a family home but would initially be used for holidays. The site enjoys spectacular views and it was important that the connection to these views was maximized,” says Greg Truen, Project Partner.
The site is in The Cove development at Pezula Estate outside Knysna. It enjoys fantastic sea views to the East and to the South. The approach is from the North West and there are houses that overlook the property from the East and the North. The site slopes from the North West to the South East.
The primary idea driving the design was to create a single living space with a single roof element floating over it that responded to the slope of the site. The roof is set at a sufficiently high level so that it is out of one’s line of sight from the living space, creating the illusion that one is sitting in the landscape rather than in a room looking out into a landscape. A large triangular cut-out in the roof reinforces a connection with the sky.
A very detailed solar analysis was done of the building to try and get direct sun (other than the rising East sun) out of the building. As a result, a mid-level horizontal sunscreen was added to the double height glass facade and the skylight is protected by a timber screen that hangs into the space to mitigate the scale of the double volume space. Care was also taken in selecting performance-glass that would minimize the impact of direct sun.
The building is approached from the North West at the top of the site. This elevation is low and horizontal. The choice of materials, off-shutter concrete, Rheinzink roofing, timber cladding, stone and exposed aggregate will allow the building to fade into the landscape as it ages. The building is orientated towards the view; one enters at the upper level of the double volume looking towards the ocean. The contrast with the external approach is very powerful. A grand stair pulls on onto the living level which holds the kitchen, dining room and living room. To the right the landscaping is pulled into the building, blurring the distinction between the inside and the outside.
A spiral stair connects the living level to a private lounge and the master bedroom on a mezzanine level. This stair was conceived as a sculptural element in the large volume to again mitigate the scale of this space. This spiral drops through the floor to a lower level which houses a guest bedroom, a home theater and a living room.
An L-shaped extension to the South West houses the two children’s bedrooms. The bedrooms have curved curtain tracks that create very intimate sleeping spaces at night which contrast with the very open daytime character. Water is a critical issue in this part of the world and a huge underground cistern was created under the garden terrace to harvest rainwater to minimize the houses’ reliance on the municipal water system. A heat pump and water based under floor heating system uses less energy than would ordinarily be required for a house of this magnitude. The concept behind the landscaping was to reinstate the fynbos and let the building float over this restored surface.
“The interiors are uncluttered and reflect the easy living requirements of the clients. Spaces are sparse, and have been furnished minimalistically which emphasize the strong architectural lines and volume of the architecture. The furniture is modern, and a number of bespoke pieces were sourced from the designer’s retail outlet OKHA. A neutral palette of ivory, stone and shell complement the natural architectural timber and concrete finishes selected throughout,” says Mark Rielly of ANTONI ASSOCIATES.
Photos: Micky Hoyle COURTESY OF VISI
Casa San Sen was designed as a steel structure floating above the ground by Alejandro Sánchez García Arquitectos, located in the woods in the area of Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Completed in 2008, the 9,256 square foot (860 square meters) residence is covered in wood and glass. The construction system allows us to open and close the envelope depending on views, orientations, etc.
Designed entirely on one level from a circulation that articulates all the spaces in areas that function independently. The house is anchored to the ground by a service tower clad in stone.
Photos: Jaime Navarro Soto
Glen Lake Tower is a sustainable retreat completed in 2011 by Balance Associates Architects, located high on a wooded hilltop above a lake in Michigan. The 1,400 square foot house is the result of an inspiring collaboration between architects, clients with a passion for architecture as well as their site, and a skilled local contractor.
Directed to create “a sustainable retreat that reflects the timeless beauty and simple comforts of the area,” the architects responded by raising the primary living space above the dense surrounding woods in order to gain light, air and views of Glen Lake and Lake Michigan beyond. Two fin-like, metal-clad walls rise from the crown of the hill to support a 1400 sf three-story plywood box suspended a full story above grade.
As intricately detailed steel stairs climb the tower, they move from exterior to interior and from more enclosed to more open spaces, culminating in a breathtaking, glass-wrapped kitchen/living/dining space at the fourth level. Here, thirty feet above the ground, the clients enjoy views of the landscape they love, from either the birch-lined interior or expansive cantilevered decks.
Photos: Steve Keating
Redux House has been designed by Marcio Kogan’s Studio MK27, located in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil, in a gated community called Quinta da Baroneza. The open land, on a downwards slope terrain and with a west facing view, is on the edge of a large environmental preservation area of a native forest, aspects which determined the implantation as well as the residence’s architectural parti.
The house was built on the highest level possible, respecting the existing topography in order to could gain the view of the sunset and the vegetation with the least impact on the surroundings. The project is composed of a slab floor, 4 programmatic boxes and a slab ceiling. Externally to the slab of the floor there appears a great concrete volume, pool and deck, which is projected along the decline of the site and terminates floating through a
small although striking span.
The slab of the floor, at 50cm above the ground is supported by beams set back, intensifying the delicate shape in which the projected was implanted onto the land. Visually, the house seems to float. The program was divided into four programmatic blocks. The first block contains the intimate area (4 bedrooms and sauna), the second only has the master suite. On the third we have the services area (kitchen, laundry room, sitting room, bathrooms and maids rooms). Finally, in the last block we have the garage and the technical area.
The distribution of the blocks in the slab floor created interstitial spaces, configuring circulation, terraces and the large space for the living room. This latter, enveloped by a skin of glass with sliding panels open and create a dialogue between the internal and external (native forest and the west). The slab of the roof, the same size as the slab on the floor, overlaps the programmatic volumes which, because of the different heights, here it leans on the roof there it has a reduced ceiling height. The emptiness between the volumes and the slab create an inner rhythm and, simultaneously, makes it possible to have improved natural lighting in the house.
The two main volumes that include the bedrooms are completely clad in vertically slatted wooden panels which open almost entirely. In the day, the panels filter the sunlight creating a texture of light and shade and, at night, it transforms the boxes into large lanterns which light up the land.
Photos: Fernando Guerra
The Conrad Residence is a modern property redesigned to maximize views and living space by Swatt | Miers Architects, located in Sausalito, a San Francisco Bay Area city in Marin County, California. The residence was built over the footprint of a 1950’s residence by noted Bay Area modernist Rodger Lee that over the years had suffered irreparable structural damage.
The new design doubles the area of the house to 2,700 square feet while maintaining the original emphasis on the expressive use of wood and the distribution of public and private spaces.
The new design retains the spirit of the original on the exterior and the interior through its expressive use of wood structure and finishes. Strip windows and cedar siding emphasize the horizontality of the design, extending the lines of the house into the site, and helping nestle the house into the hillside.
Post-and-beam construction is used to reveal the structure of the house and articulates the grid upon which is it is base. Tongue and groove cedar soffits visually connect interior spaces to decks and terraces beyond.
Exposed woodwork, concrete, and stainless steel details complete the plan.
Photos: Cesar Rubio
LA House is a modern single family residence just recently designed by Elías Rizo Arquitectos in collaboration with interior designer Kárima Dipp, located in Mexico. Breaking with the norm established by all the houses in the vicinity, the residence recedes a considerable distance from the setback line, to yield a large open space below the tree canopies, a stark welcome gesture.
The main entry into the complex proceeds to an open passageway that runs along a rough-hewn stone wall and postpones the access into the house an additional number of meters. A glazed box containing a studio protrudes from the building. It hovers above a large pond that can be crossed via a series of stone pavers that rise above the water and lead directly into the public areas of the house. The garage, concealed on the other side of the stone wall, compels cars to park sideways so as to render them invisible from any space in the house.
The entry sequence into the building presents a series of layers, starting with the garden space beyond the setback lines, following through the open corridor past the pond, and crossing through the central courtyard all the way to the living spaces at the back of the main building.
A central courtyard scheme was implemented to introduce natural ventilation into every space of the house without compromising privacy. The corridors around the courtyard on the ground floor are defined by a series of operable windows that allow the kitchen and living spaces to bleed out into the exterior, when the weather allows it.
Expanding on the theme of permeability that dominates the ground floor, similar solutions were implemented throughout the living quarters on the second level, to allow for the private, open spaces. Such is the case with the small, glazed atrium that ventilates the master bathroom and the deeply recessed balconies that yield generous exterior areas to all bedrooms.
Dark gray steel, glass, wood, concrete and stone compose the greater part of the material palette throughout the house, wich is complemented by accents in leather and stainless steel. The master bathroom receives a special treatment as it is covered almost in its entirety with white marble.
Crossing the lawn, beyond the living spaces on the ground floor, a pool and a concrete volume containing an entertainment room overlook a small ravine outside of the property. Below this volume a staggered pathway descends gently to negotiate the changes in topography on a pronounced cliff, leading down to a lower landscape area.
Photos: Marcos García
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