Paris-based Agence Jouin Manku took on its first large-scale integrated architectural and interior design commission in 2003, when YTL Design Group from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, invited it to design the residence of a Malaysian power family.
Completed in the latter part of 2008, the residence is the ultimate expression of the taste, influence and industrial-scale capabilities of the prominent family whose entrepreneurial activities have shaped Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.
Three generations of the family inhabit the 3,000 square-meter residence designed to accommodate both private and public functions.
The building includes nine bedrooms, two family rooms, a family kitchen and a private dining area, a family library, a game room, a study, a public reception area, a formal dining room, a ballroom, chapel, 21 bathrooms, a swimming pool, two guest suites plus indoor private and guest parking.
The initial sketches exploring the owners’ usage requirements reveal resemblances to the boring stacked-boxes look still so ubiquitous in residential architecture. And while traces of the ”heaped trailers“ syndrome remain in the finished building, this is not the Jetsons, neither are we looking at EPCOT, Tomorrowland or the 1964 New York World's Fair.
We are in the lush vegetation of a posh Kuala Lumpur residential area, and in spite of the boxiness of the structure, an elegant circular softness manages to permeate the sightlines and key details of the building, making it an agreeable part of its landscape.
Inside, prominent examples of this curvilinear elegance include the amazing staircases resembling the inside of a shell when viewed from above, and the round ballroom chandelier of 13,000 custom-designed undulating petals of unglazed cast porcelain biscuit.
The curved walls both inside and out have a functional purpose of providing privacy and enclosing each function gently in its own space. The overall sweeping feel inside the spaces invites the viewer in and creates soft, arching vistas.
The concept consists of three layers: the base for public functions, the ring for guests and the private house for the family.
The inside of the magnificent residence is gorgeous with its high ceilings, large windows and abundance of light. White color and natural wood are dominant elements but they allow the view from the vast, mostly retractable, windows to remain the main visual attraction.
The residence is also a wonderful study of contrasts between inside and outside, private and public, traditional and ultra modern, man-made and natural.
YTL Design Group of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was the architect of record. The Agence Jouin Manku design team included Patrick Jouin, Sanjit Manku, Yann Brossier (architect), Richard Perron (designer). Officina del Paesaggio from Lugano, Switzerland was in charge of the landscape design, and L’Observatoire, New York, USA handled the lighting. - Tuija Seipell
Casa Monte na Comporta in Grândola, Portugal is a house that sits in its surroundings as if it had always been there yet it also manages to look completely fresh, cool, new and spectacular.
The house’s undulating shape echoes the gently sloping sand dunes, and its hard and angular surface planes contrast beautifully with the rounded shapes of the surrounding trees.
It has a bunker-like feel but it really does not look like a bomb-shelter because the exterior is broken into smaller sections with varying materials. The sky, the trees and the water in the pool provide all the color. Tactile texture is everywhere, inside and out. Light and shadow become the main players. The entire dwelling exudes organic calm.
Although it seems so, this house was not built into existing dunes. The exact opposite happened. Luis Pereira Miguel and team at Lisbon-based Pereira Miguel Arquitectos, built the dunes so that they could situate the house under them.
Pereira Miguel is a multi-disciplinary firm — architecture and interiors, commercial and residential — that works with various collaborators in Portugal and around the world. The seamless conversation between nature and house, surroundings and building is a theme visible in many of the firm’s projects but none as distinctively as in the Dune House.
The two crescent-shaped Barchan dunes that the architects created hide the house under a road. Eventually, it will look like the sand, the house and the wind have coexisted here forever. In a hundred years, it may look like some secret hub of notorious infiltrators or perhaps it we look more like a dwelling of friendly earthlings. Already the house shows a delicious hint of ancient cave and that aspect is going to get better and better after years of wind and weather action.
If you were able to look at the footprint of the house from the sky (and you are not, because it is partly under the sand), you’d realize that it consists of four slightly angled ”arms,“ almost like a wonky letter X with each section housing a separate function.
From each section, the view and feel are different from the others. With the constant action of the forces of nature, the view will also shift year by year, season by season, inviting contemplation and creating harmony.
Completed in late 2008, Casa Monte na Comporta in Grândola is, not surprisingly, drawing attention. It will be featured on Portuguese cable television this month and it will most likely be popping up in many design and architecture magazines in the coming months. That someone (other than me) is lucky enough to live in this house is almost too much to bear. - Tuija Seipell
Photography by ultimasreportagens.com
Dupli Casa, a private residence by the Neckar river, near the old town of Marbach in South- Western Germany, is a wonderfull example of connection and fluidity. It connects the inside with the outside, up with down, air with ground and - most cleverly - past with present and even future.
From the outside, the three-storey concrete villa looks like a bit like some sort of a fiberglass motorboat job gone funny, yet it also manages to look immensely appealing and intriguing. From some angles, the structure appears to be standing upside down - the lower exterior rim spilling onto the lawn and forming a part of a roof structure, if the building were to stand the other way around. It could have been blown there by the wind; it could be a StarWarsian vehicle frozen in place; it could be just taking off to outer space.
The outdoor swimming pool and the white surface surrounding it seem like a perfect reflection of the house, almost as if the house had been face down on the ground, and when it was lifted off the ground, the process had left an imprint of a swimming pool on the ground and the large window opening in the house.
The views from the inside are amazing, especially from the vast ground-level openings that again, give the sensation of flying, being airborne, weightlessness. Everything is fluid, flowing and smooth.
All of this is very much in keeping with the main inspiration for the house. The new residence follows the footprint of the previous dwelling and its numerous extensions. The idea was to let the 'family archaeology' continue in the new building. It's a house that remembers its beginnings in 1984 yet projects boldly into the future.
Dupli Casa is the work of Jurgen Mayer H., founder and principal of his cross-disciplinary studio. J. Mayer H. Architekten in Berlin. Other team members include Georg Schmidthals, Thorsten Blatter and Simon Takasak, plus Uli Wiesler's architecture studio based in Stuttgart. - Tuija Seipell
Golf and drab are synonyms, right? And the mere mention of Golf and Country Club makes you run. Away. Fast. Golf may indeed have a bit ofan image problem but that did not deter the 'rich-based' Smolenicky & Partner Architektur when they were retained to work on the expansion of the venerable Sempachersee Golf Club located near Lucerne in Switzerland.
In addition to the new club house-restaurant building and the newmaintenance building, both of which Smolenicky designed, the expansionincluded a second 18-hole golf course. All of this has made Golf Club Sempachersee the largest golf club in Switzerland and, quite likely,the club with the coolest club house.
In their approach to the club house, Smolenicky sought to manifesttwo things: what they call the country character of the golfing culture of the Sempachersee course - and the course's worldly sophistication. They took their design cues from the rural warmth of a timber barn and the clear lines of a Maserati sports car. The resulting building, the sleek and minimalist interior, and themagnificent 180-degree panoramic views of the Sempachersee lake and theAlps might just be reasons enough to give golf another chance. Or, atthe very least, rethink what a golfing environment could look like. By Tuija Seipell
There’s a new planet in the solar system and it’s called Luxury. Actually, it is here on earth, on a little-known island called
located northeast of Abu Dhabi city.
The 130,000-square-meter island is about to be transformed into an achingly glamorous and luxurious resort and exclusive private residential estate, comprised of one boutique luxury hotel resort with 60 suites, 31 beachfront estates and 36 water villas.
The mammoth project is a collaboration between New York based Studio Dror, led by Dror Benshetrit, that has designed the residences, and the Paris-based firm AW2 are responsible for the design of the hotel.
The sheer scale of the project is awe-inspiring; the incredible multi-storey water villas alone will span 515 square metres each, comprising of three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a private rooftop garden with spa pool, private infinity pool, multiple decks, outdoor barbeque area, gourmet kitchen and concealed service quarters. No doubt Tom & Katie are making their reservations already.
As for the private “Seaside” residences (which are sure to be snapped up by Saudi Princes and oil shieks because they will probably be the only ones who can afford them), the five bedroom-six bathroom estates span across between 3,000 — 6,050 square metres.
Each “Seaside” estate will include a private beach and garden, rooftop garden with spa pool, infinity swimming pool, indoor reflecting pools, concealed service quarters, entertainment patios, outdoor dining areas, chef and show kitchens and outdoor showers.
The resort is due to open in 2010 and residences start at €20 million. By Lisa Evans
The owner couple of this beautiful pre-fabricated cabin on the shores of Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada, has been coming to their large recreational property for a quarter-century. But the big property in a great recreational location translated into lots of overnight guests and no privacy for the owners.
They felt they needed a 'getaway,' a place at their own property where they could capture the peace and serenity of the surrounding four-season nature without disturbing any of the existing trees or structures. They needed a place that remembers what the Simcoe cottage-country is all about.
The brilliant, award-winning solution by Toronto-based Taylor Smyth Architects is the one-room Sunset Cabin, a real cabin with a decidedly contemporary feel. The wonderful cabin has won several architectural and design awards and met the clients’ needs perfectly.
It is a one-room (190 square feet in size), self-contained box that was built by furniture craftsmen in four weeks in a Toronto parking lot and installed on site in 10 days.
Three of the exterior walls are floor-to-ceiling glass and of those, two are encased in horizontal cedar-screens for privacy, shade and light effects inside. One of the cedar screens has a large opening providing a direct view of the sunset from the built-in bed. The rest of the screen has random smaller gaps to allow various vignettes of the surrounding nature and to create fantastic light patterns inside. The slats are positioned so that there is no direct view in from the outside, but at the same time, it the inside feels almost wall-less.
The untreated cedar of the outer structure will turn silvery grey over time, helping the cabin blend in with its natural surroundings. In addition, the roof, visible from the existing main building, is a green roof planted with native plants of the area, further ensuring that the building mixes in with the landscape rather than sticks out in it.
All interior surfaces are unpainted birch veneer plywood, including the built-in storage cabinets. Doors at both ends of the cabin allow for cross ventilation. The interior floor extends outside to form a deck where the rustic feel continues with the screened-off outdoor shower.
The owners are apparently spending more time at their property than ever before. They enjoy the cabin year-round, heating it by a wood-burning stove and, if needed, electric heaters. Most likely, they are not inviting guests to share the space, so we can join in only by admiring the images. By Tuija Seipell
Zaha Hadid's silvery building resembling a sub-surface ferry or a space ship is the winning entry in the competition for the design of the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in the ancient city of Vilnius, capital and the largest city of the Republic of Lithuania.
The jury selected Hadid's (Zaha Hadid Architects) design over those of equally famous architects Daniel Libeskind (Studio Daniel Libeskind) and Massimiliano Fuksas (Studio Fuksas).
A feasibility study, commissioned by the recently established Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Centre in Vilnius, is expected to be completed by mid-June 2008. Depending on its outcome, the museum could open as early as in 2011. By Tuija Seipell