An architect's house could be his ultimate expression of his relationship to the surrounding world. Arthur Casas positioned his own House in Iporanga outside of Sao Paulo deep in the Atlantic forest - the quintessential Brazilian landscape according to Casas.
Two symmetrical rectangular cubes face one another on the north and south sides of the site. Two retractable 36 foot-high glass walls connect the cubes and frame the main living and dining rooms of the house. The entire exterior is panelled in Cumaru wood that blends effortlessly into the surrounding forest.
Cumaru is also used inside as flooring where it stands out against the stark white walls - the only 'colour' found in the minimalist space. To an architect, one of the defining features of the overall design of a structure is effective interior spatial division. In his own house, Casas successfully divided the ground floor into distinct public and private areas. The kitchen and service area - including a separate bedroom and bathroom - were placed in the north cube structure. A studio and a guest bedroom and bathroom are located on the opposite side. The entire space is connected by the vast living room flanked by wood terraces on both ends. An infinity pool appears to be spilling over to soak the surrounding flora.
A floating Cumaru stairway leads to the first level, where one finds the master suite in the southern cube. A narrow bridge crosses over the middle of the living room and leads to an additional guest bedroom, bathroom and a home theater.
The main objective of Casas' design brief for the House in Iporanga was to provide an escape into the Brazilian forest. He has accomplished the creation of a personal retreat, a place where he is able to relax and recharge. By Andrew J Wiener
We have found a candidate for the winner in the Coolest Home Theatre category. Just short of being a drive-in, this outdoor home theatre surpasses the stinky basement family 'media room' by close to a light year.
Glass walls, clean lines, uninterrupted space, uncluttered rooms, expensive detailing the hallmarks of a modern, upscale classic are all present in this stylish residence. Why anyone in possession of such an amazing home with such breathtaking views, would want to watch movies at home, is beyond us, but let's just say that we wouldn't mind being invited to a screening or two. The terraces, patios and the 65-foot infinity pool and spa will keep cinematically uninterested guests entertained as well. And we'll all stay at the separate guest house, of course.
But we must admit we are still lacking an invite to the 5,800-square-foot Skyline residence overlooking Hollywood and downtown LA. The visit is up to the owner of the home, architect Hagy Belzberg, a Harvard graduate (1991) who interned in Frank Gehry's office.
The opulent home was designed by the entire team of his Santa Monica-based, 13-member Belzberg Architects that the now 43-year-old Hagy Belzberg founded in 1997. - Tuija Seipell
The office of Zaha Hadid, the sometimes controversial and always bold Baghdad-born, London-based architect, has revealed design plans for a striking new building in the most traditional and affluent of places, Oxford.
The new composite-glass structure, to be named the Softbridge Building, is an extension to the Middle East Centre at St Anthony’s College. It will link the 66 and 68 Woodstock Road buildings, one a Victorian mock Tudor and the other Edwardian.
The new, concave, shiny structure looks like a modern sculpture that fell from the sky and wedged itself between the two sleepy oldies. The exuberant and dynamic Softbridge appears to have known that, against all odds, the old buildings will not buckle, the mature trees will not die and the limited space into which the newcomer must settle, will be just enough.
The Softbridge will house a lecture theatre and the library, taking pressure off the old, bursting-at-the-seams facilities. Other goals are to provide a better research environment for students and to connect the academic and public functions of the institute. The above-ground floors house the reception and exhibition areas, the main archive reading room, library storage and the main library. The lecture theatre and additional storage will be located in the basement.
The outspoken Hadid continues to produce bold design work, characterized by rounded shapes and unconventional approaches, in spite of the widely publicized controversies surrounding some of her buildings in Britain, including the Olympic Aquatic Centre. In an Oxford Times article, Hadid was quoted as saying, “As a woman, I’m expected to want everything to be nice and to be nice myself. A very English thing. I don’t design nice buildings. I don’t like them. I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality.”� By Tuija Seipell.
Here at TCH, we’ve been noticing architects around the world transforming church buildings into various types of structures including houses, retail stores, hotels, libraries, and well, cooler churches.
After successfully converting a water tower into a living space, Marnix Van Der Meer and Rolf Bruggink’s Utrecht-based architecture studio, Zecc has done it again — this time perhaps a little more controversial. Here they transformed an old chapel into a spacious house — carefully respecting and enhancing the character of the original building.
The design team chose to keep many of the original features — including the high gothic stained glass windows and the original choir organ. To allow more light to enter the space, they cut a Mondrian-inspired glass window into the front of the house facing the street — perhaps paying homage to Rietveld’s nearby infamous Schroder House. The entire living area has been whitewashed, whilst the private spaces above were painted dark.
And only 150km away in Maastricht an 800 year old Dominican church was transformed into the newest addition to the Selexyz book store chain — the Selexyz Dominicanen — housing an impressive collection of books not only in Dutch, but in English as well.
The challenge for the Amsterdam based architects Merkx + Girod was staying true to the original character and charm of the church, whilst also achieving a desirable amount of commercial space. A multi-storey steel structure that houses the majority of the books was constructed and placed along the central nave of the church under the vaulted ceiling.
Located in Finland in the Ostrobothnia region, near the campus of Helsinki University on the eastern side of the city, JKMM Architects won a national competition to design the Vikkii Urban Centre. The focal point of the Centre is a church clad in aspen shingles that have turned gray since construction was completed in 2005. Throughout Europe new church design is not synonymous with modernity, so when the Parish of Helsinki approached the architects at JKMM, they welcomed the opportunity to contribute to a newly developed urban area housing approximately 13,000 residents.
Many Scandinavian churches serve as civic spaces for the surrounding community to gather. Of course sacral characteristics are still present, and the Viikki Church’s central space and adjoining congregation hall have a light-filled cathedral-like appearance.
The architects chose timber for practically every surface of the interior space as well: oaken doors, spruce ceiling and walls, and aspen furniture allow the congregation to feel as though they are gathering within a forest. Large windows open the space even further onto the surrounding landscape of the countryside. The church does not sit in isolation, however a new market was built to the north and an urban park sits to the south.
Divisive as it may be to alter houses built for God, these architects do not need to preach to the choir about their immaculate conceptions in renovations, we’re sold. By Andrew J Wiener and Brendan McKnight.
We're looking for more church renovations, if you spot one, send [email protected]
After designing the prize winning Bergisel Ski Jump, the city of Innsbruck invited Zaha Hadid back to design four new stations and a cable-stayed suspension bridge for the Nordkettenbahn - the city's cable railway system. Continuing their global contribution to the seamlessness between computer generated design and construction, the ZH Architects studied glacial formations and ice movement and translated their ideas with similar design technologies used by the automotive and aircraft industry to achieve varying degrees of movement and circulation in structure.
Residents and visitors can now embark trains in the city's centre at the new Congress Station and reach the summit of Seegrube Mountain in 20 minutes. Each progressive station crosses the Inn River and then ascends the Nordkette Mountain terminating 863 metres high at the Hungerburg Station. Passengers then transfer to cable cars that travel to the top at 2,300 metres.
ZH Architects' signature fluidity in design was carried through here with the innovative use of doublecurvature glass in construction. The design could not be actualised without inventive production methods such as CNC milling and thermoforming. Each unique station looks at though winter melted down the mountainside flowing freely across the new suspension bridge and into the river. By Andrew J Wiener>
Escaping the big city used to mean keeping warm beside a fireplace in aquaint little wood cabin tucked away in the wilderness. But now we allknow impressive design can be found virtually anywhere, even in themost remote areas. At just over 200 square metres, the Steel House in New Yorkï¿½s Hudson Valley provides an ideal weekend retreat.
From a distance the length of the narrow house looks like a metallicscreen rising out of the surrounding meadow. The house opens to thelandscape on the narrow east and west facades. One end features adouble-height entry with a stairway leading up to two bedrooms on thefirst level. The bedrooms above overlook a small, private lake by wayof an enclosed balcony whilst below, the living and dining area openout to a screened patio.
Striving to remain economical, high priority was giving to theselection of materials and finished both inside and out. Allinterior walls, floors and ceiling as well as custom furniture andcabinetry were constructed of durable maple plywood. Specialconsideration was also given to the use and placement of glazing andskylights that allow for natural ventilation.
Exterior floating stainless steel panels run the length of the house.Besides obvious aesthetic considerations, these perforated exteriorscreens protect the house from seasonal weather variations. Theyprovide much needed shade from the summer sun, and buffer the home fromstrong winter winds.
At just under 150 kilometres from New York City, the Steel House ishardly at the end of the earth, however, the siting and design of theweekend retreat allows its guests a welcoming break from the urbanchaos. By Andrew J Wiener
See also Camouflage House
It’s not only the destination that is important – the trip itself matters as well. Both literally and figuratively. So why are we left bored out of our heads, plus cold, wet, angry and hungry, as we wait (and wait and wait) in line ups?
It is because the operators of clubs, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, sports facilities and other entertainment venues fail to embrace — or take advantage of – the entire user experience. We are right there, waiting to be entertained and they ignore us and leave us out in the cold?
As we ponder this, we are delighted when something like this fun ski-lift shows up under our radar. It serves as a metaphor for the idea of doing more than the minimum with every aspect of the experience. What we see is ingenuity, creativity, and a sense of style and fun.
They used to say "a light bulb goes on in your mind" when knowledge happens. The Danish architects at 3XN already realise the sun is the true source of knowledge - providing fuel for each global system. Imagine the power more sunlight can provide young minds hard at work in their schools.
Orestad College (upper school) opened this year just south of central Copenhagen in the development area of Orestad. The superstructure of the building is formed by four boomerang-shaped platforms that rotate over four floors and remain open to one another allowing for a seamless interconnection of space throughout the school. This open, high central hall, known as the X-zone is linked by a stairway that helps promote interdisciplinary communication and cooperation among the various teaching and study spaces.
Transparent glass louvres automatically rotate on the exterior of the building allowing light in and providing an array of colours to the interior environments. By manipulating the sunlight the entire student body becomes aware of the passing of time and the changing of the seasons as the school year progresses.
Sustainability for education can certainly begin with the design of the school itself, and 3XN has successfully integrated the traditional Scandinavian aspects of functionality with clarity and beauty in form. - Andrew J Wiener
The Nestlé Chocolate factory in Mexico City's Paseo Tollocan near Toluca has never been a site anyone went to see for its beauty. It is what is inside that has always interested chocolate-lovers.
That changed earlier this year when Michel Rojkind, the 38-year-old principal of Rojkind Arquitectos, decided that he was not satisfied with the original idea of just revamping the factory's viewing gallery.
He put together a team that came up with an entire museum, with a shop, a theatre, and direct access to the factory as well. The 300-meter-wide scarlet building cannot go unnoticed by anyone driving the entrance freeway to Toluca.
This is by far not the first chocolate museum in Mexico, the ancient home of chocolate. Neither is it the first sweet museum for the Switzerland-headquartered consumer-product behemoth Nestlé.
However, it is probably the first chocolate museum ever to be called both a piece of origami and a shipping container. The corrugated metal look gives it an air of impermanence and industrial clunk while the bright color and crazy shape evoke play and fun. What any of this has to do with chocolate, we are not exactly sure, but we almost managed to fold a KitKat wrapper to a similar shape. By Tuija Seipell