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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
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
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>
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The boxy and containery appearance of residential buildings currently attracting accolades and attention is starting to get boring. However, simplicity, clarity and openness are qualities that continue to appeal.
While this is yet another house of stacked boxes, we cannot help but admire the vacation residence clinging dramatically to the sloping hill up in the trees of the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada.
Locals, used to a more traditional ski chalet in this popular ski resort area, refer to the building as the cube, a name choice requiring no imagination. When the Montreal-based architectural firm Saucier + Perrotte won the Canadian Architect magazine’s Award of Excellence for this project in 2004, the magazine called the entry the Lac Superieur Residence in Lac Superieur, Mont-Tremblant.
Whatever the moniker, the house stuns with its elegant lines, stylish use of materials and lack of unnecessary distractions.
As it should be, the building’s real redeeming features reveal themselves inside. The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows provide all the visual stimulus you’ll need, and at the same time, demand a streamlined approach to everything else in the interior.
The boxy-cubey theme continues inside as do the color scheme and the lack of distracting materials. The residence is divided into three functional areas’ sleeping quarters on the top floor, middle and entry floor for living and the lowest level for play.
Although the building looks like a disorganized corner of a stylish container-port it exudes a solitary, silent grace that allows the distinctive, four seasons of the mountain to provide the main attraction.
The building meets the criteria for a log cabin as described in the area’s design guidelines for recreational development yet, fortunately, fails to resemble a Tyrolean mini castle. - Tuija Seipell
It seems as though a wooden boat washed up on shore amidst a neighbourhood of typical Aussie beach houses just south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. From the street the house’s irregular form reveals nothing of what unfolds once within the property.
At a closer look, the façade consists solely of a postbox. According to the design team at McBride Charles Ryan the openness of a holiday house in a beach community renders the front door arbitrary. You stop in for the weekend – your mates stop over for a Sunday afternoon drink.
The architects valued the existing scale of Blairgowrie – the house is certainly not an obstruction built within the community. Instead, it’s modest irregularity opens up into an impressive four-bedroom beach verandah. Bold blacks and whites sit on top of the stained timber floors, which run the length of the house.
A dramatic red support structure, the most striking interior feature, draws the divide between inside and out. According to the architects, the support shelves are where beach memories will be stored – a place where all the stuff you see every day will sit as you and your family grow. - Andrew J Wiener
Photography: John Gollings
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 no Geres, designed by Porto-based Correia/Ragazzi Aquitectos, has received its fair share of international awards and exposure, but we cannot help but show it off one more time. This is the first project by Gracia Correia and her new Italian partner, Roberto Ragazzi. It is a bold statement that hides nothing.
This is also a house that is easy to love from certain perspectives and from others; it looks quite unsuitable for its surroundings. From some angles, the house seems like an accident, some kind of a mishap with transportation containers and building materials. One part of the building is buried inside the hill while another sticks out over the river. It appears about to teeter off the hill at any moment, just waiting to land in its final resting place in the river.
The owners, Mica and Eduardo Pinto Ferreira, have been Correia's clients for more than a decade, and gave her carte blanche to create their dream house on the 5,000 square-meter site by the Cevado river - as long as no trees were cut and the 60 square-meter house (maximum allowed footprint for the site) was made of concrete. The house is located in Peneda-Geras National Park, along the Spanish border in northern Portugal, so the environment and its inviolability were crucial and the rules strict.
But looking out from the inside, the awesome beauty of the home becomes apparent. The simplicity of the structure, the openness of the views and the calm balance of the elements seems to speak the same language as the bleak surroundings. Nature has a way of being beautiful even when it is not, and this house knows that secret.
The warmth and proper scale of the building become even clearer when the illuminated house is viewed at night. It may look like it landed from some other planet, but it appears to be right at home now. - Tuija Seipell
Marcio Kogan’s Panama House is a residence designed for art. Located in São Paulo, Brazil, the house makes a powerful but subdued statement in its low, open, elongated elegance — a hallmark of Kogan’s architecture.
In the past few years, the award-winning, Brazilian-born architect’s Studio MK27 has produced a steady stream of low-rise, boxy work – all with an uncanny intimacy, yet without any of the usual stuffy treatments that supposedly create intimacy.
At the Panama House, there are no cozy nooks, no soft furnishings, no homey touches. And yet, there is a feeling of comfort and livability in this art-gallery-of-a-house that makes you want to move in tomorrow.
All levels of the three-storey house — including the bedrooms, office, gardens and patio — are used to display the owner’s substantial collection of predominantly modern Brazilian art and sculpture.
An uninterrupted connection between inside and out makes the entire space seem unlimited, translucent, as if without walls, although the structure is essentially a wooden box inside a C-shaped concrete cask made of cement slabs and a wall.
The sliding vertical wood lathes that form the brise soleils for each room’s facade, are also an important part of establishing the prevailing openness. The brise soleils also provide comfort and privacy, and enable the control of the artworks’ exposure to direct sun.
Most beautifully, they also create the soft play of light that matches the overall linear shapes — created by creases in window treatments, the floor boards, the rows of pillows on long sofas, the stone work outside — continuing the elongated language of the entire building.
The São Paulo-born architect Marcio Kogan graduated from Mackenzie University in 1976 and created films until the age of 30. His considerable talents of creating drama, understanding a setting and leading the eye are certainly evident in the award-winning Panama House. - Tuija Seipell
Stockholm-based Sommarnöjen (Summer Enjoyment - or Entertainment - in English) has just unveiled the designs for five new beautiful 15-square-meter second houses. Sommarnöjen houses are designed by Sweden's top-tier architectural offices Kjellander + Sjöberg Arkitektkontor, Sandellsandberg Arkitekter and Tham & Videgard Hansson Arkitekter.
Sommarnöjen provides the houses ready-built on site. Some are suitable for year-round use as well. The mini-houses are also great as additions to a larger dwelling - as guest houses, studios, workshops, separate bedrooms and of course, saunas. For those of us with Scandinavian backgrounds, these cottages look like home. They look perfectly suited to join the thousands of tiny cottages that dot the small islands, rocky seashores and lakesides of Scandinavia where people take July off and also spend every weekend from April till September (or more) at the cottage, rain or shine. Sommaren har kommit! - Tuija Seipell
Reflection of Mineral is a 480-square-foot (about 45 square meters) residence located in downtown Tokyo’s Nakano ward. Designed by architect Yasuhiro Yamashita Reflection of Mineral has received wide architecture and design media attention and numerous international awards.
Depending on viewpoint, the house looks like a bulky camper van about to take off. Or it seems to be the result of a giant’s frustrated attempt to fashion a house from a square box. Realizing that the site is too small and the wrong shape for his house, the giant just stuffed the house into the site by force. The whimsy of this beautiful residence is a big part of its charm. At the same time, the house is also an elegant expression of modern Japanese minimalism, and an example of brilliant use of a sparse site, a requirement in the tight space of downtown Tokyo.
Also beautiful is the way in which the interior appointments — the lines of the bathtub, the curves of the waste bins, the wavy length of the utilitarian shelves — respond to the lines of the building. This makes the interior seem larger and much less boxy than one would assume from the outside.
Yasuhiro Ymashita who was born in Kagoshima in 1960. He established Atelier Tekuto in Tokyo in 1991. - Tuija Seipell
Math professor Dr. James Stewart, who is also a former violinist with the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra near Toronto, Ontario, has made millions writing calculus textbooks. When he decided to spend most of his fortune on a residence, he could have used any architect anywhere in the world.
Instead of an international star, he selected the then-relatively unknown pair, Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe of Shim Sutcliffe to create his residence in a ravine in the posh Toronto neighborhood of Rosedale.
Stewart was not looking to build just a residence, though. He also wanted a private concert hall and lots of curves. Other than that, he gave the architects unprecedented and probably never-to-be-repeated freedom. No schedule, and no design restrictions.
A decade after the initial discussions with Shim and Sutcliffe, the $24 million US, 18,000-square-foot Integral House was completed. It does, indeed, have a multitude of seductive curves, massive amounts of floor to ceiling glass and a spectacular staircase. And, Dr. Stewart now gives concerts and throws parties and costume balls in his 150-seat concert hall.
The house exudes a patina, a classic semi-Scandinavian simplicity that makes it seem older, more established and mature than a brash, brand-new house. There’s a lovely sense of dynamism as well, as if the building were in motion, rolling along ever so slowly, or perhaps just coming to stillness after a long architectural journey.
The fantastic staircase is really a commissioned work of art, a collaboration between the architects, glass artist Mimi Gellman, and structural engineer David Bowick. It is constructed of hand-blown blue glass rectangles that are supported by cast bronze clips and stainless steel cables.
The house has already been on the Architectural Digest annual Toronto tour and it has become a part of the city’s must-see architecture. In a Wall Street Journal article, Glenn D. Lowry, director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, was quoted as saying: "I think it's one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time. Tuija Seipell
On approach, the entrance looks like a cave formed by rendered concrete walls. Only the slight and irregular black window frame insertions appear to allow light into the house. But within, light falls through the double-story void from above in all directions.
Light cascades down oak and white plastered surfaces. It washes over limestone and marble, illuminating art, furniture and every handcrafted and natural surface throughout the house.
The focal point and central pivot of the house is a sculptural circular stair. This transitional element divides the entire double-storey spaces as it stretches out under a steep exterior site.
Curved surfaces play against rigid lines in a style that the architects describe as ‘archaic’ – an effortless blend of both the primitive and artistic. Materiality was the primary factor in the selection of timbers, stone and every other interior feature.
The house is sited south of the Yarra River in one of Melbourne’s many beautiful neighbourhoods. The team of architects won an Architecture Award for Interior Architecture at the 2009 Victorian Chapter Awards. - Andrew J Wiener
Painting on wall on image 3 is from artist Song Ling.
Photography - Peter Bennetts
When restoring this traditional Victorian terrace house — now known as the Skylight House — in Sydney, Australia, the architects and designers at Chenchow Little had to leave the street façade intact because the house is part of a conservation streetscape.
But the ornate, white exterior now hides a beautiful, minimalist dwelling that includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a new kitchen.
Flipping the typical Victorian terrace-house floor plan around, the designers placed the secondary bedrooms on the ground floor and the living rooms on the top floor. The living areas gained access to natural light via the new series of south-facing skylights, and to views across Parramatta River thanks to strategically placed windows.
Right beside the stairs leading from the relocated living room to the new kitchen, is a new central courtyard that encircles an existing mature banksia tree.
The materials and colours are minimalist and pure: raw concrete, glass, white walls and spotted gum hardwood.
The interior design by Janice Chenchow of Chenchow Little, veers toward mid-century modernist with several Scandinavian and Italian pieces including a Woodnotes’ hand-tufted wool "Sammal" carpet (Finnish for "moss") carpet in the colour "Ice." We also love the lighting choices, especially "Parentesi" designed by Achille Castiglioni & Pio Manzuʻ for FLOS.
Project architects, husband and wife, Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little, established their Sydney-based firm in 2004.
The Skylight House won the Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter Award 2011 Residential Architecture Award for Alterations and Additions. - Tuija Seipell
Bridle Road Residence in Cape Town, South Africa, is a beautiful example of a sizeable structure that does not impose itself onto the landscape at the base of Table Mountain.
The single-family residence does not look massive or overly grand, but instead exudes a classic elegance with Scandinavian/Japanese lightness, precision and scale. The proportions and division of the walls and windows — including the “picture windows” overlooking the Cape Town harbor — create an openness without the feel of exposure.
Interior and exterior spaces are integrated seamlessly, which adds to the sense of site appropriateness — that this building belongs to this site.
The architecture is by Cape Town’s Antonio Zaninovic, known for his ability to let the landscape lead the architectural solutions. The Santiago, Chile-born, Zaninovic graduated from the University of Chile’s School of Architecture in 2000 and spent five years at Steven Harris Architects in New York before establishing his own practice in 2005 with Madrid, Spain-born architect, Ana Corrochano.
The interiors of the residence are by Lucien Rees of New York City-based Rees Roberts + Partners and the landscape by David Kelly of Rees Roberts + Partners.
The building and site feature several sustainable solutions including the self-cleaning outdoor pool, natural cross-ventilation, use of earth temperature as climactic moderator, use of heat-repelling glass, and maximal use of local materials such as poured finish concrete and balau wood.
The house and its landscape won an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2010 Honor Award in the Residential Design category, - Tuija Seipell
Cities grow organically and while some areas thrive and prosper, others parts undoubtedly deteriorate over time as industry evolves, social dynamics shift and economies fluctuate. Many accomplished urban designers look at the multi-dimensionality of any city within which they work regardless of where a project is sited.
Ashton Raggatt McDougal (ARM) architects completed the design of the Melbourne Recital Centre and the neighbouring Melbourne Theatre Company helping to transform the formerly derelict Southbank area of the city to the dynamic district it has now become. The firm has been so successful in their designs of the two buildings that they have been honoured with the 2009 Victorian Architecture Medal winning highest accolades in three categories for public architecture, interior design as well as urban design.
In a country where the two largest cities compete for just about everything, is Melbourne set to de-thrown Sydney for a higher quality performance space? Granted we’re not here to critique Utzon’s Opera House, but we are prepared to say that ARM, in collaboration with Arup Acoustics, designed a dynamic and original 1000-seat performance space and 150-seat Salon. “The fusion of architectural and acoustic design throughout the development of Elisabeth Murdoch Hall has produced a visually and aurally exciting hall,” a designer from Arup explains. “Based on the proportions of the classic shoe-box shaped European concert hall, the geometry has been enhanced to provide greater acoustic intimacy and improved sightlines for the entire audience.”
The design for the Melbourne Theatre Company begins with the dramatic façade: 3D iridescent steel tubing folds and bends against black aluminium cladding – just as an actor brings performance to life against a dark backdrop. The interior is comprised of the Sumner Theatre, a 500-seat hall noticeably without a balcony or mezzanine space, but still allowing exceptional site lines to the stage regardless of where your season tickets land you. The most striking element inside the main theatre is the Word Wall – 70 quotes from different plays are illuminated when the stage is dark. The building also houses a full rehearsal hall that can be used as an event space or a smaller performance space, as well as a café and bar at the front of the house. - Andrew j Wiener
The holiday home or summer-house by definition, is a building constructed with a strictly defined personality. For the temporary inhabitant, it is to provide a sense of escape without abandonment, and leisure without effort. It’s very existence is to promote feelings and moods not experienced in our everyday lives. A temporary euphoria squeezed between four walls for a period of the users choosing. It is a social engineer’s architectural dream.
This idea of temporary elation has existed for centuries. But the concept exploded with the onset of modernism and the twentieth century. A newly emerging middle class sought escapism from the polluted cities while still enjoying the comforts of their newly industrialized homes. A Modernist belief that experience was shaped through design spearheaded the mass-production of seasonal dwelling. Le Corbusier described buildings as “machines for living” and architecture was bent to supply the petit bourgeoisie’s need for leisure and relaxation. Buildings were simplified, historical references and ornament were removed in favor of promoting the beauty of modern materials and construction. Concrete and its featureless character became the material of choice in the construction of buildings throughout Europe and North America. Their homogenous appearance celebrated by Brutalist architects but condemned by post-modernists for their flagrant disregard towards the social, historic, and architectural environment of its surroundings.
Today, this form of design is considered to be archaic in its principles. Concrete is seen to be aesthetically vacuous, and is used structurally rather than visually. Instead, glass facades and organic materials are a building’s ornaments. But a team of architects in Austria have resurrected the ideological trappings of modernist thinkers to create a unique and eerily beautiful interpretation of the holiday villa. Set on lake Millstatter See in Austria, this four-story villa is an ode to the idealism of the holiday homes of old, but simultaneously sits in the avant-garde.
Much of the design was adapted from the hotel that stood previously on the original plot, and can be seen in the bold and unrelenting expanses of concrete. But rather than mask the commanding stretches of grey matter, the team have embraced and adorned the blank walls to become a key part of the building’s persona. The vast expanses complemented by materials that not only enhance the concrete’s authority, but also mimic it in character. Pale, smooth furniture occupy the inside, while white decking and exposed brick-work dominate the outside. The effect of which, can feel arresting at first, but develops a strange allure when looked at up close.
The building is a prime example of the brutal, unrelenting style of design from the 1950s, but the overhaul of ideas has transformed it into a testament to the contemporary. The fluid transition between interior and exterior, coupled with the large openings throughout the build, allow nature to flow through the cold interior, giving it a warm and organic feel. While the geometric shapes of the building draw imposing silhouettes on the lake and the surrounding countryside.
The minimal material concept; structural concrete in combination with white painted wood and metal surfaces, lends the building a monolithic character. But the upper floors of the building have an intimate, personal feel that doesn’t compromise the need for personal space.
It’s a building that screams arrogance and in places can feel a little soulless. But the sheer audacity of its form juxtaposed with its purpose as a leisure facility, offers an intriguing concept that hasn’t been seen since Modernism dared to challenge the purpose of design and the human condition. By Matthew Hussey
Do not let the IKEA-yellow exterior fool you — the multifunctional Agora Theatre, is not displaying home furnishings, but bustling with performances and new media works. It is located in Lelystad, the capital of the province of Flevoland in the Netherlands. The city, established as recently as 1967 and known for its controversial and forward-thinking city planning, is boldly building its center, the Centrale Zone, according to a master plan by West 8. In turn, West 8 is known for planning a vast array of exciting 'cityscapes', including a luxury village near Moscow and the waterfront revitalization project in Toronto.
The Agora Theatre building is the work of UN Studio, a group with theater, museum and art establishment expertise. The building itself is worth a visit, even if no performances were taking place (previews are already taking place). The tranquil cafe, open during the day, offers beautiful views of the square outside. The startling pink curving walls of the staircases resemble magnificent silk ribbons. And the deliciously red concert hall with its unusual wall surfaces will give you something to look at, even in the rare case that the performance doesn’t interest you. This is one building that will change the vibe of the city, both day and night. By Tuija Seipell.
The “Chalet” is by far the most famous product of Swiss architecture. The wooden dwellings with sloping roof and overhanging eaves, are as much a part of the Swiss landscape as the Alps themselves. The single storey bunkers traditionally served as seasonal farms for dairy cattle in the summer months, and haven’t changed much since these humble beginnings.
But high up on a mountain pass in the Bernese Oberland, a new type of seasonal home has emerged as a stark contrast to the timber heavy squats the country is so famed for. With its back turned to the harsh northerly winds, this contemporary take on the log cabin straddles the vistas to the south via a huge five meter glass pane that invites the landscape to fill its vast, open plan spaces.
Swiss planning regulators favor lots of small, pokey windows, this house is anything but. Rather than shielding its inhabitants from the outdoors, the house embraces the mountainous terrain, with large glass doors opening out onto the wooden terrace that appears to float alongside the house.
With its elegant, concrete slab base, it juts out into the landscape like a beached vessel. The domineering fireplace runs through the core of the building, dragging its brutal lines from the basement to the roof three floors above.
Up the handsome open-tread staircase the bedrooms and bathrooms blend into a continuous passage that invites you to keep moving. The large, panoramic windows throughout keep the house light and airy, while the double insulated walls and thick wood decking keep the cool temperatures out. The sparse furnishings and sleek lines are a bold statement that matches the buildings unrelenting exterior. Rather than cluttering the house with gaudy ornaments and stuffy fixtures, it plays on the sparse landscape it so elegantly sits in.
Traditional chalets have a tendency to shy away from the landscape, sealing off its inhabitants to the beauty of the environment it inhabits. This building however, embraces the countryside with an unyielding arrogance and swagger. Perching precariously at the tip of a mountain, it stares boldly at its surroundings. The interior eschews its contemporary credentials with clean, simple lines and muted colors. But at the same time, it feels traditional, homely, and welcoming. A small homage to the portly abodes that continue to dominate the Swiss landscape. By Matthew Hussey
A tactile sense of texture, a romantic play of light, and a reverence of natural beauty are all evident in this graceful, angular villa that seems monumental yet inviting. It brings up memories of hikes up a mountain on Crete where the white ruins of an ancient chapel cling onto the cliffs. But these ruins are on an entirely different island and they are brand new.
With its two main blocks at 90-degree angles, the Plus House appears from above to form an almost complete cross or a plus-sign. The opulent weekend villa juts out of a mountainside in a popular holiday area known for its hot springs, in Shizuoka Prefecture on Japan’s main island of Honshu.
The architects of this stunning beauty are husband and wife, Masahiro (36) and Mao (33) Harada, who founded Mount Fuji Architects Studio in 2004. Both are avid mountaineers — so much so that they named their company after the country’s highest and most admired mountain, also located in the Shizuoka Prefecture.
Plus House shows off their talents at being bold but not grandiose, and at involving the surrounding nature in delicate detail but without giving up the individuality and presence of the building.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the deceptively simple two-level concrete structure has private rooms and a bath on the lower level, and salon and kitchen on the upper. The water for the bedrooms and bath comes directly from a natural hot spring. The exterior is clad entirely in white water-polished marble with surface texture changing gradually toward the outer tips of the blocks from rough to mirror-smooth. The interior is also covered in white marble that reflects the blue light from the south (ocean) and green light from the west (forest). - Tuija Seipell
Elegant, calm, minimalist, clean and beautiful are among the adjectives that can be used to describe almost all of Marcio Kogan’s much-publicized and much-awarded residential masterpieces.
The magnificent, streamlined residences must serve as an antidote of some sort to the Brazilian architect who has been quoted as saying that he loves his home town of São Paulo and New York because they are similar in their chaotic ugliness, and because he likes “energy, chaos and a multi-cultural population in a city.”
Out of this chaos-, humor- and cinema-loving creative mind, an astonishingly lovely, peaceful balance is projected onto residential projects.
Reviewers of Kogan’s work often mention Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright or their contemporaries, but Kogan has said that he is more inspired by Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Andy Warhol.
However, the 57-year-old Brazilian-born and educated Kogan does have a modernist approach, and he has described the work of fellow Brazilians of modernist ilk -- Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, Lina Bo Bardi and Vilanova Artigas – as incredible.
The Paraty House, pictured here, is located on one of the hundreds of islands near the colonial town of Paraty, close to Rio de Janeiro. Before it was completed, Kogan predicted that it was to be his favourite house. Its simple premise is two large drawers pushed into the hill and connected by an internal staircase.
Its elegance comes from the seamless link between indoors and out, from the use of native wood, stone and vegetation, and from the minimalist, sweeping vistas that make so many of Kogan’s houses appear as if they were either taking off or recently landed. And although the stacked-boxes style is starting to wear thin as style-du-jour, this is surely one of its best examples. - Tuija Seipell
Camouflage, or cryptic colouration, is something living organisms have developed over millions of years in order to remain indiscernible from the surrounding environment.
Buildings, something humans have designed and built for thousands of years, have never been indiscernible from the surrounding environment. If anything, our egotistical fascination with conquering nature has meant our buildings are designed to triumph over its surroundings. Of course, nature inspires building design. But it rarely seeks to mimic it.
That is, until this twist on nature landed on The Cool Hunter doorstep. Set among shrubs and budding fir trees, this home has been encased in a façade matching the greenery around it. The concealing mesh is permeable to let the sunshine filter onto the house. But it also allows the light from inside to radiate out. Allowing the build to sit anonymously by day, but emerge discretely at night. Blurring the boundaries between what is human, and what is not.
Inside, the materials are organic and neutral. Wood decking and paneling cover the inside and outer reaches, while neutral colors blend rooms into a seamless array of angles and hard wood furnishings. But perhaps what’s more inspiring, is the building’s impact. The structure, while inherently human, isn’t trying to dominate the landscape it resides in. The single-storey house will soon be engulfed as the surrounding woodland matures, and the materials used to give the house its shape, will darken and merge with the backdrop. It’s an idea based on nature — to evolve with nature, and to mimic the concept of nature. Something in our opinion, there should be more of. By Matthew Hussey
Libraries aren’t generally known for amazing architecture but this incredible one in Italy has us dying to get there amongst the books. Pictured below, it’s actually an extension on the existing library at the Pontificial Lateran University, which houses new reading rooms and an Auditorium. The incredibly stylish space was designed by Rome firm King Roselli, who took totally fresh approach to the project by employing features not usually seen in these types of spaces, such as a curved ceiling, angular stair-casing and vast glass panelling.
The university holds an outstanding collection of books numbering around 600,000 volumes, some of which date back to the 16th century, whose subjects for the most part coincide with the principal academic courses: philosophy, theology and law. The bulk of them are now deposited in the newly restored compartmentalised underground vaults equipped with an adequate fire extinguisher system and humidity and temperature control. Learning has never been so glamorous. By Laura Demasi
This stunning house, perched on the hillside above Lake Lugano in Switzerland, certainly takes advantage of the views of the lake and the idyllic, historic village of Brusino Arsizio with its population just under 500.
The residence and office, designed by Milan-based architect Jacopo Mascheroni of JM Architecture for a financial consultant and her family, consists of two sections: a rounded glass pavilion and a reinforced concrete structure that is partially inserted into the mountain.
The client asked for maximum access to the views, but otherwise allowed the architect creative freedom to imagine an exceptional house that clings to the hillside.
A 3,700 square-foot glass house forms the most visible part of the residence and resembles a viewing pavilion of a major sightseeing attraction. It is an open-concept living space, with a white-walled central section that contains the kitchen, bathroom, stairway, storage and mechanical room.
The underground level houses the entry hall, three bedrooms, two baths, an office, laundry, staircase, and playroom. The bedrooms open to an inner courtyard garden.
Radiant heating, use of natural light, geothermal heat pumps and a rainwater collection system are the main environmentally friendly features of the structure.
Jacopo Mascheroni was born in 1974 in Milan and worked for Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects in San Francisco and Richard Meier & Partners in New York City before founding JM Architecture in 2005.
The firm has completed several major residential projects for private clients, as well as commercial and retail spaces. - Tuija Seipell
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
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.
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]
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.
Nearly 25 years ago, the world tuned into Melbourne for the ultimate in sporting events, the Olympic Games. Even long before that, Aussies were renowned as being among the world’s greatest sport fans. From grand-slam tennis to cricket’s oldest and greatest rivalry between Australia and England, Ozzie sports are part of its culture.
The Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, designed by COX Architects with engineering assistance from Arup, and from Norman Disney & Young — is a $200-million boutique rugby and soccer stadium with a capacity of 31,000.
Pride in sporting venues is also part of the very culture that supports sports so proactively. To stand on the same level as the Bird’s Nest, the Water Cube, Wimbledon, Coliseum and all sports architecture icons, new and old, great sporting venues support and enhance the cities in which they stand.
Melbourne expects its new Rectangular Stadium to not only contribute to the city’s sporting life, but also to be a focal point of the city’s Olympic Sports Park and Entertainment Precinct — only a short walk from the city center.
Fractured architecture is slowly becoming synonymous with 21st-century architecture in Melbourne. From the honeycomb concrete façade of Federation Square, to the steel tubing we recently wrote about on the city’s new recital centre, the bio-frame roof of the Rectangular Stadium already looks like it belongs. The roof will be covered with thousands of LED lights that can shine in many colors. They will be programmed to follow patterns that mimic the crowd’s energy during a match — soccer with Victory or rugby with Storm — or any other game or event.- Andrew J Wiener
Most of us have a personal image of an ideal escape or getaway. A secluded beach shack hidden on an island paradise - a tucked away cabin built into a snowy mountainside - a private chateaux set on the quiet, rolling hills of a vineyard - basically anywhere we feel removed from the mundane normalcy of our own daily lives.
X.Pace, a Sydney/Singapore-based design studio is on the verge of helping us redefine the ultimate lifestyle solution - the highly luxurious Hingarae residences and resort located in Lake Taupo on New Zealand's north island. Hingarae embodies everything one would expect from 6 star standards - the ideal balance of extreme luxury, privacy and ultra-modern built form set upon a pristine natural environment.
The development will offer twenty eight opportunities to own a fully-furnished Hingarae Module. Each individual Module is 200 square metres set carefully within 1 hectare of natural landscape. Oversized glazing allows uninterrupted views to the surrounding forest, green countryside, snow-capped mountains and crystal blue lake. The interior design is equally rewarding offering an exceptional imported blend of modern and futuristic furniture. The main living space sits on a revolving disc floor that allows orientation toward the exterior or the LCD screen.
Numerous additions to Hingarae Module ownership include an electric car for all on-site traveling, personal use of Hingarae's premium luxury 4WD vehicles for off-site travel, access to on-call helicopter, on-going membership to Jack Nicklaus' Kinloch Golf Club, ongoing winter season's pass to Mount Ruapehu's Whakapapa (New Zealand's largest ski area), shared use of Hingarae's motor launch and unlimited access to the 6 Star Hotel Hingarae and all its facilities including a recording studio. Hingarae also fully manages and maintains each Module and its individual acreage.
Nearly every aspect of a superior style of living has been taken into consideration during the conception and development phases of Hingarae. Unlike anything in the world, this New Zealand destination will soon embody the ultimate expression of escape for those of us able to get in - as prices start from US$1.9 million. As for the rest of us, we can always hope for an invitation from a generous friend. By Andrew J Wiener.
The bucolic setting of this lovely private refuge is located in the tiny hamlet of Bachte-Maria-Leerne in the Flemish district of Belgium, about 10 kilometers from the country’s third-largest city of Gent. Gent-based architecture studio Wim Goes Architectuur designed the beautiful extension to this residence. The wooden addition sits above a new wine cellar and extends partly over the pond.
The natural, graying wood, the green vegetation and the blue sky and pond create a harmonious balance, accented by the slim vertical lines of the largest surfaces. Goes’s signature style combines intentional, unpretentious simplicity with functional clarity, and results in stark beauty with Japanese-Finnish undertones.
In this residential structure, Goes created an elegant facade that encompasses both visual and structural grace. The facade is created from slim strips of wood (only 6 x 8 centimeters in cross-section) selected for the straightness of the growth rings in each piece of wood. And although the wood will still warp slightly in the rain and sun, this does not pose a structural problem because the facade does not need to bear wind load -- the wind will blow right through the strips. The only structural load the wood strips must carry is the vertical load of the roof.
Wim Goes is an award-winning architect, born in 1969 in Ghent. He established Wim Goes Architectuur in 1997. The firm’s work includes private, public and retail projects, ranging from the stunning Yohji Yamamoto flagship store in a neoclassic building in Antwerp, to museum, office and design environments. This year, he was chosen as one of the 40 under 40 European Architects by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. - Tuija Seipell.
Tokyo-based architect, Shin Ohori, and his firm General Design Co, have recently completed a beautiful private weekend residence in the mountains at Kawakami-mura, Minamisaku-gun, Nagano.
Ohori designed the recreational property, titled Mountain Research, for his friend, fashion designer Setsumasa Kobayashi, who also owns Tokyo’s Cow Books (also designed by Ohori.)
And that explains the odd name for the retreat. Setsumasa’s fashion line used to be called General Research but it is now known as .......Research, with the dots being a placeholder for the defining word of each season’s collection. The Spring 2009 collection was called Mountain Research, and its namesake mountain hideaway is the place where Setsumasa and team dream up most of the brand’s fashion ideas.
Life takes place mostly outdoors at the Mountain Research. The various functions — kitchen, storage, bath, wood shelter — are located in nearly separate, simple structures, all resting on a multi-level platform. The material of the structures is local pine, and the owner hopes that the buildings will eventually biodegrade into the mountain soil and return to nature’s endless cycle of re-creation.
The one stark exception to this woody serenity are the two permanent, bright yellow sleeping tents (made by North Face), located atop of the building. The entire retreat has a feel of a casual, classy and unpretentious camp that has all of the conveniences of modern life. A perfect environment for a creative brainstorm. - Tuija Seipell
It is fitting that the 70-year-old Frank Gehry ended up re-envisioning the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) for his native city of Toronto. As a boy, Gehry visited the AGO often, and the effect of those visits on him and his future career was important. Gehry has lived most of his life in the U.S., but the AGO remake allows Toronto to reap some of the benefits of his massive talent before it’s all too late.
One of Gehry’s early sources of career inspiration was the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), known as the father of Scandinavian modernism. The influence of Aalto’s love of gently curving light-color wood, and his clean and airy architectural lines, can be sensed at the newly refurbished AGO. Whether or not Gehry thought of Aalto when he designed the spiraling plywood-faced staircase for the main entry hall is irrelevant, but the feel of the space is decidedly Aalto-esque. To those of us who love the work of both architects, the newly transfigured AGO is simply fabulous. - Tuija Seipell
Vitra Haus, the new home of Vitra's Home Collection, has been covered widely by design media, and not in vain. It is a beautiful example of Jacques Herzog's and Pierre de Meuron's ability to take the ubiquitous stacked-houses concept and still make it look new, interesting and inviting.
Reaching five storeys in height and containing 12 separate houses, Vitra House is geared toward the general public, design-aware consumers who will appreciate the building as well as the Vitra products inside. The entire contraption appears both grandiose and intimate at the same time, with the gray exterior disguising the disheveled heap within the site, while the open glass-walled ends and stark, white interiors facilitate the presentation of residential-scale displays.
Vitra House is the latest addition to the ever-expanding Vitra Campus that started as an industrial park with the manufacturing facilities. Now the Vitra Design Museum--Frank Gehry's first European building opened in 1989 -- the Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando (1993) and the Fire Station by Zaha Hadid (1993) already provide magnificent visual attraction. Vitra Haus and a new circular manufacturing facility by Kazuyo Sejima/SANAA are this year's entrants to the site.
Weil am Rhein is a German town and a community that is a suburb of the Swiss city of Basel in Switzerland. Weil am Rhein is located by the River Rhine, close to the meeting point of the Swiss, German and French borders. The Vitra Design Museum is the town's biggest draw.
The Basel-based architecture firm Herzog and Meuron was established in 1978 by Jacques Herzog (born 19 April 1950), and Pierre de Meuron (born 8 May 1950). It is known for many prominent international commissions, including the Beijing Olympics' "Bird's Nest." - Tuija Seipell
This may not be your idea of a home but it is bold and fun, and it has certainly attracted wide media attention. The 8,500 square-foot Casa Son Vida is a cooperation between three powerhouses: Luxury residential developer Cosmopolitan Estates, eclectic Dutch designer and founder of Mooi, Marcel Wanders,, and award-winning Los Angeles, Switzerland and Hong Kong-based tecARCHITECTURE.
Casa Son Vida is located in the Balearic Islands off Spain, on the Island of Mallorca, where humans have lived since 6000–4000 BC and where more recently, tourists have over-crowded every beach. But Casa Son Vida avoids the touristy kitsch and aims much higher. It is in the exclusive Son Vida community, just 15 minutes from the capital of Palma.
Casa Son Vida is in fact a reno of a 1960s Mediterranean villa, but it has been turned into an fantastic, sprawling luxury residence, designed to attract the young, discerning and bold, who are confident and design-savvy enough to know what they are looking at.
The handiwork of Marcel Wanders is evident everywhere in the Casa that looks a bit like an unruly movie set with its dino-bone exterior staircase, and various bits and pieces that remind you of Tomorrowland, Mickey Mouse, Finding Nemo and, of course, Alice in Wonderland.
With its retro synthetic vibe, the house clashes happily with its lush surroundings, but the interior, in its white-dominant serenity is much less startling, although fun and unexpected detail is found in every space. There is absolutely nothing ordinary in this house. Everything is customized, every aspect considered a million times. It is a great example or considered chaos.
This is the first of six villas planned for the Platinum Estates development by the just less than a year-old Cosmopolitan Estates. The eclectic plans for the remaining villas reveal a series of large residences, radically different from each other. Casa Son Vida is currently not for sale but the other five are. Dream on. Tuija Seipell
A skillfully created illusion of scale and mass allows this large residence and office settle in its stark environment on the Swiss banks of Lake Geneva, off the Route de Lausanne.
Cape Town, South Africa-based SAOTA -- Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects designed this residence for a prestigious African client. The interior was created by SAOTA’s interior design and decor division, Antoni Associates. The project was completed in January 2010.
The demanding triangular, sloping site inspired a stunning design. The dramatic main house features rounded cubes and triangular masses that form an L-shaped living space. The impressive compound’s two buildings are linked underground by a spa, sauna, pool, garages, office and cinema. Jerusalem marble on all floors ties together the interior spaces while feature walls of marble, stainless steel and glass characterize specific rooms.
The sweeping and expansive interiors open up to a variety of outdoor spaces. Intimate and grand exist in harmony as both the interior and exterior exude calm and cool. There’s a sense of luxurious leisure and a connection between inside and outside that is part of the Afro-European aesthetic SAOTA understands so well.
SAOTA is a well-established architectural partnership of South African architects Stefan Antoni, Philip Olmesdahl and Greg Truen. Their international and local projects are characterized by understated luxury and airy clarity.
The company’s interior design arm, Antoni Associates, is led by Mark Rielly and Vanessa Weissenstein, and associates Ashleigh Gilmore and Jon Case. Antoni Associates creates exclusive interiors in South Africa and internationally in cities such as Paris, Moscow, London and Geneva. - Tuija Seipell
Not your typical weekend cottage, LM Guest House in Dutchess County, New York, is a study in minimalist elegance. The 2,000 square-foot (approx. 187 Square meter) house was designed by New York-based Desai/Chia Architects on the private client’s working farm that had no existing buildings.
What must have been a rather sizeable budget gave Desai/Chia Architects’ founders, husband and wife Arjun Desai and Katherine Chia, an opportunity to create an updated interpretation of the iconic Farnsworth House, that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe completed in 1951 in Illinois.
Although Farnsworth House was considered by some at the time to be cold and characterless, an aquarium or a pavilion rather than a dwelling, it has held its place steadily as a superior example of understated sophistication and as a timeless expression of van der Rohe’s desire to create balance and discourse between the indoors and the outdoors.
Similarly, the LM Guest House allows the residents an expansive view of the landscape by framing it with the triple-pane glass windows that are 20 feet wide and more than 10 feet high.
And although the LM Guest House is deceptively simple in appearance, it is a marvel of engineering and sustainable features. Geothermal heating and cooling, radiant floors, natural ventilation, motorized solar shades, photovoltaic panels and rainwater harvesting for irrigation, are just some of the examples of how this modern retreat attempts to fit in with the surrounding nature rather than conquer or harm it.
The property’s landscaping follows the same philosophy. Native plants frame the views and provide privacy while also managing storm water run-off. The bluestone slabs excavated from the site are used in the outdoor seating, pathways and terrace. Indoors, in addition to glass, the main materials include American white oak that is used for sliding panels, floors, ceilings and built-in furniture. - Tuija Seipell
This six-floor, 15,500-square-foot warehouse built in 1915 in TriBeCa does not match everyone’s idea of a perfect family home. Mixed Greens gallery owner Paige West, her husband and their three sons thought otherwise. They summoned their many-time design magician Ghislaine Viñas to create their most imaginative project yet while Peter Guthrie handled the renovation of the actual structure.
This is the kind of home where you imagine Willy Wonka to live, or some other out-there character who throws crazy dinner parties that are talked about months afterwards. West’s family occupies the top four floors that are capped by a green roof. The lower two levels are taken up by a guest duplex that is not your typical guest house either. It includes, among other surprises, a two-storey climbing wall.
The old frame has been restored in a subdued style leaving a suitable background a lots of room for the wild interiors. Most of the time, one is not quite sure what one is looking at. It is a delightful, colourful and slightly mad mix of styles, colours, art and props, reminding us of a few hotels - including Hotel Fox in Copenhagen - where each room is decorated by a different artist.
A chandelier made of ping-pong balls, a self portrait by chocolate artist Vik Muniz and a pair of sheep sculptures grazing on a fuzzy green carpet are just some of the crazy details in this home, that according to the designer and owners, was also designed to be easy to care for and live in for a family with young kids. One thing is certain; the kids will not describe their home as ordinary or boring. - Tuija Seipell.
We have all seen more than enough of the stacked-boxes genre of architecture. Boring, cold, uninviting, uninhabitable and so last decade.
Yet, once in a while, a set of images crosses our desks of a project that could potentially fall into the has-been category but doesn’t, and instead makes us look again and ponder the beauty of great architecture.
This is the case with Casa Fez, a new house in Porto, Portugal, designed by architect Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira. The architect calls it “the work of my life” as it is a residence he created for himself. “This project and everything behind it was a huge challenge,” he told TCH. “I needed a lot of willpower and courage -- even more than when I decided to become an architect. I try sew up objectives, interests and goals. I followed an ideal and I finally achieved my dream.”
From some angles, we see glimpses of Tomorrowland, but we are willing to overlook that because from so many other viewpoints, the statuesque poise of the structure and the stark clarity of lines brings back memories of Alvar Aalto. One can almost imagine this house in the birch forests of Finland.
With this residence, Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira aimed to “achieve a new kind of romanticism” and he continued this artistic thought throughout.
The architect started planning his dream house in 2004 and the construction was finally finished earlier this year. He did absolutely everything himself – not just planning, coordinating and supervising the construction but also creating the interiors and the tiniest of details, including the doors and doorknobs, hand rails, furnishings, lighting, furniture and even some paintings. Mixed with the new pieces are historical and timeless pieces inherited from the family and perfect for this environment.
Architect Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira, who was born in 1962 in Porto, graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Escola do Porto in 1994. He has an impressive pedigree that includes touches of Finland, which perhaps explains the Aalto-like feel of this house.
He is the son of one of the best-known Portuguese architects, Álvaro Siza Vieira, winner of the 1992 Pritzker Prize and the 1988 Alvar Aalto Medal, among many other accolades.
Father and son collaborated in the creation of their competition entry for the Museum of Contemporary Art, KIASMA, in Helsinki in 1992 (won by American architect Steven Holl.)
The son Álvaro Leite Siza Vieira is best known for his Casa Tolo in northern Portugal, a residence that cascades down a steep hill like a clunky staircase fit for a giant.
For this latest residence, his own dream-come-true, he has conjured up a tranquil sense of sculptural beauty.
The white structure, sitting on a non-descript site, draws you inside where magnificent, bold ceiling details assist in creating a sense of wonder and interest.
Natural light, wooden floors, unadorned windows all add up to a simplicity that resembles a gallery, museum or concert hall.Casa Fez does not pretend to be a cozy home, but is instead a statement residence that fits the owner’s’ lifestyle – and is perfect for him. - Tuija Seipell.
This residence was completed in January this year, yet it exudes a classic, modernist elegance that will ensure it will look just as timeless 50 years from now. Located in Buenos Aires, the “L House” by architect Mathias Klotz and associate architect Edgar Minond is the main residence of a small family.
Although this could be categorized as yet another grouping of concrete boxes representing the tiresome trend that just does not seem to want to die, this residence avoids all of the pitfalls most of such houses fall into.
In contrast to the stacked-concrete-boxes syndrome, not one section of this residence sticks out over anything, nor jut in an odd angle. No vanity ideas, no statement characteristics, no ego trip.
The house looks unpretentious and serene. All of its parts belong together and, loveliest of all, the structure appears to have sat on the site for some time. Simply put, it belongs. It all works.
European modernist sensitivities are apparent both inside and out. The use of wood, glass, steel, concrete and travertine limestone creates a coherent composition of materials and allows light and shadow to complete the decorative touches.
Without being too severe or controlled, this residence is composed of order. Some angles offer a Japanese or Scandinavian vista, as the indoor and outdoor spaces interact harmoniously.
This kind of simplicity is difficult to achieve and therefore it is so rare.
The architect, Mathias Klotz, was born in Viña del Mar, Chile, in 1965. He is one of Chile’s best known architects whose work includes private residences, hospitality and public buildings. In 2001, he received the Borromini Prize for Altamira School in Santiago de Chile. - Tuija Seipell
The excellent photography of this residence is by Roland Halbe of Stuttgart, Germany given to TCH exclusively.
This residence in the Pavilniai Regional Park, near the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, is one of those that we just have to point out, although it is neither brand-new nor unfamiliar to many readers.
The confident combination of history and modern needs of an upscale family was achieved by the architectural firm G. Natkevicius & Partners.
Located by in the valley of river Vilnia that gave the city its name, the park and the city have a rich history with the oldest written records dating back to 1323. The Puckoriu escarpment in the park has rare rock formations from the Ice Age. A large munitions factory on the site dates back to the 17th century.
It seems that in Vilnius private residents can buy pieces of such storied land, and when the current owner of the site - a banker and collector of antique books - bought it, a single bright-yellow building stood on it. On further examination, the owners found out that the building was part of the cannon foundry and it was built of valuable, historic Vilnius-made bricks.
The yellow house itself was not as big as the four-member family wanted their home to be, so they decided to build their new home of glass and erect it around the historic brick house. The exposed brick adds a tactile sexy feel and softens the potentially cold atmosphere of the glass structure. A sensuous curved opening, cut for the staircase that is outside the brick house, adds another focal point that works beautifully with the square elements around it.
The owners' antique library is now in the basement of the old brick house, the kids' rooms are on the ground floor, the master bedroom on the top floor. The other functions - living, dining, cooking, baths, garages - are all within the new glass structure. As a stunning bonus to the historically sensitive solution, the residents enjoy an amazing 360-degree view of the park. Sigh. - Tuija Seipell
Much architectural jargon has been lavished on this Tribeca warehouse loft renovation but we just like the look of the cool, dynamic, elongated space.
This is not exactly a cozy home but its brutalist strength fits an old Manhattan warehouse well.
The Inverted Warehouse Townhouse has received numerous U.S. awards. It is the creation of Dean-Wolf Architects of New York, where architect Charles Wolf and designer Eunjeong Seong were in charge of the project.
We like the visible stairs that create a sense of lift and movement upward. We like the large surfaces of brick, steel and glass. We like the visibility between floors and from space to space that solves the potential problem of dark boxy rooms inside a windowless warehouse.
It is an impressive conversion of a loft (of 10,500 square feet) within a vast warehouse that covers the entire lot, leaving no room for outside space, garden or patio.
The main achievements of Dean-Wolf's work are cutting the roof open to let the natural light in and then using glass panels to let it shine into the dark centre of the expansive structure.
By doing this, they also created "outdoor" space inside, making the residence feel like it has a courtyard. They also created a large garden deck off the main living room.
To open up the key areas of the residence to this natural light, the main entry, via an elevator, is now on the fifth floor where public spaces and the bedrooms, playrooms and study are located. In a more typical townhouse, this "parlor" floor would be accessed through the front steps of the building. - Tuija Seipell
Over the past seven years, at our creative agency, Access, we have worked with a number of residential and commercial property developers from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, helping them with development and strategy.
Yet we see so often the sad sight of yet another mediocre building going up. We see city councils approving mediocre design and we see cities looking uglier because of it. We see property developers rushing to get their building up, wanting to make a quick sale and profit, and not really caring or thinking about the aesthetics of the building.
Does the building enhance the surrounding area or make it worse? Will the building still look great 10, 15 or 20 years from now? Will it become an iconic landmark and a beloved site, or will it become a dated gimmick?
What will the resale value be down the track? Will anyone want to live in or buy property like it?
Property developers — and city councils — need to wake up and realize their influence on the cityscape and take that role seriously. This is the case not just for residential development — the same applies to office buildings, hotels and all public buildings in general.
As a developer and as a city council, do you want to be known as an organization that values and understands design and creates iconic developments? Or will you be known as the ones who created eyesores, or worse, caused a devaluation of an entire area or neighborhood?
The aesthetic of a building should be the Number One priority. There is not much point in creating and promoting beautiful interiors when the exterior tells a different story. The whole building should tell a cohesive story.
So many developers do not see the value, or even think about the aesthetics of the car park, for example. Would it hurt to splash some colour and graphic design on the concrete? Would it hurt to make the lifts and foyer more like those of a great hotel and less like a jail or a warehouse?
What amenities does the building provide? Is there a café, a library, a car wash? Engage us and wow us to the point that we cannot wait to sign on the bottom line! Excite us enough that when you go to market, so much buzz has been created that the units sell in 24 hours and at the price you asked for.
If a building is desirable and unique, and offers something truly beautiful, trust us, consumers WILL buy. It’s a no brainer, yet so many buildings keep going up that do the absolute minimum. They may tick off a few boxes and get the interior right, but not the rest. It’s not enough.
Every day, I am inundated with material from PR people and developers about new projects. Literally hundreds of submissions a day. So, over the past seven years, I have seen everything. And believe me, so have consumers.
Your potential buyers, the couples and the mums and dads and even grandparents are design conscious these days. The internet has opened everyone’s eyes to what is possible. People browse sites all over the globe, they learn, they engage in design. Design is no longer a closed shop. It is everyone’s.
Kids growing up now understand that design plays a crucial role in everything they consume, from the car they buy to the clothes they wear, to the headphones they listen to, to the cookware they cook, to the hotels they stay.
My advice to developers and city councils: Save yourself a lot of money, time and headache, and get it right the first time! Take design seriously now and you will be glad you did. - Bill Tikos
The stark honesty of Hiroshima-born and -based 38-year-old architect Keisuke Maeda’s work is breathtaking.
The Pit House residence he designed for a client in Okayama, Japan, is a startling steel-structured 138 square-meter (1487 sq.ft.) “cave” that was built into the hillside site, yet it allows the residents 360-degree views of the surrounding area and its buildings.
This is achieved by mounting the above-the-surface part of the structure on 50 branch-like poles, creating a surround skylight for the amphitheater inside.
The Pit is one of those residences that one would absolutely want to visit, not just during the day but at night. There is an observatory-like feel to the space, yet the inside looks completely comfortable.
The structure’s boxy surface silhouette hides beautiful, snail-like curving walls, and in spite of being mostly underground, the residence is filled with light and openness.
Pit is definitely not the word we’d use to describe this wonderful structure, but perhaps that name is part of that honesty we so love about Maeda. - Tuija Seipell
Located in Bellevue Hill, one of the most affluent suburbs of Sydney, this elegantly renovated residence merges the heritage of the building with contemporary minimalism in a way that is not easy to achieve.
Sydney-based Luigi Rosselli Architects in charge of re-imagining the Victorian bones of the building. They have done it lovingly by adding a new wing that includes a kitchen and family room on the ground floor and a study and staff quarters above it.
What we like especially is the eye-catching new three-storey staircase that links the old and new segments. It seems like a perfect signature of the bygone period yet manages to look completely cool and modern.
We also love the whitewashed walls, the wide oak floorboards and the elegant use of marble in the bathroom. The cool lighting installation (by Lindsey Adelman) above the staircase, and the cozy yet roomy vaulted-ceilinged attic are both features that respect the old structure but in a fresh manner.
In these images, it is also tough to ignore the lovely display furnishings brought together by Alexandra Donohoe of Decus (also of Sydney).
During the renovation, the building’s heating system was also completely overhauled and it now operates a geothermal air conditioning and heating system. - Tuija Seipell
Photographer: Justin Alexander
We love order and minimalism in buildings. New, freshly planned, pristine and perfect are great attributes for new structures, yet we also find ourselves drawn to things that aren’t so flawless. Recycled, repurposed, previously loved, salvaged. Buildings that have a previous life carry a character that brand-new ones just cannot master.
When old structures are preserved and lovingly restored, we gain in so many ways. Not only do we preserve materials that would otherwise end up in the waste stream, we also respect the heritage of each building, and add to the character of the surrounding area. Sadly, restoring the old is often more costly than building anew, yet we believe that more and more people and companies will continue to do it.
We see combinations of materials that would probably not end up side by side if the opportunity to do something radical didn’t present itself in the often impossibly complex demands of creating livable space from the old and unlivable.
We see solutions to gain more space – add height, increase the number of rooms, expand the footprint - that would never be used in a new structure. Creative ideas that do not really follow any known rules of style, yet produce a unique, cool style of its own.
Combining existing structures with a linking new segment is also gaining popularity. The resulting combos are often unexpected, fun and practical as well.
Often, there is a need to add light – larger windows and more openness in general – to older structures that have tiny openings due to the cost of (or unavailability) of window glass, or the cost and labour-intensity of heating.
In some cases, a new superstructure combines a disparate group of existing buildings and makes the entire cluster seem coherent and cosy.
Mimicking or echoing, yet distinctly differing from existing materials, colours, shapes and styles forms is also an elegant way to create a harmonious and elegant new style.
And, then of course, there are the rather mad, but delightfully so, mix-and-match ideas that make a point of not trying to fit in.
Whatever the result, we will be keeping an eye on these New Again structures because we know it is a trend that will keep growing. - Tuija Seipell
If you have seen cool examples of this, please let us know.
Image 1 - Refurbishment of west tower in Huesca City, Spain
Image 2 - Shoreham Street, Sheffield, UK
Image 3 - Brighton College, UK
Image 4 - Health Centre for Elderly People
Image 5 - Casa He - Italy
Image 6 & 7 - Convent of Sant Francesc in Santpedor, Spain.
Image 8 & 9 - Wolzak Farmhouse
Not only is this Bernardo Bader designed private home beautiful and elegant in its deceptive simplicity, it is also a great example of how to use resources to their fullest. Haus am Moor is a private residence with an attached studio, located in Krumbach area of Lower Austria.
For some of us, the exterior of the house brings back images of Scandinavian barns in their hulking, windowless, untreated beauty that weathers perfectly in the harsh climate till the barns appear to be part of the landscape.
Bader took some of his cues from the traditional stone-and-wood –structured Bregenzerwald house that also speak a minimalist visual language and use local materials beautifully.
For Haus am Moor Bader and his team used a concrete core and wood from the owner’s own forest. Every part of the the 60 spruce, fir and elm trees was used to construct walls, floors, ceilings, doors and furniture. During the construction, the building team unearthed clay in the depth of one meter. This clay was pressed to form bricks that were air dried on-site and used for the floor structure under the wood slats.
The house is heated with the central wood-burning hearth, and with geothermal heat pump.
Of course, we love the overall minimalist approach evident throughout the house both inside and out. But what we love specifically is the way daylight plays among the wooden slats, and the way the lit windows glow at night. Beautiful. Tuija Seipell
The Cool House, the first ever pop-up concept created and curated by The Cool Hunter (TCH), was an unprecedented run-away success at Pacific Bondi Beach (10 days), Sydney, and at Rockeby Studios, Melbourne (4 days). See also our new online store just launched.
Close to 10,000 people attended both events. Media attention, both online and off, and the overall reaction of the public – both in person and online – was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.
To take advantage of the momentum and to realize the incredible HOUSE potential of The Cool HOUSE concept, TCH will now take this concept to the next level.
TCH will create two temporary pre-fab houses, designed by an Australian architect and an Australian interior designer – selected though an invited architecture competition – and located in yet-to-be-determined unusual and unexpected urban locations, such as a lane way in Melbourne and a spot in Surry Hills in Sydney.
Each house will be open for 3-6 months and celebrate a selection of items and their designers. The space will be personally curated by TCH, and include the most desirable and most covetable furniture and designer accessories for the home including fashion.
New global designer destination:
The Cool House will create an exciting new designer “destination” and draw attention to Australian architecture and design.
The global media attention for this exclusive concept will be unprecedented in part due to the unequalled reach of TheCoolHunter.net blog of more than 2 million monthly readers plus other social media outlets (Instagram 225,000 followers, twitter 289,000 followers, plus 210,000 readers-strong newsletter subscribers. The partners involved in this concept will together reap the benefits of their collective marketing power.
For brands and marketing opportunities, contact Sharyn Honey Lowe at Flaunt Marketing: [email protected]
It helps to have a strong understanding of dramatic interiors when tackling the potentially intimidating task of restoring a massive, 17th century Amsterdam canal residence AND re-imagining it as a functioning modern residence for a busy, fun- and art-loving four-member family.
Interior architects Sigrid van Kleef (38) and René van der Leest (40) of Amsterdam’s Studio R U I M had what it took to strike that seemingly impossible balance: Their background in theatre and opera set and costume design, as well as in restoration and interior design of contemporary homes.
Their priority was to respect and celebrate the heritage and character of the Herengracht canal house built originally in 1666 for a successful Amsterdam merchant, Abraham Muyssart.
Equally important was to not make the residence feel like a museum but instead, allow it to express the current residents’ own lifestyle and interests, of which photography was a significant one.
The resulting 400 square-meter home includes three living rooms, five bedrooms, two kitchens, two bathrooms and a 200 square meter garden.
One of our favourite features is the massive, black ornamental steel frame in the living room ceiling. It speaks the visual language of centuries-old mouldings yet makes a bold contemporary statement and creates a lovely contrast to the daintier visual elements in the space.
We love the use of wood: panelling, staircases, exposed in ceilings and in framing. The kitchen is a particularly cool combination of traditional and modern. The walls are dominated by vast restored paintings depicting views of the river Vecht and framed in their original wood frames.
Countering this are the super-modern counters, bench and especially the custom-designed (by Studio RUIM) industrial-scale copper light fixtures.
All this juxtaposing is a demanding balancing act but RUIM has managed to tie it all together with a bold sense of drama, yet they have also induced a feeling of fun, lightness, serenity and comfort avoiding the trying-too-hard, melodramatic solutions that would have been easier and predictable. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Daniel Nicolas
The Cool House, the first ever pop-up concept created and curated by The Cool Hunter (TCH), was an unprecedented run-away success at Pacific Bondi Beach(10 days), Sydney, Australia and at Rockeby Studios, Melbourne (4 days).
Close to 10,000 people attended both events. Media attention, both online and off, and the overall reaction of the public – both in person and online – was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.
To take advantage of the momentum and to realize the incredible HOUSE potential of The Cool HOUSE concept, TCH will now take this concept to the next level.
TCH will create a temporary pre-fab house, designed by an American architect and an American interior designer – selected though an invited architecture competition – and located in yet-to-be-determined spot in New York City.
The house will be open for 2/3 months and celebrate a selection of items and their designers. The space will be personally curated by TCH, and include the most desirable and most covetable furniture and designer accessories for the home including fashion.
New global designer destination:
The Cool House will create an exciting new designer “destination” and draw attention to American architecture and design.
The global media attention for this exclusive concept will be unprecedented in part due to the unequalled reach of TheCoolHunter.net blog of more than 2 million monthly readers plus other social media outlets (Instagram 240,000 followers, twitter 294,000 followers, plus 210,000 readers-strong newsletter subscribers. The partners involved in this concept will together reap the benefits of their collective marketing power.
For, developers, brands and marketing opportunities, contact us here.
Imagine the renovation dilemmas. A huge penthouse of a converted 1930s office building in TriBeCa, New York, is to be turned into a functioning home for a family with three teenagers.
In fact, we can not quite imagine the issues that faced Steven Harris Architects when the family showed up, literally, at the doorstep of the celebrated architect and asked if he’d like to work on their home. Harris said yes and proceeded to make his magic.
The scale of the apartment is huge and the freedom from budget constraints allowed for some spectacular solutions.
Harris’s work is often distinguished by clarity and light, by the use of glass, by the maximization of views and, above all, bold solutions. All of those are evident in this project.
What emerged as a result of the TriBeCa Penthouse project, is a multi-level (27th and 28th floors) nearly 8,000 square-foot (743 square meter) family-friendly residence that includes self-contained guest quarters and a new glass-and-teak-beam rooftop pavilion that functions as a recreation room.
The most frequently used areas of the apartment – kitchen, master bedroom, rooftop gym, even the laundry room – have the best views, including those of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and many of the city’s significant landmarks.
The double-height living area on the lower floor boasts an 18-foot high window with the view of the Woolworth Building. The room gained its height by necessity because adding the rooftop pavilion took the condominium conversion over its allowable floor area ratio. The team solved this problem by cutting off part of the lower-level ceiling, thus creating the double-height living area.
Harris’s team replaced the existing 70 double-hung windows with single-panel tilt-and-turn versions, and used glass in dividers and doors where-ever possible. The window panes were limited to 61⁄2 by 91⁄2 feet in size because of the size of the building’s freight elevator.
Early on, when the owners and architect realized they were looking at a substantially dramatic remodeling but the owners did not want to move out of the building, the family bought a couple of other apartments in the same building for temporary residence – and had them renovated before move-in, too. Those two apartments are now for sale.
One of our favourites in this apartment are the stairs. They are made of ¾-inch-thick steel plates wrapped in leather. The stairs appear to float in space and take up almost no visual room yet they are also stunning eye-catchers. Stairway to heaven, indeed, or at least toward it. - Tuija Seipell.
This is what we call breathing room! A room in which one can breathe. Where the sea breeze moves freely. Where the scent of the ocean is ever-present. And the best part? It is not in a deserted island far, far away, but in an urban setting.
This 300-plus year-old house is located in the ancient port city of Jaffa, the oldest part of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality in Israel.
The gorgeous renovation is by the Tel Aviv-based Pitsou Kedem Architects, already well known for their minimalist approach to architecture and design.
The single owner of the house asked the designers to maximize the sea view while keeping the historical feel of the building intact. The project team - Pitsou Kedem, Irene Goldberg and Raz Melamed - has achieved this beautifully.
The residence consists of a 100 square meter (1,076 sq.ft) living area (living, dining and kitchen) plus an additional 80 square meters (861 sq.ft) that includes the master bed room, a study and a guest room.
Our main attraction points in this cool sanctuary are the gorgeous arches, the exposed texture of the old stone, the subdued colour pattern, and the lovely balance between the old and the new. It looks so easy and natural, but it is very tough to achieve such poise.
There is an overall sense of peace and harmony that is a luxury in itself. Breathtakingly lovely. We are seriously envious of the owner. Tuija Seipell
Design team: pitsou kedem, Irene Goldberg, Raz Melamed
Photographer: Amit Geron
We love children’s spaces that celebrate the creativity and freedom of body and mind. This Educational Centre, located in the Kfar Shemaryahu area of Tel Aviv, Israel, surely does that.
The 2,400 square metre (25,833 square-foot) Centre includes six kindergartens for children aged three to six years, a common play area and an empowerment centre, a social services and wellness centre that also provides psychological services for children. Three of the six kindergartens are for the children of foreign residents and diplomats.
Hay’s task was to create a friendly and informal integrated environment where each of the spaces functions as an independent unit.
She created individual colour and design themes for each kindergarten space based on the agricultural history of the Kfar Shemaryahu area.
The kindergartens are named Olive (Zayit), Palm (Tamar) , Pomegranate (Rimon), Wheat (Hita), Fig (Te’ena) and Vine (Gefen).
The large, central lobby area connects the kindergartens and the empowerment centre and functions as a play area with equipment that encourages physical activity and interaction. Wooden tractors, lakes, trees and other equipment refer to the life of an agricultural village.
Our favourite area is the Palm kindergarten with its orange colouring derived from ripe dates, and its motifs referring to palm trees, oasis and camels. The little play huts provide nice cozy privacy and home-like details that encourage creative play. - Tuija Seipell.
Images by Amit Geron
Balance. So difficult achieve as it requires the designer, architect and owner to know just where to stop – what is just enough but not too stark; what is just perfect for the building, for the space and most important, for the residents.
Andy Martin Architects has succeeded in balancing the angular and the circular forms beautifully in this large five-bedroom double-fronted mews residence, Mews 04, in London's Hyde Park.
The biggest alteration Martin competed for this residence was to replace the timber-framed faux Victorian-style conservator form the 80s with a beautiful three-waved, sine-curved glass structure.
The form language of this new conservatory was then elegantly repeated throughout the house allowing maximum natural light into each space and fitting the client’s existing furnishings in with the new and customized pieces.
Bronze, marble and oak are materials that fit perfectly with the classical styling of the residents’ original pieces.
From the rounded topiary at the entrance to the curved marble bath tub, the beautiful curved form brings sophisticated harmony to the entire residence. - Tuija Seipell.
At first glance, the K House designed by Sydney-based Chenchow Little appears slightly dark and brooding. No windows or inviting embellishments, only angular planes of concrete and wooden slats.
But as soon as we see the view from the garden, the dwelling starts to appear like a protective burrow, a safe hideaway, an intriguing living space.
And when we later read about the clients’ brief, we knew the architects had achieved exactly what the client – a privacy-conscious family of two adults and two children – had wished for.
The house is located on the edge of Sydney Harbour (Vaucluse) overlooking the city skyline and the Harbour bridge. The northern edge – and the sun bathed side - of the site faces a public pedestrian walkway. To provide extreme privacy yet allow maximum sun exposure and openness to the views and the rear garden, the architects created a protective masonry shell and built an internal lining of untreated gum timber that will weather over time.
The internal views are light-filled and airy with none of the darkness or broodiness of the first-impression.
The total floor area of the residence (including decks) is 533 square meters (5.735 sq. ft). The site area is 788 square meters (8,250 sq.ft).
In their 10 years in business, Chenchow Little founders, Australians Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little have become known for bold and distinctive residential projects. They are becoming one of our favourites, too. - Tuija Seipell
Wirra Willa is a tiny, tranquil pavilion located in Somersby, NSW, Australia, on an 80-acre property that formerly operated as a citrus fruit orchard.
Designed by architect Matthew Woodward for his father, the pavilion is only 72 square meters (775 sq.ft) in size and it is surrounded by a 36 square meter (387 sq.ft) courtyard.
The villa complements the existing larger residence on the remote property and provides a special, separate place for reflection and rest. It can also be used as a self-contained guest house.
The architect’s inspiration was the Fansworth House designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951. Just as Mies’s famous dwelling appears to be floating above the landscape, Woodward’s pavilion seems to float on the lily pond, creating a scene straight from a Monet painting.
Achieving the appearance of effortless floating became a particularly challenging aspect of this project. To gain the approvals of the local council, the building had to be raised twice during the building process.
The area is flood-prone and the finished floor level had to be half-a-meter above the “1 in 100 year” flood level although there is a dam with two overflow spill ways. In spite of the two forced raises, the structure has retained its feel of floating and the residents can still enjoy the sensation of walking on water.
Our eyes were drawn initially to the clean lines and basic materials - steel, concrete, glass, sandstone – with wood the dominant feature. Complexity is easy, but elegant, functional minimalism requires restraint and tact, both evident in this lovely villa.
We can imagine – and envy – the guests loving the relaxed, cool feeling of waking up in this pavilion, with the warm morning breeze gently shifting the white drapes. - Tuija Seipell
We are not quite sure how long we can stand feeling this envious but, for now, our envy is directed sharply at the owners of the gorgeous 500-square-meter (5,382 sq.ft) Parisian property, recently overhauled by designer François Champsaur.
The Marseilles-born, Paris-based designer was faced with a double challenge. The family has owned this apartment for generations, yet Champsaur’s brief was to make it “unrecognisable,” as he is quoted as saying in a magazine article.
Also, the apartment is located in the Trocadéro neighbourhood with views of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, and it carries a historical weight as a representative of an era. Champsaur did not want to destroy these historical underpinnings in the process.
Like the proverbial sculptor, he removed everything that wasn’t the apartment, including walls, false ceilings, doors and staircases. Narrow corridors, thick walls, heavy doors and dark corners disappeared.
The beautiful, U-shaped open space circling an inner courtyard was then carefully outfitted with just the right replacements: Light-weight walls and partitions, open sight-lines, minimal colour, custom-designed furnishings and lighting.
The cool old-world feel comes from the white framework, and of course, the view. You have no doubt your are in a storied, fabulously aging, historical space, but it is also a decidedly and classically modern luxury home.
Champsaur even convinced the owners to heed the call of their almost-empty-vessel surroundings. Used to living among numerous valuable and ornate objects in every room, the owners now agreed to select only key pieces that give just the right touch of decoration, tradition and opulence.
Many of the pieces of furniture, such as the Mars chairs by Konstantin Grcic for ClassiCon, are also sculptural and demand visual scarcity around them. One of our Our favourites is the green leather banquette seating designed by François Champsaur. We also love the undulating dividers made of both wood panels and wood slats and strategically placed to emphasize not so much the division but the unity of the spaces. - Tuija Seipell.
If we had only one word to describe this residence, we’d use harmony. If we’d have just two, we’d use harmony and elegance. Luckily, we can use many more, and timeless is a third word that comes to mind immediately.
Architects Geert Bosch and Annemariken Hilberlink of Berlicum, Netherlands-based HILBERINKBOSCH architects designed this timeless gem for a couple whose children have already left the house.
The villa is located in Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht.
The key to the harmonious elegance of the house is the way it sits on its site. The pine-forested site has a height difference of six meters – a unique feature in the predominantly flat Dutch landscape. As requested by the clients, the architects took full advantage of the location.
As a result, the house appears to have been on this plot for a long time. It belongs here as it responds seamlessly to its surroundings.
The architects pick up even more elegance points through the timeless style of the building itself. Three masters inspired the refined grace: Frank Lloyd Wright for his mastery with natural scenery, Mies van der Rohe for the open and transparent plan, and Peter Zumthor for his brilliance with tactile materials.
The entire colour scheme of the residence stems from the surrounding nature. The dunes inspired the colour of the concrete, and the beige, orange and green hues of pine trees are reflected in the bricks.
The same seamless colour scheme continues indoors where the forest and dunes seem to be just as present as they are outside. The owners love art and theatre, and their home is designed to be a perfect showcase for both. This is true especially in the double-height entrance area.
Let’s add a few more adjectives, just to prove how much we love this villa. Graceful. Chic. Cool. - Tuija Seipell
For someone born in 1977, Mexico-born and educated architect Manuel Cervantes Céspedes has scooped up his fair share of accolades. With his team at CC Arquitectos, he has completed both residential and commercial project that deserve attention.
One residential project in particular, El Mirador, located in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, and completed in 2013, has remained in our minds as an impeccable example of how to create elegant balance.
In this mountaintop residence, the architect and interior designers – as well as the owners – have resisted bravely the temptation to add just that annoying bit of attention-demanding “interest” - a contrasting dash of colour or a contemporary piece of furniture or art in a completely unrelated genre.
We admit that when we first saw the images way back then, we fell in love with the free-ranging horses. Then we admired the use of reclaimed railway ties as logs for the walls and then we were intrigued by the mirror-like pond at the entrance that also functions as a drinking fountain for the horses.
In the end, all of these features are essential parts of the balanced whole: A natural theme that is not disrupted.
There isn’t a single material or colour, inside or out, that breaks the theme, yet the house does not look or feel over-themed or over-designed.
The structure is a combination of steel and wood, and local stone is used extensively throughout.
The residence itself is a one-bedroom plan and takes up only about 550 square meters (5,920 sq.ft) and includes a kitchen and a large family room that connects to the outside terrace.
In El Mirador, Manuel Cervantes Céspedes’s team included José Luis Heredia Alvarez, Rafael Rivera Sanchiz and Javier Claverie. - Tuija Seipell.
Photos © Rafael Gamo
Villa Moos by Lake Constance (Bodensee) at the northern foot of the Alps draws our attention with its building-block appearance and foreboding façade.
And yet, surprisingly, with these almost semi-brutalist intentions, the look of heaviness does not follow.
Instead, there’s a delightful mood of lightness, almost of semi-permanence. It seems as if the entire structure could be a fold-up affair made of exceptionally strong origami paper or very light sheets of card board, ready for packing up and carting elsewhere. But as we know metal and glass are the main components, we must admire the architects’ ability to balance the scales so that the end result is harmonious.
With a sparse set of key ideas, the German architecture firm Biehler Weith Associated has managed to create a rather classy and serene vacation home for the owner whose sleek speed boats and antique race cars fit right in with the cool residence. - Tuija Seipell.
Images by Brigida Gonzalez
Build a massive house made of concrete in the middle of a grove of 130 beautiful protected old oak trees and you have an ugly disaster in your hands.
This scenario sounds likely but it was elegantly avoided in the Oak Pass Main House that Walker Workshop designed for a private client in Beverly Hills, California.
The house sits on a 3.5-acre site at the rim of a canyon, which is why the fantastic views were the main consideration of the house plan.
The ornate oak trees provide a contrast for the hard edges of the low-lying house - a delicate balance not easily achieved.
The use of glass allows for views and vistas over and through the house and makes the mass of the house seem much smaller than it is.
Structural concrete is the main building material as it lets large spans of space to flow into each other without columns or supports.
All of this leads to a calm harmony between the site and the elegant minimalist house.
The 8,000 square-foot (743 sq.m.) single-family residence includes four bedrooms on the lower level beneath the green grassy roof, two kitchens, a dining room, a living room, an office, a 900-bottle wine room, an exercise room, a media room, four bathrooms and a powder room, a foyer and an art gallery courtyard plus a garage.
A 75-foot lap pool with infinity edges on three of four sides, bisects the house.
This large residence is on the same property with the much written-about Oak Pass Guest House that Walker Workshop completed in 2013. - Tuija Seipell.
May we just move in, please? This super-sleek, one-storey residence is rather close to a perfect minimalist house.
It fits in its surroundings and manages to appear like a real home for real people although it also reveals its cool, sophisticated character that reflects the tastes of the owners.
Located in residential suburb, about a 15-minute drive away from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the 264 square-metre (2841 sq.ft.), three- bedroom house centers around an inner courtyard that also has a swimming pool.
The car port merges seamlessly with the overall scheme and does not appear like an add-on. As a clean concrete cell, the car port not just shelters the owner’s retro sports car, but it also creates a display case for it. The shelter works just like a perfect box for the perfect gift; it enhances it but does not compete with it or take anything away from it.
The minimalist general approach, and the low profile and scale, make the structure seem unpretentious and sleek and much smaller than it actually is.
Our eyes are drawn to the elegant use of white as the colour of floors, and even the concrete and gravel outside.
This same educated minimalism is in view also inside the residence, where minimalism is not taken to a painful degree, neither is the harmony broken by arbitrary, and so often meaningless, splashes of colour. Much of the furniture is by Poliform and B&B Italia
Glass, wood and concrete are the main materials used in this house, affectionately called the Piano House. This name comes from the display-like open space around the grand piano. Because the piano is on display in a minimalist setting, it becomes the main character. Or, conversely, one might say that the piano as the main character has dictated the fact that open space is needed around it. The key point here is balance, and knowing what to leave out.
We believe that it is very easy to be complicated, not just in architecture and design in general, but in all creative endeavours. Minimalism is not easy, as we have said on so many occasions, but when it IS executed well, it creates an elegant sense of ease and lightness.
Everything belongs, everything fits together, everything speaks the same, language. Tuija Seipell
We had forgotten how beautiful grey concrete can be until we saw what Ezequiel Farca had done with a 1970s residence in Mexico City.
At the same time, we were also reminded of how much we love Farca’s elegant work in general.
To start with, the Barrancas House in Mexico City had a lot going for it before Farca came along.
It is located on a sloped property so that the four levels of the house, from basement all the way to the top, or second, floor, are all in fact on ground level.
In addition, the site overlooks a great wooded area with grown trees and greenery. The house had good bones that Farca and team members Cristina Grappin and Fernanda de la Mora preserved and then took to a new level of cool, modern comfort.
The 720 square-meter (7,750 sq ft) house is a family residence. Keeping that in mind Farca maximized the exposure to the views and daylight by opening up the rooms with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the woods. He also knocked down interior walls and replaced some with sliding screens and hidden doors and providing bay windows that open fully . All of these give the family members the option of creating specific spaces for their changing needs.
Much of the furniture was also custom-designed by Farca’s team for the Barrancas residence.
The new luxury amenities of the house now include a home theater, a wine cellar, a gym and two large terraces. Our favourite luxury features are the chic long pool on the topmost level and the skillful use of greenery both inside the residence and outside in the new garden.
The landscape was designed with plants that adjust to the local climate, with green roof and green walls, it also has a solar energy system and a automatized water saving system.
Marble, stone and wood dominate the interior, with earthy tones and neutral colours throughout. The interior flows seamlessly together with the exterior and all of that gives the sensation of expanded, unblocked freedom.
Ezequiel Farca and his team have achieved that tough-to-define and even tougher to accomplish harmony where the old and new coexist, where the exterior and interior belong together and where the meticulous design work does not honk its own horn but instead, stays stylishly in the background where it belongs. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Jaime Navarro, Roland Halbe