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The Buisson Residence by Robert M. Gurney

The primary organizational elements for this residence are two “L” shaped brick walls connected by a glass enclosed bridge. Mahogany clad walls combine with the smaller “L” to provide a service volume while glass walls combine with the larger “L” to create the primary living spaces and to provide southern and western views toward the lake. The experience of arrival and the wall are intertwined as the wall establishes a threshold between the pine forest and views toward the lake. Entrance to the house is through the wall and into a space that divides the program of the house into public and private realms.

The entry, living and sleeping spaces are arranged linearly to maximize lake views and to take advantage of the southern exposure. The second floor roof and exterior walls are wrapped in copper with fully glazed east and west walls inset from the ends of the copper volume. The glazed wall at the east end provides an abundant and high source of light into the double height entry hall while the glazing on the west end provides light to two bedrooms and views of the lake. The sloping roof and canted front wall are designed to deflect fierce north wind and shed water from intense storms. The geometric volumes are connected to the landscape both by the views from the interior and accessibility to the outdoors.

Throughout the project detailing is minimal and precise. The spaces are ordered and there is a juxtaposition of solidity and transparency. The rigor of the design, the linear organization of spaces and the continuous presence of the wall provide a sharp and intended contrast to the irregular beauty of the landscape beyond. It is this contrast between an ordered human dimension and an unstructured natural condition that elevates our understanding and appreciation of both.

The Buisson Residence, Virginia, by Robert M. Gurney
Photography by Paul Warchol and Maxwell MacKenzie

Silvertop House by John Lautner

The home was commissioned in 1956 for Kenneth Reiner, who made a small fortune on ladies hair clips and aviation patents. He worked very closely with Lautner to create this house, and Lautner built elements into the home specifically according to Reiner’s specifications; in the event that the equipment didn’t exist to meet those specifications, Reiner would often design and make the necessary piece for Lautner. Some Reiner – designed elements in the home include “lights that pivot into the ceiling, and electrically-controlled skylights.”

The result of all the efforts of the two men was an incredible home, with “faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water; a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that was lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals; a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard; and controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs,” plus a cantilevered driveway, as the LA Times noted in their obituary for Reiner, who passed away in 2011.

Silvertop House, Los Angeles, California, by John Lautner, via: Curbed

Cove 6 by Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects

The site, located on an exposed cliff edge overlooking a rocky peninsula, is perched above a dramatic seascape with spectacular views. The site is 1 of 6 exclusive use areas permitted on this reserve. The place is characterized by its rolling landforms and the dense indigenous vegetation of extraordinary variety. “Great care has been taken to promote the natural attributes of the site with the use of materials to complement the natural colour pallet and textures of the site to provide the least impact both during construction and after completion. The approach has therefore been a pavilion that blends with and does not overpower nature with a cohesive architectural character where it comes to scale, proportion and the articulation of the building form. It is airy, yet firmly anchored into the landscape by means of heavy stone clad walls,” says partner Stefan Antoni.

The location of the site invited large glazed areas and extensive use of outdoor spaces, with each aspect of the house having a private terrace or deck. The open plan linear composition of the interior spaces allows views from every room. To take advantage of the sea and surrounding golf course views and to provide protection from the extreme Cape Coastal climate, the living spaces were designed with South West/North East orientations, resulting in an open flowing space with both uninterrupted sea facing terraces and protected courtyards. This allows the house to ‘live’ on both sides with the main living spaces forming the link between inside and outside. The orientation gives the owners the option of sheltered courtyards on the leeward side in poor weather conditions or the use of extensive terraces on the windward side on sunny and wind free days. The through-views also ensure that one always experiences the sea and adjacent rolling landscapes taking opportunity of the site.

Cove 6, Knyzna, South Africa, by Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects
Photography by SAOTA

Boa Nova Tea House by Alvaro Siza Vieira

Renowned Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza has fully renovated the Boa Nova Tea House in Matosinhos, Portugal, one of his earliest commissions (1963). The refurbished building will open as a restaurant, and outside mealtimes it will be possible to visit with guided tours by the Association Casa da Arquitectura. “One of Siza’s first built projects, it is significant that the restaurant is not far from the town of Matosinhos where the architect grew up, and set in a landscape that he was intimately familiar with. It was still possible in Portugal of the 1960s to make architecture by working in close contact with the site, and this work, much like the Leça Swimming Pools of 1966, is about ‘building the landscape’ of this marginal zone on the Atlantic – through a careful analysis of the weather and tides, existing plant life and rock formations, and the relationship to the avenue and city behind.” says Álvaro Siza.

Boa Nova Tea House, Matosinhos, Portugal, by Alvaro Siza Vieira
Photography by Joao Morgado

Desert Courtyard House by Wendell Burnette Architects

The building site, further down a long private drive, levels out toward the west into an edge condition dominated by an expansive vista – layers and layers of distant mountain ranges – that in the evening seem to epitomize the drama of the Arizona Sunset. Due to the elevation of the site beneath the community’s gaze and the entry gate at the road it became important to us – to recede the house as a deep shadow – into the depth and complexity of the desert floor below.

The plinth was cast in place with one material throughout such that a wall, a floor, a ramp, a step, or a bench could be experienced as part of one contiguous stone. The Verde River eventually connects to the Salt River, which collectively tumbles some of the worlds hardest aggregate through the lowest point of the valley, where along with sand and cement, it is harvested for locally produced concrete. A “highway concrete mix” with oversized 1 ½” aggregate was specifically selected for this project and mixed with a small percentage of the earth pigment – raw umber. We wanted to work the surfaces of the plinth in order to reveal the composite qualities of the material, sand, conglomerate gravel, pebbles, broken stone, in a cement matrix, and consequently a window into the geologic time of this place.

The overall height of the landform follows the design guidelines and therefore the ground at precisely 24’ above natural grade in a segmented monocline that spirals almost imperceptibly up and around and out where the solid mass of the courtyard form opens up to the distant west. In conjunction with this geometry, the outsides of the earth and concrete landform are faceted inward 3 degrees from vertical. The hat required for the earth walls protects the monolithic courtyard form as a contiguous part of a faceted shadow that begins at the outermost edge of the monocline and continues inward toward the inner court where it stops just short of itself inscribing an irregular frame for the sky.

Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona, by Wendell Burnette Architects
Photography by Bill Timmerman

North Sea Apartment by John Pawson

Knokke lies on the easterly extremity of the Belgian coast, close to the Netherlands border. A key challenge for the interior architecture of this apartment on the dunes was to harmonise the potential for expansiveness offered by the raw floor plan with the programmatic requirements of the brief. The layout falls into two main territories: roughly one quarter of the floor area is given over to generous private quarters, incorporating bedroom, dressing area, shower and terrace; with the remainder of the plan left spatially fluid, preserving internal vistas of twenty metres while accommodating the functions of kitchen, dining, living and library.

North Sea Apartment, Knokke, Belgium, by John Pawson, Project Architect
Ben Collins, Mark Treharne, Photography by Pieter-Jan De Pue

The Lujan House by Robert M. Gurney

An eclectic mix of houses, gravel roads ending at the bay and wooded lots provide a nostalgic, informal setting for this new house. In an effort to integrate living spaces with the outdoors while maintaining privacy from Burbage Lane and neighboring houses, the scheme is organized around a centrally located garden. With sixteen foot high ceilings, the eastern volume contains the public living spaces. Continuous clerestory windows assist in providing an abundance of natural light into the space, allowing views to the treetops and sky while minimizing the close proximity of the adjacent houses. A twenty foot wide glass wall slides into a pocket, enhancing the relationship to the outdoors, and provides a sense of living in a garden. The two story western volume is comprised of bedrooms and a small second floor living space. A one story glass link connects the volumes and visually opens to the central garden.

The house was conceived as two simple, flat-roofed volumes, varying in height, intersecting and overlapping a one story circulation space which connects the volumes. The east volume is constructed with cement board, the west volume with corrugated siding and the one story connecting space with the ground face concrete block. The exterior material palette is quiet and subdued. Materials are selected for their expected long term durability, ease of installation and initial cost. The impact of the one story horizontal volume facing the street is intended to reflect the scale of neighboring structures while the narrow two story volumes are oriented perpendicular to the street reducing their apparent scale. This house is designed in strong counterpoint to many of the houses built in the last era of abundant resources, expensive materials, and limitless floor area. The house is not large; it comprises three bedrooms and 2400 square feet. The house is constructed with modest materials that include concrete floors throughout the first floor, oak flooring on the second floor and plastic laminate and oak millwork.

The Lujan House, Ocean View, Delaware, by Robert M. Gurney
Photography by Anice Hoachlander, HD Photo

Espace St-Dominique by Anne Sophie Goneau

The project is to design a condo with an area of 1,600 sq.ft. in Montreal. It is located at the second floor of a 1920’s industrial building on St-Dominique Street. It was previously owned by the Dominion Preserving Company Limited where was produce the famous Habitant canned soups. The mandate was to relocate the kitchen and to add a third bedroom for the couple’s second child. The 10 feet length sofa, with the new gas fireplace, defines the living room. The existing second bedroom has been reduced to create a hallway to access the third bedroom. Adjacent, the bathroom is a continuation of the frosted glass facade; thus, these two rooms have natural light from the living room windows, facing southwest, while preserving privacy. At the entrance, the closed room has been abolished to make way for multifunctional storage cabinets and white soundproof curtain has been installed ahead the principal door. The kitchen, open plan, is an extension of this entrance, where unfolds the dining room. On the ground, the existing solid maple floors were sanded and varnished. The steel structure in the center of the space is bare, expose and fireproof. Only the bathroom have a white epoxy floor finish, matched with sink and faucet. The shower is enclosed by a grey epoxy on all surfaces. A clear glass panel, installed at the end of the shower, accentuates the depth of the space by its reflection.

Espace St-Dominique, Montreal, Canada, by Anne Sophie Goneau
Photography by Adrien Williams

Sunshine Canyon Residence by THA Architecture

The owners of this new residence, a married couple, lost their previous home in a forest fire near Boulder three years ago. After considering the options, they decided to head back into the burn zone, purchasing a steep site located in an area burned in the same fire. While the site sits at an elevation of 7500 feet it is just seven miles from downtown Boulder. The 2200-square-foot house, a simple bar shifted at the point of entry between the garage and main house and skewed at both ends to capture views, hovers above the stark slope of the hillside below. Views are framed under and through the house, at times seeming to bring the distant mountains inside. There are two slotted openings on the north side placed strategically to wash light onto the floor of the main living space and the wall of the master bedroom. A skylight fills the entire hallway to the bedrooms to create a light-filled transition from the living room. The south side of the house is almost completely glazed, allowing the abundant winter sun to passively heat the radiant concrete mass floor. Heat is provided by a geothermal heat pump, while an 8KW PV array offsets the electrical use to bring the house close to net zero energy performance.

Sunshine Canyon Residence, Boulder, Colorado, by THA Architecture
Photography by Jeremy Bittermann

Lomocubes by MPA Architetti

Lomocubes is a new innovative and sophisticated residential project by MPA Architetti, located in Lugano and commissioned by the entrepreneur Alessandro Lo Monaco. Lomocubes is a luxurious and high profile condominium that overlooks the Lugano lakeshores. It is a groundbreaking architectural project that marks a new frontier in residential building construction. Finished in July 2013, Lomocubes synthesizes the best relationship between interior and exterior spaces, giving from the living room of each unit a wonderful view on the lake. A texture-in-motion built with a rigorous and wise use of materials leads to a seductive aesthetic result established on the succession between full and empty spaces, transparency and opacity.

Lomocubes, Lugano, Switzerand, by MPA Architetti

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