Hunters Hill is an attractive, historic peninsula that lies between the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers on the north shore of Sydney Harbour. The suburb, a precursor to the Garden City movement, was subdivided in the 19th century with sandstone mansions and Victorian timber cottages sitting side by side, with large gardens and private parks containing centuries old trees.
It was natural to choose stone and timber to build a new house on the edge of one of these private parks. Sydney sandstone has a slightly yellow hue that darkens and becomes more attractive over time. The timeless materials provide a warm colour palette in an otherwise contemporary construction.
Behind the sandstone walls, huge, double glassed (Skyframe) windows with minimal framing are pocketed out of sight. Post tensioned concrete slabs have been cantilevered with minimal steel post support to cover the main garden terrace. Behind vertical timber shutters, curved glass windows span from floor to ceiling.
Designed for an uncluttered and relaxed family life the house layout is very simple and quite cartesian in plan except for one sinuous wall overhanging the driveway. Every room opens to a terrace or the garden through large glass doors that slide on ball bearings; one can step outside without noticing the thresholds. Additionally, one can move fluidly from the entry to the open plan living space while hardly noticing the floor to ceiling timber door that, when open, is entirely hidden in the wall but when closed completely separates the open plan area from the rest of the house.
All this modern machinery for easy living could end up being sterile and boring without a dark side: take the stairs to the basement and you will find a subterranean level housing a car collection, a home theatre, workshop, and wine cellar.
Sticks & Stones Home, Hunters Hill, NSW, Australia, by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Photography by Edward Birch
The site is remote occupying a spectacular panoramic view location overlooking Cardigan Bay. The clients’ brief was to provide a family home with three bedrooms maximizing the views and unique nature of the location. The clients’ passion for art and sculpture was to be referred to in the design. The house plan is abstracted as a Mondrian inspired painting, which is hung at the heart of the house. The stone remains of a 400 year old cottage were re-used for the new boundary wall offering privacy and textural contrast of the ‘traditional’ juxtaposing ‘the new’. The new house separates from the wall with a glass slot roof, visually suggesting the house delicately “kisses” the wall.
All rooms enjoy a view to the panorama beyond the site as well as intimate views internally visually linking spaces through the floor plans inside to out. Visual links are abundant through the plan via pivot doors which compartment spaces down on their closure. A sliding glass screen opens to the external secluded courtyard into the plan of the living spaces. Two bedrooms have been arranged to provide closure of the plan to the private inner courtyard. The bedrooms are located to act as a retreat away from severe weather conditions.
At first floor is a master bedroom and en-suite. A glazed wall overlooks the sea and coastline. The en-suite bath projects out from the plan for sea and sky views. From the bedroom, further views back across the fields, to the mountains and Criccieth Castle are on offer from the stairwell via glass slot windows.
The new house is a defining and epoch making change to what existed previously. The Local Planning Authority were fully supportive from the pre-planning consultation and duly granted consent by delegated powers. They recognized the rigor of the design and theory which fully complied with current planning policy. Elevations are about framing, layering of materials and solid and void. A steel frame structure and combination of rendered masonry and lightweight timber frame construction allowed for the large expanse openings to be created. The extrusion of the first floor references the maritime theme of coastal observation stations, whilst massing up the approach view of the house set within its own private walled courtyard.
A parking courtyard provides hardscape surfaces with views out onto the large lawned garden area to the sea view. The plan of the house is extruded out to form an external terrace area with a level change of approximately 300mm.
Cefn Castell, Criccieth, United Kingdom, by stephenson STUDIO
Photograph by Andrew Wall photography
A spa with two pools has been completed adjacent to a 1796 mansion in south Sweden. The spa has one indoor pool for wintertime and one outdoor for summer. The outdoor pool sits on a podium, which levels the slope on which the mansion sits. It thus creates a platform from which you have an elevated view over the estate towards the back. Yet, it sits discrete as seen from the approach to the main entrance. The indoor pool is hidden inside the podium so that one pool could be said to sit on top of the other. The two spa areas are each other’s mirrors.
The outside is protruding while the inside is hollowed out. But both share the same patterned concept. Lending inspiration from the Gustavian (Neoclassical) mansion in general and parquet floor patterns from the time in particular, the concept is built on the chevron (French parquet). Wood decking and custom precision laser cut tiles share the same chevron pattern in different scales. Two archetypically house-shaped structures stand, extrusion-like, on the podium next to the outdoor pool. The larger house makes for a roofed outdoor kitchen and dining place. The smaller and narrower house conceals the stairwell down to the indoor spa. The spa harmonises with the mansion in proportions but does not recreate the historic style. House shapes and pattern are contemporary interpretations of classic composition.
The oversized (in comparison with normal parquets) tiles are white which allows them to be coloured turquoise by the depth of the water. Each step down into the pool thus is a deeper hue of turquoise. The water itself is not treated as a transparent ”nothing” but as a visible element and one of the materials on the palette. A material with the added function of beautifully lifting the tile pattern from the bottom of the pool to the surface, refracted and distorted by ripples.
Sauna and showers behind a dark tinted glass wall flank the indoor pool. The tint makes the glass act with more reflection that amplifies the chevron pattern. The whole spa palette is complete with only four materials: Wood, tile, water and glass – the chevron pattern from wood is superimposed on tile, amplified and modulated by water and reflected by glass.
Parquet Patterned Pool and Spa, by Claesson Koivisto Rune
Situated on a steep and technically challenging site, this house captures framed views to large-scale marine traffic in the outer harbour. Movement into the house is carefully choreographed to disguise the considerable elevation change from street to living space- no individual stair run is greater than 1/2 story. Similarly, a split level arrangement allows for generous spaces in the main living levels and a closer connection between upper and main floor. A suspended plunge pool at the main level is a unexpected element 40 feet in the air.
04-SU, West Vancouver, Canada, by Mcleod Bovell Modern Houses
Photography by Ema Peter Photography
FU House, Shunan, Japan, by Kubota Architect Atelier
Photography by Kenji Masunaga
North of the West-Flemish village of Westouter one can find a plot in an open and rural landscape, heavily influenced by the typical agricultural activities in the area. The setting has had a great impact on the design of this single family house, which is solemnly surrounded by a few farms and a group of trees here and there.
The atypical shape of the parcel, together with the not so ideal orientation of the plot have been transformed into remarkable assets for the project. The single-story volume of the building is a consequence of the lack of surrounding buildings. This choice of design has limited the appearance in the surroundings greatly. The cut-off parallel to the border of the plot was used to enhance the synergy between building and nature and made sure the inhabitants have the best possible view on nature at every possible angle.
The living areas are situated at the north of the house. This is also the side were the connection with the surroundings is at its maximum. An intimate inner garden creates a private area for the inhabitants and is a gateway for natural light. This patio is the heart of the house, where life is directed by the ever-changing seasons.
CASWES, by TOOP architectuur
Photography by Tim van de Velde
The house is built on a narrow trapezoid lot, bordering a small green public park with ancient Eucalyptus trees. The clients wanted the park to be seen as a continuation of their own private garden – The house was designed in an “L” shape to wrap around the swimming pool, facing the public park. The longer side of the house (28 meters) contains the living room, the dining area and the kitchen, while the shorter side contains the bedroom. The connection between the two sides is a double space containing the lobby. Vitrines are installed throughout the inner side of the house, enabling a direct connection with the outdoors. Additionally, to provide maximal openness, the vitrines are disconnected from the columns. Glass corners in the living room and bedrooms are free of any constructive elements to allow full access to the garden.
To soften the overall look of the large building so that it feels as if it’s a part of the neighborhood, the house was designed as two separate masses, one on top of the other, with the first floor being shorter than the ground floor, creating a kind of ridge. On this floor are four children’s suits with rooftop balconies. Two suits on each side of the house are connected with a bridge. The bridge goes across the double space of the lobby overlooking the entrance on one side and the swimming pool on the other. The basement has two additional children’s suits facing the well-lit English courtyard and the home theater.
Careful attention was given to the climate and choice of materials. The northern (back) facade is open and coated in Cedar wood, while the southern (front) facade is more enclosed, with electrical vertical louvers that allow for better climate control, with the option to close or open it as they see fit.
LB House, Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel, by Shachar- Rozenfeld architects
Photography by Shai Epstein
The design concept is based on the premise that each room offers a unique experience, while at the same time the spaces create an integrated whole merging with the environment, ensuring a vacation stay in a natural seaside and Mediterranean ambience. The surrounding autochtonous vegetation further contribute to such an atmosphere. The villa’s architecture is presented as a playful white block opened by large glass walls with magnificent vistas and contact with the environment.
House B&R, Sevid, Croatia, by ECOING
Photography by Marko Ercegović, Vojo Bašić
The floating spacial sculpture in the park In a time when there are more questions than answers, more choice than decisions and more opportunities than hours per day, there is a great risk to succumb to haste. The new challenge of our everyday lives today is to omit the unimportant and give the essential more space. To feel connected with nature is an integral part of our lives. It gives us peace and support, space for thoughts and grounding in the hectic pace of our age. Through simple observations and the mechanisms of action the old but newly rediscovered human desire for naturalness, simplicity and clarity has been embraced in the architecture of House Rheder. The perceptibility of different lighting scenes, the visualization of natural colours, shapes and movements in the design of the house is simultaneously the means and the intent of our design.
House Rheder, by Falkenberg Innenarchitektur