It is quite rare, in Woollahra Council’s municipality, to have a waterfront residence so close to the water. One gets the feeling of being in Sydney Harbour when looking out of the over-sized wafer-thin framed windows. Luigi Rosselli Architects won a limited architectural competition to develop the site by proposing to revive the existing three storey house while the competitors opted for a clean slate solution. Adaptive reuse is the best way to keep a carbon footprint small and the strategy was rewarded in this waterfront property by maintaining the foreshore building line just a few steps from the water. A new house would have to be set further back. Though built on the edge of beach this is not a beach house. The cultured art lovers and sophisticated art collectors who commissioned this project required a very urbane and elegant residence, with an environment ideal to display their collection. Expansive Wall spaces, nooks for sculptures and specialised art lighting were necessary. The entry courtyard was originally a cramped driveway with three garages as main features, the solution was to relocate the garages and have a Will Dangar designed courtyard with sculptural plants and textural architectural details. The result restored a sense of dignified arrival where people, not cars, are welcome.
Harbour Front-Row Seat, Sydney, Australia, by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Photography by Edward Birch and Justin Alexander
The external structure is composed of a cube volume and perforated metal envelope. The volume extracts cut-outs to create pockets of space that provide a pyramidical stepping down along the roof, a void along the entrance and private glass patios with terraces for living areas of the house. Using a material with holes on both sides aims to make an abstract interpretation of the texture of classical villas in the historical suburb. The crosses brace the frames of panels and create identity like façade ornaments on historical citizen villas.
The internal volume embodies two elements: exposed structural concrete walls and a wooden shell. The brief was to maximize living area with minimum of the service space. The concept divides space based on distinct program by separating function not by walls but floor levels: ground floor is living/communal space, first floor is children area and second floor parents area. With no cellar, the shell is integral to provide all of the space for storage. The flush walls fold out to house cupboards, shelves and drawers throughout the living areas and furniture is built into the floor in order to optimize space and provide easy maintenance. This connects different spaces in the house by giving a common function to partitions.
Villa Criss-Cross Envelope, Ljubljana, Slovenia by OFIS Architects
Photography by Tomaz Gregoric
The interior of this tri-level reveals exposed steel framework with diagonal and vertical bracing intermittently appearing and disappearing throughout the walls, ceiling and floors. The untrammeled view of the surrounding forest through the floor to ceiling glazing in the penthouse, gives one the sense of being among the trees. A giant twelve foot wooden door gives way to the porte-cochere twenty seven feet in length. Providing protection from the elements and while complimenting the gently curved circular drive. The cantilever, supported by an iconic V, allows the house to carry the majority of its space off the ground, minimizing the site footprint. This eco-conscious pattern is further demonstrated with a rainwater collection cistern which supplies ground irrigation and water for the pool. The Treehouse pays further homage to the nature that surrounds, with a partially covered rooftop terrace that spans two thousand square feet. Outdoor living in luxury can be enjoyed regardless of the weather. Corner windows provide panoramic views of the rolling landscape while the penthouse level bestows an awe-inspiring view of the surrounding forest and beyond lays the Niagara Falls skyline.
The Treehouse, Pelham, Ontario, Canada by Forestgreen Creations
Photography by Lisa Petrole
This compact private residence’s 136-square-meter area consists of five horizontally divided spaces, each connected by a minuscule sculptural spiraling staircase that, given the footprint of the house, allows for loft-like spaces within its intimate confines. Oversized windows punctuate the house, each with two layers of glazing.
Transparent and relief glass extend to the floor, to ensure that the house remains responsive to passing street life. When closed, they cloak the house within an iridescent texture. On the ground floor, one of these windows serves as the main entry, and slides open to reveal the kitchen. Each level has a different program: the lowermost consists of storage and technical spaces; the lower two bedrooms, permeated by daylight via sliver windows that span the full length of the house, at street level; the kitchen and dining room occupy the ground floor; the living room the first; and the uppermost a master suite, with a wooden ofuro.
These oversized windows, with their dual layers of glazing, can be countlessly reconfigured, to regulate the interior flow of daylight. A small terrace is attached to the master bedroom, yet it is expansive, relative to the house’s size. Its northeastern wall is composed of the same textured glazing that shields the house’s windows, except that there is no layer of transparent glass behind it, as the terrace is completely open to the exterior elements.
A’ House, Tokyo, Japan, by Wiel Arets Architects
The frameless glass makes this a special open space that is completely invaded by the exterior nature. Thus, the gallery becomes a true stage for the client, while the exterior green landscape transforms into a perfect background setting. The glass is sandwiched between by a 22-metre-long floor slab and roof that project out at the front to form a sheltered terrace. The reinforced concrete roof cantilevers from a steel framework, enclosing a corridor at the rear of the building, to ensure the gallery interior is free of any columns that might obstruct the view.
Florist Studio, Mie, Japan, by Shinichi Ogawa & Associates
Externally, the same continuous volume creates a duality between an opaque block – where the living room is – and the transparent stretch of the heated pool and sauna. The volumetry of the house was given by the extrusion of sixty-five meters of an icon-house, with pitched roof. Furthermore, an external wooden deck connects the spaces and creates a solarium to be used during the summer months. In the opaque part of the volume, which is 50m long, the openings were minimized and used as sliding doors to intensify the integration between inside and out. This relation between empty and full in the facade allows for an excellent thermal performance, with a high degree of electric energy conserved. The transparent stretch is fourteen meters long and the internal ventilation was spatially designed to avoid condensation on the glass by the heated pool, which would harm the relation with the view. The house was not implanted on the top of a rough site, as initially desired by the clients, but in its lowest part – in the midst of a beautiful forest of pine trees. This solution allowed the building to be surrounded by nature, creating an intimate relation with the site. The initial premise of the project was to design a quick and cheap construction. Therefore, there were found industrialized solutions such as metal structures and steelframe walls. The site, despite high levels of rainwater, was always clean. Opposite to the usual Brazilian building culture, few elements were built on site, rather mounted at the factory.
The Mororó House, Campos do Jordão – SP, Brazil, by Studio MK27
Photography by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
Composed of two overlapping volumes, the house derives from the intention to release the largest possible area for living spaces and provide fluidity between the spaces. The upper volume was designed bigger than the lower one, because of that half of the house seems to float on the ground and provides shadow and a relaxing space on the yard. With the intention of ensuring influx of natural lighting and ventilation, the project has large openings on the facades and coverage, and that also contribute to the composition of its main facades. Downstairs, the living room can be completely opened to the garden by sliding glass panels, creating an extension of your home to the outside and making their environments mingle, inviting the plants and flowers to get into the living room. To ensure the privacy of intimate settings on the upper floor the openings are protected by wooden shutters painted in white, beyond the glass on the inner face.
Sorocaba House, Sao Paulo, Brazil, by Estudio BRA Architecture
Photography by Pedro Kok
This project is an addition to and remodel of an existing mid century ranch house. It was designed for a retired couple, who desired a single-story home with open, accessible space. The addition, located in the rear garden area, is connected to the original structure by way of a transparent hallway that allows the garden to extend into the core of the house.
The addition comprises two floating volumes. The first is the bedroom wing/volume, which is located on the west side of the house. The existing bedroom volume was extended toward the rear in the form of a wood tube to accommodate an additional bedroom. This bedroom volume opens out to the garden. The second volume, which comprises the main space, houses the kitchen, dining and media areas. The east wood wall plane of the main space folds onto two concrete walls to form the main roof plane. The main space produces large transparent openings or voids that open out onto a deck at the rear garden. The main roof plane extends forward to form the carport roof near the front of the property. A garden concrete wall stretches out from the media room toward the garden adjacent to a rear ramp and forms part of the cantilevered bench that echoes the concrete wall material in the main space.
The original structure, which houses the music room, two bedrooms and a bathroom, was retained and renovated. A new steel bay window seat was inserted at the front bedroom to replace a small existing window. The fireplace chimney was reconstructed and, along with the carport storage volume, was skinned with recycled epdm rubber.
Renovation and an Addition to the Bal House, Menlo Park, California, by Terry&Terry Architecture
Photography by Bruce Damonte
This project is situated in a glaciated, coastal landscape, with a cool maritime climate. The geomorphology of the site consists of granite bedrock and boulder till, creating pristine white sand beaches, and turquoise waters. The two pavilions float above the shoreline like two ship’s hulls up on cradles for the winter, forming protected outdoor places both between and under them. This is a full-time home for a family of four; consisting of a ‘day pavilion’ and a ‘night pavilion’. One approaches from the understated land side between the abstract, library ends of the two pavilions; then either passes through toward the sea, or left into the living pavilion, or right into the sleeping pavilion. One structure contains a central core, while the other contains a side core. The seaward ends of the two main forms (living and master bedroom) delaminate, creating protected outdoor porches, or night time ‘lanterns’ over the water. The third linking form contains the generous entry foyer, core, and the kitchen. The great room contains a floating 24′ totemic hearth. This is a steel frame house, with a wood skin. Its white, steel endoskeleton resists both gravity loads and wind uplift. The fenestration of the ‘binocular’ ends is minimalist curtain wall with structural silicone. The side elevations contain storefront glazing. The concrete floors contain a geothermally heated hydronic system. This sculptural, yet calm and mature project contains generous white volumes on the interior, and exhibits the ironic monumentality of boats on the exterior.
Two Hulls House, Canada, by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Photography by Greg Richardson