This three-bedroom vacation home on Big Sur’s spectacular south coast is anchored in the natural beauty and power of the California landscape. The site, which features a 250-foot drop to the Pacific Ocean along the bluff and toward the west, offers dramatic views. Yet it demands a more complex form than a giant picture window. The long, thin volume of the house conforms to the natural contours of the land and the geometries of the bluff, deforming its shape and structure in response, much like the banana slug native to the region’s seaside forests. In this way, the complex structural system applies natural forms to accommodate the siting. The main bearing system of the house is set back twelve feet from the bluff, both to protect the cliff’s delicate ecosystem and to ensure the structure’s integrity and safety. The house itself is cantilevered over the bluff. The interior is a shelter, an elegant refuge in contrast with the roughness and immense scale of the ocean and cliff.
The main body of the house is composed of two rectangular boxes connected by an all-glass library/den. A one-story concrete wing perpendicular to the main volume holds the ground-floor bedrooms and features a green roof; it is the boulder that locks the house to the land. The lower of the two main volumes, a double-cantilevered master bedroom suite, acts as a promontory above the ocean, offering breathtaking views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The upper volume is an open-plan space-kitchen, living room, and dining room-with a swooping ceiling, all clad in wood, that follows the shape of the land.
The house’s two main facades express both shelter and exposure. On the north, clear expanses of glass reveal ocean and coastline views; long strips of translucent channel glass dapple the light, playing on the sea’s shimmering surface. The south facade, clad in copper, which wraps over the roof, is mostly enclosed, offering a retreat from the forces of nature. Roof overhangs on the east and west protect the windows and the front door from the harshness of sun and wind.
Fall House, California, by Fougeron Architecture
Photography by Joe Fletcher
In early 2011 “House in Monterrey” – Ando’s first residential project in Mexico – was completed. The sprawling 4,900 sq-ft home, wedged into a mountain slope, looks like a little slice of heaven. It sits almost 3000 ft above sea level and looks out on the Sierra Las Mitras mountains. Amongst other luxuries, the home boasts a cantilevered infinity pool, a double-height library, a wine cellar, gym and, of course, a gallery.
House in Monterrey, Mexico, by Tadao Ando
Photography by Ogawa Studio
The rural retreat home sits on an 80-acre agricultural site in the desert of California’s Central Coast wine region. The covered outdoor living and dining area is the heart of the home and the hub of family activity with the inclusion of an intimate fireplace overlooking the vast rural landscape. Concrete block walls create the spatial, social, and ecological organization of the building. Masonry was chosen for its elemental presence, its link to historic building traditions, and its visual and textural harmony with the surrounding natural environment. The design organizes domestic activity around the passage of the sun throughout the day, choreographing the quotidian rhythm of life on the land. Removed from the primary living zone, intimate bedrooms offer privacy and retreat when desired, each with its own separate outdoor domain.
A combination of thermal mass, building orientation, shading devices, and intelligent ventilation allows a bright, open home that remains comfortable throughout the day and throughout the year. This energy-efficient performance allows solar photovoltaic and thermal panels to provide electricity, space heating, and hot water. Aidlin Darling Design approached sustainability as more than simply a checklist of aggregated features. One of our guiding principles was the simultaneous performance of multiple functions by a single design element, achieving maximum benefit from minimal means. Ecologically responsible decisions are integrated throughout the design, making sustainability a deeply-embedded and inseparable quality of the completed project.
Paso Robles Residence, California, by Aidlin Darling Design
Photography by Matthew Millman
The Jesolo Lido Pool Villa is the first of a developement for 9 single-family residences in the beach town of Jesolo Lido, Italy. The villa is a custom designed prefabricated wood structure, and it was built and furnished in only 6 months. Energy-saving high standards have been applied to the shell to guarantee maximum comfort and almost zero costs throughout the four seasons.
The building features wood structures as a flexible and anti-seismic system which also avoids thermal bridges. The 31cm of perimeter insulation, argon-gas insulated glass facades, 10 kw of photovoltaic panels installed on the roof and the interior / exterior led light fixtures co-operate in making a technologically contemporary building. Because of the small dimensions of the plot, the design goal has been directed in leaving as much open space as possible.
The indoor living area has transparent sides which opens towards two different-sized patios. An olive tree is the main three-dimensional element in the patio and it’s placed next to the staircase which leads to the underground level, where the storage and technical rooms are located. The outdoor areas, as a client’s main request, needed to be low maintenance, so most of the surface was paved and the plants in the inserts where selected in order to live with the least care possible. The 4-meter roof overhang to west allows to have enough shading during the hot summer months and allows to place a covered outdoor seating and dining areas. As always for JMA, the persuit of simplicity and linear solutions represented a large part of the design work.
Jesolo Lido Pool Villa, Jesolo Lido, Italy, by JM Architecture
Photography by Jacopo Mascheroni
The jewelBOX accommodates two contradictory concepts. A monolithic mask, the building’s exterior versus a fluid interior. The mask reveals the ground floor volume through an ornamental iron gate. A black rectangular column redirects the visitor towards its two sections. The retractable iron gate exposes another metal canterleveled ‘sculpture’ that, along with the linear lighting, leads to the first level.
A dark wooden surface running along the wall masks the elevator door, frames the entrance and literally invades the otherwise bright light coloured space. At this point the visitor is ‘trapped’ within two perforated elements that mark the waiting area through which he can get glimpses of the white landscape wrapping around the perimeter of the space. This synthesis is abruptly interrupted by the roof that shoots up revealing the bright light coming through the huge glazing that frames the city.
Jewel Box, Kifisia, Greece, by Panos Nikolaidis & Errica Protestou
Photography by George Fakaros
In completely switching the expected logistics and experience of a house, local studio anonymous architects have recently completed the car park house in the mountains just outside of Los Angeles. Complying with local code which calls for two private parking spaces, and having a steep site overlooking the san Gabriel mountains, the order by which the owner circulates through the house is reversed – the garage is an open-air deck level with the street giving entrance to the living spaces below. The structure rests on large concrete piles driven into the mountain side; a steel frame provides the necessary support for the various cantilevers that extend out over the valley, made liveable by wooden floors and walls. A row of apertures in the roof bring in natural light to the spaces more proximal to the hillside that would otherwise not receive as much illumination. The stairs are located along the northern wall giving access to the interior that leads directly to the open kitchen area. an outdoor terrace past a curtain wall provides unbeatable views over the city while the private bedrooms are reserved to the hillside.
Car Park House, Echo Park, Los Angeles, California, by Anonymous Architects
Photography by Steve King
This 1960’s Hugh Kaptur ranch house was in quite a state of disrepair when it was purchased as a foreclosure. It had been “remuddled” several times, featuring electrical wiring run on the outside of walls, awkward closets added in every room, and poor design choices highlighted throughout. It was stripped of all finishes and some minor layout work was implemented. It was restored to its mid-century glory with modern, but period-appropriate, finishes and materials. Furnishings are a mix of vintage and new, mostly sourced from eBay and local Palm Springs vintage boutiques. It’s intended use as a vacation home provided some extra latitude for whimsy and use of color. The original architect came to view the home at the end of the project and was highly complimentary.
In a constant game of fusion between inside and outside, the project responds to the challenge of keeping privacy between four close neighbours without losing the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
The idea was to create a single plan for all the houses that should work as a unity taking advantage of the diagonal of the plot. By doing so the wall of the neighboring house could become an interesting space for the adjacent house, in a delicate game of constructed and empty spaces. The house is relatively narrow but very rich in paths and views. The section demonstrates quite clearly this division of spaces. A central patio becomes an interior garden while bringing abundant light to the core of the house.
The spaces are developed with diagonal views to other spaces. The materials and textures delimitate intimate and public spaces, by the use of wood and stone. The façade is made of bricks. It’s a beach house that has a strong Brazilian character through a contemporary vocabulary, taking advantage of our particular climate and unique landscape.
Beach House, São Sebastião, Brazil, by Studio Arthur Casas
The residence overlooks a mountain lake with expansive mountain views beyond. The design ties the home to its surroundings and enhances the ability to experience both home and nature together.
The entry level serves as the primary living space and is situated into three groupings; the Great Room, the Guest Suite and the Master Suite. A glass connector links the Master Suite, providing privacy and the opportunity for terrace and garden areas.
Piedmont Residence, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, by Carlton Architecture+Design
The aim was to create a multifunctional space that provided an experiential opportunity for the visitor so they could appreciate, to the full extent, the inherent beauty of the landscape. Simplicity is essential to the success of the project. The approach was to maintain simplicity through each stage of the design process in order to create an elegant, unobtrusive incision into the landscape setting that allows for both prospect and refuge.
The use of the pavilion is multifunctional. The design needed to be flexible and adaptable to accommodate for various uses during the changing seasons through out the year. Site selection was critical from an existential and sustainability perspective. The location was selected for it’s remoteness, opportunity for prospect, and orientation to the sun and prevailing winds.
The materiality was selected for the inherent tellurian characteristics to harmonise the building to the natural setting. The geometry itself is simple. The building is essentially two bisecting rectangular prisms, one created from composite steel, concrete and glass, and the other a sandstone cladded core. The structural solution was derived from a rationalised ‘grid’ system.
Wirra Willa Pavilion, Somersby, Australia, by Matthew Woodward Architecture
Photography by Murray Fredericks