According to English Heritage (which oversees historic buildings for the British government), Woodchester House, a Georgian mansion built in 1746 and located on 30 acres of Gloucestershire countryside, is architecturally untouchable and unchangeable. For both the architect, London- and Paris-based Robert Grace, and the client, a financier and author, that was a problem.
Granted, the mansion and its grounds and garden–where the owner’s wallabies frolic–are breathtaking. But the link, visual or physical, between the house and the landscape was lacking. After months of discussion, Grace and the owner decided that a 1,500-square-foot glass, wood, and concrete “orangery,” or garden room, would solve the problem. It provides a place of contemplation and repose adjacent to, but never touching, the house. “It is shelter,” says Grace, “but you can look out at the garden or at the back at the house and feel linked to both.”
The new 18-foot-high structure may relate to the house functionally, but hardly stylistically. “It’s totally of the ‘now,’” says Grace. Two slender reinforced concrete columns support a concrete roof, while expanses of glass diminish the sense of mass. Triple-glazed units enclosing the space are almost nonexistent, especially where they meet at a corner facing the garden: With a push of a button they glide back on an invisible motorized track. Oak plank floors unite the various parts of the retreat, which includes an entry, bathroom, laundry, and living area with a fireplace carved in a stone wall.
A 41-foot gallery links the garden pavilion to an existing outbuilding, used as a kitchen and dining room, that adjoins the main house. To create the linear gallery, Grace placed sections of an old stone garden wall, once part of the house’s former orangery, parallel to each other and clad the interiors with white concrete. He then covered the hallway with a glass roof resting on glass beams that in turn hook into the concrete columns.
Woodchester House, by Robert Grace, via: Architectural Record
The project is situated in the vicinity of the whitewashed town of Montemor-o-novo, in the Alentejo, near the UNESCO-listed city of Evora. Located on a gentle valley facing south and looking towards the skyline of the medieval Montemor castle, the master plan was devised in a system of clusters of villas and terraced row-houses reminiscent of the former agricultural compounds of the Alentejo, known as “monte”, which literally means “mound” in English, wherein the etymological reference is fundamentally topographic. In addition, a small lake cools the air and is used for leisure activities besides serving as a sustainable water-retaining basin for agriculture.
The property is located in a quiet, wooded area. The house is built against the right neighbor. The left neighbor is a detached house. The house is at the front 12.70 wide and is tapered and parallel to the parcel toward the rear. The roof is retracted so that the cornice is at 5.79m. The challenging form of the plot and the orientation, make sure that we have gone looking for a type of home that meets these conditions and also provides an architectural value. The requested program with limited living space was poured into a patio home with abundant light. By choosing this concept, the southern sun invades deep into the house. The living areas at the top are linked to a south facing terrace. The small terrace at the rear of the house composes the views to the wooded area. The entrance, sleeping area, bathroom and storeroom are on the ground floor.
The client chooses a house with enough light and views, but with some privacy. The window openings are chosen in the privacy of the residents. Some windows are recessed so that a few bricks filtered light enters. At the terrace on the top floor is the front covered with white slats. These are rotated so that the west sun may fall on the terrace overlooking the forest. The privacy at the front of the building create introverted spaces on the floor. In terms of materialization we’ve chosen a light brown / beige brick with black aluminum joinery. The edge and the slats in the front are materialized in white aluminum.
House K, Buggenhout, Belgium, by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten, Photography by Luc Roymans, Dennis Desmet, via: ArchDaily
The arrangement of objects in a given space or a defined format in order to give meaning to the placement and arrangement of the items, the result of the relationship between the object and the framework of the artistic creation. A private, family residence in an urban environment. From without, the building does not reveal that it is a home. It resembles a mold or an artist’s canvas or an almost two dimensional frame within whose area various openings have been placed and which are enveloped with a dynamic system of wooden, linear strips. The planar distribution of the “picture” or, in this case the front façade, creates a non-symmetrical composition which pulls towards the flanking faces in an attempt to suggest that this is, in fact, a three dimensional mass. The arrangement of the objects (the openings) is always fixed and allows for one central and permanent composition. The ability to reverse the balanced composition into a dynamic one is made possible thanks to the design of a system of smart blinds that allows the blinds to be lifted upwards whilst they are folded into what resembles a roof. All the rails and fixtures are hidden and so, when the façade is closed the dynamic and changing possibilities hidden in the residence’s facade are not apparent. All the openings open separately and so allow for different compositions. At any given moment and for whatever reason (privacy, protection from the sun) the relationship between the object and the plane can be changed. Thus we can achieve a composition that is balanced, dynamic, haphazard, closed or open within the same framework.
Movement through the house is accompanied (thanks to the flexible blind system) by different views of the outside, some exposed and bare, others undisguised and others framing a section of landscape especially designed for it. This selfsame changeability and flexibility also allows control of the amount of sunlight and natural light entering through the openings and into the homes spaces. These spaces are characterized by a restrained use of materials and form so that the light penetrating the space creates a sense of drama, movement and dynamism which seems to breathe life into the souls of the silent walls. Thus, in effect, the system of relationships between the street and the structure composed of changing, but two dimensional compositions on a framed and flat plane develops, for the user of the house’s spaces, an open area that incorporates abstract or tangible images with volume. The relationship between these same volumes (the walls, the stairs, the various partitions and the different elements in the house) and the space, create, through the structures changing facade and the dynamism of the blinds, changing compositions, sometimes controlled and sometimes random with a new and different experience being created each time for the user and those living in the home.
Kfar Shmaryahu House, by Pitsou Kedem Architects
This project attempts to challenge our traditional notions of how buildings can exist both in a coastal environment and in this case also the context of an emerging built form and character. In coastal conditions, buildings must be robust and defy the elements, yet create protective spaces, both internal and external which for us allow the occupants to feel safe, comfortable, privacy and enjoyment of good times. Whether the occupants are fulltime residents or weekenders, the beach house is a place to look forward to arriving, whether in the heat of the summer or the winter’s cold. With excellent views to the north and south and a conscious motivation to avoid the east/west outlooks, this project evolved as a series of interconnected and robustly finished containers. Each prescribed to a rigid set of rules and the relationship and spaces between containers becoming essential to the program and to the life of the building. The robust mass of the buildings is intended to be offset by the expression of finely considered detail and proportion.
The found structure of an unfinished townhouse within the context of the urban development of central Berlin Friedrichswerder is based on the guidelines “planwerk innenstadt” was radical reconsidered and dismantled. The material of the facade, glossy white aluminium panels, highlights the significance of the abstraction and the vertical aspect of the project. You don’t need any outdoor advertising to highlight the flagship store – the facade is the advertising. The fully glazed entrance door to the shop is 6.5 meters high as the building is wide. Within the tight restrictions of a deep and narrow lot, the house achieves generosity through ceiling height. the qualities of natural light and space are more important than the optimisation of surface area and flexibility. The house will be used as a flagship store for the owners fashion label and their second home, the radical simplicity connects the different
aspects of use and creates a clear unit in a diversified neighbourhood.
Townhouse Oberwall, Oberwallstrasse, Berlin, Germany, by apool
This inner city home is designed for a single client as a retreat from a busy professional life. The 400 m2 site was purchased with an approved Resource Consent for a family home – and so a revised brief was developed to fit into the approved envelope. The site is developed to its maximum both visually and physically, with a play on transparency and the flow of spaces from in to out. A variety of outdoor rooms complement the bold pavilion forms. They are linked by a circulation gallery – which also creates an axial focus for the full length of the site on entry. The street pavilion has the potential to become two guest rooms which share a bathroom and lounge area. The rear pavilion is private and contains an indulgent main bedroom suite. Sliding glass panels disappear into pockets to create open balconies for living and sleeping, and focus on the central courtyard as their oasis. The street facade is particularly private with only a hint of the sophistication that lies beyond in the selection of colour and materials.
City House, Auckland, New Zealand, by Architex, Photography © Simon Devitt
The ‘brow of the hill’ is hard exposed rust brown essexite and the house follows the contour here and sweeps through 270 degrees of coastal landscape. A sunlit courtyard and terrace are contained within the outline of the building. They combine with thick walls and alcoves to offer protection from the south for year round outside living.
Southern House, by Fergus Scott Architecture
The house consists of two building volumes: a homogeneous, black saddle roof structure – turned on a cantilevered flat roof white box. Minimal intrusion into the hillside topography. The body of each open toward the natural space.
Neubau Atelierhaus, Wenzenbach, Germany, by Fabi Architekten