This vacation home is set on the crest of a grassy knoll on a 160-acre site in Mendocino County. The goal was to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the property by siting the retreat in a careful, simple, and unobtrusive manner. The 10-module home forms an L-shaped plan, framing views of a canopy of mature oak trees to the south and east.
The road leading to the house climbs the hill and ends at the carport at the home’s west end. A set of concrete stairs lead up a gentle grade from the carport to the entry deck, which runs along the north side of the home. The main volume is oriented east to west and arranged in an open plan. The living room, kitchen, and dining room collectively open southward onto a covered patio with an outdoor fireplace and pool area. From the main volume, the master bedroom extends to the north, following the edge of the hilltop and ending in a private deck that takes in the morning light from the east.
Long Valley Ranch utilizes a number of sustainable strategies and materials. Passive solar heating and cooling are achieved through use of concrete flooring, covered decks, and natural through breezes. A 17-kW solar array offsets the electricity usage of the house, and a tankless hot water heater provides on-demand water heating. Sustainable materials are used throughout, including recycled denim insulation and low-VOC paint.
Burton Residence, Mendocino County, California, USA, by Marmol Radziner
Photography © Joe Fletcher
The project is the addition of a dining room, reading room and two bedroom suites to an existing 1948 adobe-brick house. It employs the material and formal language developed for a previous addition (the ‘Box Office’) completed in 2011: spare, platonic boxes of a perceptual mass defined precisely at their junctions to openings with a material thinness.
Four volumes control view and orchestrate movement through their various internal and external alignments. The reading of the solid/void relationship oscillates between additive and subtractive processes–on the one hand understood as a series of connected volumes while on the other seen as an initially pure box from which two L-forms are removed. The result is a rhythmic reciprocity between interior space and garden.
TP-H Residence, Palo Alto, California, by Jermyn Manthripragada Architecture, Photography by Lucas Fladzinski
Fashion icon Tom Ford, the ardent perfectionist credited with turning around a flagging Gucci and reinvigorating Yves Saint Laurent, is, unsurprisingly, just as exacting about his residences, but has largely kept them out of the limelight. That changed last year when he revealed his Santa Fe ranch in a guest-edited issue of French Vogue. Ford grew up in Austin, Texas, but would travel to New Mexico frequently to visit his grandmother. Evenutally, Ford’s father moved to Santa Fe, and the designer purchased a large tract of land south of town on which he constructed this dreamland of a ranch. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the equestrian facility lies amid a 24,000-acre private tract, where classic Westerns like Silverado, Wyatt Earp, and 3:10 to Yuma were once shot. Ford spends roughly a quarter of the year on the ranch.
Zacatitos 004, Baja California Sur, Mexico, by Campos Leckie Studio
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.” Claude Monet.
The project for this house emerged from a very simple premise, to build on a very steep piece of land with a gradient of almost 100%, boasting wonderful views and on a tight budget. It was this highly complicated plot of land, surrounded by pine trees, that defined a good part of this project. The land, and its perspectives, constantly changing as the hours pass, the colour of the trees, the movement of sun and shadows…
On the one hand, the reduced dimensions of the plot and its complex orography, and on the other the desire to leave the minimum imprint on the land led us to seek out a floorplan which, matching the trees that surround it, emerges from a trunk well anchored to the land and opens up in braches on each floor, in such a way that each branch becomes the terrace of the upper level at the same time as it becomes the porch of the lower one. All this helps create a very formal building, with huge cantilevers facing out to emptiness, the woods and the sea which lie before it. A structure which opens up to these views and the sun, and which thanks to the terraces and the porches confuse the interior with the exterior.
A building which is equally formal in both its volume and the materials which compose it. Concrete, iron, timber and stone combining in a way that emphasizes the character of each one. In the end, the whole building represents a dialogue between emptiness and fullness, between materials, between outside and inside; seeking out a balance between these highly contrasting parts.
Mediterrrani 32, Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona, Spain, by Isern Associats
Photography © Adrià Goula
Located on five acres of dense Ohia forest, this cast-in-place concrete house frames indoor and outdoor living spaces along with views of the forest, the sky, and the coastline. It continues our exploration of a reductive architecture that enhances the experience of living in this compelling environment.
The main feature of the house is a concrete beam, 140 foot long, 48 inch tall x 12 inch wide running the length of the building with only three short concrete walls supporting it along its massive span. The concrete beam allows for sizable spans of uninterrupted glass and covered outdoor space, creating a permeable edge between the man-made and nature, amplify the sensation of living in the Ohia forest.
Lavaflow 7 – Mayer/Penland House, Big Island, Hawaii, by Craig Steely Architecture
Located on a rolling farm property in upstate New York, the LM Guest House celebrates the beauty of the surrounding landscape-sweeping views through an all-glass facade magnify the spacious, open feel of the living areas. The home employs several sustainable design strategies including geothermal heating and cooling, radiant floors, motorized solar shading, photovoltaic panels, and rainwater harvesting.
The open living and sleeping areas flow around a compact slatted wood core that disguises the mechanical, storage, and bathing spaces. Two sleeping couchettes with built-in bunk beds provide efficient accommodations for additional weekend guests. Natural white oak wood detailing provides warmth and texture throughout the home.
The high-performance glass facade was pre-fabricated off site, shipped in one container, and erected in two days. An innovative steel frame structure allows the roof to cantilever dramatically over the open living areas and bedroom.
LM Guest House, by Desai/Chia Architecture, Photography by Paul Warchol
The New Canaan Residence welcomes its owners and their visitors into what feels like a floating pavilion in the tree canopy. A winding drive brings visitors through the forest to arrive at a low and gracious landscaped court that frames the glass entry pavilion. From this court, the transparency of the house is evident: floor-to-ceiling glass allows views through the house, incorporating the landscape into the body of the house. The tree canopy becomes a part of the architecture and creates a visual perimeter that changes with the seasons.
The upper level features the home’s primary gathering spaces, as well as bedrooms and a gymnasium. A staircase tucked behind the free-standing fireplace opens on to the lower level of the house, which is carved into the earth and gives views directly onto the forest floor. The lower level provides additional social spaces and features a media room, library, and two home offices. The lower level spaces link to a series of “outdoor rooms” that feature a fireplace and distinct seating areas. The grounded, cozy nature of the lower level provides an experiential contrast to the expansive and light-filled level above. The swimming pool and separate pool house emphasize the project’s strong lines and classically modern roots.
Designed for a young family, Melbourne-based Clare Cousins Architects have restored an existing Edwardian house and made a single story addition, engaging with the garden with its meandering facade of glass and bricks. A flexible space, referred to as a studio, is housed on top of the new garage forming a double story mass at the rear of the site to help screen large neighbouring buildings.
Taking advantage of the long linear plot and rear laneway access, a garage with studio above was designed first, conceived as a windowless sculptural form perched on a garage clock to provide a studio or guest bedroom. The house extension curves to maximise its northern orientation and to visually incorporate the native landscaping into the house.
This project plays with raw building materials, in concrete and timber, and with pattern, in brick bonds and linear spacing. The sculptural first floor contains a studio and bathroom inspired by Alvar Alto glassware with a ribbed timber cladding that continues across the west-facing windows to provide solar protection.
Designed by the acclaimed Portuguese architect Bak Gordon and built in 2010, it won the FAD Award, was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Prize and was chosen to be part of Portugal’s official representation at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. It was also listed by Wallpaper* magazine as one of the top 20 reasons to visit Portugal.
The house is primarily concrete, which, combined with a sophisticated modern vintage interior, creates a beautiful and soothing space. There are extensive gardens, with five patios, a swimming pool and a pond.