A new angular home in the south of Portugal has become a man made centerpiece between a family of 400 olive trees. The stark white structure, which appears to be a new build, is actually the remodeling and reconstruction of an existing home that has been covered with a geometric shell-like architectural canopy for temperature control against the beaming sun. Vitor Vilhena, founding architect of Vitor Vilhena Arquitectura, explains that the “architectural concept seeks to create two parcels with separate identities, including one volume with irregular geometry and other volume of regular geometry that communicate through a glass hallway. The surrounding outdoors relate to the terrain, landscape and vegetation.”
Located near the sea in Algrave, Vilhena decided to speak a contemporary language through the form of the home, with references to the vernacular of algarve architecture, then carry that language into the interiors. The interiors of the home are mostly white, with cool grey concrete ceilings. The interior rooms happily fit into the slanted ceilings, as bookshelves and cabinetry take unusual form to tie into the sculptural architecture!
For this residence, light, transparency and continued spacial flow was vital. Privacy was also a concern since the residence is located in a tight urban location. The residence is located in the Bucktown neighborhood in Chicago. The residence is for a young urban couple who aspire to a modern and minimalistic aesthetic design. They were looking for a solution that provided a light filled urban retreat that could display their collection of modern furnishings and large art prints. The solution was to create open, fluid interior spaces, both horizontally and vertically and then to wrap it all in white masonry. This white veil is scored with window bands that allow abundant natural light, yet because of strategic locating, provide privacy and eliminate the need for window treatments towards the street. The white interior is strengthened by the sharp contrast of the ebony stained wood flooring throughout the main levels, while the lower level further emphasizes the white finishes with the use of a reflective pure white epoxy coated floor. The white and black backdrops serve well in making the furnishings and artwork stand out as well as the subtle orange theme throughout the residence. The light filled white interiors are further strengthened by the use of reflective glass railings and stair panels. The main central steel stairs is clad in glass, both clear and opaque to again maintain privacy but allow natural light. The flowing and light filled interiors are carried to the two surrounding exterior landscapes, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior by carving out urban gardens which are rare in the city.
We like the virtue of architecture which makes possible constructing a house on air, walking on water… An abrupt plot of land overlooking the sea, where what is best is to do nothing. It invites to stay. A piece that respects the land’s natural contour is set in it. Above, a shadow, the house itself, looking calmly at the Mediterranean. Under the sun, the swimming-pool brings us closer to the sea, it becomes a quiet cove. In the inflection point, the stairway proposes a evocative path, a garden in the basement…
Due to the steepness of the plot and the desire to contain the house in just one level, a three-dimensional structure of reinforced concrete slabs and screens adapting to the plot’s topography was chosen, thus minimizing the earthwork. This monolithic, stone-anchored structure generates a horizontal platform from the accessing level, where the house itself is located. The swimming-pool is placed on a lower level, on an already flat area of the site. The concrete structure is insulated from the outside and then covered by a flexible and smooth white lime stucco. The rest of materials, walls, pavements, the gravel on the roof… all maintain the same colour, respecting the traditional architecture of the area, emphasizing it and simultaneously underlining the unity of the house.
House on the Cliff, Calpe, Alicante, Spain, by Fran Silvestre Arquitectos
On a desert site of undisturbed native vegetation, the modest retreat is defined by an 8-foot-high concrete wall that supports a steel roof structure and encloses two courtyards. Everything inside the containment wall functions as living space, making it a 2,900-square-foot, rather than a 730-square-foot (of climate-controlled area), house. In the traditional post-and-beam model, glass expanses blur the boundary between landscape and building. In contrast, this retreat is about the walled enclosure marking the building as volume and mass. What is adapted from mid-century design is the logic and clarity of an unconventional residential structural system — and the virtue of supreme indoor-outdoor living on a small scale.
Desert House, Palm Springs, California, by Jim Jennings Architecture
The Wiley residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, designed by Philip Johnson in 1952–53, was purchased with the intention of restoring the residence and adding a new pool house, private gallery, and garage. The architect emphasized respecting the integrity of the property by carefully integrating new structures into the site so that they complement and defer to the original house. The concrete volumes of the pool house and garage were minimized by inserting them into the hillside. All new exterior and restoration materials were reviewed and selected on site to harmonize with the existing residence. The minimalist art gallery was constructed on the foundation of a 19th-century barn and designed with a traditional gabled roof form (a portion of the lower level houses the site’s central mechanical plant). The Gallery’s solid black massing creates a contemporary backdrop for Johnson’s transparent house.The interior is designed to be bright, simple, and clean, acting as backdrop for the art. All lighting is adjustable to best emphasize the art; ventilation is provided by linear diffusers integrated into nearly invisible reveals at the gable ends.
Locating the new pool house was challenging: it required consideration of the preexisting relationships of barn, pool, landscaping, and house. The design aligns the submerged pool house with an existing retaining wall: pool, pool house, barn, and residence form a new nucleus for the site. Acting as gatehouse, a new garage marks the entrance to the estate. The height of the new pool house and the garage follows the height set by the barn foundation walls and the base of the Wiley residence.
Embracing the challenge of a relatively tight inner suburban location, and restrictive building envelope, the designers worked closely with the client to rationalise their “wish list” into a concise and deliverable brief. The outcome is a dramatic architectural statement, which has already demonstrated the flexibility to adapt to the constantly changing lives of the family it was designed for.
The project is realised through a series of simple intersecting and overlapping rectangular forms. Each “box” represents a distinct portion of the overall program. The forms of the building have been carefully articulated as both screening devices for privacy, and elements that frame and define views. The robust external cladding that changes appearance significantly in different weather and lighting conditions, gives way to a sophisticated, warm and welcoming interior, filled with natural light, tall ceilings, double height voids and sensuous materials. Extensive use and clever placement of high performance double glazing draws light into every room. The definition of interior and exterior is distorted, with banks of operable louvres and huge sliding glass panels presenting the family with the ability to engage directly with the outside environment, or to close the place down completely, dependant on the variable Melbourne climate.
The Good House, Sandringham, Victoria, Australia, by Designer, for Crone Partners, Photography © Derek Swalwell & Peter Clarke
Nestled into a forested slope along the eastern edge of the Case Inlet, this small retreat opens to a western view of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound. Anchored by a weathered cedar clad bedroom wing, a bold concrete cantilever projects the living and dining into the dense forest and toward the view. An ipe deck slips from inside the kitchen into an open meadow to the south, separated only by large sliding glass doors extending the sense of interior directly to the outdoors. A broad flat roof hovers high above the living spaces creating the feeling that one is sitting outdoors amidst the trees. Smaller, thoughtfully placed apertures define the exterior of the bedroom volume, along with a single large opening belonging to the master bath to give the users a ritual of bathing within the forest. A balance of clean lines and natural materials, this modest retreat is a welcome sanctuary for just two or the full family.
Case Inlet Retreat, Case Inlet, Washington, USA, by mw|works architecture+design, Photography by Jeremy Bittermann
The property has direct access to the lake and offers a spectacular view of Lake Constance and the Swiss Alps. The house with its two levels, the garden level and the upper level adapts to the seasons, then a summer and a winter home. In the summer the garden is level with associated pool and guest rooms in the foreground. The upper floor is the master retreat area residents staged and the panoramic view. The upper floor is arranged around the atrium area and also allows for a variable space concept. All the walls are flexible and allow for different room situations. This gives the user the possibility of a classic floor plan up to the single-room.
Haus G12, Überlingen, Germany, by (se)arch, photography by Zooey Braun
Located in the historic district of Pied de La Plagne, in the village of Morzine (French Alps), this ancient farmhouse was singled out by the municipality as a landmark for traditional 19th century local architecture. Preserving the house overall appearance was of one of the project’s key challenges. Revisiting traditional techniques, architecture firm Jérémie Kœmpgen Architecture has converted it into a luxurious and elegant rental villa.
The idea is to move through this house between four “blocks” steady as rocks, located at each corner of the building. Each independent unit forms a suite with sleeping area and amenities. Between these four blocks, the remaining space is occupied by a succession of stacked floors at different levels in the framework. This continuum of generous space welcomes the activities shared by the inhabitants: cooking, dining, watching a film, conversing in the living room, warming up around the fire.
A uniform cladding wraps the whole farm. One of the challenges of the project was to preserve its appearance, while filtering light into the heart of the building. The traditional technique of decorative cut-outs within the wood strips was used to perform specific perforations within the planks. The design of this simple and contemporary pattern is consistent with the equipment and techniques used by the local carpenter for cutting spruce slats. These cut-outs recall the disjointed battens of the traditional barn, used for drying hay.
This new structure at the end of a long garden is a flexible design solution to a complex brief, which called for a quiet space for meditation, work and guest accommodation away from the main house. Operating within the limitations of permitted development for a garden shed, Paul Archer Design divided the building evenly into interior and exterior enclosures. The walls of the pavilion are deliberately ambiguous, separated from the roof plane by large areas of glass, while the side facing the house is cut cleverly into a series of mirrored glass slats illuminated by the sunlight from behind.
Inside, views are restricted to the boundaries of the sanctuary, editing-out the suburban landscape beyond, while double sliding doors allow the space to flow seamlessly out into the courtyard when desired. A timber storage wall incorporates numerous functions, including a fold-down desk and bed, transforming the use of the pavilion according to which component of furniture is deployed.