The building site, further down a long private drive, levels out toward the west into an edge condition dominated by an expansive vista – layers and layers of distant mountain ranges – that in the evening seem to epitomize the drama of the Arizona Sunset. Due to the elevation of the site beneath the community’s gaze and the entry gate at the road it became important to us – to recede the house as a deep shadow – into the depth and complexity of the desert floor below.
The plinth was cast in place with one material throughout such that a wall, a floor, a ramp, a step, or a bench could be experienced as part of one contiguous stone. The Verde River eventually connects to the Salt River, which collectively tumbles some of the worlds hardest aggregate through the lowest point of the valley, where along with sand and cement, it is harvested for locally produced concrete. A “highway concrete mix” with oversized 1 ½” aggregate was specifically selected for this project and mixed with a small percentage of the earth pigment – raw umber. We wanted to work the surfaces of the plinth in order to reveal the composite qualities of the material, sand, conglomerate gravel, pebbles, broken stone, in a cement matrix, and consequently a window into the geologic time of this place.
The overall height of the landform follows the design guidelines and therefore the ground at precisely 24’ above natural grade in a segmented monocline that spirals almost imperceptibly up and around and out where the solid mass of the courtyard form opens up to the distant west. In conjunction with this geometry, the outsides of the earth and concrete landform are faceted inward 3 degrees from vertical. The hat required for the earth walls protects the monolithic courtyard form as a contiguous part of a faceted shadow that begins at the outermost edge of the monocline and continues inward toward the inner court where it stops just short of itself inscribing an irregular frame for the sky.
Desert Courtyard House, Scottsdale, Arizona, by Wendell Burnette Architects
Photography by Bill Timmerman
Knokke lies on the easterly extremity of the Belgian coast, close to the Netherlands border. A key challenge for the interior architecture of this apartment on the dunes was to harmonise the potential for expansiveness offered by the raw floor plan with the programmatic requirements of the brief. The layout falls into two main territories: roughly one quarter of the floor area is given over to generous private quarters, incorporating bedroom, dressing area, shower and terrace; with the remainder of the plan left spatially fluid, preserving internal vistas of twenty metres while accommodating the functions of kitchen, dining, living and library.
North Sea Apartment, Knokke, Belgium, by John Pawson, Project Architect
Ben Collins, Mark Treharne, Photography by Pieter-Jan De Pue
An eclectic mix of houses, gravel roads ending at the bay and wooded lots provide a nostalgic, informal setting for this new house. In an effort to integrate living spaces with the outdoors while maintaining privacy from Burbage Lane and neighboring houses, the scheme is organized around a centrally located garden. With sixteen foot high ceilings, the eastern volume contains the public living spaces. Continuous clerestory windows assist in providing an abundance of natural light into the space, allowing views to the treetops and sky while minimizing the close proximity of the adjacent houses. A twenty foot wide glass wall slides into a pocket, enhancing the relationship to the outdoors, and provides a sense of living in a garden. The two story western volume is comprised of bedrooms and a small second floor living space. A one story glass link connects the volumes and visually opens to the central garden.
The house was conceived as two simple, flat-roofed volumes, varying in height, intersecting and overlapping a one story circulation space which connects the volumes. The east volume is constructed with cement board, the west volume with corrugated siding and the one story connecting space with the ground face concrete block. The exterior material palette is quiet and subdued. Materials are selected for their expected long term durability, ease of installation and initial cost. The impact of the one story horizontal volume facing the street is intended to reflect the scale of neighboring structures while the narrow two story volumes are oriented perpendicular to the street reducing their apparent scale. This house is designed in strong counterpoint to many of the houses built in the last era of abundant resources, expensive materials, and limitless floor area. The house is not large; it comprises three bedrooms and 2400 square feet. The house is constructed with modest materials that include concrete floors throughout the first floor, oak flooring on the second floor and plastic laminate and oak millwork.
The Lujan House, Ocean View, Delaware, by Robert M. Gurney
Photography by Anice Hoachlander, HD Photo
The project is to design a condo with an area of 1,600 sq.ft. in Montreal. It is located at the second floor of a 1920’s industrial building on St-Dominique Street. It was previously owned by the Dominion Preserving Company Limited where was produce the famous Habitant canned soups. The mandate was to relocate the kitchen and to add a third bedroom for the couple’s second child. The 10 feet length sofa, with the new gas fireplace, defines the living room. The existing second bedroom has been reduced to create a hallway to access the third bedroom. Adjacent, the bathroom is a continuation of the frosted glass facade; thus, these two rooms have natural light from the living room windows, facing southwest, while preserving privacy. At the entrance, the closed room has been abolished to make way for multifunctional storage cabinets and white soundproof curtain has been installed ahead the principal door. The kitchen, open plan, is an extension of this entrance, where unfolds the dining room. On the ground, the existing solid maple floors were sanded and varnished. The steel structure in the center of the space is bare, expose and fireproof. Only the bathroom have a white epoxy floor finish, matched with sink and faucet. The shower is enclosed by a grey epoxy on all surfaces. A clear glass panel, installed at the end of the shower, accentuates the depth of the space by its reflection.
Espace St-Dominique, Montreal, Canada, by Anne Sophie Goneau
Photography by Adrien Williams
The owners of this new residence, a married couple, lost their previous home in a forest fire near Boulder three years ago. After considering the options, they decided to head back into the burn zone, purchasing a steep site located in an area burned in the same fire. While the site sits at an elevation of 7500 feet it is just seven miles from downtown Boulder. The 2200-square-foot house, a simple bar shifted at the point of entry between the garage and main house and skewed at both ends to capture views, hovers above the stark slope of the hillside below. Views are framed under and through the house, at times seeming to bring the distant mountains inside. There are two slotted openings on the north side placed strategically to wash light onto the floor of the main living space and the wall of the master bedroom. A skylight fills the entire hallway to the bedrooms to create a light-filled transition from the living room. The south side of the house is almost completely glazed, allowing the abundant winter sun to passively heat the radiant concrete mass floor. Heat is provided by a geothermal heat pump, while an 8KW PV array offsets the electrical use to bring the house close to net zero energy performance.
Sunshine Canyon Residence, Boulder, Colorado, by THA Architecture
Photography by Jeremy Bittermann
Lomocubes is a new innovative and sophisticated residential project by MPA Architetti, located in Lugano and commissioned by the entrepreneur Alessandro Lo Monaco. Lomocubes is a luxurious and high profile condominium that overlooks the Lugano lakeshores. It is a groundbreaking architectural project that marks a new frontier in residential building construction. Finished in July 2013, Lomocubes synthesizes the best relationship between interior and exterior spaces, giving from the living room of each unit a wonderful view on the lake. A texture-in-motion built with a rigorous and wise use of materials leads to a seductive aesthetic result established on the succession between full and empty spaces, transparency and opacity.
Lomocubes, Lugano, Switzerand, by MPA Architetti
This project is conceived as a domestic landscape that blurs the boundary between interior and exterior space in a temperate coastal rainforest climate. It is essentially a ranch house typology with a guest house stacked upon it – for an physically active empty nest couple who enjoy the idea of welcoming family home for the holidays. The domestic program is spread across the entire site, and the vertical circulation is deliberately understated.
The programmatic organization allows the primary residents to live entirely on the ground floor. The japanese-inspired courtyard ‘moss garden’ operates as a multi-faceted architectural device – it provides circulation along the primary project axis from the main entry through to the backyard pool and workout pavilion; it provides a visual extension of the living room into the garden; and the sliding glass doors in the kitchen (conceived as a glass box in the garden) open directly into the courtyard and the outdoor dining space beyond. The central living space is bracketed on the south side by a large concrete fireplace which provides privacy from the street, and it extends visually into the mossy minimalist courtyard to the north. The orientation, form, and positioning of the upper volume was designed to protect against direct solar gain during the summer months, while allowing light at lower sun angles to penetrate into the spaces during the winter months.
Ocean Park House,Vancouver, Canada, by Campos Leckie Studio
Photography by Ema Peter
This unconventional design by Pitsou Kedem blurs the borders between private space and outdoor space. In a new building, in the old north of Tel Aviv, a unique penthouse covering an entire floor of some 600 square meters, is open and transparent in four directions. The entire penthouse is wrapped with a screen of clear walls. The internal spaces, floating within the building’s shell, are fully exposed to the city. Passages and movement, or corridors in conventional design language, to the rooms and then, on to the apartment’s spaces are next to the structure’s outer shell. No rooms connect with this outer shell and no rooms block or shut off the view over the city. The levels of transparency and exposure are regulated using various methods of shading. Thus long and continuous lines of sight are preserved from one of the apartment to the other.
Along the entire frontage, some 25 meters, there are transparent, teak framed, sliding doors which allow for the opening and closing of the various internal spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, to the external shell. Thus the city merges into the apartment, the climate is regulated and the residents can enjoy the sky line and changing lights at any given time. The apartment’s style corresponds with international styling whilst retaining classical influences in the spirit of the period. Such as, for example, the style of French architect Jean Prouvé whose work was unembellished, placing the emphasis on practicality. The materials used in the apartment’s construction are, for the most part, shown in their raw state. The floor is poured terrazzo and an exposed concrete wall in the living room is offset with a metal bookcase. The pool is completely covered with dark stone so that the city can be reflected in its entirety in the water. Along the balcony we find planters with Frangipani trees that reflect and continue the characteristic flora of many Tel Aviv gardens. The apartment’s residents have an impressive collection of art. This played a significant role in the design of the spaces, each of which relates to the specific piece displayed in it. And the responsibility for bringing a smile to the design has been given the yellow hue that has been used in the main door, the closet and additional touches of yellow scattered around the apartment.
Open and Transparent to the City, Tel Aviv, Israel, by Pitsou Kedem Architects
Photography by Amit Geron
“Disconnecting”; a wall cuts the home off from the world outside: the French coast distorted by common town planning. On the other side, the sea. Nature stirs. Wind bends tree trunks. The roof bows before a bustling environment. Bedrooms transform into terrace: a concrete passageway leading outside. A moment to breathe; punctuation in sentences. A tile-covered ceiling salutes the spirit of Provençal homes. Below, only wood and concrete form the building. Beyond any codes, the natural, raw materials stand eternal. Concrete has a soul; it has something to say. The bedrooms sit alongside undergrowth. Two intimate, comfortable places facing each other. On one side, trees provide shady spots, on the other, a mass of concrete offers protection and a cool haven.
ALON House, France, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux