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
This home is on a plot of 3,000sqm with a height of 25m, in a Castellón neighborhood that is only 50% constructed. Looking at the plot, we see that it reflectsits seventeenth century history, which is when overpopulation forced the cultivation of all types of terrain, including those that are very steep, through a system of small terraces with walls made of local rock. The later abandonment allowed the growth of trees, mainly pine and carob. Our position towards the plot was that of absolute respect, so the construction method should also respect the land, thus us opting for a prefabricated building system that is deposited on the land practically without touching it, without cutting down trees, and taking advantage of existing terrace/garden areas, which were rebuilt in the damaged areas, with the same stone and same technique. Part of the house — garage and auxiliary areas — is buried, allowing us to re-introduce native vegetation on the natural terrain. This also allows the plot to be accessedon the upper levelby forklift from a ramp that enters the garage located 13ml under the access level that communicates with both of the home’s levels. All of this is hidden from view. For construction, in trying to lessen the impact on the ground, we chose a metal structure fabricated in a workshop and transported to the site in large pieces that could be assembled on 3 metal, V-shaped pillars. An existing stone terrace supports the back part of the structure.
This home looks as though suspended or in flight due to the dry construction materials used. The façade, resulting in various layers, is finished on the outside with corrugated sheet metal, specially designed to prevent glare and heat, thanks to the shadows caused by the folds. The great front opening is oriented towards magnificent views, and allows adequate sunlight in during the winter, but also protects from the sun in the summer. The solar energy panels with heat pipe technology on the roof allow the home to guarantee that at almost any moment, there will always be hot water available for both domestic use and for under-floor heating. Air currents cross the patio, taking advantage of the different orientations, which permits reductions in air conditioning consumption, which, in any case, has been installed.
The intermediate courtyard allows access under the house, and at the same time, allows all the rooms to face the sun and the views. The whole house revolves around this courtyard. This is a house with a courtyard, but with different connotations since each room in the house can be seen from the courtyard’s central location, as well as the surrounding landscape, and since the courtyard is surrounded on four sides by the house, but is not enclosed by it due to the slope of the plot. In the large front area, which houses the kitchen, living room and master bedroom, the construction system is evident since the pillars and roof structure, formed by metal brackets supporting a corrugated sheet over which the roof is built, can be seen.
The starting point of the project answers to two clear situations: in one hand the plot is located in a suburban colony not yet consolidated, in the outskirts of Villarcayo, which does not have any significant value and with very few constraints but legal ones, linked to the accomplishment of the current standards, which mainly defined the heights, suitability for building and setbacks. And in the other hand, the owners, a young family identified with the contemporary architecture, they defined two questions: a house with just ground floor was a requirement in order to maximize his relationship with the garden and the project had to be unequivocally within a limited budget.
Hence, the proposal, should answer, over other premises, to the “optimism” and to the “optimization” which were demanded by the owners, supposing those as the starting point, its “real context”. The program, relatively common, was defined with accuracy by the clients, it was divided basically in two categories: in one hand, a big sitting room and terrace with direct access to the garden and in the other hand, the definition of the most privates spaces, annexed, consisting in a main bedroom incorporating a bathroom, besides two bedrooms, another bathroom and a space for their children to study and play games, additionally kitchen and garage. At the same time, the plot, with a small size, topographically flat, with a substantially rectangular shape and with a single side having access to the street, the orientation north-south coincided with the diagonal, it does not exist any other remarkable characteristics of the physical environment.
The commission to design a new family home for clients posed a number of challenges and possibilities. The site was unusually large for the area having never been subdivided like its neighbours, but came with a run down worker’s cottage, that had to remain due to Council Heritage Controls despite plastic weatherboard cladding and an assortment of aluminium windows.
The brief was for an adaptable family home that had to create intrigue and a little drama for clients who entertain regularly. The final design utilized the falling topography of the site to make a substantial, and overtly modern addition recede behind the rebuilt cottage that addressed the street. The contrasts between the structures were aesthetic, and material, with the new addition being constructed from concrete, glazed black brickwork, and steel.
Circulation through the house meanders with the site, courtyards separating the cottage from the new addition, and around an existing Jacaranda tree allow varied sight lines and play up the luxury of space afforded by the large site size, and frames wider views into the surrounding district.
The drama and hardness of the concrete, brick, steel, and glass found in the main living and entertaining spaces softens considerably upstairs where the private spaces play up the warmth of limed oak and more playful colours particularly in the children’s rooms. Privacy, and energy efficiency are provided by the external adjustable louvres on the building exterior, which also provide an aesthetic link back to the horizontal weatherboards of the original cottage.
Shadowboxx responds to a desire to facilitate an intimate understanding of this special place and explores the tradition of gathering around a fire. Tucked between a thicket of trees and a rising bank, the house sits in a natural clearing created by the strong winds that force back the trees from the rocky bank. The building purposely confuses the traditional boundaries between a built structure and its surroundings. Its masses are modeled by winds off the water, exterior cladding is allowed to weather and rust, and shifting doors, shutters, walls and roofs constantly modulate the threshold between inside and outside.
Inside the home, a gallery runs the length of the house with rooms spilling off of it. Two 15’ by 10’ steel clad doors slide open to reveal the main living space, named the cloud room for its ever-changing atmospherics. A glass-walled bunkroom, it contains six custom-designed rolling platforms that serve both as sofas and beds and enable the room to morph and accommodate different functions. Exterior awning shutters facing the water can be closed for protection from the elements or for security when the owner is away.
A guest room sits at one end of the house, and the bathhouse at the other. The bathhouse is topped by a 16×20’ roof that opens the room like a cigar box at the push of a button. Materials with a strong tactility are used throughout the house, including rammed earth floors, reclaimed oak floorplanks, unpainted gypsum board and steel walls, corrugated steel siding and roofing, and reclaimed scaffolding planks for the ceiling.
Shadowboxx, San Juan Islands, Washington, USA, by Olson Kundig Architects, Photography © Olson Kundig Architects, Jason Schmidt, Tim Bies
The sites, around 5000 m2 each and mostly surrounded by golf fields and green areas, have the constant presence of the Andes, high temperatures during summer time and winds from the south. The project seeks to incorporate the landscape in the household daily life, following the client’s request who wanted to spend a long time throughout the year in the exterior spaces. The site has a park towards the north, a street on the west side and another one on the south side, where the main access is located. The house is placed towards the corner of the two streets with the intention of freeing the garden, creating continuity with the park and clearing the views towards the east mountain range.
All the interior spaces are organized around an 8 x 8 m central patio that gathers part of the terrain and incorporates it inside the house. Delimited by the ceiling slab, this patio opens its north face to project the view towards the garden. A water mirror runs across a third of its surface reinforcing this perspective through a porch. The public areas constantly participate of the patio, from the main access to the family room, articulating the service areas towards the west. On the east side, a double-height wall lightly closes the private area without losing its participation of the patio and accompanies the ascension to the master bedroom. From there, it is possible to go out into a vast porch that dominates the landscape, where the barbecue area and the swimming pool are placed at a certain distance using the site in all of its extension. Some peripheral walls are prolonged to direct the views and close the house against the winds and nearby streets. In addition, the slabs extend as eaves to protect tall windows from the sun and to cover the terraces. These architectonic elements radicalize the opening of the interior spaces, deepening their presence from the outside.
Kübler House, Santiago, Chile, by 57STUDIO
A carefully considered response to a very steep site with understated ‘mute’, gently sloping, roughly rendered walls and a curved concrete roof. Celebrating modern Australian family life, a generosity of space without ostentation that is practical and serviceable.
Yarra House, by Leeton Pointon Architects, in association with Susi Leeton Architects, Photography © Peter Bennets
Defined by a tall peripheral wall and several trees scattered throughout the property, the form follows the stacking of three basic concrete boxes of differing dimensions, the bottom open on the east/west axis and the top two facing north/south. made for a photographer to live and work, the ground level is a large open studio space, characterized by an all-white neutral interior that allows for control over color. Two large aluminum metal doors like awnings swing open to bring the exterior gardens into the space to provide natural light, or can be completely closed off so that the artist may manipulate artificial lights as desired. A free-standing green Formica box contains the bathroom and dressing room and separates the main studio area from the concealed stairs along the wall, lit from the sky, that take the residents up to the kitchen and dining room. This next volume is a single open space with a smaller inset concrete core containing the restroom, kitchen and storage space. The entire northern facade is a uniform fine wooden screen left in its natural dark stain that filters the intensity of the natural light coming in, while still allowing views to the outside with retractable sections; at night this lattice skin projects pixelated silhouettes of the interior as it glows from interior light. a wall of sliding glass panels further insulates the structure and provides cross ventilation. Following the vertical circulation to the next level reveals a living area within a smaller-scale version of the previous mass, containing a vibrant red mashrabiya skin that opens to a rooftop terrace, extending views over the tree canopies.
Our 2010 series on architectural models included the X-House (Casa X), Wallpaper* magazine has published some images of the completed project.
The X House project aims to solve by the definition of a system, language, or even through a unique form, a number of inquiries that rise up when we read the specific given site: how to protect and give protagonism to an impressive pine, that is located on the top of the site, and that makes access and approximation to the house extremely complex from the street; how to avoid deciding between the views to the sea and those to the mountains, and allow both visions in opposite directions; how to neutralize through form the presence of the contiguous constructions, to build up a fake isolation that denies the neighbours; how to double the main views, permitting quality frontal views from the front and the rear of the house; how to resolve so many a priories with a simple movement that answers to all of the previous aims without prioritizing nor explicitly formulating a response to any of them. The form, a unique form, is the result of a long process of search of individual answers to each of those challenges; thus, the form is not an a priori, but an effort to give a unitary response that satisfies each of the questions rose up in the design process.
The X House is also a constructive exploration: a technique regularly used for the infrastructural construction such as bridges and tunnels, is here developed to meet the architectural scale, aiming to incorporate efficiency, and reduction of costs to the construction. The use of a mixed technique based on the application of a high-density concrete allows projecting the material at a high pressure to a single-sided formwork, and to acquire high structural resistance in extremely short periods of time. Thus, it is possible to project continuous 6m high walls without the need to use a two-sided formwork (which would be the regular construction procedure). The house is therefore a living expression of the specific technique, and accumulates in its skin the diverse and continuous knowledge acquired within the process of construction.