Top to bottom: endless sky, commanding trees, house and wild vines. The home humbly nestles into this order… The entire length of the house opens up to the expanse of vineyard before your eyes. Yet a lintel overhanging the plate glass window marks the border between homely serenity and the melee of vines… Breakwater: at the foot of the dining room, large rocks turn back the momentous tide of nature… Space is not distance, it’s infinity… The desks in the children’s rooms overlook the vineyard, their heritage.
Rian House in France, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography by Jean-Luc LALOUX
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 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. The light filled white interior is strengthened by the use of reflective white surfaces and the use of glass railings. The main central stairs is clad in glass, both clear and opaque to again maintain privacy but allow natural light.
Bucktown Three Residence, Chicago, IL, United States, by Studio Dwell Architects
Photography by Marty Peters
This one-bedroom house is located on an agricultural property in Sonoma owned by two scientists. We were asked for a structure that would take advantage of hillside views and integrate more sustainable utilities over the 25-acre site. Energy is now supplied by a new solar array, sized to power the entire property and all buildings and equipment.
At a mere 850-square foot, the house is situated at the top of an olive orchard where breezes and shade are maximized. We also made sure to exploit the open area so that no hardwood trees were removed. The goal was to emphasize outdoor living areas that would be intimate for two people but accommodate larger groups for entertaining.
Anchored into the steep hillside with a series of concrete retaining walls and cascading exterior decks, the structure has a much grander presence than one would assume from its size. A site strategy of cascading spaces embracing the slope and relating the inside and outside at every level is an ambitious concept, yet one least intrusive to the natural topography. The circulation always directs one to the open views, while the fenestration protects from the hot southern sun in favor of soft northern light. The fun of living there is in the plentitude of special openings, details, and secret nooks that allow many options for places to be at different times of day.
House in an Olive Grove, Sonoma, California, by Cooper Joseph Studio
Photography by Elliott Kaufman Photography & Cooper Joseph Studio
The dramatic site within an isolated, disused quarry on the edge of the Brecon National Park demanded an architectural intervention of elegant simplicity. With a modest budget and to counter the construction complexities associated with touching the quarry walls, we developed an object building suspended within the basin – collecting light and focusing on distant views like a camera Obscura. We chose to ‘touch the ground lightly’ to heighten the spatial drama and tension between an isolated pure form and the static noise of the exposed rock face. The new home will be constructed of in-situ concrete for the first floor cantilever slab. A combined heat recovery unit will be used in conjunction with high performance insulated structural panels (SIP) – for the walls and 2nd floor, all helping to achieve a high level of thermal efficiency and air tightness. The passive strategies employed emphasise the importance of maximising long-lasting energy performance improvements to the fabric of a dwelling, before adding the optimum renewable solution.
House for a Photographer, Pontypridd, Wales, by Hyde+Hyde Architects
This new build house is set in a landscape of exceptional natural beauty. The scheme employs a series of linear pavilions that step down the gradual fall of the site, creating a meandering path through the house, from the entrance on the west to the living space and sea views on the east.
The collection of mono-pitched volumes are staggered across the site and the spaces between them are orchestrated to create a series of semi-enclosed sheltered courtyards. At the end of the journey, a larger terrace reveals spectacular views of the cliffs, sea and the islands of West Cork. The existing house is roofed in natural slate with rendered white walls. The new structures are entirely clad in Irish blue limestone to appear as shards of rock in the landscape. These will weather over time to match the surrounding cliffs.
House at Goleen, Ireland, by Niall Mclaughlin Architects
The owner is a successful Slovenian businessman who spends some of his spare time in the countryside. The property is situated on the edge of a small village on top of a hill, and consists of farm land, forest, residential building, barn house, apiary and wooden pavilion used as a tool shack. The client decided to replace the broken-down barn house with a new, multi-functional building, a sort of “modern Slovenian hayrack”. The building is intended for dispensing honey, sorting, handling and drying fruit, storage of crops and tools, while the spacious ground floor is intended as a meeting place to host partners from abroad and celebrate family events.
The Black Barn, Šentrupert, Slovenia, by Arhitektura d.o.o.
Photography by Miran Kambič
The client wanted a house where he could enjoy the company of his kids and many friends intensely. For that purpose, he asked for ample and various entertaining areas, such as a cinema room, a recreation room for the children and a sauna. And being a sports enthusiast, he wanted the house to feature a large gym room and a long swimming lane as well.
From the main entrance, one approaches the house – set at the back of the land – by foot, up and through a wooded area, and across a wide garden. The house comes then fully to sight: 4 joined but distinct blocks, respectively covered with pebble-blasted concrete plaques (living quarters), exposed concrete (office), wood planks (entertaining area) and sand-blasted concrete plaques (dining and service areas).
A driveway set at the back of the house can be used by those arriving by car. Past a garage where the owner keeps his antique cars collection and up through a lush indoor garden, one comes to the main floor, where all living and entertaining areas are to find – except for the gym and recreation rooms, located on the lower floor, and the sauna, on the basement.
The location of the house was also defined by (huge) existing trees. An important part of the concept, the decision to build small patios and gardens around them allows for broad natural light and ventilation inside the house, helping to keep temperature cool and pleasant green views whichever way one looks at.
Grecia House, São Paulo, Brazil, by Isay Weinfeld
Palm Springs House, by Michael Johnston, via: Plastolux, Photography © James Haefner