The Skylight House inverts a traditional Victorian terrace house. The living rooms are relocated to the top floor where there is better access to views and sunlight, and the secondary bedrooms are placed on the ground floor. The design is imagined as two fluid horizontal planes that have been inserted within the traditional envelope; one folding to form a ground plane that mediates the natural ground levels along the site; and a second along the ceiling line which fragments and undulates to permit sunlight into the length of the building. The ground plane has been cut around a central courtyard containing an endemic Banksia Integrifolia which, along with the sculptural southern facing skylight, brings light into the living, kitchen and dining spaces. These two planes act as spatial dividers as well as create a light filled, open fluid space unfamiliar in a traditional terrace house.
The Skylight House, Sydney, Australia, by Chenchow Little, Photography by John Gollings & Katherine Lu
54 years ago she visited Orcas Island for the first time and decided that one day she would live there. 40 years passed before she saw it again and purchased a forested piece of land on a hillside populated with madrone trees, firs, beech, thistle, moss and rocks with magnificent views to the west of the San Juan and Canadian Gulf islands. Throughout her life rocks, nature and landscape played an important role in her artwork. It was this attraction that convinced her that this was the perfect site. She requested an open, simple, low maintenance design which works with the site in such a way that her views of the island, forest and ledges were always present within the house. The program consists of a combined kitchen-dining-living area, study, master suite, art studio and storage area. The solution utilizes some of her favorite materials; old barn wood, rusty steel, moss and rocks. Large doors slide away to open the house to the expansive views, creating a living room in the woods. The entry garden bisects the house creating two zones while it carries the site and the eye out to the view. The 800 s.f. art studio and storage area are left raw to facilitate converting them to additional bedrooms at a later date.
Eagle Ridge Residence, by Gary Gladwish Architecture, Photography by Will Austin
The property was 90% covered by Aukerlands native Pohutukawa trees, which created a challenge for Herbst, a New Zealand based architecture firm founded in 2000 by Lance and Nicola Herbst. “In order for the home to exist it would require the destruction of a large number of mature trees. To do this we looked to the trees themselves to give us the cues that we needed,” the two architects explained.
“We separated the brief loosely into private and “public” components, giving us smaller individual masses with which to articulate the forms. The private functions of bedrooms and garage are housed in two towers which are construed as freshly sawn stumps of the trees that were removed. To allude to the bark of the stumps the skins of the towers are clad in black/brown stained rough sawn irregular battens. The interior spaces are then seen as carved out of the freshly cut wood, achieved by detailing all the wall / ceiling and cabinetry elements in the same light timber.”
After working around the tree issue, Herbst put their minds together to design the interiors. Warm woods were used on the walls and furniture with a complementary color scheme of oranges, tans, and browns to keep the interiors cohesive with the exterior architecture. The living room became the featured space of the home, with its large ceilings, fireplace, welcoming furniture, and unique lighting; Herbst created a comfortable and contemporary place for story telling and hosting. Part of the living room opens up to the forest, letting natural light and ventilation to breathe into the space. The living room and other piblic spaces are the main areas that link the private spaces of the home. A walkway links the towers at the upper level allowing engagement with both the natural and man made canopies. The Pohutukawa home is designed to be the perfect get away, secluded, a chance to re-connect with nature.
Due to the reduced size of the site, residual and crossing spaces were practically left out (for example, there is no entrance hall, in behalf of a visual permeability with the entrance garden, achieved through large pivotal doors in the facade).
The floor plan is rectangular and compact, stretching till the site’s sidelines. The rooms are illuminated by large doors front and back facades and also by matted glass locking (u-glass that acts as a good thermal insulation due to the existence of an air layer between the glass sheets) between the lagged cover labs. A glass cover over a concrete pergola complements the illumination through an indoor garden. Therefore, the house is flooded by zenithal and indirect natural light that besides avoiding artificial lighting during the day, also avoids excessive heat from direct sunlight. The prevailing wind comes from the street, thus the entering doors work as regulators of wind speed. Totally opened in the summer, praise cross ventilation, or closed in the winter, or even semi opened if little ventilation is desired.
The residence was established in the street level, one meter above natural ground, in order to avoid unevenness and improve accessibility of the social areas. And, it also let the house more protected from the soil moisture. It is important to remind that one of the reasons for the implantation of compact field, reducing its footprint, was to increase the permeability of the ground, something really needed in our cities.
Solar collectors (that meet the house and the pool) occupy the most of the cover slab which prevented the use of this area initially contemplated. Due to the large spans desired, supported by few points of foundation, and also to the large porch swing, the upper walls are concrete beams built by ripped forms of wood left apparent. Its aesthetics comes from a structural option, hence follows that it is not decorative. This structural gymnastics was important, as the support pillars on the porch would be contrary to the intention of integration between interior/exterior desired. The result was a lightweighted residence (despite its aesthetics of exposed concrete), lighted and ventiladed, with pleasant and proportional spaces that puts into to practice the initial desire to the best possible use of external area.
Addressing security and privacy for the inhabitants, the strategic arrangement of the perimeter walls creates an introspective atmosphere. A vernacular appearance and stone gable roof was maintained to reference the zoning requirements of the established residential fabric. A shallow pool surrounds the home while a void between the masonry walls allows fish to swim freely into an open air court and abut the large glass windows bordering the ground level.
Outward views from the interior consist of a palette of gray brick and green leafy vegetation mirrored within the reflective water. The solid walls enable natural light to filter inward providing a soft ambient illumination. The closed front elevation is contrasted along the rear of the structure, surfaced with glass windows to provide views of the expansive private garden. Rooms are configured to overlook the grounds producing a feeling of isolation within the densely developed neighborhood.
Latvian practice ARHIS Architects has completed the Observation Tower in Jurmala positioned within the Dzintaru park in Jurmala, Latvia. The 38-meter tall structure is enclosed with an open-air cage allowing screened views of the encompassing nature reserve. Lifted on steel pilotis, visitors enter the construct through a discreet stair and continue climbing towards the pinnacle deck positioned at a height of 33.5 meters, exposed and visible from the ground. Twelve balconies capable of accommodating one or two individuals cantilever outside the rectangular faces, allowing a sweeping vista of the landscape.
The metal framework is clad with narrow wooden strips secured with vertical bands of lumber. The transparency of the elongated quadrilateral form maintains a delicate presence, minimally imposing on its natural surroundings. The floors are comprised of an industrial steel grate to maintain an outdoor experience during ascent.
After successfully concluding a variety of HI-MACS® projects, Karl Dreer incorporates the material for his own private house. “HI-MACS® provides the opportunity of creating nearly any design in nearly any building — regardless of unusual weathering conditions, high degrees of moisture or enormous loads. It exceeds the standard material limits.”
An oversized entrance door is flanked by two window frames made out of HI-MACS® Arctic White. Also the grey pedestals are made from the material.
The dining room table is the central feature of the first floor and the link between the living room and dining area. The ability to thermoform HI-MACS® was critical in implementing the designed table.
In the kitchen all furniture including cabinet doors, worktop and sinks are made also from HI-MACS® with a special detail on the front milled cabinet doors.
A fitness and wellness area and family office are located on the upper floor of the left cube. A shower, wash basin, shelves and small seating options made from HI-MACS® are also included here. Temperature, lighting and shading of the house are controlled via BUS system — central, but individual. The operation and visualization of all details takes place via touch panels which are installed in every room. This HI-MACS® house exists without fossil fuels and sets standards for environmental protection and efficiency. Finishing touches like self-designed garden furniture made completely from HI-MACS® complete this story.
Just like a path or road which comes to a dead end, the land becomes rippled before turning into a staircase which leads you down to the lower bridge from where you can appreciate the landscape in all its beauty. The living areas are enclosed by a single large window frame. The windows also provide protection against the winds. There are also large windows along the patio which is in an enclosed area. The cliff which has an olive tree on top provides a second wall for the patio. Away from view, the swimming pool lies to the side of the building beyond the terrace, surrounded by the natural environment. A number of walls and pillars have been painstakingly erected on the concrete surface and support the floor above which contains the bedrooms. Located at 159 metres altitude, none of the building’s features constitute a threat to nature. Under blue skies the building appears calm and serene whilst in stormy weather it has a striking and tormented air about it.
AIBS, Spain, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum and Partners
Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux
The Cobogó House, a single family residence designed by São Paulo-based architect Marcio Kogan of Studio MK27 has been nominated for an award in the house category for this year’s world architecture festival. At entry level, a series of perimeter glass doors can be opened to provide a permeable boundary to access the adjacent enclosed courtyard garden. An outdoor veranda with elevated views of the sculpted lake and trees wraps around a facade formed with a continuous and modular interwoven brise-soleil. The organic loops of the high-gloss white material generates a series of penetrations allowing a dappled lighting quality to filter into and naturally illuminate the second floor corridor.
The crisp plaster exterior is contrasted with rectangular bands of vertical wooden planks which visually continue to the ground plane to form the surrounding garden fence. A pervious mesh screen parallel the structure’s outer wall may be slid along a track and closed to protect the interior spaces from the strong afternoon sunlight. At night, the patterned elevation creates the effect of a glowing jewel box when illuminated by the inner bedroom’s ambient lighting.
A 1960’s house has been replaced and reflected by a contemporary version of itself, with a focus that now engages as much on the surrounding garden as it does the panoramic CBD view. The original plan and massing were adapted + literally ‘flipped’ with garden elements to create a more expansive connection from inside to out. Details, fixtures and fittings are sensitive to the original home.
Flipped House, by MCK Architects, Photography by Willem Rethmeier