Positioned on a sloped, wooded site in a rural area of Luxembourg, a private house stands as a glass prism featuring distinct spatial zones. The L-shaped residence offers both privacy and seclusion, as well as panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Opaque cladding envelops the dwelling on the south and east sides, protecting the property from the passing street and neighbouring buildings, and anchoring the structure to the plot. An interstitial space containing a series of terraces bridges internal and external space, subsequently creating a dialogue between the primary elevation and the glazed structure. The principal circulation route connects the stair hall and divides the house into two parts: a solid zone marked by a rhythm of structural piers, and a voided zone to the north, accentuated by a lighter steel structural system. Housing technical amenities and parking facilities, the lower level of the property opens to a sloped yard with a sauna, fitness area, and direct access to the garden above. The primary public spaces are located at the ground level, with an open kitchen, guest suite, and children’s playrooms located along the south side, and the living and dining volumes to the north. The bedrooms and master suite are placed along the south side of the upper floor, shielded from excessive sunlight by a system of glass louvers. Opposite these rooms a study, library, and lounge overlook the double-height living room below.
Luxembourg House, Luxembourg, by Richard Meier & Partners
Photography by Rolande Halbe
The project includes a main house, guest retreat, pool house, and tennis pavilion that sit on 10 acres of rolling hills. While the location makes way for a typical ranch-style house, this project features a combination of modern and vintage furnishings, clean lines, and a truly stellar contemporary art collection. Considering its surroundings, the house was built with massive blocks of Texas Lueders limestone that they mixed with steel and glass walls. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the green landscape and fill the house with something natural – sunlight.
Besides the “great room”, the main house has an eat-in kitchen, six bedrooms, and a master suite. The main living area has double-height ceilings making the open living and dining room feel quite grand. Each bedroom has a completely different vibe making it really hard to choose a favourite. The master suite is located right off the great room and has perforated suede wall panels giving the room a lush feel. In the guesthouse, there’s two bedrooms, an indoor/outdoor living room, and a wine cellar.
A Modern Family Ranch, Texas, United States, by Lake|Flato Architects
The new addition is a gentle intervention that emerges quietly from the canopy of a beautiful, mature lemon-scented gum tree. “With sensitivity to the site’s inherent strengths, the design embraces the preservation and integration of the established tree allowing it to remain the dominate feature on the property.” says B.E Architecture. Covered outdoor spaces are literally built around the gum tree, encapsulating and framing the trunk. Timber-clad columns recede into the background and a fine line of glazing opens to the densely planted side yard for continuous access to the natural environment from within the interior spaces.
An upper level sits in the branches of the tree floating above the bottom structure to provide a unique treetop setting overlooking views to the Sydney Harbour. “The roof is treated in a considered stone so that it is more like landscaping adorned with the scattering of fallen leaves.” Preservation of the tree required the structure be physically light. Built on a steeply sloping site, the expansive addition made from thin concrete includes an underground parking garage and a large suspended pool, without damaging the tree’s root system. The suspended platform also provides a generous planted area creating obscured views of the house.
Hopetoun Avenue Residence, Vaucluse, Sydney, Australia, by B.E Architecture
Two volumes of light – one warm and one cool – one projected to the expansive horizon and one toward the canopy of the desert sky. The 2200sf Dialogue House is a gestalt instrument for touching the full range and specificity of this light, this “place” – day and night, season to season and year to year. At the base of Echo Mountain the main living volume is elevated above work, guest, and the car, furthest from the street on a lateral pinwheel brace of charcoal masonry walls that extend cardinally capturing the site.
The exterior surfaces of the pinwheel walls as well as the main volume absorb and reflect light akin to the “desert varnish” that coats the volcanic geology of the Phoenix Mountains turning silver, red, purple-brown-black during the day only to collapse into silhouettes at night. Thus, “life after work” is simultaneously supported by the apparent thickness and thinness of light. The interior of the street volume is plastered cool white, half terrace – half cool water as a retreat from the city within the city where one can only can see sky. Wind and water activated light is refracted onto the interior surfaces by day and most dramatically at night which provides an animated foreground to the skyline and distant horizon beyond.
Dialogue House, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, by Wendell Burnette Architects
Living spaces feature wide panoramas toward ocean below, while concrete and vegetated walls remind of the rocky and forested setting. On its exterior, the structure visually blends with the wooded context by through its moss-covered roof. Additionally, the topography has been manipulated to control groundwater flow through the site, while being momentarily captured in the courtyard’s pond. The residence’s composition takes influence from the dynamic and irregular qualities of the rocky site. A scattered arrangement of concrete walls act as the main organizational elements, while at times clad in black fiber-cement panels. The resulting spaces provide a range of separate moments of connection to features surrounding the house, including a small tidal basin off the kitchen nook, a ledge of moss covered rock in the bedrooms, and a view back from the court to a swath of deciduous trees. The climax of openness to the site is experienced from the living room, which features floor to ceiling glass curtain walls toward the pacific.
Tula House, Quadra Island, Canada, by Patkau Architects
Photography by James Dow, Patkau Architects
Due to its proximity to the rugged and sloping creekside bank to the west, the house was subject to strict environmental and geotechnical conditions, including a required setback from the top of the bank that pushed the building’s foundation eastwards. The resultant footprint was awkwardly narrow, so to gain back valuable space, a portion of the main and upper floor is cantilevered back out past the foundation, allowing the native creekside vegetation to grow up, under and around as an uninterrupted, wild, forest floor. This reclamation of space is clearly pronounced in the dining room, where it projects fifteen feet out past the concrete foundation wall. By eliminating window frames and extending the glazing panels on all three sides of the room, past the floor and ceiling planes, the space dissolves into the adjacent forest canopy and provides framed views though to the ocean beyond. Tucked into the hill, the front of the house is deceptively modest in scale, set off by the large mature cedar that anchors the front yard. The topography of the site reveals itself as one descends the exterior stairs adjacent to the forest and follows the exposed concrete wall to the main entry. Continuing through to the interior, the wall rises up seventeen feet to help frame the bright circulation volume, with stairs leading to the upper floor and down to the main living spaces.
Russet Residence, West Vancouver, Canada, by Splyce Design
Photography by Ivan Hunter
The primary organizational elements for this residence are two “L” shaped brick walls connected by a glass enclosed bridge. Mahogany clad walls combine with the smaller “L” to provide a service volume while glass walls combine with the larger “L” to create the primary living spaces and to provide southern and western views toward the lake. The experience of arrival and the wall are intertwined as the wall establishes a threshold between the pine forest and views toward the lake. Entrance to the house is through the wall and into a space that divides the program of the house into public and private realms.
The entry, living and sleeping spaces are arranged linearly to maximize lake views and to take advantage of the southern exposure. The second floor roof and exterior walls are wrapped in copper with fully glazed east and west walls inset from the ends of the copper volume. The glazed wall at the east end provides an abundant and high source of light into the double height entry hall while the glazing on the west end provides light to two bedrooms and views of the lake. The sloping roof and canted front wall are designed to deflect fierce north wind and shed water from intense storms. The geometric volumes are connected to the landscape both by the views from the interior and accessibility to the outdoors.
Throughout the project detailing is minimal and precise. The spaces are ordered and there is a juxtaposition of solidity and transparency. The rigor of the design, the linear organization of spaces and the continuous presence of the wall provide a sharp and intended contrast to the irregular beauty of the landscape beyond. It is this contrast between an ordered human dimension and an unstructured natural condition that elevates our understanding and appreciation of both.
The Buisson Residence, Virginia, by Robert M. Gurney
Photography by Paul Warchol and Maxwell MacKenzie
The home was commissioned in 1956 for Kenneth Reiner, who made a small fortune on ladies hair clips and aviation patents. He worked very closely with Lautner to create this house, and Lautner built elements into the home specifically according to Reiner’s specifications; in the event that the equipment didn’t exist to meet those specifications, Reiner would often design and make the necessary piece for Lautner. Some Reiner – designed elements in the home include “lights that pivot into the ceiling, and electrically-controlled skylights.”
The result of all the efforts of the two men was an incredible home, with “faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water; a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that was lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals; a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard; and controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs,” plus a cantilevered driveway, as the LA Times noted in their obituary for Reiner, who passed away in 2011.
The site, located on an exposed cliff edge overlooking a rocky peninsula, is perched above a dramatic seascape with spectacular views. The site is 1 of 6 exclusive use areas permitted on this reserve. The place is characterized by its rolling landforms and the dense indigenous vegetation of extraordinary variety. “Great care has been taken to promote the natural attributes of the site with the use of materials to complement the natural colour pallet and textures of the site to provide the least impact both during construction and after completion. The approach has therefore been a pavilion that blends with and does not overpower nature with a cohesive architectural character where it comes to scale, proportion and the articulation of the building form. It is airy, yet firmly anchored into the landscape by means of heavy stone clad walls,” says partner Stefan Antoni.
The location of the site invited large glazed areas and extensive use of outdoor spaces, with each aspect of the house having a private terrace or deck. The open plan linear composition of the interior spaces allows views from every room. To take advantage of the sea and surrounding golf course views and to provide protection from the extreme Cape Coastal climate, the living spaces were designed with South West/North East orientations, resulting in an open flowing space with both uninterrupted sea facing terraces and protected courtyards. This allows the house to ‘live’ on both sides with the main living spaces forming the link between inside and outside. The orientation gives the owners the option of sheltered courtyards on the leeward side in poor weather conditions or the use of extensive terraces on the windward side on sunny and wind free days. The through-views also ensure that one always experiences the sea and adjacent rolling landscapes taking opportunity of the site.
Cove 6, Knyzna, South Africa, by Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects
Photography by SAOTA