The house takes up its position, back facing the other houses, and simply embraces the entire horizon. The architect has limited terrain to work on. The trick however is to release all the emotions of the place: opening or splitting, reflecting infinity. Space and time are two infinite things that pass us by. Architecture, however, enables us to model space and set time, like a sundial. It can also embody a third infinite thing: beauty. The white walls are blank pages for nature’s expression. The Sabine is a slow-growing pine, recounting the story of an ancient world.
Infinity, Baleares, Spain, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography © Jean-Luc Laloux
It is said that 6 degrees of association separates every human on earth from another. The Gordons Bay House asks how 6 degrees of separation might negotiate a web of complex associations in order to produce an architecture that works for a wide group of people. Set on the hillside overlooking Gordons Bay, the design consists of three levels, each level alternatively offset from the boundary by six degrees. These devices allow the project to avoid stepping on neighbour’s toes, without compromising the quality of the dwelling. The alternating levels all pivot around a dramatic double height gallery stairwell that accommodates the client’s extensive collection of artwork and draws light and air through the centre of the dwelling.
The architecture is embraced and enhanced by landscaping designed by Terragram. A generous lawn is surrounded by edible plants, trees, vegetables and herbs, and the public lane to the south has been enhanced with endemic flowering plants. Built to last, the house uses off-form concrete slabs and edge beams allowing the structure to cantilever gracefully. This palette of materials, as well as the use of aluminium louvers, new and salvaged timbers, and sandstone all elegantly speaks of its seaside setting.
Gordon’s Bay House, Sydney, Australia, by Luigi Rosselli Architects
Situated in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Kensington, ‘The Mullet’ performs contorted gymnastics in order to facilitate an ambitious brief on a small, yet opportunistic site. The clients, Scott Smith and Phoebe Moore, wanted to commission not only a new and comfortable home, but also sought a challenging design. Running a family business in construction, Scott and Phoebe’s own home would become an opportunity for them to showcase their own capabilities. A Heritage overlay shaped the design for the front of the dwelling, requiring that the cottage façade and first few rooms flanking Hardiman Street be retained and renovated, (red roof and all.) This is where the formality is, the face to the heritage land of Eastwood Street blends seamlessly with its cottage neighbours. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms are resolved into the pre-determined Edwardian shell, freeing up the new extension for the living areas.
The ‘fun’ begins to emerge when rounding Hardiman Street. “I don’t like it” – says one of the locals half way through construction. “It’s not in keeping with the area…” The new extension is not meant to be sympathetic to an older style but rather been shaped by the clients’ brief, solar access and one of Melbourne’s best views back onto the city. The balancing act that the local resident detested emerged when the brief called for off-street parking. The house would straddle the parking area, and even with the grade of Hardiman Street to advantage, excavation was unavoidable. Since a digger would be coming to site anyway, the opportunity to dig a little deeper and sink a large concrete box (along with the children in it) was far too good to refuse. Buried within the concrete box is the rumpus room, wine cellar, laundry, and an additional bathroom. The box is capped with a concrete lid and garnished with strategically placed, trafficable glass skylights. The monolithic form anchors the new building into the side of the hill and is finished internally by the rough reality of building – and being – underground.
The concrete lid of the concrete box is not only the ceiling for below, but also the floor in both the kitchen and exterior deck. The pivot around which the other spaces are spun, the kitchen serves all parts of the house, while the dining and living areas are tucked up above the garage and closer to the night sky of Melbourne’s city lights. Timber battens clad the extension, wrapping the three spaces together and providing a linear base for the last hovering piece. Soaring above the living spaces is the black zinc roof. On the northern edge the roof is pulled up to increase natural light to the northwest corner, and pushed down to the neighbouring building on Hardiman Street on the northeast, so as not to overshadow it. On the south side, the operation is reversed, and the southwest corner is lifted to create a framed view of the city. This simple twisting operation grabs light and views from two corners and anchors the remaining two with rain heads falling to collection tanks. The action and drama of the twist is expressed and amplified on the ceiling below by a series of hand-plugged timber battens.
The Mullet, Melbourne, Australia, by March Studio, Photography © John Gollings
Casa Pinheiro, São Paulo, Brazil, by Studio MK27 – Marcio Kogan, Photography © FG+SG – Fernando Guerra
Summer in the Greek islands is all about being outside. The aim of the Plane House is to merge internal and external space, maximising the benefits of both and minimising the impact on the surrounding landscape.
To avoid block volumes that split and dominate space, horizontal planes are inserted into the slope, immediately providing levels for sunbathing, sleeping and eating, as well as vast, open area of shade. They cool and shade the space beneath whilst allowing the flow of sunlight and maintaining the stunning 270 degree view over the coastline. Space between the planes is defined by various flexible panels and glazed screens. Designated cooking, eating and relaxation zones are offset from each other to provide cosiness without sacrificing openness.
The pool is strategically placed to enjoy the view but also to create a cooling breeze over the terrace and into the house as the north wind flows uphill and over its surface. Photovoltaic panels power the pool mechanics and grey-water is recycled and used for irrigation, toilet flushing and fire extinguishing. The landscape is respected and continues over the green roof plane, creeps up along the site boundaries and penetrates vertically through the roof as existing trees stand in the space, undisturbed.
The powerful identity of the concrete planes creates a strong narrative on approaching the house from the coastal road that winds below. From a distance the planes are distinctively separated but as you draw nearer and approach the house from the side, the perspective alters closing the gap between them. On arrival and on entering the space they part once more, opening to reveal the breathtaking view and let the fresh air flow through.
Plane House, by K Studio
Concrete envelops the building, like weathered skin tanned by Portugal’s climate. The skin has wrinkles and flaws that trap the light. This denotes its strength of character. Below the day zone exposed to air and light, lies an underground family room. It acts as a rest-stop before reaching the bedrooms. The sofa invites us to sit for a moment and unravel the secrets of the raw material, the only décor. The bedroom includes a bath and shower. Everything is incorporated into a single room to save on space. This is what counts. The central block of the day zone supports the roof, like an umbrella encircled by a crown of luminosity. In the dead of the night, you may well think a star has landed on earth.
Rainha, Portugal, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography © Jean-Luc Laloux
Bob and Dolores Hope’s mushroomy Palm Springs house is hitting the market for the first time ever this month, but for even more than expected: $50 million (vs. the $45 million reported in November). The house was designed in 1973 (but not finished until 1980) by the magnificent John Lautner and “was built to resemble a volcano, with three visorlike arches and an undulating concrete roof, a hole at its center opening a courtyard to the sky,” according to the New York Times. The house also has a boulder that juts into the living room. However, Dolores Hope had ideas of her own and brought in a designer to change up the interior; while Linda Hope says they weren’t “major alteration[s],” Lautner “eventually distanced himself from the project.” Dolores also added a Garth Benton mural on the back wall of the bar and “a lush, greenhouse-like wall of plants in the spa, which houses a pool, a hot tub and an exercise area.” The house also has six bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, three half-baths, indoor and outdoor pools, a pond, putting greens, and a tennis court.
The Meadowbrook Residence is a space to observe the diurnal and seasonal changes of the desert light within the urban setting of Phoenix, Arizona. It is an exploration of what natural aspects remain within the constructed landscape. The residence is organized around three sculpted rooms-a bedroom on either end and a living room in the middle. Each opens in a different cardinal direction, and each receives light differently throughout the day and year. The rooms function as spaces of pure experience; curved walls record moments of light and shadow in daily procession. The north, east, and south sides are lined by a diaphanous screen that protects the interior and diffuses the bright Arizona light. The west side employs a solid block wall to protect from the afternoon sun, which creates the most intense heat of the day. A refuge from the desert, each space gently conveys the fluctuating seasons of light.
Meadowbrook Residence, Phoenix, Arizona, by Jay Atherton, Photography by Bill Timmerman
The Kearsarge Residence is a major renovation of the 1968 M.G. Residence by the Romanian-American mid-century modernist architect Haralamb H. Georgescu.
Located on a flag lot in Brentwood, California, the site for the Kearsarge Residence has a unique character as a forest within the city. The challenges of working on a historic architectural home is one filled with a unique set of choices. These choices arise from questioning what makes the house important as well as what elements deserve to be preserved and what can be changed to make the house comfortable and livable for years to come.
We don’t live today the way we lived forty five years ago and we will live differently forty five years from now. The goal was to honor Georgescu’s work by restoring the house to it’s true character where appropriate as well as updating the house in keeping with the original design spirit.
We began working on the house after decades of wear and tear as well as modifications by subsequent owners. For example, the open sight lines that are characteristic of Georgescu’s work was interrupted by an owner closing off of the office wall to create an additional bedroom. One of the first tasks was opening up this wall back to it’s original intent, so there is interaction between three levels: The Office, Loft and Living Room.
As we began to peel back layers of the existing building during construction, we discovered that the ceiling of the main space had a rich blue-grey tone that was simply painted over in white. With the uncovering of more elements, it was determined that the original architect extended this colored ceiling from from the Living Room to the the outdoor soffits, creating an indoor-outdoor effect when standing in the space.
Taking cues from the the original cabinetry, all casework was re-created in mahogany wood. The Dining Room Cabinetry was restored to the original details while most other areas used more modern detailing, but within the same language as the original design. Throughout the process we were constantly asking ourselves “What would Georgescu do today?” Picking up on the original white oak used on the stair treads, this became the species of choice used throughout. The new wood floors replaced large expanses of purple carpet and checkered linoleum.
On outside, a deteriorated wood decking was replaced with ipe wood while the wood railing posts and metal mesh was replaced with steel posts and a cable rail system. Under the ipe guardrail cap, an LED rope light gives a pleasant glow to the deck for evening and night time entertaining.
Kearsarge Residence, by Haralamb H. Georgescu, Restoration by © Kurt Krueger Architect