Breaking the prescriptive mold of horizontally layered homes, NaCl House aspires to render unclear the spatial organization of the project and explore an architecture of ambiguous scale. The resultant massing reveals an imperfect, rough-hewn form recalling the natural isometric formation of mineral rock salt.
The exterior composition is read as a single object that reflects a dynamic fluid interior. Uncorrelated to the buildings structure, glazing panels are detailed flush to the exterior surface, eliminating shadows which further inhibit a reading of the buildings scale.
The Shaw house is located on a narrow waterfront property on the south shore of English Bay. Views from the site stretch across the bay to encompass the skyline of downtown Vancouver and, beyond, the mountains on the north shore of the bay. The house is organized with living spaces at grade, a music room below, and a single bedroom, study, and lap pool above. The pool, with terraces at each end, runs along the entire west side of the house.
Because the house is so narrow, spatial expansion is possible only outward over the water and upward. Generous ceiling heights enlarge spaces; a clerestory above the lap pool transmits daylight and dappled, reflected light deep into the central spaces, including the dining room, which rises from the ground level to the upper level of the house. The entrance is directly under the pool, midway along the side of the house. An almost magical aqueous light is transmitted to the entrance area through the water and glass bottom of the pool.
Like many cities on the West Coast, Vancouver is in an area of high seismic risk. A robust structure is required to resist the significant lateral forces that would result from the large mass of water in the pool in the event of an earthquake. Thus the house is constructed almost entirely of reinforced concrete. A special dense mix utilizing white cement keeps the structure looking bright during frequent rainy weather. Inside this concrete shell, the house is insulated and clad with gypsum board. In areas where insulation not required, the concrete structure is exposed. Muted materials and colors — white painted walls, pale concrete floors, precast stair treads, and bleached millwork — allow natural light, even the soft light of winter, to describe the interior.
This house is designed as a vessel of personal discovery for two real estate professionals, with an educated passion for modern architecture, and their two sons. Adjacent to a city mountain preserve to the south, the house gracefully embraces the topographic fold of a desert wash, while focusing on a northeasterly view of the McDowell Mountains in the distance. A mysterious refined dark object in its rugged natural landscape, the house responds to the owners’ desire for a place of quiet reflection.
This two story structure, with its simple shed roof and deep overhangs, is a sculptural form of weathered steel and cooper. A large weathered steel vessel for swimming emerges from the natural desert adjacent to a shaded raised gravel terrace. Entry, office and bedrooms are on the upper level with the primary living and dining experience, a media/music chamber and potter’s studio tucked beneath. Cork and concrete floors, wall planes of translucent glass, and cabinets of cherry and stainless steel articulate the interiors. The upper level entry and passage are conceived as galleries for the owners’ art collection. The stair down to the collective living spaces plays against the subtle drama of the angled south facade, to draw you to the desert beyond as the double height living room takes you to the sky.
Jarson Residence, by Will Bruder + Partners
The house is primarily a response to site and local government planning limitations. With the requirement to house a family of 5 while achieving a large outdoor living space and pool we approached the project as more of a vertical than horizontal composition of spaces. Council requirements stipulated that no more than 20% of the land area could be classified as ‘overheight’. They also required on site parking for two cars off the adjacent laneway. This forced/allowed us to force part of the home underground which achieved improved thermal performance and intimacy while achieving the street appearance of a single level home – though it is the upper level that is read from the street. Covered outdoor space was also a requirement so the upper level was used as a shelter for the sunken outdoor living space. Another of the driving ideas was thermal mass. The lower level shell is constructed in concrete as most of the perimeter walls are retaining or completely subterranean. The upper level however is more exposed to the sun and therefore has been constructed almost entirely in timber for its low thermal mass. Internally the lower (public/living) level has a different treatment to the upper (private – bedrooms, bathrooms and study) level. The lower level is a mainly open space of exposed raw concrete structure mixed with American Oak paneling and storage walls. The upper level takes on a more enclosed, private feel with timber detailing and simple white plaster surfaces. Green views have been achieved from all areas.
Context of the project
The house is set in a post-war inner suburban street in Perth’s Western Suburbs. The surrounding homes are a mixture of small workers cottages and Californian bungalows. The house takes on a similar scale to the surrounding homes and despite its slightly brutal rectilinear shape does not dominate the street. The upper level materials (timber) reflects nearby weatherboard homes and street trees.
Appropriate thermal mass solutions have been achieved in both the subterranean and above ground sections of the home. The lower level requires occasional cooling (through concealed air conditioning) in summer but in winter no heating is required. The upper (exposed) level avoids heat build up through the use of double stud construction and lightweight cedar cladding to the outer walls. The operable timber shutters to the western facade provide complete protection from the hot western sun and can be adjusted to moderate natural light levels throughout the day. The roof uses foam panel technology.
Shenton Park House, Western Australia, by David Smith Studio
This private family residence is a beautiful and understated piece of bespoke and holistic architectural design. The modest entrance façade gently invites you through into a stunning pool area which reveals the U-shaped plan of the building. This form allows for seclusion as well as views of the pool area from virtually every room in the house as well as fantastic ventilation through full height sliding louver and glass doors. This is helped by the orientation of residence to make full use of the day and night prevailing breeze.
The simple no fuss architectural language of the house is further accentuated by a 4 tone colour palette to not only highlight the form, but also to allow the client’s stunning pieces of furniture to take centre stage. This unpretentious approach in keeping to the natural and simplistic setting of the built environment led to a refined and elegant feel to the spaces, worthy of the esteemed client.
The quality of light and the form on the interior spaces were key to the design which is evident from the generously proportioned lounge and the double height dining area of the first floor. These grand rooms offer fantastic spaces for the family to congregate and enjoy time together.
The second floor of the property is dedicated to the private realms of the users and a relaxing alternative lounge away from the main family area. A comprehensive aluminum louver system, across this floor, aids in sun shading, so as to minimize air-con usageas well as to offer exclusive and spiritual privacy against the surrounding properties.
In March, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat Villa reopened after an $8.8 million, two-year reconstruction. Using family photographs, archival material, visiting Mies’ other buildings in the U.S. and Europe, the Tugendhat redesign team focused on, as Villa Director Iveta Cerna said “identifying authenticity.”
The Villa, built in 1930, was the family home of the Tugendhats only until 1938 when they fled the country due to World War II. Fritz and Greta Tugendhat worked closely with Mies, who designed the site-specific building to make excellent use of steel, glass and concrete, and flowing spatial srrangement. The building was not well maintained under communism. Many of the original furnishings and other elements went missing and structural work needed to be done. Work included removing things added in the years after the Tugendhats had left, as well as hunting down original furniture, and when those couldn’t be found painstakingly making exact copies. The result is a renewed near-perfect example of one of Mies’s “space must be felt” creations.
Tugendhat Villa, Brno, Czech Republic, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s, via: Dwell
This house is an original construction of the 40s, it belonged to a great Brazilian artist, Victor Brecheret, the man behind great references in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. After the artist’s death, the property has never been occupied and during decades it served as a foundation of part of his collection and a deposit. The architect Guilherme Torres was immediately attracted by its compact size (130 m²) and the privileged location in one of the most charming streets in the Jardins neighborhood in São Paulo.
The main concept was to update the building, reflecting the contemporary language of the newcomer. The floor plan has not suffered many changes. The only things that has been changed over were the gaps, openings and coatings. All the walls were covered with drywalls and received in some parts white paint and in others, a coating that resembles cement texture. Up the stairs, from the original construction, you can see an art piece of Pinky Wainer, also responsible for the façade neon with the say: ‘land of the free, home of the brave’. The master suite’s toilet is connected to a mezzanine above the kitchen where a bath tub was created. A retractable glass roof can be opened on summer days, to help leaving a mild climate. To soften the rays of sun, a wooden muxarabie, a registered trademark of the architect, was used as a covering following the same pattern of the front door of the house.
The architect chose this property to live and work. With just over 30 years and works in broad expansion, Guilherme Torres is considered one of the great names of Brazilian architecture. Coming from the interior of Paraná state, Brazil, where he established his first office serving many cities of Brazil for 10 years. Guilherme wanted to translate in his own new space, the best way of a cosmopolitan life with a hint of pop. The Studio Guilherme Torres moves from style to style developing architecture and interior projects and also signs a furniture line. The architecture receives timeless traits, a result of Guilherme’s admiration to the Escola Paulista de Arquitetura Modernista, which had its heyday in the 60s and 70s. For interiors the tendency is always to reflect the inquietude of our days. And design is a perfect match between both styles. One can simply look to the house owner to understand the symbiosis between creation and creature. Guilherme is a lover of street art, electronic music and loves to create new tattoos for himself, and it is inside this cauldron of references where he receives his clients and friends.
Studio GT SP, São Paulo, Brazil, by Studio Guilherme Torres, via: Archilovers
The design for the Caterpillar House, sited on the softly rolling hills of the Santa Lucia Preserve, sought to accentuate a connection to the land. Having lived in a Cliff May home, the client came to the project with a love of modern ranch houses and looking for an environmentally-conscious response to a beautiful site. The Caterpillar House implements sustainable elements while exploring a contemporary version of the ranch ideals: massing that is low and horizontal, an open plan with a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, and main living areas which center informally on the kitchen.
Connecting literally and figuratively to the site, excavated earth was repurposed for the construction of the walls. These rammed earth walls gently curve in response to the site’s contours and also act as a thermal mass, regulating temperatures from day to night. Capturing rainwater for irrigation, three tanks proudly sit close to the home — a clear sign of the available water resources for landscape. Large south-facing glass doors open the main living area to a large covered contemporary porch and to an outdoor patio with sunshades that expand and contract to allow for a flexible entertaining area that responds to the client’s needs.
The glazing, natural ventilation and operable shading also act as a passive heating and cooling system, cooling the house in the summer and warming the house in winter. Integrated photovoltaic panels enable the house to produce all of its energy requirements without compromising the graceful curve of the low roof against the hill. The Caterpillar House is the first Leed Platinum Custom Home of the Central Coast.
Due to the absence of fences, the hexagonal shape of the plot is not clear and the ground blends with the surrounding pinewoods. The house occupies the maximal area of construction, concentric to the six-sided plot. Disposed round a courtyard to which every space converges, its peculiar form finds a precise boundary in the outline of a canopy. Service areas provide geometry and stability to the main spaces.
Located near Ulm in southern Germany, D10 is a single-storey one-family home built in an established residential area. A private driveway provides access to the house. Two parallel shear walls are a distinguishing feature of the building. Generously designed glazing serves to provide a spatial enclosure. Protected by an extensively projecting flat roof a generously sized patio encircling the house serves to unite the indoor space with the outdoor space. Access to the building is also gained via this patio.
The living areas are located on the ground floor, whilst the ancillary rooms are housed in the basement. The building is adjoined on the north side by a double-garage, which can be accessed directly from the basement. A stairway in the living room provides access inside the house.
D10, Stuttgart, Germany, by Werner Sobek, Photography by Zooey Braun