A weekend desert residence for a family and their dog, the Four Eyes House is an exercise in site-specific experiential programming. Rather than planning the house according to a domestic functional program, the building was designed foremost as an instrument for intensifying a number of onsite phenomenal events.
Four “sleeping towers” are oriented towards four spatiotemporal viewing experiences: morning sunrise to the east, mountain range to the south, evening city lights to the west, and nighttime stars overhead. Each tower contains a compact top-floor bedroom, sized only for the bed, and each with a unique aperture directed towards the view. These bedrooms are equally-sized and unassigned, such that the family’s sleeping locations can be rotated based on each individual’s desired viewing experience. Vertical circulation within the towers is similarly particularized (e.g. ladders, spiral stair, switchback stair, or shallow-riser stair). Ground-floor common spaces form a loose connective field between the discrete tower volumes, and offer a more permeable relationship to the landscape.
The sensations of sleeping and waking are thus inflected by the building’s foregrounding of intensified onsite experiential events. By sleeping in a room elevated off the ground and open to the stars, one might inhabit a deep pocket of silence for a few moments, and perhaps even perceive the movement of the Earth, as it slowly rotates beneath the stars.
Four Eyes House, Coachella Valley, California, by Edward Ogosta Architecture
This contemporary residence is designed to seamlessly open unto the panoramic coastal ridge-top site via expansive operable glazed walls. The glazed transparency is balanced and the home is anchored in place by substantial cut native sandstone walls. The architectural design evolved from our client’s desire for a home that is a tranquil place for living, art and retreat.
The project site is located on a ridge in the foothills of Carpinteria, ten miles down the coast from Santa Barbara. The program asked for a master suite, one guest room, a study for two, a more contained den and an informal open living space they could share with their children and grand children. The site strategy was to separate the guesthouse, pool and pool house from the main house, by locating them amongst the oaks on a lower terrace. The smaller structures were easier to place around the mature oak trees without disturbing their root systems. Each structure has its own orientation and privacy.
How to develop a strategy with dramatic 360-degree views was a challenge for laying out the main house. Placing the main living space and study further away from the edge was determined to be quieter from the distant freeway noise. A courtyard created an inward oriented counterpoint to the distant vistas. A flat roof modernist scheme complemented the couples taste for modern art and furniture. Designers in their own right, they were the driving force in the overall design team. The design was limited to a simple palette of materials and forms. A European window and sliding door system was used to minimize the frames and optimize the glass. These glass walls were framed between large stonewalls constructed of the local Santa Barbara Sandstone, and volumes contained in plaster walls with an integral color (pantry, guest room, master bath and closet, storage area). The flat roofs were supported by steel columns separated from the curtain walls.
The landscape design became a hobby of the owner who studied local native plantings that were both fire resistant and drought tolerant. Some large oak trees were brought in to augment the existing oak grove, further nestle the house into the site, and create a foreground to help frame the spectacular views.
Residing on a plot that once served as a farm road before a small house was built and removed, the design seeks to maintain the site’s historical context by taking on the silhouette of a humble shack. Surrounded by a number of multi-storey buildings, the long and slim site features a small street-facing line. The gable roof structure is completely transparent in the front, serving as a direct interface between the activities of the pharmacy and the immediate site. Simple and proportionate to the original house, the front elevation is extruded back to fully occupy the linear site. the remaining remnants of the old farm road is preserved by setting back the structure to highlight the original sidewalk.
Constructed using a simple steel frame system, the interior is defined by its structural makeup: wooden columns and rafters are left exposed to rhythmically reveal the space in warm tones. In order to delegate the slim layout efficiently, a small loft level serves as a waiting area. the program gains clear separation by being elevated but preserves the interior’s sense of connection between levels.
The work involves renovating and transforming a house in the suburbs into a contemporary residential building. The owner wanted everything to have a fresh perspective, to be rethought and reworked: The architect took charge of the building and worked on it as if it were a sculpture which needs to be controlled from both the inside and the outside until a full appreciation is gained for the relationship the occupants have with the building in question. The architect will work on the house relentlessly, applying his formula of preference: “the right proportions shall have precedence over any form of decoration”. Since, two white walls have appeared on the avenue in the suburbs and two young trees can be seen in front of these walls which will grow and bear witness to the seasons of the year. As you enter the building, and before the family has a chance to extend its hospitality to you, a vast surface of water will arouse your senses.
Les Heures Claires, Belgium, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners, Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux
Architect Peter Zumthor designed this memorial on an island in Norway to commemorate suspected witches who were burned at the stake there in the seventeenth century. The Steilneset Memorial in Vardø comprises two structures, one conceived entirely by Zumthor and a second housing an installation by the late Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). The first structure comprises a pine scaffolding framework, inside which is a suspended fabric cocoon containing a long oak-floored corridor. Inside this corridor, light bulbs hang behind 91 windows to represent each of the men and women that were put to death during the witch trials. A plaque accompanies each lamp to record the individual stories of every victim. The installation by Bourgeois, entitled The Damned, The Possessed and The Beloved, occupies the smoked-glass-clad second structure. A circle of mirrors within surround and reflect a flaming steel chair inside a hollow concrete cone.
Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, Norway, by Peter Zumthor and Louise Bourgeois,
Photography by Andrew Meredith, via: dezeen
With distant views of alpine peaks, the hillside site overlooks rolling farmland. The site faces north, directly into the blazing sun of the southern hemisphere. Strict agency requirements limited both the size and form of the home in relation to the slope. The climate is one of extremes with very hot summers and freezing cold winters.
The approach to building on this barren hillside was to merge with the slope, rather than to stick out from it. In response to the climactic extremes, a distinctive roof form protects the home from the sun with generous roof overhangs. Inspired by the form of the hillside, the roof is shaped like an upside down checkmark. A long, thin footprint allows for views of the mountains from every room. Entry is through the side of the house with circulation along the back wall. Upon entering the rooms, the strong horizontals of the roof and deck frame the view.
The massing consists of two volumes, public and private, that are linked by a staircase. The first volume contains the “great room” including the kitchen, living room and indoor/outdoor dining rooms. At the back of the great room, a wood wall conceals the study, bathrooms, refrigerator and ladder access to a sleeping loft. Sliding glass doors open to the pool and exterior lounge area. A retaining wall, constructed of a local stone called Gibbston Valley Schist, runs from the living room to the exterior patio and incorporates an outdoor fireplace and benches. The second volume is the private wing containing the master suite and children’s rooms.
New Zealand Residence, Wanaka, New Zealand, by Marmol Radziner, Photography by Emily Andrews and Marmol Radziner
Modest houses on small lots comprise the Quillen’s Point neighborhood, adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay in Ocean View, Delaware. An eclectic mix of houses, gravel roads ending at the bay and wooded lots provide a nostalgic, informal setting for this new house. The project site is near the end of Burbage Lane, the second lot from the bay with expectations that the adjacent waterfront lot will eventually be developed.
In an effort to integrate living spaces with the outdoors while maintaining privacy from Burbage Lane and neighboring houses, the scheme is organized around a centrally located garden. With sixteen foot high ceilings, the eastern volume contains the public living spaces. Continuous clerestory windows assist in providing an abundance of natural light into the space, allowing views to the treetops and sky while minimizing the close proximity of the adjacent houses. A twenty foot wide glass wall slides into a pocket, enhancing the relationship to the outdoors, and provides a sense of living in a garden. The two story western volume is comprised of bedrooms and a small second floor living space. A one story glass link connects the volumes and visually opens to the central garden.
The house was conceived as two simple, flat-roofed volumes, varying in height, intersecting and overlapping a one story circulation space which connects the volumes. The east volume is constructed with cement board, the west volume with corrugated siding and the one story connecting space with the ground face concrete block. The exterior material palette is quiet and subdued. Materials are selected for their expected long term durability, ease of installation and initial cost. The impact of the one story horizontal volume facing the street is intended to reflect the scale of neighboring structures while the narrow two story volumes are oriented perpendicular to the street reducing their apparent scale.
This house is designed in strong counterpoint to many of the houses built in the last era of abundant resources, expensive materials, and limitless floor area. The house is not large; it comprises three bedrooms and 2400 square feet. The house is constructed with modest materials that include concrete floors throughout the first floor, oak flooring on the second floor and plastic laminate and oak millwork.
The house was designed to achieve a balance between recognition of the picturesque Chesapeake Bay landscape and a more intimate, secluded garden environment. Expansive openings to the private garden combined with smaller, selectively oriented openings toward the greater landscape allow for a sense of privacy while maintaining a sensibility of direct connection to the rhythms of nature.
Verdant Avenue perfectly showcases the modern RMA aesthetic – form, function and detail alongside nature at its finest. This example of sustainable architecture dispels the myth that being sustainable requires the sacrifice of glamour, luxury and pleasure. The client’s open brief simply commissioned a ‘luxurious, contemporary inner city family home’.
An 80 year old pin oak tree serves as the focal point for the ground floor living and first floor bedroom areas. A striking 3.5 metre wide sculptural staircase anchors ground to first and second floors, complete with floor to 3.5 metre ceilings glass windows, opulent alpaca carpet, internal lift and motorised oversize exterior windows louvers.
Verdant Avenue Residence, by Robert Mills Architects
The house is built along a wall with the intention to meet the lack of light and reflect the presence of the forest. The overall low height is due to the use of split levels, visually minimising the impact in its surroundings. The 50m long wall functions as a backdrop for the transparent volume. The wall is not only visible at the outside, but also continuously visible from the inside. Given the transparent character of the box, the inside space is filled with clearly defined boxes and volumes that incorporate the structural elements.
The glass box is indented at three sides: To give access to the underground parking space, to develop the swimming pool and to give access, at the backside of the house, to the master bedroom and annex bathroom. The ground level, on full height, includes the income, kitchen, dining room and a living room with fireplace. The kitchen can be separated from the dining room with a big sliding door. The bedroom section of the children and the master bedroom are situated one above the other, both on split-level towards the living room. In front of the master bedroom there is a secondary sitting room which spatially makes the transition to the handled levels. A slope connects the living room and the bedroom section of the children.
Villa Roces, Bruges, Belgium, by Govaert & Vanhoutte Architecten