Straddling freshwater wetlands and a tidal estuary just six feet above sea level, this house’s site demands extraordinary sensitivity to environmental concerns. Local zoning restricts the structure’s maximum coverage and proximity to wetlands areas, while FEMA requirements set the first floor structure above the base flood elevation. The house’s basic massing is therefore predetermined, limited to a one story, 1,900 square foot design, raised eight feet above the ground. The spaces within this envelope are arranged, articulated, and fenestrated based on an innovative structural system that infuses the house’s inner areas with light and circulating air.
Without occupying any of the limited allowed coverage, these open areas add considerable value by improving the house’s interior environmental quality and diminishing its impact on the local environment. The benefit is threefold: each opening draws light though the interior spaces to the carport below, conducts rainwater from the roof deck to the ground via integral downspouts carved into the piles, and ventilates by siphoning air through the middle of the structure.
At the roof the projecting piles divide the space between a deck directly coinciding with the living areas below and a modular planting system installed above each bedroom to reduce runoff. The projecting piles also serve as supports for photovoltaics that power geothermal pumps, utilizing the abundance of high ground water to heat and cool the house. At the ground level, the space below the house is utilized for parking and storage to minimize the footprint on the site.
Northwest Harbor House, East Hampton, New York, by Bates Masi + Architects
Just off Stevens Road is this Zen-inspired dwelling with strong architectural lines and shapes that are further accentuated by the materials used. Comprising two main volumes, the front block houses the social spots, such as the living and formal dining areas, whilst service functions are relegated to the back, along with the kitchen. Although visually similar, the blocks are distinguished by texture – the social activity block is clad in granite and the service block in fare-faced concrete.
The design brief called for all spaces on the ground floor to form a cohesive whole so that when all doors are open on the ground floor, the individual spaces merge into a one – starting from the lap pool and garden at the entrance, to the living room in the front block and all the way to the kitchen in the rear block. A reflective pool divides the two main blocks and sits at the base of a sheer three-storey-high void that reaches the roof. This void forms the home’s visual and spatial centre and also works as a means of drawing up hot air so that the cooler air can rush in to keep temperatures low.
The master bedroom sits on the second floor of the main social volume, whilst the master bathroom as well as the children’s bedrooms are to the back. In the attic floor above is an additional bedroom and number of multipurpose spaces. Adjoining terraces and open decks lined in artificial grass make the rooftop an interesting space where lines between indoor and outdoor space are blurred.
With its natural textures and abundance of greenery, it is the adherence to minimalist design that forms the essence of this modern family home, thus providing its inhabitants with a relaxing, spacious abode to return to at the end of the day.
66MRN-House, Singapore, by ONG&ONG
Photography by Derek Swalwell
The rationale was to improve the house by simplification and maximise the outdoor experience on a tight site with neighbours in very close proximity. One solution was to replace all upper level external walls to the courtyard with a fully operable facade, when closed this emulates the weather boards of the original cottage. The main bathroom spills out onto the upper balcony, the doors completely retreating within the wall cavity, creating a private outdoor bathroom experience. The stairs were replaced with a new elongated stair spine along the southern boundary connecting the three levels. Joinery wraps under and over the stair filling the cavities with much needed storage space. The stairs are bounded by a smooth concrete stucco wall which disperses shadows and light from the glazed roof overhead.
The original front two bedroom remain in tact, while the reminder of the house has been reorganised to address the courtyard and increase the perception of space. On the upper level windows have been expanded to appreciate the the outlook across the harbour to the iconc Sydney Harbour Bridge. The walls on the ground floor were removed and replaced with a sliding glazed panel system. A small level shift of three stairs demarcates the kitchen from the main living and dining rooms. The relationship from the living room to the courtyard is slightly sunken. A joinery unit edges this transition, doubling as a bench seat on grade with the courtyard. The dining room joinery reinforces this datum through a change in material creating a horizontal split.
Birchgrove House, Sydney, Australia, by Nobbs Radford Architects
A narrow, dense lot called for design solutions that supported the owners’ open, casual lifestyle at the same time it created a dramatic, luxurious and intensely built space. The single family residential structure rises three levels, straight up, to afford city views; yet spaces flow openly between a formal living room, the inviting family area and the all-out glamour of the dramatic central staircase. Walls assert impose sculptural volume in steel, glass, stone and colored concrete, yet create light and delicacy that veil the structure’s intense efficiency and multi-level volume.
Casa ML, Mexico City, by Gantous Arquitectos
Photography by Michael Calderwood
Historical Tel Aviv Apartment, by Pitsou Kedem Architect
PCA’s new agency replaced an old printing office that was located in a courtyard of a 1950’s building. The goal of the project was the restructuring of a workshop and its annex into an innovative office. Through a partial demolition, the open-space work areas are built around a patio. This design change brings a flood of natural light underground.
Architecture Studio, Paris, France, by Philippe Chiambaretta Architecte (PCA Agency)
Photography by Claire Curt
A 55 m2 steel object emerges in a rugged landscape framed by naked trees and a silent lake that mirrors in the sky frame window facade. Within the transparent shell, nature is omnipresent yet with a physical blindage that provides shelter from the extreme winters in the north. The simple steel grid structurally supports the two level space, where only the bathroom and bed loft is shielded from the main living space. The Shelter is prefabricated and built to fit any type of landscape and natural conditions.
Prefab shelter, by Vipp
The project is located in Krokskogen forests, outside the town of Hønefoss. Its location on a steep slope gives a fantastic view over the Steinsfjorden. The site is very exposed to the wind and the cabin is shaped to create several outdoors spaces that provide shelter from the wind and sun at different times of day. The interior is a continuous space finished in curved 4mm birch plywood. The curved walls and ceilings form continuous surfaces, while the geometry defines the different functional zones. These zones are also created by the floor that follows the terrain and divides the plan into four main levels. The transition between levels create different steps, sitting and lying down places.
Cabin, Norderhov, Norway, by Atelier Oslo
Photography by Lars Petter Pettersen
The Balint House is a two-storey dwelling with a sinous elliptical shape. The volume is placed leaving as much free surface as possible towards the southern edge of the plot for it to be used as a garden, while the lateral limits are blurred with vegetation. The other elements that compose the urbanization resemble the curved nature of the place’s topography. Accordingly, a crescent-shaped swimming pool shadows the structure itself, while the surrounding garden echoes the shape as well.
Balint House, Valencia, Spain, by Fran Silvestre Arquitectos
Photography by Diego Opazo