For its seventh furniture series, MANIERA invited the American designer Jonathan Muecke to a residency in Belgium. The one-week stay was to take place in specific architectural surroundings with the aiming of being an inspiring source for the designer, as Henry Van de Velde’s Wolfers House was for Richard Venlet’s MANIERA 03. From a number of possibilities that MANIERA offered Muecke, the designer almost immediately chose the Van Wassenhove House by the Belgian architect Juliaan Lampens.
Jonathan Muecke & Juliaan Lampens, Maniera Gallery
Francisco Artigas was a man of order. The many modernist houses he designed in the 1950s and ’60s were as strict and exacting as his wardrobe, as tidy as his soap dish. The majority of these were in Mexico City, at the Gardens of El Pedregal subdivision developed after World War II by Mexico’s most acclaimed architect, Luis Barragán. 3 Artigas reportedly designed and built more than fifty houses there, making him the Pedregal’s most prolific architect by far. 4 (By contrast, Barragán produced no more than a half dozen buildings for the Pedregal, and only one of these, the Prieto López House, remains intact.) The houses Artigas built were occupied by top professionals, business leaders, powerful political families, film stars, and other native and foreign elites. They were featured in popular Mexican movies of the era and reproduced in newspapers and magazines around the country and beyond. 5 These cool, crystalline pavilions represent the glamour, optimism, and excess of their time and place much as the Beaux-Arts mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, or the modernist villas of Palm Springs, California, embody theirs. Their architect, however, though admired by well-informed mid-century modern enthusiasts, remains essentially unknown to a larger public. He is well worth a look.
Working in the context of the renewal of a derelict urban heritage property, the approach to this project began with considerations of typology, density and affordability. Key to this was the appropriate adaptation of a Federation-style cottage into a home for two musicians that allowed for future flexibility, and that made the most of its constraints both of site and budget. The result is the transformation of a derelict property into an open, light-filled home for two musicians.
The starting point was a dilapidated, water-damaged house containing a warren of dark and uninhabitable rooms. The rear portion was demolished to provide a series of open living spaces in its place. Located in an area undergoing rapid renewal, the design takes advantage of the detached cottage typology. The narrow side alley, common to this type but often neglected, offered an opportunity to extend the living area to create a lightwell and wall garden, allowing light to penetrate deep within the centre of the house.
The route through the house was conceived as a journey of changing light, colour and materiality. Original Federation interiors have been restored in crisp white, whilst new elements are introduced in a restrained palette of dark timber, steel and porcelain. A contrast of light and dark materiality is used to knit together old and new. This duality continues in various material combinations. In the kitchen, natural materials are contrasted with the manufactured; such as French-polished timber veneers in combination with crisp, large-format porcelain sheets.
In the living room, bespoke joinery exploits the depth of recycled brick walls, creating pockets of storage along the edges of the tightly constrained site. Flush finishes form continuous planes from inside to out, creating one large living space that expands to fill the outdoor side alley. These new living spaces are open to the outdoors, yet tempered from the strong northern sun by the depth of a black steel awning, detailed so that it appears to float over the rear timber deck. In a minimal and modern interpretation of a traditional verandah, its glossy surface reflects the garden into the house. The dialogue between old and new continues by contrasting the roughness of aged, dry pressed recycled bricks, with glossy black steel. It is a project united by contrast – rustic and slick, thin yet massive, dark and bright.
Llewellyn House, Marrickville, NSW, Australia, by studioplusthree
Lakeside House, Yamanashi, Japan, by Shinichi Ogawa & Associates
A promotional movie has been released to entice potential buyers for a massive ranch in New Mexico that features buildings by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
Read more: Tom Ford’s New Mexico Ranch
This is an emotional design! Our client asked us to reform an old dovecote in the backyard of his home. We decided to propose a play house for the children and a balneary to serve the pool on the ground floor. The whole family loved the idea. We wanted a play room inspired by magic, fantasy and also by the childhood dreams and memories…
We decided to transform the old dovecote in a minimal concrete «tree house» that represent these memories and fantasies of pure and peaceful way. We look for a way that seemed the main volume is levitating as a tree house but simultaneously it had to be balanced and pure. The idea was that the interior was absent of superfluous elements and were gradually decorated by the works and toys of these children as a reflection of consumer society we are experiencing. Some elements remained of the original building as the triangular window through which entered doves.
The Dovecote, Soutelo, Portugal, by AZO. Sequeira Arquitectos Associados
Photography © Nelson Garrido
LOHA’s take on the Palm Springs vacation house typology simplifies its forms into their essential elements and plays with those forms through cuts and separations and by introducing unconventional materials.
Starting from a single-floor heavy mass and a contrasting light roof, LOHA further articulated the mass by cutting into the form and creating a series of landscaped courtyards. These courtyards open up the mass to bring in natural light and increase transparency and connections laterally through the home. After cladding the exterior with cement boards and minimal openings, LOHA utilized wooden slats in the courtyard spaces to materially define this formal move.
LOHA lifted the roof to create clerestories that give the appearance of a floating roof line, provide natural light, and unify the various courtyards and shifting volumes.
Desert House, Palm Springs, California, USA, by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
Photography by Paul Vu
This vacation beach house located near Cape Town, South Africa, is carefully crafted to respond directly to the brief from the client, a maverick businessman from Johannesburg. Primary requirements were to create an extraordinary living experience, conceptually capture the client’s brief to create a single space vacation house and fully embrace the remarkable seaside location.
Capitalizing on its unique context with panoramic views across the Atlantic Ocean, the house is thus conceived as a minimal steel framed glass box with a hull shaped hardwood clad roof to facilitate distant views to the surrounding mountains. All the external walls are frameless sliding folding glass doors and are filtered by slatted hardwood shutters which open hydraulically to become verandas when open and a continuous secure screen when closed. To ensure minimum environmental intrusion to the sensitive fynbos vegetation and dunes that form the site, the house is elevated to allow the fynbos to be extended under its footprint. All interior walls dividing living and sleeping spaces are sliding ash clad doors which slide away during daytime hours to create a single large living space which flows out on all four edges on to broad cantilevered decks made of Garapa hardwood.
The effect created is thus an umbrella, connecting isotropically to the amazing environment that cradles the house. This building significantly evolves the seaside vacation house typology by dematerializing the notion of cellular space, burring the traditional regime of private and semi-private space and offering variant connection and refuge. The house is counterpointed by a freestanding elevated pool and subterranean entry court and garage clad in unhewn beach stone and Garapa. The elongated pavilion with a floating curvilinear roof displays a minimal architectural language rendered in steel, glass, raw concrete and all powerfully juxtaposed with warm hardwoods deployed in the ceilings, furniture and all joinery to deliver an extraordinary outcome.
Rooiels Beach House, Cape Town, South Africa, by Elphick Proome Architects
Among the pines trees, a stone plateau is drawn to a scale that can no longer be understood as a courtyard. The space embraces a wide area of trees. The house and its services define a recognizable solid border. The interior of this boundary is inhabitable and characterized by light. The more open side of the house creates a water tank through the connection of geometries. A space that embraces its context is created through this closed extension.
House in Alentejo Coast, by Aires Mateus
From the beginning, the thinking behind the Life House was an uncompromisingly modern design where it would be possible to inhabit a different sort of architectural space. Experiments with massing and orientation have produced a composition that is bedded into the fall of the land. The proliferation of blackened gorse in the surrounding heathland is reflected in the dark exterior brickwork, whilst the rough moor grass provides a reference for the lighter bricks used inside.
The house’s programme is arranged as a series of self-contained folds, opening off two corridors. Meeting at a right angle, these passageways generate extended internal vistas and a plan designed to allow groups living in proximity to spend time together and apart, in a spatial arrangement that shares certain characteristics with the monastic cloister. The corridors — one light, one dark — represent more than just the means to get between the different parts of the house, they are key architectural experiences, each charged with its own distinctive character.
In the spirit of creating a contemporary Walden, communal and private quarters are shaped by the idea of supporting and enriching specific rituals and activities. Across the Life House this translates into optimised inventories of equipment and functional conditions, but also into a series of finely calibrated atmospheres.
Life House, Llanbister, Mid Wales, by John Pawson
Photography by Gilbert McCarragher