Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, the 1973 Douglas House was one of architect Richard Meier’s first residential commissions. Defined by its verticality, the house features an exterior stepped walkway that extends over the trees, connecting the levels.
Once [Michael McCarthy and Marcia Myers] bought it, they called Meier’s office in New York. The architect suggested that if they intended to modify the building they might consider hiring his firm. “But he said if we were going to restore it, we’d be better off using local engineers,” says McCarthy, who did a bit of both by assembling a team to move forward while at the same time striking up an informal relationship with then Meier employee and Michigan native Michael Trudeau.
The Douglas House is a clear nod to Les Terrasses, a 1928 residence created by Le Corbusier in Garches, France. Shared elements include curved walls, spatial ambiguities, and the series of ladders and cantilevered staircases that join the levels and encourage a cascading architectural promenade.
If the couple had questions, they’d call Trudeau, who’d get answers from Meier. “They’re impeccably cognizant of keeping the original design,” Trudeau says. This went on for four years. The team removed the original steel awning windows, sandblasted and powder-coated each one, then reinstalled them with thermal glass and hardware from the original supplier. They replaced and painted the redwood siding its original “Meier White,” then added a steel backbone to the bridge. HVAC systems were replaced with energy-efficient equipment. They even reupholstered a Meier-designed sofa for the living room.
With the renovation now mostly complete, the couple has reached out to state and national preservation organizations about the home’s future. “We had no idea what we were getting into–but this is a keeper,” McCarthy says. “Our role is to restore it and maintain it for America.”
Forty years after its creation, the Douglas House has returned to its original intent–an architectural experience that moves the visitor through an exploration of inside and outside spaces. “The same is true in the Farnsworth House and Fallingwater,” says Meier. “The idea was there from the beginning–it’s about the making of space and how to articulate it.”
This house on Lake Scharmützel, which was recently awarded the German Timber Construction Award, is a summer and weekend escape for a family with two children. As committed urban dwellers (they spend most of their time in a flat in downtown Berlin), the family was not willing to give up their urban way of life and move to the suburbs, so they opted for a retreat that would provide the maximum contrast to their everyday life in the city. The result is a simple refuge that interacts harmoniously with the surrounding landscape.
Summerhouse in Brandenburg, Diensdorf, Germany, by Doris Schäffler
via: Architectural Record
Located in Mendoza, Argentina, this square house was designed by A4estudio (Leonardo Codina Arch and Juan Manuel Filice Arch). Called Codina House, The house is situated on a flat land of 1,500 square meters in a residential area. The project is an opportunity to rethink the suburban houses facilities in emerging environments in contemporary Latin American urban spaces. Trying to understand the space as a stimulator, suggesting sensitive geometries that optimize weather conditions and operate from green conscience.
The house is all around an interior central courtyard, opening the main spaces to a large lateral garden. These spaces are organized in a north orientation, gaining direct heat by solar radiation, the smaller and private spaces, are oriented to the east, leaving the services areas to the west. Due to the natural movement of air masses, the volume of air in the central courtyard rises, because of temperature, causing environmental benefits of the garden perimeter through the interior spaces of the house.
Restauration House VH, Bruges, Belgium, by CAAN Architecten
This house is an exploration on the trace of a variety of formal and architectural lineages in the ongoing transformation of the modern dwelling that ranges from Neutra’s Kaufmann House to the Case Study Housing Program.
This house was designed as a man-made pavilion for observing and living in close proximity to nature. Organized around an open landscape, the result is an L-shaped plan one room wide, an intersection of the two axis radiating from the central living / dining space in which all rooms flank the swimming pool and face the view of the park, including bedrooms with headboards. Pushing the limits of interior space through the use of floor to ceiling glass openings, we sought to bring house and landscape into a higher unity. More than a composition on lines and planes, this residential design provides a framework for appreciating nature. Through the use of a steel structure we created a greater feeling of lightness and openness. Through the use of overhangs we provided shade and reduced glare. Brick was a fundamental material in the house, brick provided insulation for extreme temperatures primarily from the intense summer heat. We created a special composition whereby walls organize space but do not bear weight. The rectilinear composition is supported by the straightforward landscape designed by Pamela Burton. The pool, not only recreational asset, also intensifies the view from the interior through its constantly changing reflections of the sky and clouds.
Set on five acres in the NSW Southern Highlands, this house is presented as a steel and glass pavilion perched upon a raised podium to take advantage of a north aspect and views across rolling hills and a nearby reservoir. Internally the house features terrazzo floors that extend out onto external terraces. The house overlooks a contemporary garden with a small purpose made lake and a 15 meter lap pool set amongst trees.
Myra Vale, Southern Highlands, Australia by Katon Redgen Mathieson
Located in Tucson’s Barrio Historico, this residence is a modern interpretation of the neighborhood’s traditional courtyard architecture. From the street, the house is anonymous, fitting into the Barrio context with façade proportions and door and window openings in keeping with neighborhood guidelines. The interior of the house is something very different: a contemplative courtyard experience focused on the sky and a swimming pool that fosters a year round connection between the home’s interior and exterior spaces.
The house contains an additional surprise: a long rooftop periscope over the kitchen draws the view of the distant mountain vista into the interior of the house where it appears as if looking through a broad window. This experience of the interplay of framed views and reflections is repeated in subtler ways throughout the house, capturing the intimacy of the courtyard and its landscaping as well as the ever-changing Sonoran desert sky.
Conceived for a couple who collects furniture as a hobby, the design revolves around an open and brought living room that is flexible for multiple configurations.
Situated on a tight site flanked by neighboring structures, the monolithic form is constructed from reinforced concrete and features a multitude of faceted corners. Two volumes protrude out of the street facade to create an overhang above the entrance and the car park. The larger cantilevered arm is fronted with a single plane of glass which permits sunlight to enter the interior.
Accommodated on the second storey, the main living space sits elevated over the street with a double-height void above it. The language of the faceted exterior is continued to the interior, manifesting as a dynamic multi-angled ceiling form. This heightened focal point extends
the sense of space vertically, resulting in a room that is exceptionally open and airy, despite the heaviness of the material used. A punched-out sky light and another square-faced window to the back of the plot coupled with the reflective white floor maximizes the amount of
natural daylight entering the house.
Madrid based José María Sánchez García of Estudio de Arquitectura has completed the ‘Rowing and Canoeing Centre’ located in Badajoz, Spain. This open air pavilion serves as a deck for boating activities and an impromptu classroom for workshops while overlooking the Alange Reservoir. a series of parallel exposed trusses emerging from a monolithic concrete plinth support a thin profile roof. this arrangement generates open air verandas around the perimeter of the structure. Internal breezeways generated by the trusses and transparent walls gesture visitors towards the water, shore and boats.
The concrete foundation is immersed within the sand and becomes gradually exposed as it approaches the water’s edge. A void within the solid base contains a suspended ramp leading boaters to the programmed areas. Public restrooms, changing rooms and offices are illuminated and ventilated by holes drilled into the solid walls which allow air and light to penetrate the submerged space.
To look at it, the Narrabeen House might not seem like your typical home in the suburbs, but in the way it operates, this house is completely suburban. This home is a retreat from the city.
A series of threshold devices increasingly separate the visitor from the street, to the extent that in the main living spaces there is no sense of neighbors, of the suburb, or of the city beyond.
Extending on conventional courtyard house typologies, the design utilizes an interlocking of interior and exterior spaces. It is through the central courtyard that the house is accessed, the courtyard also acts as the main organising element, around which the family living spaces are arranged. These spaces are private and interior, though thanks to the courtyard, they are also exposed to the outdoors. The architecture plays with the tension between these elements, the outdoor ‘rooms’ giving internal and external living spaces. This interior arrangement also plays against the strong directionality suggested by the site; at the rear of the house is a southward vista, looking over the Narrabeen Lagoon.
The design also makes use of varying heights above the adjacent water. As the house is built on a flood plain, the structure is by necessity raised from the ground. This includes not just the house, but the courtyard itself. In relation to the raised courtyard, the swimming pool is below, built at ground level. And upon entering the house’s inner space the visitor realizes that there is a second storey that cannot be seen from the street, and from which they can find views of the surrounding landscape.
The design finish throughout draws on the simple elegance of blackened and medium-stained timbers. The restrained palette, with the house’s simple volumes, creates a calming atmosphere, reinforcing the idea of a withdrawal from the city.