Nobody involved in extending a 1938 clinker-brick home in Hampton wanted a single-room rear addition — not the architect, Patrick Kennedy from Kennedy Nolan Architects, nor the client. “We had that in Sydney,” the client says, “and it drove me insane with the TV and kitchen and everybody together in the one space.
“We wanted a central kitchen but a separate living space, where we could read without hearing the washing machine. “With two pre-teen daughters, “I like the idea of people having spaces to go to,” she says. Kennedy concurred. “We’ve always avoided that big, open-plan space because although they look nice, they are hard to live in.” Instead, he and design partner Rachel Nolan added a central corridor to the rear of what he calls “quite a modest house in a modest street”. A study/guest bedroom was added to one side and a simple living room “pavilion” to the other. The addition comprised the substantial use of glass, with white-painted, rough-textured brickwork and exposed Victorian ash beams and joinery. In its lines, it’s a nod to both Californian and Victorian modernism, an aesthetic admired by both architect and client. “It draws on the 1970s idea of the modernist tradition, which has a handmade quality,” Kennedy says, “and that’s nice in a domestic environment.”
Rather than knocking down the original clinker brick, which was one proposition floated by the client, the architects dexterously reconfigured the flow and function of the old rooms and tied the whole thing together with Victorian ash — in paneling, cupboards and beams — and flooring of a grey-stained travertine marble. This palette of materials sounds challenging in the context of a pre-World War II house yet it works on many levels, not only in meeting and matching the innate solidity and surface texture suggested by clinker brick but, Kennedy says, “it affects the acoustics. The rafters and the travertine break up the sound and you feel the solidity and tranquility on a psychological level. Silence is nice. I hate noisy houses. “It’s all beautiful, durable, textural material and, as with the timber that will deepen in colour, it all improves with age.”
The client wanted a house where he could relax in calm and privacy among his family and friends and enjoy his extensive art collection. The site for the building is on a mixed vernacular residential / light industrial street close to the clients companies offices. On the inside of this shape a continuous glass wall opens the generous circulation and living rooms to this “heart”, the social core of the house. Designed for easy living, it is here that guests are invited to enjoy the light, space and art. To the outside the walls of the building are mostly closed however: smooth surfaces of white plasterwork, only sparsely punctuated with large windows where needed for the more intimate rooms that cradle the transparent inner space.
A tired and dilapidated terrace located in eclectic Darlinghurst Sydney and one of a collection of three row houses built circa 1860 was given a face lift from the inside leaving no trace of new work to the street facade or the rear façade which overlooks adjacent terrace houses. The existing configuration and areas of the row house consisted of a bedroom and bathroom to the lower ground floor, kitchen and living to the ground floor with poor courtyard access, and 2 bedrooms with a shared bathroom to the upper floor. The concept and approach to the internal fit-out consists of minimal structural impact and rearranging the existing spaces to create a more fluid approach in the arrangement of living, dining and sleeping spaces. The palette of materials and colour was reduced to creating a white perimeter of walls and ceiling with selected joinery elements painted in black, a dark coloured timber and concrete floor and surprises of yellow randomly splashed about connecting the three floors visually. A new opening was created in the existing wall dividing the kitchen to the living, thus creating a more open and light filled space with a sense of connectedness to both living spaces.
Storage and spatial qualities of the existing rooms were considered and also became design cues to create adaptable and interesting rooms for living. The kitchen features a bespoke joinery unit with built in concealed and visible storage boxes with an integrated fold down table which depending on it being in the open or closed position can transform the space and the pattern of use. This ‘Tetris wall’ offers the Ground Floor the only real burst of colour and this, in combination with the use of timber floor and vertical screen offsets the coolness generated by the black and white, with a genuine warmth.
The vertical screen is a series of floor to ceiling vertical hardwood timber planks and replaces a dull stair balustrade. The screen allows for visual relationship between living and dining whilst integrating the traditional stair construction, which was retained and links the two objects visually. The screen further enhances the pure perimeter of ‘white’ by it’s central positioning.
The client asked for an architectural box in an interesting site in the western suburbs of Melbourne; however, ODR Architects devised a response that shows consideration for context, history, climate, materials, urbanism and program.
The proposal for the new house embraced the materiality and the fabric of the laneway. We looked at Footscray in a wider context, and proposed an elevated recycled corrugated shipping container with zero setbacks, reminiscent of the docks that have such a strong presence in the area. However, the client and council had reservations about the corrugated iron, with the council asking the architects to ignore the sheds, setbacks and fences of the immediate surrounds and requesting a roof. This did not meet the brief from the clients; and we therefore needed to reconsider the design.
In the finished design, the house exterior turns its back on the context. There are no obvious windows, no articulation, no surveillance, just a foreign object in a laneway. Internally, the courtyard forms the centrepiece. The internal spaces revolve around this space, which heats and cools the space as well as providing separation in plan. It also unifies function. The residents circulate around it, cook in it, and breathe through it; opening the doors changes the environment inside. It also serves as a reminder of the surroundings – the two conditions juxtapose each other, giving validation to both. We have also allowed the outside world to engage through transparency and blurred moments of living.
“The building is located in a landscape of unique beauty, the results has natural and obvious growth. The mountain, topped by a castle, is covered by a blanket housing through a system of aggregation by simple juxtaposition of pieces generated fragmented target tissue that adapts to the topography. The project proposed to integrate into the environment, respecting their coping strategies of to the environment and materials away from the mimesis that would lead to misleading historicism, and constructively showing the time to meet the requirements of the ‘new people. “In this way the house is conceived as a piece placed on the ground, joining in the gap. A piece is built white lime the same, the same of the primacy on the massive opening, which takes the edge of the site to have their holes and integrated into the fragmentation of the environment. The indoor space is divided by the void that is the core of communication cut parallel provision of the mountain without touching it. On the ground floor and cellar are the garage was volume two floors with it have four rooms. Two of them, the room at the intermediate level are open to the private street, the other two on the upper level overlook above-the houses opposite, the valley of Ayora. One of them, the study is opened in turn to the central double height, incorporating it into their space. Across the gap, and the mountain, are the garden areas “facing the day illuminated by light reflected on the south slope of the castle oxidized.”
– Fran Silvestre
Swiss architects Diethelm & Spillmann recently completed Passivhaus Vogel in Mostelberg, Switzerland. The location of the Passivhaus affords views of the surrounding mountainous landscape. The living area is raised above the ground and rests on an unheated base, which accommodates the garage and cellarspaces. Since building regulations only allowed a two-story structure, the house extends horizontally, creating its characteristic projection. In the interior, silver coated plaster is combined with unrefined wooden panels made from larch wood. Outside, a layer of darkly varnished wooden cladding envelopes the structure, which is to appear in its form as a single roof. The roof is fully fitted with photovoltaic solar panels.
New pictures have emerged of the O House on Lake Lucerne–worth a second look.
On both, the front and the lake side, this sculptural villa shows very expressive and ornamental facades. Facing Mount Pilatus the white concrete elements are dotted with circular openings that allow glimpses into the two-levelled orangery with its exotic plants, as well as the lounge, the guest tract and the staircase accessed through one of the openings at the ground floor.
Renovation and remodel of a house by case study architect Thornton Abell. Originally designed as a studio and residence for artist, Rico Lebrun in 1963, the house pinwheels around a central atrium space separating the former studio spaces from the living areas. The exaggerated proportions of the artist’s studio are now re-programmed into a new library and master suite wing of the residence.
Lebrun House, Malibu, California, by Thornton Abell,
Remodel: Bonsall Residence, by Space International
Meandering gardens and woods, sparked with daffodils, peonies and daylilies, flank the straight drive in. Up ahead near the path’s end is an aperture framed by an arbor of apple trees, capturing an elemental view of sky and water: the horizon of the Long Island Sound. As you reach closer range, you suddenly realize you have been looking not merely through foliage, but also right through the house.
More than a one-bedroom retreat for a former museum director and his wife, this is also a place of extraordinary 20th century paintings, sculptures, and glassware–much of it conveying a sense of buoyancy or levitation that echoes the pavilion’s lightness. The artwork always figures into view out, even if only peripherally. Conversely, from the gardens, this colorful indoor collection projects a presence outdoors.
In the animated interplay between landscape and art, in the shifting ambiguities between inside and out, the design achieves exceptional balance. An arcing swath of vibrant yellow sedum in the garden resonates with the golden footbridge in a Chinese screen inside; a mossy rock garden projects into the pavilion’s simple volume, while the bedroom nestles into a private apse of garden vegetation. You can look straight through the house without realizing it, but you could also mistake reflections of trees for glimpses through the pavilion. Morphing with the skies, flourishing seasonally, the dialogue evolves, nourishing the owner’s desire to live in the garden–with art.
Over the last year we’ve seen continued economic stagnancy. Many architects have been hard hit. How has your residential practice dealt with the downturn?
When the recession hit we were affected like everyone else. But starting this year work has been picking up and most of the projects we had in the pipeline are back on track. We’ve also acquired a few new residential projects on both coasts with more in the development stage. I guess we’ve been lucky. We just hope things continue to get better for everyone, not worse.
Are you seeing a turnaround?
We have seen a few hospitality projects pick back up as well as some luxury developments, which we see as a good sign of the global economy. Somehow Israel seems to have weathered the global recession quite well. We have a 37-story residential tower in the heart of Tel Aviv that is finally underway. It is right in the heart of the city and we hope it becomes a landmark and a new standard for design in Tel Aviv.
The biggest buzzword in the industry now is sustainability. How does today’s call for an ecologically sensitive architecture differ from that of the 1970s?
We were always making sustainable buildings, even in the 70s and 80s, they just weren’t calling it that back then. Not many people realize that the Getty was the first LEED Certified building, awarded after the fact. It comes back to our design philosophy. Daylight and energy consumption have informed our design for years. Today we are taking it to new levels, incorporating new technologies like double skin facades for heating and cooling buildings, self-cleaning, pollution-eating concrete and vertical light-reflecting louvers that rotate with the sun.
You design houses for some of the world’s most connected individuals. Is “environmental impact” a topic that generally comes up in your discussions with clients?
It depends on the client. Some clients want a “green” building and are willing to spend the money. We always try to suggest sustainable materials and propose sustainable ideas, but these are sometimes costly. Luckily we have a client base that tends to be very educated on these issues and often see it as a worthwhile investment.
Is the building industry ready to absorb the kind of environmentally focused change people are talking about?
Yes, they have to be. Legislation will soon require environmental codes and energy conservation. A handful of states and cities already require new public buildings to meet sustainable design benchmarks, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED. We estimate that in the next 25 years, three quarters of US buildings will be new or substantially renovated. The cutting edge of this effort will be to design buildings that generate their own energy through new technologies and reuse rain water to lesson the depletion of natural resources.
What do you think of prefab as a building alternative?
In general, it’s an interesting concept when tight schedules are critical as it can drastically reduce construction timeframes. Some other apparent advantages include assurance of quality control and very efficient coordination efforts due to the use of programs like Revit from the beginning of design to fabrication. It can also eventually help reduce costs over traditional construction methods. In terms of sustainability, it reduces construction waste in a controlled environment. There are however still a lot of limitations and caveats mainly related to transport and guaranties. But the concept has existed for many years, and actually most curtain walls we design are prefabricated in shops and shipped to construction sites ready for installation.
As a building alternative, it could potentially lend itself to our approach, as it is becoming more customizable especially with new technologies and applications currently available and continuously evolving. It has gained more popularity recently, especially after MoMa’s Home Delivery exhibition, with more new firms and young architects exploring concepts that deal with economical and modern solutions.
Name one building type that you’ve always wanted to do but has thus far eluded you.
What was the design lesson you’ve learned since building your first house?
There is no such thing as “natural” materials.
What are the most challenging demands that a residential client has made of you?
Lastly, what current project on your boards, residential or otherwise, most excites you and why?
We have a lot of interesting projects on at the moment. I’m very excited about the apartment tower in Tel Aviv. Apparently there is a giant billboard with my face on it right now in place of the actual building. I hope they can take that down soon.
We are also building a new 30,000 SF home in Tianjin which is on a private island surrounded by an 18-hole Phil Mickelson Golf Course. It is a beautiful home. It has a tea room, a party room, a dining room that seats 60. It is quite a house.
And there is a new 10,000 SF private home in Long Island we are working on. It’s in a beautiful location, with a beach pavilion on the water, and has a lot of the curves and light in our signature work. I love doing houses. I feel it’s a bit indulgent, so then I take on a cultural or civic project to balance it out. I’ve always been a proponent of building beautiful public spaces, but creating a personal sanctuary is also satisfying.
Richard Meier has been awarded with the highest international honors in architecture including the AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (1997), Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese Government for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1997), a Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995), Deutscher Architekturpreis (1993), Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government (1992), Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (1989) and the Pritzker Prize for Architecture (1984). Richard Meier is celebrated for his acclaimed designs including The Getty Center and the Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles, California; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; the Charles Street and Perry Street residential towers in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain; the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome, Italy; and the Arp Museum in Rolandseck, Germany. His current projects include an 8-star hotel in China (2011), Rothschild Tower in Tel Aviv (2013), an urban master plan for Newark, NJ (2012) and a residential tower in San Francisco (2012).
Read more about Richard Meier