In brilliant daylight, the Salt Point House has an ethereal presence as elusive and weightless as a mirage, its edges seemingly dissolving into the surrounding forested landscape. Yet with changing light, the house transforms itself, shifting by turns from gossamer and nearly transparent to opaque and quietly monumental. Perhaps even more remarkable: the architecture achieves these poetic qualities with a modest palette of ordinary materials and simple volumes.
In the most basic terms, the house is an open-ended, painted-cedar box, lined in maple plywood and overlaid on two sides with corrugated screens of perforated, stainless steel. Its brief could hardly have been more humble. The clients, a New York City couple, wistful for the key elements of their former weekend getaway–the rustic hunting shack they had once hoped to buy–wanted a small, comfortable, easily maintained, two-bedroom retreat with an open living area and a screened-in porch. Certainly, no exotic requirements, but in the sheer modesty and economic restraint of this commission, the architects found opportunity to distill form, proportion, materiality, and detail to their essence. Inspiration also came, abundantly, from the site–an idyllic clearing on a wooded, nine-acre parcel in New York’s Hudson Valley, along a pond that spills into a small waterfall.
Outside, the rippled screens, veils of stainless steel, simultaneously hide and reveal, filtering readings out to the landscape and in to the structure’s pure volumes, its solids, shadows, and flickering voids. At once deep and lightly layered, both transparent and opaque, the perforated metal cloak registers muted reflections of the surroundings in seasonal flux. Even the screened-in porch is detailed with minimalist precision, as if simply delineating a great, cubic volume of air. This is an architecture that accepts yet transcends the sheer simplicity of the plywood box, expressing and dematerializing the skin as it quietly renders the prosaic sublime.
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.