The house in Melides, on the southern Alentejo Coast, by Pedro Reis, represents the desire for a holiday house as a getaway from the bustle of a big city. The client made the unusual decision to have an architectural competition between three distinct ateliers, allowing a choice from a wider range of possible solutions. This winning proposal presents a reading of the “drama” of the natural countryside, building it on top of a steep hill relatively protected by the surrounding “rugged topography”.
eHouse is a single family house that borrows from two traditions in architecture — a Mediterranean aesthetic of sun and light and a minimalist discipline of line and plane. The design exhibits a masterful use of that most modern of materials, concrete. The core of the house, both conceptually and structurally, is several vertical and horizontal planes. Conceptually, the vertical planes define the axes of the house and the horizontal planes the spatial volume. Structurally, the concrete elements support every other architectural surface, predominantly glass and drywall. The extensive use of glass allows that most Mediterranean element, sunlight, to permeate into every room. Whether, direct, indirect, or filtered, light fills this house. Many smaller glazed areas reveal hidden views of exterior garden. A large 14 meter expanse of glass floods the main living/dining/kitchen area with daylight. The entire 14 meter window system can even be rolled back to create one super room of indoor and outdoor space. In plan, the house is defined by two axes; one running lengthwise through the main living space and one perpendicular from the main entrance to the staircase. The longitudinal axis is reflected in the roof plane with a long skylight that runs the entire length of the house. The transverse axis is punctuated with a dramatic front entrance of horizontal wooden slats and cantilevered canopy.
eHouse, Israel by Axelrod Architects, via: Arch Daily
Pool tables, free beer and “casual everyday” dress code may have become the desired and appropriate work environment in many companies, but for some, a gentlemen’s club atmosphere works better. London-based architecture and design firm SHH created this elegant office in London for an international investment company. The offices are located in a five-storey Georgian townhouse connected to a two-storey mews by a partially covered walkway. Several marble-inlaid fireplaces, marble mosaic floor tiles and beautiful ceiling cornices were kept from the previous occupants but the rest underwent a thorough modernization.
The resulting milieu is imposing and somewhat intimidating. Its dark, black-and-white photography vibe harkens back to some secret storied past, yet the contemporary treatments, especially the dramatic lighting pieces return the thoughts back to today. Some of the light fixtures are by Modular and Foscarini and the statement chandeliers were custom-designed by Michael Anastassiades. Custom-work, limited-edition pieces and classic furnishings such as Eames Lobby chairs accent each space, giving stunning jolts among the calm opulence.
Four decades after their project was featured in the 1969 Record Houses issue of Architectural Record, the owners sold the house to a young couple. A condition of the sale was that the new owners would respect the character of the project, yet be able to revisit and alter the contained quality of the interior rooms to create a continuous living space visually connected to the woodland site. An analysis of the existing structure revealed ordering devices through which the new work could be understood. A truss roof system allowed interior walls to be eradicated, yielding a condition of an unencumbered public and private pavilion linked together by a glass entry node. Floor to ceiling window apertures relating the pavilions could not be experienced within the original floor plan. Registering the new work to the existing house is a conceptual allee of walnut casework. The casework weaves together and provides clarity to the various living areas. The quarter sawn casework and flat sawn flooring employ walnut in a Chiascuro manner, creating bold contrasts to the existing white painted brick walls and plaster ceiling. Corian casework elements are positioned as kitchen, mudroom, and bath objects, further juxtaposing a smoothness to the textural brick and plaster. The purity of the original brick fireplace and skylight ring at the center of the house is exposed and left uninterrupted, allowing for additional connection to the site.
When the Hagerty House was built in 1938 along the rocky coastline of Cohasset, Massachusetts, the stodgy Yankee neighbors were appalled. The minimalist International Style structure may have sat in sharp contrast to the area’s traditional shingle, Federalist, and Greek Revival architecture, but it helped blaze a trail for the modern century to come. The story of the home begins in 1937, when Walter Gropius, the pioneering founder of Germany’s Bauhaus and a recent émigré to the United States, accepted a teaching position at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. After coming under increasing attack from the Nazi regime for his non-conformist, left-leaning ideas and spending almost three years in England with the modernist Isokon group, Gropius, with his wife, Ise, relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Harvard, Gropius would exert a profound influence over the minds of a generation of architects whose work would shape America’s built environment for decades to come.
Hagerty House, by Walter Gropius, via: dwell
The defining elements are the rock and the view. They dominate at every juncture. They resonate on first approach, through the migration from public to private space, in the living and in the family areas, in the gardens, in the bedrooms; and they continue to command respect down the tropical jungle steps that arrive at a secluded rock platform, flanked by the same seam that welcomed you 60m above. Constant reference to these elements instills a feeling of solidity that contrasts with the openness of the house, reinforcing the dynamism and vibrancy that pays homage to the magic of the location.
The home grows out from the rock; the bedroom element rests between it and the wing that strikes the perpendicular, rising vertically from the slope. This composition defines the open living and dining space that is simply a transition between two garden areas. It is intimate but open and the uninterrupted clear span creates a bridge under which the conventions defining indoor space disappear.
The Modernist summer house has a distinguished pedigree all its own. With its masonry construction, angled roofs, and organic cluster of one-room pavilions, architect Carlos Ferrater’s weekend house for a couple in Alcanar adheres partly to a tradition dating back to the first beach houses of José Luis Sert in the 1930s, and renewed by José Antonio Coderch in the 1950s and ’60s. Sert, in such works as his 1935 weekend houses in Garraf, explored a rugged Mediterranean alternative to the machine aesthetic of Northern European Modernists. Coderch reinvestigated the trend with his 1952 Ugalde House, where he used vernacular construction methods to create a fusion between the wild coastal landscape and his abstract, fluid forms.
Ferrater likes to say that the house is a kind of portrait of his client and his lifestyle. But like the vernacular techniques he uses, these concerns are also the raw material for the more personal creative project of his design, which comes to focus around the sophisticated formal play between the pavilions. Architecture is born from its circumstances, as he observes, but it can also dignify and transcend them.
The house is laid out across two plateaux. From the upper plateau, which was previously the site of a riding school, we can see that the countryside stretches right to the village. Three separate buildings are located on the upper plateau which contains the garage and bedrooms. The buildings are all accessible via a dual walkway along which screen walls are dotted which frame the views from the property and provide privacy for the respective patios. There is a forest on the other side. The rooms used for living purposes are located in an extremely large building, the height of which increases as the land descends towards the lower plateau. A vast bay window to the left reveals the surrounding landscape whilst the surface of the water located to the right on a lower level reflects the sky and the forest. The living room also has a stone terrace which goes as far as the swimming pool. From there, the view overlooks the countryside and the sea and the horizon beyond.
Can 9, Spain, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux
This house is limited to a single level, it is weightless on the water area that separates it from the entrance avenue. To the left, the entrance shows its gallery wall. Descend a level, the construction frames the view over the fields, the countryside is yours. To the left, behind you, a series of levels interrupted by stairs that stretch outside bring the profile of the site together. To the right, beyond the overhanging part that covers the dining room, the kitchen benefits from a lateral patio that bathes in the morning sun. Go down further, the garden continues right up to the old trees in front of a swimming pool that is so long that it takes the liberty to fold back into the building through the fault-line freed up under the built-up framework.
Genets 3, Belgium, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Todd Goddard and Andrew Mandolene have completed a restoration of the near-derelict 1957 home of architect Arthur Witthoefft. A few years ago, they were living in California modernist E. Stewart Williams’s 1957 Kenaston House, in Rancho Mirage, when they decided to move. They loved the West, but they loved mid-century architecture even more–and were prepared to relocate for it. Finding a house in the Los Angeles area equal to the Kenaston, a minor gem they’d impeccably restored, at an affordable price proved difficult. “So we decided to see what else was out there,” says Mandolene. “If there was something special, we would go for it.”
Arthur Witthoefft was an architect in the Manhattan office of corporate modernists Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and his design was a lapidary example of Miesian simplicity: a 25-by-95-foot rectangle, composed of a black exposed-steel frame, front and northern elevations clad largely in white glazed brick, and southern and western exposures enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass sliders.
Goddard Mandolene Residence, Armonk, New York, by Arthur Witthoeff, via: dwell