Led by Yoshiyuki Moriyama, Tokyo architectural firm Baqueratta specializes in building modern minimalist small and medium-sized residences. RA House is a house with impressive views.
RA House, by Yoshiyuki Moriyama, Baqueratta
Brazillian Metro Arquitetos Associados and Paulo Mendes da Rocha recently completed the Museum of Modern Art, Santos (MAM). The building’s structure which is all-metal, consists of two parallel walls, 20 m apart, connected with metal trusses of 60 m x 20 m which are supported on pillars. The facade of the museum is made with pre-cast slabs of concrete and plastered internally. The building, suspended by steel beams, has been integrated into the existing Benedito Calixto Art Gallery and has a built area of 8,180 m².
Kennedy Nolan’s interiors are beautifully composed. The palette of textured cream surfaces bolstered by the purity of white makes for an impeccably calming and satisfying field of vision. Limed timber joinery is soft and warm and embraces me throughout the house, and is often bevelled and off-grid, so as to promote a meandering line throughout the building, creating spaces and objects to explore and touch. Strong sculptural elements appear where they are most useful and enjoyed. In a playful chess-like stand-off, an oversized timber cruciform column at the edge of the kitchen is the internal ballast to the external brick fireplace and wood store in the adjacent courtyard.
The salient problems of the suburbs as defined by Boyd were–and still are–sprawl, aesthetics and sustainability. The Laver House is an excellent counter to Boyd’s ‘unthinking aesthetics of our suburbia’ simply in breathing new life into a tired building, by not allowing it to wallow in redundancy and architectural erraticism. Kennedy Nolan has taken a disjointed building and cured its split personality disorder by applying a well-orchestrated series of material and formal tactics with fluency and skill. These architects have reduced the previous anomalies, and introduced strong guiding principles for the building that are robust enough to ensure that the line between new and old is difficult to identify. They answer the question of how to contribute well to the suburbs by doing precisely what Boyd expected of them–in order to densify the suburbs, you must make better use of the space, efficiently and more pleasurably. There will be none of the famous verbal laceration here–this is a formally and programmatically engaging house, and it is a cohesive singular building that will stand and deliver for decades to come.
By the time a wealthy Rio couple hired architect Marcio Kogan and his associates to dream up a summer retreat for them, their house was already taking form. There’s a certain template that any right-minded architect would follow when building in the mountains north of Rio, where only rounded granite peaks interrupt the thick weave of rain forest. The landscape–rife with ferns and high, thin trunks–resembles Rio’s site when it was still wild and undeveloped. Part of the Atlantic Rain forest, this area rivals the Amazon in density and diversity of vegetation. Given the lushness and the privacy it affords, it’s best to let jungle be jungle: Build a terrarium in reverse–a viewing platform raised on stilts and nestled into the tree canopy’s green shadows.
High above Lake Maggiore, House Bucerius has a breathtaking view exploited by Richard Neutra to the full. This huge villa, which cost a small fortune to build, was the most elaborate one ever erected by Neutra in Europe and can be regarded as a milestone of his later work. It has been painstakingly and exquisitely restored and renovated by its current owner.
Bucerius House, Brione, Switzerland, 1966 by Richard Neutra, Photography by Iwan Baan
In 1955, Gerrit Rietveld (1884-1964) designed a pavilion for the display of small sculptures at the Third International Sculpture Exhibition in Arnhem’s Sonsbeek Park. This ‘Sonsbeek Pavilion’ was intended as a temporary structure, and it was dismantled when the exhibition was over. However, many people had been greatly impressed by its simplicity, and ten years later, on the initiative of several Dutch architects, the building found a permanent home in the Kröller-Müller Museum’s sculpture garden, under a new name: the ‘Rietveld Pavilion’. On 8 May 1965 the pavilion was officially inaugurated with an exhibition of sculptures by Barbara Hepworth.
From the very outset, the maintenance of the Rietveld Pavilion was a constant source of concern. The main questions were how to protect the minimalist structure (made of concrete, brick, steel, glass, wood and paint) against the ravages of time without compromising its delicate, temporary character, and how to preserve this more or less faithful replica of the Arnhem pavilion (which was originally intended to be temporary) for posterity. Every conceivable method was considered and tried, from conservation and restoration to copying and replacing parts of the building, but it eventually became clear that the structure was beyond saving.
The 1965 pavilion has now been disassembled. Today, in 2010, the museum has rebuild the structure with new materials, while adhering as closely as possible to Gerrit Rietveld’s original design. Wherever possible, parts of the 1965 pavilion that were still in adequate condition have been reused. Construction work began in January 2010 and finished in September of this year. The new, third version of the pavilion now stands in the museum’s sculpture garden, preserving Rietveld’s world-famous design for the future.
Rietveld Pavilion, by Gerrit Rietveld, at the Kröller-Müller Sculpture Garden, via: ArchDaily
Allandale House is an A-frame(s) house for an idiosyncratic connoisseur and her family. Along with its occupants, the Allandale House also provides space for an eccentric collection of artifacts that resist straightforward classification. Wines, rare books, stuffed birds and an elk mount are among the relics on display in this small vacation house.
The house links three horizontal extrusions of “leaning,” or asymmetrical A-frames. The skinny A-frame on the western side contains the library, wine cellar and garage. The wide A-frame in the center of the house is dedicated to two floors of bedrooms and bathrooms. The medium A-frame on the eastern side consists of living, kitchen and dining areas. The house aims to undermine the seeming limitations of a triangular section by augmenting and revealing the extreme proportion in the vertical direction, and utilizing the acutely angled corners meeting the floor as moments for thickened walls, telescopic apertures and built-in storage.
The relationship between the need for exposed storage and the interior liner of the house is a reciprocal one. Ostensibly problematic head-height limitations posed by the angled ceiling/wall planes are resolved by allowing the interior surface of the ceiling/wall to deviate from the roof surface as it nears the floor plane to become plumb. The thickness created between the outer roof surface and the inner wall surface is then reclaimed as poche from which to carve, creating bookshelves and showcases. Perceptually, the ambition is to tuck the pieces on display within the implied surface of the interior liner, enabling the items to be seen, while providing the possible conception of the space as a simple volume.
Allandale House, Mountain West, by, William O’Brien Jr.
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.