“Disconnecting”; a wall cuts the home off from the world outside: the French coast distorted by common town planning. On the other side, the sea. Nature stirs. Wind bends tree trunks. The roof bows before a bustling environment. Bedrooms transform into terrace: a concrete passageway leading outside. A moment to breathe; punctuation in sentences. A tile-covered ceiling salutes the spirit of Provençal homes. Below, only wood and concrete form the building. Beyond any codes, the natural, raw materials stand eternal. Concrete has a soul; it has something to say. The bedrooms sit alongside undergrowth. Two intimate, comfortable places facing each other. On one side, trees provide shady spots, on the other, a mass of concrete offers protection and a cool haven.
ALON House, France, by Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners
Photography by Jean-Luc Laloux
G12 House, Überlingen, Germany, by (se)arch Freie Architekten BDA
Photography by Zooey Braun
The owners of this house are a family of five with kids ranging from elementary school to middle school. They had hired Klopf Architecture about 10 years ago to design an addition to their ranch home, but had dreamed of living in a modern home even back then. When they eventually found the right home, an Eichler in Burlingame that had recently been used as a group home for up to 12 people at a time, they knew from the start they wanted an open, light-filled, clean, bright (and of course updated) home. The owners shared much of the same tastes with us, so the design was a very smooth collaboration. The family had been collecting mid-century modern furniture, and once they were moved into this house rounded out their collection to furnish the whole house.
Project goals were to allow for more connection than even the original house had, as well as increase the functionality of utility spaces and improve the kitchen / family room so that a family of five could live together happily in these spaces. There were removed half the wall between the kitchen / family area and dining room, and also replaced half the solid wall of the dining room with a large, fixed window to the back yard – this gives a direct view to the rear yard from the computer desk area, as well as allows much more circulation into and out of the kitchen / family room area. We also reconfigured a hallway closet, laundry closet, and 2-room bathroom into a full bath, a half bath, a laundry room, and a linen closet. We widened the space in the kitchen and set up a huge, single plane island for projects, feeding the kids, entertaining, and work space.
Double Gable Eichler Remodel, Burlingame, California, by Klopf Architecture
Photography by Mariko Reed
At the bauhaus art school in Dessau, two original buildings designed by Walter Gropius have been restored and reinterpreted by German practice BFM Architekten. The project, which reopened its doors on may 16th, 2014, generated a great deal of debate regarding alternative approaches to the memorial site. Potential options included the complete reconstruction of of the homes, in line with the principles of monument protection; the aesthetic reconstruction of the outer shells in the interests of tourism; and the conservation of the structures as historic records of destruction.
The final decision was to integrate both reconstruction and conservation, safeguarding the legacy of the building with an updated and reconfigured design. The completed structures stand as stacked compositions of concrete, influenced by their former structural shape. Externally as well as internally, many of the design’s intricate details have been excluded, simplifying the existing volumes.
Bauhaus Masterhouses, Dessau, by Walter Gropius
Photography by Sebastian Gündel and Christoph Rokitta
Casa Spodsbjerg is a family summer home on a rocky beach in Denmark. Completed in 2010 by Arkitema Architects, this house is designed to take advantage of the views and characteristics of its site. The structure is composed of two staggered volumes on a concrete foundation. One volume houses the living rooms while the other holds the bedrooms and bathrooms. The living room utilizes floor to ceiling windows to achieve an unbroken view of the sea and beach. The bedrooms are on the second story and are more shielded, allowing for a quiet and peaceful place to rest. Casa Spodsbjerg uses a limited number of materials in its design. Concrete is used for the base and internal forms, the floors are a light hardwood, and the ceilings covered with a warm, slatted wood.
Casa Spodsbjerg, Denmark, by Arkitema Architects
This three-bedroom vacation home on Big Sur’s spectacular south coast is anchored in the natural beauty and power of the California landscape. The site, which features a 250-foot drop to the Pacific Ocean along the bluff and toward the west, offers dramatic views. Yet it demands a more complex form than a giant picture window. The long, thin volume of the house conforms to the natural contours of the land and the geometries of the bluff, deforming its shape and structure in response, much like the banana slug native to the region’s seaside forests. In this way, the complex structural system applies natural forms to accommodate the siting. The main bearing system of the house is set back twelve feet from the bluff, both to protect the cliff’s delicate ecosystem and to ensure the structure’s integrity and safety. The house itself is cantilevered over the bluff. The interior is a shelter, an elegant refuge in contrast with the roughness and immense scale of the ocean and cliff.
The main body of the house is composed of two rectangular boxes connected by an all-glass library/den. A one-story concrete wing perpendicular to the main volume holds the ground-floor bedrooms and features a green roof; it is the boulder that locks the house to the land. The lower of the two main volumes, a double-cantilevered master bedroom suite, acts as a promontory above the ocean, offering breathtaking views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The upper volume is an open-plan space-kitchen, living room, and dining room-with a swooping ceiling, all clad in wood, that follows the shape of the land.
The house’s two main facades express both shelter and exposure. On the north, clear expanses of glass reveal ocean and coastline views; long strips of translucent channel glass dapple the light, playing on the sea’s shimmering surface. The south facade, clad in copper, which wraps over the roof, is mostly enclosed, offering a retreat from the forces of nature. Roof overhangs on the east and west protect the windows and the front door from the harshness of sun and wind.
Fall House, California, by Fougeron Architecture
Photography by Joe Fletcher
In early 2011 “House in Monterrey” – Ando’s first residential project in Mexico – was completed. The sprawling 4,900 sq-ft home, wedged into a mountain slope, looks like a little slice of heaven. It sits almost 3000 ft above sea level and looks out on the Sierra Las Mitras mountains. Amongst other luxuries, the home boasts a cantilevered infinity pool, a double-height library, a wine cellar, gym and, of course, a gallery.
House in Monterrey, Mexico, by Tadao Ando
Photography by Ogawa Studio
The rural retreat home sits on an 80-acre agricultural site in the desert of California’s Central Coast wine region. The covered outdoor living and dining area is the heart of the home and the hub of family activity with the inclusion of an intimate fireplace overlooking the vast rural landscape. Concrete block walls create the spatial, social, and ecological organization of the building. Masonry was chosen for its elemental presence, its link to historic building traditions, and its visual and textural harmony with the surrounding natural environment. The design organizes domestic activity around the passage of the sun throughout the day, choreographing the quotidian rhythm of life on the land. Removed from the primary living zone, intimate bedrooms offer privacy and retreat when desired, each with its own separate outdoor domain.
A combination of thermal mass, building orientation, shading devices, and intelligent ventilation allows a bright, open home that remains comfortable throughout the day and throughout the year. This energy-efficient performance allows solar photovoltaic and thermal panels to provide electricity, space heating, and hot water. Aidlin Darling Design approached sustainability as more than simply a checklist of aggregated features. One of our guiding principles was the simultaneous performance of multiple functions by a single design element, achieving maximum benefit from minimal means. Ecologically responsible decisions are integrated throughout the design, making sustainability a deeply-embedded and inseparable quality of the completed project.
Paso Robles Residence, California, by Aidlin Darling Design
Photography by Matthew Millman
The Jesolo Lido Pool Villa is the first of a developement for 9 single-family residences in the beach town of Jesolo Lido, Italy. The villa is a custom designed prefabricated wood structure, and it was built and furnished in only 6 months. Energy-saving high standards have been applied to the shell to guarantee maximum comfort and almost zero costs throughout the four seasons.
The building features wood structures as a flexible and anti-seismic system which also avoids thermal bridges. The 31cm of perimeter insulation, argon-gas insulated glass facades, 10 kw of photovoltaic panels installed on the roof and the interior / exterior led light fixtures co-operate in making a technologically contemporary building. Because of the small dimensions of the plot, the design goal has been directed in leaving as much open space as possible.
The indoor living area has transparent sides which opens towards two different-sized patios. An olive tree is the main three-dimensional element in the patio and it’s placed next to the staircase which leads to the underground level, where the storage and technical rooms are located. The outdoor areas, as a client’s main request, needed to be low maintenance, so most of the surface was paved and the plants in the inserts where selected in order to live with the least care possible. The 4-meter roof overhang to west allows to have enough shading during the hot summer months and allows to place a covered outdoor seating and dining areas. As always for JMA, the persuit of simplicity and linear solutions represented a large part of the design work.
Jesolo Lido Pool Villa, Jesolo Lido, Italy, by JM Architecture
Photography by Jacopo Mascheroni
The jewelBOX accommodates two contradictory concepts. A monolithic mask, the building’s exterior versus a fluid interior. The mask reveals the ground floor volume through an ornamental iron gate. A black rectangular column redirects the visitor towards its two sections. The retractable iron gate exposes another metal canterleveled ‘sculpture’ that, along with the linear lighting, leads to the first level.
A dark wooden surface running along the wall masks the elevator door, frames the entrance and literally invades the otherwise bright light coloured space. At this point the visitor is ‘trapped’ within two perforated elements that mark the waiting area through which he can get glimpses of the white landscape wrapping around the perimeter of the space. This synthesis is abruptly interrupted by the roof that shoots up revealing the bright light coming through the huge glazing that frames the city.
Jewel Box, Kifisia, Greece, by Panos Nikolaidis & Errica Protestou
Photography by George Fakaros