They are simple sky-reflecting concrete and glass cubes framed, or rather camouflaged by vegetation. Pascal Grasso conceived a spacious vacation home that reinvents outdoors living in perfect harmony with the environment – a contextual architecture designed as an adapted response to the surrounding geography, landscape, climate and light. The materials chosen echo to the coast’s mineral quality: raw concrete, stone, glass, stainless steel. Poured in formworks, the bottoms of which were layered with sanded wood boards, the surface of the raw concrete retained the motif for a peculiar texture.
While minimalistic aesthetic is one of the project’s formal influences, it also reveals a more conceptual approach. Pascal Grasso used a reflecting glass to bring forth notions of disturbance or transparency: in day time, nothing from the inside of the house can be perceived from the outside as the openings reflect the landscape (and this furthermore intensifies the way in which the four cubes merge in their environment). Dealing with this connection to the landscape also implied resolving the issue of the openings. More willingly speaking of screens rather than windows, the architect thought in terms of photographic or filmic framing.
Pascal Grasso conceived a house divided into four volumes set in the landscape according to an orientation determined by the viewpoints and connected together by circulation spaces. Each of the four raw concrete boxes has a distinctive size and positioning (on the ground, in slight levitation, cantilevered, piled up): this was a means to take advantage of the tilted land by working with terraces at different levels, but also to interact with the surrounding landscape.
Maison Le Cap, Var, France, by Pascal Grasso Architectures
Photography by Cyrille Weiner
The interior consists of four apartments that were knocked down to create one large apartment to create a two-story penthouse space. The house is characterized by sprawling views of the cityscape, as well as a rooftop pool that overlooks the city. The lower level consists mainly of living spaces while the upper floor contains the balcony and roof deck. A series of raised and recessed squares compose the wall and ceiling of the main living area. Total floor area: 400 sqm.
Square Compositions Penthouse, Tel Aviv, Israel, by Pitsou Kedem Architect
Photography by Amit Geron
Designed by Brussels-based architect Olivier Dwek, “House T” is embedded within the hillside of western Greece that overlooks the beautiful surroundings of the island of Kefalonia. The initial designs for the country villa were developed around the dwelling’s view with surges of blue, intense light and veils of cloud playing key inspiration. From the terraces, the sitting room, the dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms, each living space is oriented towards this fascinating Greek seascape. Boundaries between interior and exterior become blurred as sliding doors open the sitting and dining areas onto the patio, drawing inspiration from the island’s vernacular into a contemporary design.
House T, Kefalonia, Greece, by Olivier Dwek
Photography by Serge Anton
This project consisted in creating a pool house design that embraces the rural environment and furthermore includes the existing house from 1998 in its entirety. The pavilion, which was connected to the residence by using a glass footbridge, is completely enveloped in glass. The roof, in exposed concrete, contrasts with the fragility of the glass. The roof was cast on site with the aid of sight formwork and it is supported by steel fins. The transparent extension restructures the existing house and defines an inner area with the quality and characteristics of a farmstead and focuses on the garden, as well as the inner area and the surrounding landscape.
The residence to expand has a specific architecture with a saddle roof. The extension separates itself as much as possible from the existing volume, and contrasts in simplicity and light structure. The awning is anchored in the roofing sheet wit the aid of an insulated connection. The roof is insulated at her top. Likewise for thermal reasons the floor plate is deduplicated. The full height sliding doors have been manufactured thanks to a minimal window frame system of only 20 mm wide, with sliding pieces rolling on multiple small bearings. On top of that, the whole construction remains thermically very high performing.
A Glass And Concrete Pool House, Wannegem-Lede, Belgium, by Lieven Dejaeghere
Photography by Tim Van de Velde
The Spaceship Home was born out of a project for a client who wanted a quick, intelligent design construction to enjoy the panoramic view of his plot. His passion for the cinema, home automation and comfort did the rest.
The futuristic and ground-breaking proposal was his aesthetic choice, and the large terrace oriented to the views defined the layout.
The house is composed of wooden prefabricated modules which are attached to a metal frame 4m above ground level. Access is by a “real airplane” staircase that belonged to Spanair, and which, restored and modernized, recognizes and welcomes its owner. A mobile device provides automatic control for the whole house which when accessed by the ladder starts to open an impressive door with a pantographic opening. An aesthetic metal “Star Wars” control panel centralizes the house’s facilities and presides over a restrained and functional interior.
The architectural proposal stands out for its polished metallic exterior, the integration of the facilities, services and architectural details in a “space” context, and for the metal legged structure that connects the house with the ground.
The Spaceship Home, by NOEM
Architects were approached to extend and refurbish a Victorian terraced house in Shepherd’s Bush for a growing family. Remit was very conventional: a ground floor extension and a loft conversion – a potentially hum-drum brief. Dominant material chosen was concrete, primarily for its aesthetic qualities but the opportunity to build in high thermal mass and develop free-form structures became increasingly important considerations as the project progressed. As a point of reference concrete then became the driver for all other material decisions. The facade of the extension is clad in rusted Corten steel and the interior joinery fronts made from Grey Elm – both providing the necessary contrast, warmth and richness against the cool swathes of smooth concrete.
Spatially, the ground floor is designed to comprise of two main spaces – the kitchen extension and the more formal living rooms – and these spaces interlock around a central fulcrum of storage units with circulation to either side. Each space flows into the other by an extending limb of floor finish negotiating the threshold and serving as landing, seat or bookshelf to break down the formal differentiation between rooms. The framing of views and the shift of planes have been constructed to choreograph movement from one space to another, with walls and plinths quietly receding, or changing levels. The design of corners, windows seats and benches have been considered with a young family in mind: places to accommodate the day-to-day activities of children and adults alike – sitting, reading, talking, playing or resting – with the large window seat projecting into the garden and brushing up against the foliage.
The rear garden in considered as another ‘room’ of the house and the view to the garden from the front door underlines its importance, providing relief from the efficiently planned interior. The layout of the garden is defined by a concrete bench for outdoor entertaining in warmer months and two large glass panes provide plenty of natural daylight and help the external ‘room’ feel connected to their interior.
Ingersoll Road House, London, England, by McLaren.Excell
The Oak Pass Main house uses an “Upside Down” program, with public spaces above the bedrooms, which are buried into the hill and beneath a green roof of edible herbs. This relatively large house at 8,000 square feet appears much smaller and carefully integrated into the surrounding landscape, which includes over one hundred and thirty Coast Live Oaks. A seventy five foot swimming pool, with infinity edges on three of four sides, bisects the house and slips below one of the largest Oaks on the property.
Oak Pass, Beverly Hills, California, USA, by Walker Workshop
Photography by Joe Fletcher
Two Houses in the Forest, Viimsi, Estonia, by Tamizo Architects
Set on an irregular site with unique site constraints, this new residence is a relaxed and informal family home that embraces its lush garden surrounds. The house is composed of two intersecting volumes arranged to make best use of the sites orientation and outlook. Entry is via a wide loggia space which overlooks the garden and spills into the living areas. Bedrooms are accommodated on the second storey gaining access to district views to the North-East. The master suite is surrounded on three sides by sliding windows and shutters that retract completely to open the room completely to the view and the surrounding trees.
Woollahra Residence, Sydney, Australia, by Tzannes Associates
Photography by Michael Nicholson
The dimensional constraints of the existing structure (the plot measuring only 4x9m) prompted the conception of this house in historic downtown Bayona (Pontevedra, Spain) as a spatial sequence of relatively autonomous rooms, defined by variations in their proportions, the geometry and layout of their ceilings, and a diversity of materials. The different arrangements of oak wood, and the contrast between the paved surfaces of polished concrete, tiling, white marble and wood, result altogether in a fragmented interior which is thus illusively expanded, while embodying the distinctive intimacy of domestic space.
Oak wood is the dominant, unifying material. Its extensive use allows for an understanding of the “small house” as a “big piece of furniture”, in which compartments, drawers and doors proliferate. A system of wooden lintels defines the divisions between compartments. On the upper floor, the lintels support a series of pyramidal ceilings which emphasize the autonomy of each room and expand its inner height. This solution includes light niches and skylights, which evoke the so-called lumieiras, a typical element of vernacular architecture in Galicia. At ground level a repetitive system of joists rest on the main lintels. The space between two joists is equal to its section, thus making a strong floor structure which, again, allows for the vertical expansion of the interior. Moreover, the wooden joists and lintels are structurally connected to a layer of reinforced concrete which supports the heating “carpets” for the upper floor: electric radiant cable underneath a cement tiling.
The warm, wooden interior contrasts with the hard coldness of the exterior, characterized by the existing golden granite walls. The new exterior elements (cornice, door, shutters, latticework, ventilation shafts, etc) stem from a continuity with the old building’s construction logic, and were used to set the tone for the whole intervention. By that continuity it is revealed the priority given in this project in particular to “coherence” as a goal in architectural refurbishment, beyond “style” and “taste”.
Aguirre House, Bayona, Spain, by Carrascal Blas
Photography by Lluìs Casals