Since the dawn of history, ‘public’ architecture – the architecture constructed by institutions of church and state, served as a tool in shaping the consciousness of the masses. Its massive dimensions, layout of spaces, and choice of materials, were all done with the objective of creating in the viewer and visitor a sense of moving between dimensions – from the day-to-day, the simple and the often inferior – to a place that is sublime, inspiring and of awesome majesty – homes to those among the people raised to privilege- the representatives of God on earth.
The Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, influenced by the Nile which flows in linear manner, designed their temples as a voluminous physical experience. En route, temple visitors move over long stretches that become more convoluted and ever deeper, passing through spaces where each exposes a clue to the next, and where each transition appears to take you closer to the exalted and the shocking, which only the favored will get to see.
Western modern architecture sought to break free of its propaganda-based foundations and serve as a reflection of the values of a society, its culture, and its technological capabilities. It is intended to serve the public and the objectives of a nation’s government – no longer in the form of holy places, but as functional public buildings that are welcoming and democratic in nature. Accordingly, the importance of changing the mind-set of the visitor has been almost entirely absent from the design discourse in recent centuries.
When it comes to ‘grassroots architecture’ – namely, the architecture used in planning private residences – the experience of a change in consciousness upon entering a house is hardly ever thought of nowadays in the design process, having lost its importance quite some time ago. The living spaces and the living room are thus made as one piece, separated from the street by nothing more than a door, both physically and metaphorically.
The house under discussion here is about this experience. It is this dynamic that is generated in its design, explaining it to the visitor simply by placing him or her at its center from the first moment they stand in front of the facade facing the street — an opaque monolithic slab, covered in dark stone. The impermeability of the wall is softened by an avenue of young trees directing the visitor along the length of the paved footpath, directly into an inner courtyard surrounded by a semi-opaque stretch of wood, the first in a series of internal courtyards that form a key principle in the design of the house.
Walking along the path, as indeed the entry into the enclosed grounds, is part of the process of separating from the outside world and contemplating the present moment more deeply. Full attention can now be given to the structure, captured in its spaces like a prisoner – as we stand in front of a large, transparent curtain wall on which we can observe what is going on in the house in absolute transparency, something reserved for visitors invited because they appreciate such loveliness.
Although the facade facing the street is designed as an opaque mass and seems to hold an enigmatic secret, as soon as one crosses the line of the wooden ‘arbours’, the spaces of the house are suddenly visible in all their simplicity. The process of stepping into opaqueness and then catching sight of the private interior as it emerges from the sealed, the hidden, and the monolithic, into an open and light-filled space, would almost seem to confirm that you have entered the place now exposed – the private parts of the house. Here the geometry is simple and minimalist, and is clean and transparent in its form and materials, almost as if it were someone that had turned all his cards face up on the table.
The other internal courtyards, as well as the glass balustrade that encloses the swimming pool, separating it from the other outside spaces, seemingly bring together all the visitor’s experiences into a focused and penetrating experience, one that clearly spells out the boundaries of what is permitted and possible, and defines the house as a private and intimate experience.
F House, by Pitsou Kedem
At the water’s edge a structure stands properly. In the periphery, a ferry landing and the echoes of extinct maritime sheds,
it nestles in respectful and appropriately, embracing it’s context. Genuine materials, precise details, a place personified by purity. Slowly unveiling itself, it defies definition of program and typology. Respectful, timeless.
The Junsei House, by Suyama Peterson Deguchi
Photography by Charlie Schuck
The site is heavily wooded and enjoys a beautiful southerly aspect with a view over the Durlston Country Park. Early on, we established the advantages of a single-storey building; it would suit the retired clients’ future needs, give an elegant solution to the steeply sloped site and allow a simple arrangement of spaces. At the same time, the design reduces the visual impact from across the valley when looking back towards the house and helped the scheme from a planning point of view.
The sloping site – with protected mature trees – very much dictated the positioning of the dwelling. Access is via the front of the property, so we made use of a retaining wall, faced in local Purbeck stone, to define different levels and visually mask the vehicular route, maintaining a clear view from the living spaces across the valley.
The single-storey house cantilevers over the retaining wall to deal with the level changes and views. The large cantilever has been achieved through two concrete planes: the floor and roof acting together like a space beam. The concrete structure is then in-filled with simple timber dry-lining, leaving the concrete frame visible externally.
The house exemplifies our belief that simplicity and honesty of construction underlie good design. The initial concept and design drivers are instantly recognisable in the building, and we strive to retain this clarity of intent without adding anything unnecessary to the building. We think carefully about how we build our buildings and work closely with our engineers to ensure an architecture founded in such basic things such as structure, details, materials and order.
The Quest, Swanage, UK, by Ström Architects
Photography by Martin Gardner
The QL House is located in one of the most exclusive areas of Algarve, on the Portuguese southern coast, a singular presence in an essentially residential neighbourhood. From where it was erected it is possible to see captivating surroundings: golf courses, residences, the estuary and, dominating the background, the Atlantic Ocean.
The QL House project was an exercise in balancing spaces and landscape integration. The articulation of two overlapping and perpendicular spaces generated not only a particular spacial dynamic, but also different visual relations between full and empty, light and dark – caused by the dynamic of shadows – between private areas, semi-private areas and the view of the surrounding landscape. Two stories and a basement encapsulate a precise functional program: garden, swimming pool, sun room, living and dining room, bathrooms, a regular kitchen and a summer kitchen, four bedrooms, an office and space for a playroom. Circulation takes place through a continuous stairway along the indoor garden, which illuminates all the indoor spaces in this home. This nuclear garden structures the direct interaction between the entire indoors and the outdoors, gifting all spaces of the QL House with the luxury of natural lighting.
QL House, Faro, Portugal, by Visioarq Arquitectos
Photography by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
This beachside house on Japan’s Ikema Island is perched on a concrete base to ensure the living spaces inside enjoy an optimal view of the East China Sea.
Ikema Island House, Japan, by 1100 Architect
Set within its stunning natural surroundings on Hamilton Island, the residence is sculpted from concrete, stone, block work and glass resulting in a sequence of dramatic volumes incorporating airy living spaces and private sheltered outdoor zones. The building elements are intertwined with reflection ponds and a swimming pool, lending a sense of tranquility and sensuous tactility whilst providing casual, elegant outdoor living amid the beauty and serenity of the island.
The Solis Ηouse, Hamilton Island, Australia, by Renato D’Ettorre Architects
Built for a family of four, the house turns its back to the street and is covered with wavy sheets of zinc, creating a neutral and fort-like impression to passers-by. Its other side is much more open, allowing the spectacular views from the bay to enter the living spaces. 40 percent of the house was built underground in order to prevent heat loss, while granite was used for the walls, which at points are as thick as 40 cm, for the same, energy-saving reasons. Repetitive linear elements such as vertical windows and louvres establish a rhythm that is artfully followed elsewhere in the house’s design.
Tokujin Yoshioka’s Blossom Stool is the newest standout addition to Objets Nomade. Now comprising 16 foldable, modular and portable objects since its launch in 2013, the collection is a pioneering crossover between fashion and product design that Louis Vuitton first launched in 2013.
The seat of the Blossom Stool is an articulation of the brand’s iconic four-petal monogram. The folding structure ensures absolute functionality, and the organic form makes for an indispensable accessory. “I always try to invent something beyond forms,” said Yoshioka. The Japanese designer has established a reputation for work that challenges the perceptions by seemingly defying the laws of nature. By emphasising the wood and leather techniques in the Blossom Stool, he wanted to highlight the timelessness and art of the brand’s exemplary craftsmanship. “I thought I would like to re-interpret the philosophy of Louis Vuitton to create a work which travels through the time of history and future with my expression and techniques, and express the new journey through time,” Yoshioka went on. A gilded metallic edition is available, as well as a soft leather edition in either white or black.
Blossom Stool, by Tokujin Yoshioka, Exhibition: Objets Nomade