“East meets West” is a term often used to describe instances where design and culture from the opposite corners of the compass meet and mingle with astute poise. And in the case of this apartment on the 22nd floor of a new, high-rise residential building in Dongguan in southeast China, this exact term couldn’t have found a more apt implementation.
Realized through the stellar collaborative efforts between Minas Kosmidis [Architecture in Concept], an architecture studio based in Thessaloniki, Greece (the “West” part of the term) and YuQiang and Partners Interior Design, a design studio based in Shenzhen, China (the “East” part of the term), this private home is the ideal link between Western design directives and Eastern lifestyle requirements.
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The project takes place in a long, narrow and stately apartment whose façade connects to the access street via an elegant bow-window and to a large but not very attractive interior courtyard through a gallery. In between, 140 square meters to resolve more or less conventional housing requirements.
Two key strategies drive the design as a whole. The first is that there are no hallways between rooms; they connect directly via an enfilade of sorts. This gives rise to a series of intermediary spaces that lack a defined code or function, which transforms them into potential play, reading, storage rooms, etc. These spaces which serve as a backbone to the dwelling don’t even feature doors, and their partitions fall short of the ceiling, making them, as it were, rooms within an original container space.
The second decision is structuring all rooms on three sections, based on three levels. A top level – the original wooden beam and ceramic vault ceiling – runs throughout the house and is painted grey. Nothing breaks up this level, since partitions do not reach up to the ceiling. Running from 60 cm to 230 cm and painted white, an intermediary level encompasses and structures the rooms, closing in the space even though there are no doors and the partitions don’t reach the ceiling. The lower level, running from the floor to a height of 60 cm, features flooring rising up the partitions in distinctive contrast for each space, while maintaining symmetry with the entrance – tile for wet rooms, wood for living rooms and bedrooms, and a new type of tile for outdoor-facing rooms, the street-side bow-window and the gallery connecting to the courtyards. The thresholds linking the rooms feature a new material, white micro-cement, which likewise covers the partitions in the entrance, which was re-arranged to clearly establish the public spaces facing the street and the private spaces facing the inner courtyard.
The entire interior space is thus organised as a series of rooms which are set off but connected and which always connect to the two exits to the outside, through which light penetrates into more interior spaces, creating a beautiful light gradation. Spaces which require more privacy follow a similar pattern but with greater privacy.
The gallery leading to the courtyards was completely demolished and was re-built (both structurally and in terms of building materials) using enormous wood doors featuring different cuts and glasses of various transparency that manage to illuminate the interior despite its unfavourable orientation while blurring the unappealing view.
Tamarit Apartment, by RAS Arquitectura
Photography by Jose Hevia
This is an emotional design! Our client asked us to reform an old dovecote in the backyard of his home. We decided to propose a play house for the children and a balneary to serve the pool on the ground floor. The whole family loved the idea. We wanted a play room inspired by magic, fantasy and also by the childhood dreams and memories…
We decided to transform the old dovecote in a minimal concrete «tree house» that represent these memories and fantasies of pure and peaceful way. We look for a way that seemed the main volume is levitating as a tree house but simultaneously it had to be balanced and pure. The idea was that the interior was absent of superfluous elements and were gradually decorated by the works and toys of these children as a reflection of consumer society we are experiencing. Some elements remained of the original building as the triangular window through which entered doves.
The Dovecote, Soutelo, Portugal, by AZO. Sequeira Arquitectos Associados
Photography © Nelson Garrido
In his ‘Spring’ exhibition at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, Mathieu Lehanneur takes us into a world of flux. As if the cycle of the seasons and nature’s forces have specially looked at the fate of objects… Here, the artist-designer with a passion for science, grapples with ancestral materials in order to suffuse them with plasticity, fluidity and tone.
The works in the ‘Spring’ exhibition seem to hesitate between solid, liquid and gaseous. They appear to be suspended mid-transformation in a poetic state of metamorphosis. Marble and aluminium become liquid, onyx becomes air and glass softens as in a return to its original state.
Mathieu Lehanneur: ‘Spring’ exhibition, (17 – 25 September 2016), at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London
A Danish couple based in South America engaged us to design and equip their newly built Copenhagen apartment. Furniture, fittings, colors and materials were carefully selected for the clients. With the client’s desire to create a modern apartment, whilst avoiding the usual collection of Scandinavian classics, we brought life and personality to the cold white bare rooms and gave their home a sense of meaning and personality. Several bespoke pieces were created for this home – library wall shelving, walk-in closets and benches, office cabinet walls, kitchen cabinet, entrance wall storage and a lounge table with thick terrazzo plates and brass details.
Krøyers Plads, Denmark, by Studio David Thulstrup
Photography by Hampus Berndtson
LOHA’s take on the Palm Springs vacation house typology simplifies its forms into their essential elements and plays with those forms through cuts and separations and by introducing unconventional materials.
Starting from a single-floor heavy mass and a contrasting light roof, LOHA further articulated the mass by cutting into the form and creating a series of landscaped courtyards. These courtyards open up the mass to bring in natural light and increase transparency and connections laterally through the home. After cladding the exterior with cement boards and minimal openings, LOHA utilized wooden slats in the courtyard spaces to materially define this formal move.
LOHA lifted the roof to create clerestories that give the appearance of a floating roof line, provide natural light, and unify the various courtyards and shifting volumes.
Desert House, Palm Springs, California, USA, by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
Photography by Paul Vu
This vacation beach house located near Cape Town, South Africa, is carefully crafted to respond directly to the brief from the client, a maverick businessman from Johannesburg. Primary requirements were to create an extraordinary living experience, conceptually capture the client’s brief to create a single space vacation house and fully embrace the remarkable seaside location.
Capitalizing on its unique context with panoramic views across the Atlantic Ocean, the house is thus conceived as a minimal steel framed glass box with a hull shaped hardwood clad roof to facilitate distant views to the surrounding mountains. All the external walls are frameless sliding folding glass doors and are filtered by slatted hardwood shutters which open hydraulically to become verandas when open and a continuous secure screen when closed. To ensure minimum environmental intrusion to the sensitive fynbos vegetation and dunes that form the site, the house is elevated to allow the fynbos to be extended under its footprint. All interior walls dividing living and sleeping spaces are sliding ash clad doors which slide away during daytime hours to create a single large living space which flows out on all four edges on to broad cantilevered decks made of Garapa hardwood.
The effect created is thus an umbrella, connecting isotropically to the amazing environment that cradles the house. This building significantly evolves the seaside vacation house typology by dematerializing the notion of cellular space, burring the traditional regime of private and semi-private space and offering variant connection and refuge. The house is counterpointed by a freestanding elevated pool and subterranean entry court and garage clad in unhewn beach stone and Garapa. The elongated pavilion with a floating curvilinear roof displays a minimal architectural language rendered in steel, glass, raw concrete and all powerfully juxtaposed with warm hardwoods deployed in the ceilings, furniture and all joinery to deliver an extraordinary outcome.
Rooiels Beach House, Cape Town, South Africa, by Elphick Proome Architects
Among the pines trees, a stone plateau is drawn to a scale that can no longer be understood as a courtyard. The space embraces a wide area of trees. The house and its services define a recognizable solid border. The interior of this boundary is inhabitable and characterized by light. The more open side of the house creates a water tank through the connection of geometries. A space that embraces its context is created through this closed extension.
House in Alentejo Coast, by Aires Mateus
From the beginning, the thinking behind the Life House was an uncompromisingly modern design where it would be possible to inhabit a different sort of architectural space. Experiments with massing and orientation have produced a composition that is bedded into the fall of the land. The proliferation of blackened gorse in the surrounding heathland is reflected in the dark exterior brickwork, whilst the rough moor grass provides a reference for the lighter bricks used inside.
The house’s programme is arranged as a series of self-contained folds, opening off two corridors. Meeting at a right angle, these passageways generate extended internal vistas and a plan designed to allow groups living in proximity to spend time together and apart, in a spatial arrangement that shares certain characteristics with the monastic cloister. The corridors — one light, one dark — represent more than just the means to get between the different parts of the house, they are key architectural experiences, each charged with its own distinctive character.
In the spirit of creating a contemporary Walden, communal and private quarters are shaped by the idea of supporting and enriching specific rituals and activities. Across the Life House this translates into optimised inventories of equipment and functional conditions, but also into a series of finely calibrated atmospheres.
Life House, Llanbister, Mid Wales, by John Pawson
Photography by Gilbert McCarragher