With its breathtaking location directly facing Lake Maggiore and the surrounding mountains, this New Concrete House by Wespi de Meuron Architects protrudes stoically on a steep slope while connecting itself to existing and new construction on the same site. The minimalist design in concrete, while simulating the color of natural rock, reflects an organic presence back to the landscape while its volumetric openness exposes the warm oak finish of the millwork and furniture to the exterior. Sunlight pours through these seamless connections of volumes, blurring the lines of where the exterior starts and interior ends. The architect’s implementation of the continuous use of concrete to highlight different experiences within the house is what I love about this project, to say the least. The direction of the concrete slab towards the picture window subtly orients your eye towards the framed landscape while the concrete floor catches the gleaming sunlight and reflects it back up into the space. The calmness of that experience with the view of the mountains and the lake could be considered a cliche by some, yet it is a summer getaway desired by most. Photography by Hannes Henz
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The Concrete Kitchen by Martin Steininger has been recently awarded the prestigious RedDot design award. The designer used ultra-thin 8 mm concrete as a main visual element in this project. Heat resistant and safe for food, the material is a perfect match for the function of the kitchen. However, the manufacturing process has to be very precise and requires a certain know-how. Hand-polished surfaces, minimal details and appliances add to the slick and streamlined look. I love the combination of cool and masculine concrete and warm wood. Integrated herbal boxes save space and eliminate the need for cluttering additions to the kitchen.
The 8.0 chair is made of an ultra strong concrete, which allows the design to be extremely thin. So yes: you can really put all of your weight on the seat. The chair is made using a mold, which the concrete is poured into (pics after the jump), so it exists of just one piece of pure material. How minimalist! It was designed by Omer Arbel, head of the Vancouver-based design practice Omer Arbel Office. Interesting detail: Arbel was recently awarded the commission to design the medals for the 2010 Winter Olympic in Vancouver. Talk about recognition! Photography by Shannon Loewen.
Heart of Gold is a new edition of the stunning concrete kitchen line we featured in one of our previous posts. Designed by Martin Steininger and Michael Paar, Heart of Gold adheres to the same minimalist principles as its predecessor. The seamless look is reinforced by several new elements – hidden water outlet in the sink, magnetic drawer partitions, ceramic hobs visible or hidden by an automatic panel. I love that in spite of its technological sophistication, the piece looks austere and uncluttered. All elements are modular and can fit together in various combinations. The kitchen can be made from three materials – grey or brown concrete, ceramic and natural stone.
Rainha House is designed by the Belgium based studio Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum, or ABBE for short. The small, rectangular structure is home to a family in Portugal. Glass and concrete are the primary materials used in this residence. Polished concrete can feel cold and sterile, but this is not the case with Rainha House. Hardwood floors and well-placed lighting add warmth to the space and balance the coolness of the concrete. The full length glass windows bring in sunlight and connect the home with the natural environment. I love the use of concrete in Rainha House. Exposed concrete is a pure and beautiful material; it elevates this home from a basic structure to a fine work of art. Rainha House is an elegant dwelling perfectly suited to its inhabitants and environment.
The layout of this industrial loft apartment in Brussels is quite simple. Interior FOR has few windows and no interior walls. Designed by adn Architecture, the defining features of the apartment are two freestanding metal towers. Accessed by thin, white staircases, these towers house the bathroom and laundry rooms on the ground floor, and the bedroom and office on the second story. The majority of furniture in the apartment is built-in, allowing the space to have a continuous flow and material palette. I love the simple functionality of this apartment. The towers are a smart way to add rooms and divide the space of an open plan apartment. The white walls and exposed concrete create a clean aesthetic that match the simple design of the floor plan. Interior FOR is a lovely and perfectly designed apartment.
Japanese designer Issey Miyake’s collaborations with the architects behind his spaces are always incredibly compatible with his distinctive creative direction. His most recent boutique is an extension by Tokujin Yoshioka who is also designed the original store. Known as a Reality Lab, this new retail project is supposed to emulate the shopping experience in a laboratory, which I suppose could be interpreted as the way things are organized in this clean, minimalist space. Designated areas have color blocks of blue and green, leaving the rest of the interiors mostly white with exposed, unfinished wooden joists and raw concrete walls. Products are organized according to color and sectioned by category (garments vs Bao Bao bags vs IN-EI lamps) while they are located in areas designed specifically for them. The details that caught my eye were how the functions of the store have been deliberately concealed. The hangers are hidden behind a deep cove so the clothes appear floating beneath a long color band; the cashier’s desk is devoid of any information and direction; mirrors are frameless and nondescript so they pretend to be an extension of the space. This retail project has a lot more depth and layers than it appears to be,...
P.A.C.O. is a minimalist bluetooth speaker created by Italian studio Digital Habit(s). This is a stand-alone piece, it can be placed on a desk, shelf or any other surface. Here is how designers describe it: P.A.C.O. is a digital loudspeaker manufactured in concrete and Fir Harmonic Board. The body, heavy and amorphous, enhances the deepness of bass and the harmonic wood gives warmth to the treble. Aside from the bluetooth controls, the speaker can be operated via hand gestures. For example you can place and hold your hand over one side of the sensor to change volume. And to stop the music, you can just cover the sensor with your hand. Simple and intuitive.
Sekino Architects Office brings an absolute celebration of concrete to its combined House + Office structure in Tokyo. Staying true to the aesthetic that has become typified of Japanese architectural form, this structure is one of absolute minimalism. The clean lines and open voids acting as internal courtyards connect spaces through bridges and uninterrupted rail-work. Comprised of reinforced concrete and glass, House + Office sits on a site just over 800 sqm, providing a very generous, particularly for Japanese standards, 550 sqm of internal floor area. Both the House and Office components of this beauty seem to coexist in an effortless harmony. There is also an overt zen-ness to this space and the experience of moving throughout. This is an applauding example of Sekino Architects Office’s consistent discipline and restrained deliberation. Photography courtesy of Hiroyuki Hirai.
Swedish architecture practice Tham & Videgård has taken the traditional gabled house for a modern, minimalist interpretation. Summerhouse Lagnö is constructed with a series of pitched roofs that run the length the site with a rectilinear plan. The more public living space faces the Baltic sea while the private and service areas occupy the area closer to the forest behind it. It is the uninterrupted design language that I find so appealing in this project. The eaves of the roof weave seamlessly into the walls of the exterior concrete finish. At the same time, the interiors receive the continuity of the shape of the roofs. The use of natural cast concrete makes it possible to create the expansive volumes of the interiors, double height rooms and skylights. A pitched frame with a glass canopy provides cover, connects a separate living space and enables a view from the woods to the water which may have inspired the architects to begin with. Summerhouse Lagnö recently won the World Architecture News House of the Year for 2013. Photography by Åke E:son Lindman.
Standing in a row of traditional townhouses is the long and narrow House in Lisbon. Designed by ARX Portugal, this modern beauty is comprised of two main materials: limestone and concrete. The front facade is enveloped in limestone, one of the most common materials used in Lisbon. The limestone is set in a modern design yet still links the home with its conventional neighbors. The rear of the house focuses on the outdoors: giant windows and several balconies overlook a secluded backyard garden. Almost the entire interior of the house is made of raw concrete. This material twists and turns to define the walls, floors, stairs, and furniture. The house is arranged with the public areas on the lower floors and the more private rooms above. An outdoor refuge is located on the roof: limestone walls hide the user from the street below while a lone tree brings life to the space. Overall, House in Lisbon is a lovely design which uses simple materials to create a harmonious space.
Bitten House derives its name from the four “bites” in each corner. What started as a simple cube has been carved away to create openings in the north, south, east and west. The “bites” allow for a covered entrance and back patio, as well as the decks on the second story. Anau estudi d’arquitectura designed the home with privacy and connectivity in mind. The rough concrete exterior creates a quiet, intimate interior, while the openings allow the home to embrace the surrounding environment rather than guard against it. The carving away of space is a design technique not seen enough in architecture; many designs are focused on the addition of form and material. Bitten House is a lovely dwelling which embraces this simple and effective approach to design.