Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

German architecture firm Bruno Fioretti Marquez has completed a grand redesign of the House Gropius. The original House Gropius, designed by renowned Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius, was revolutionary for its time. The simple, geometric forms, large windows, and minimal decor were new architectural features that were thought to define modern living. In 1945, the bombings of WWII destroyed Walter Gropius’s modern masterpiece. After the war, the only part of the home that remained was the basement. This basement provided the foundation for Marquez’s reinterpretation of this important historic structure. The new design draws its cubic form from the original house, yet many details from the original have been retracted or redesigned. The decision to change the design was thoughtful: the architects chose to pay homage to the home’s complete history, destruction and all, rather than build a replica as if nothing had happened. The result is a structure that is a shadow of what it once was. At times the building looks unfinished, damaged, and unfit for occupancy. This unique design interpretation perfectly memorializes the Gropius House and its complicated history.


CD Poolhouse is a simple yet elegant space designed by Belgian designer Marc Merckx. The structure’s defining feature is its sleek, dark façade. Stretches of straight timber merge with black-framed glass and a metal trellis. The darkened wood continues throughout the interior, along with light gray walls and concrete details. The pool sits directly parallel to its house and is equally beautiful. Green, glassy tiles create a soothing aesthetic reminiscent of an ancient Roman bath. As a bonus, the peaceful water allows for a gratifying reflection of the stunning house and its wooded setting. Black outdoor furnishings blend seamlessly with the poolhouse, while the light interior furniture provides a refreshing juxtaposition to the structure. CD Poolhouse is the perfect design for a refreshing and relaxing getaway.


S3 City Villa is a stunning white structure with a spacious floor plan designed for a family of five. Located in the city of Tübingen, Germany, this hillside home was designed by Steimle Architekten. The clean aesthetic, modern materials, and unique floor plan create a home that is as artful as it is practical. The living areas are spread across three floors: the lower-most floor holds the open-plan common room, while the bedrooms are located on the more private upper floors. White is the dominant color for the interior, accented slightly by light-colored floors and the dark trim of the windows. The furniture and lighting contribute to the sculptural feel of the house. On the exterior, oversized glazed windows meet polished concrete siding. A soft wood terrace creates a pleasant outdoor area by the large pool. Built-in lighting ensures the terrace and pool can be enjoyed by day or night. Despite having close neighbors, S3 City Villa is sculpted so as to face the hills and river valley, giving the home a sense of privacy and remoteness. It is a clever design that is sure to please the lucky family that lives here.


Faire Chaolais is a lovely holiday home located on the coast of Morar, Scotland. Designed by Dualchas Architects, this small home frames the views of the coast’s peaceful beaches and stunning skies. The structure of Faire Chaolais is unique: a long rectangle with a traditional roof partially cantilevers over a hillside. Under the gabled roof the structure is partially recessed to create room for an unobtrusive balcony. A lower story is tucked into the hillside under the cantilever. The living spaces are located on the upper floor, capitalizing on the sunlight and landscape views. The bedrooms rest below in the smaller and more private rooms buried partially underground. The furnishings are limited to the necessities; just the things one would need for a weekend getaway. I love the form of this house. It is dramatic and exciting, yet still simple enough to not disrupt its natural landscape. What more could one want in a holiday house?


Overlooking the seaside in Greece is the elegant Villa Melana. Created by local designers Panagiotis Papassotiriou and Valia Foufa, the focal point of the home is the spectacular view of the sea and sky. Each of the main living areas was designed to take in the stunning Greek environment, and the materials used were carefully selected to incorporate the home into the natural landscape. On the exterior, rough stone walls tie the home in with the rocky surrounding landscape. Bright white walls contrast with the stone façade. The white walls also reflect the sun, which helps the house stay cool in the dry heat. Climate-appropriate landscaping, wood terraces, and stone paths create an inviting outdoor atmosphere. The stone continues on the interior, providing a welcome connection to the landscape outside. Walls of glass provide a view to the pool while sleek doors open to a covered terrace. Adjacent to the terrace, the infinity pool pairs perfectly with the soft Mediterranean water. Just imagine the lazy days and perfect nights at this seaside getaway. What could be more perfect?


Rob Kennon Architects designed this lovely family home located in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Burnley House is a perfect example of beautiful and liveable modern design. The home is divided into private and public areas, distinguished by a clever use of materials. The public areas of are filled with airy materials and a plethora of natural light, while the private rooms are smaller, darker, and cozy. The large and open great room features tall ceilings and a stretch of white cabinetry. Long, sleek windows occupy a position on every wall and wood floors bring a pleasant texture into the room. In the bedrooms, the walls are clad in a deep brown wood and the floors are covered with soft rugs. The mix of materials in Burnley House is flawless. Concrete, wood, black-framed windows, and smooth white surfaces are incorporated throughout the home, creating visual interest and continuity of design. I love how the furnishings completely compliment the surfaces and textures of the structure. Every piece of Burnley House is seamlessly pulled together, creating a structure any family would be lucky to call home.


La Piscina del Roccolo is a luxurious indoor swimming pool designed by Italian architecture firm act_romegialli. The concept for the project was to create a pool and bathing house that would capitalize on the view of the countryside. The result is a humble structure nestled in the hilly site. On the western end of the building is a long stretch of windows placed adjacent to the pool. The windows visually connect the pool to its landscape all year round. In the warmer months this wall slides open, creating an indoor/outdoor bathing experience. Much of the structure is housed underground so as to impede the landscape as little as possible. The locker rooms and fitness center are placed in this underground area, allowing the pool an interrupted view to the outside. White mosaic tiles mingle with oak accents and exposed concrete on the interior. This marriage of materials brings depth and dimension to an otherwise simple space. On the exterior, stone walls and plenty of plant life ensure the structure stays integrated with its environment. La Piscina del Roccolo is an ideal space for exercise, relaxation, and connecting with nature.


Micro-Apartment Moabit is the result of a creative renovation by Berlin-based design studio spamroom. This tiny Berlin apartment was in need of a unique renovation not only because of its small size, but because of its early 1900’s construction. Like many buildings built at the turn of the century, this apartment featured several small and crowded rooms and was heavy with layers of renovations from previous owners. The design plan was to open up the space by removing all of the interior walls and rebuild an interior system that maximized the potential of every square meter. A central core was created to hold the kitchen and bathroom, and a mezzanine, accessed by a small white staircase, was added for the sleeping space. This simple design takes advantage of typically wasted space, such as tall ceilings and stair landings, to create a supremely functional living area. Many of the home’s original materials were salvaged during construction and incorporated in the renovated home. As a result, this light and airy design has a touch of Art Nouveau charm. This micro-apartment is just 21 square meters; not a space that most people would jump at living in. But with the right design team, even the tiniest of homes can be...


The subject of this compelling photo series is MBAM, or the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal in Canada. The photography is by Matthew Brooks with assistance from Nathalie Quagliotto. MBAM is documented in a unique manner: rather than focusing on the function of the space, the attention is placed on the details of the architecture. The building is shown from an abstract perspective to spotlight the structural form. Several of the photographs feature a distortion of scale, which reveals the more sculptural qualities of the museum’s construction. In the images, glass and plaster collide in transcendent formations, stairs fall to the edges of the frame like waterfalls, and steel beams appear as delicate as spider webs. These photographs unmask the intricate details of the structure. Museums are used for exhibiting artwork, but, refreshingly, Brooks’ photography puts the museum itself on display.


Penthouse V is a holiday home for a family of seven in Pörtschach, Austria. The Austria based studio destilat positioned the penthouse in the roof structure of a 1930’s cinema. The center of the apartment is a kitchen hidden in plain sight. Gray wall coverings and a matching island integrates the area with the apartment’s design, while white covers hide the utilitarian appliances and cabinetry. An extruding fireplace, set in the same gray tile as the kitchen, is the focal point of the living and dining room. The bedrooms surround the main living area, providing plenty of space for the family and guests. Soft gray flooring mingles with the plaster and asymmetrical tiled walls creating a modern yet cozy aesthetic. A mix of lighting, built-in and hanging from the ceiling, keeps the home well-lit in all areas. Every design element in the apartment is child-friendly, allowing this home to be as functional as it is beautiful.


Casa Na Xemena is a stunning modern home overlooking the Mediterranean in Ibiza, Spain. Ramón Esteve, a design studio based in Valencia, designed the home in 1995 and completed construction in 2003. The site’s natural landscape was crucial in the design of this home. Most of the structure’s form was dictated by the sea, rocky cliffs, and sun. The exterior features a smooth white façade that reflects the heavy Mediterranean sun and contrasts beautifully with the rough cliffs and blue water. Several outdoor terraces are arranged as viewing platforms to gain the best perspective of the sea. A large infinity pool is positioned at a key point on the hillside, so that the line between the pool and the sea is elegantly blurred. The home’s interior keeps the white walls from the façade and features concrete floors and floating staircases. A sprinkling of windows illuminate the home without allowing too much heat inside. Geometric furniture, some of which was designed by Ramón Esteve, is placed in the interior and by the pool. Casa Na Xemena provides a striking response to a remarkable landscape. The house provides a true relationship with the environment, resulting in a magnificent sensory experience for its lucky residents. Photography by Eugeni Pons...


This elegant dark home is located in Shiga, Japan and designed by FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects. Framing House was built for a small family who desired to live in a habitable art gallery. The home’s name is attributed to the structure’s act of framing key spaces. This framing notion allows each space to feel unique yet still connected to the flow of the house. Three main spaces are carved into the home’s layout: an art gallery, living space, and courtyard. The courtyard links the gallery and living spaces, and has the added benefit of bringing nature and natural light into both areas of the home. In nearly every room of the home, sections of the walls are cut out to frame windows, artwork, countertops, and shelves. These features contribute to the minimal sensibilities of the home by removing the need for stand-alone furniture and hiding clutter. Framing House is not just a home and an art gallery, it is a home as an art gallery. I could not imagine a more beautiful dwelling place. Photography by Yoshihiro Asada.