Minimalissimo


Categorized “Architecture”

Imagine taking a stroll through the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, enjoying breathtaking views of the natural landscape that embraces the city. While visiting the famous Parque da Lage you notice an unusual structure inside the central Palace. When you dare to enter the tiny citadel, everything is covered in plastic and overtly orange. You’ve been tricked by the art collective known as Penique Productions. The duo builds customized inflatable balloons that fit and fill their chosen venue, guerrilla style: Penique Productions appropriates the original site that loses its routine to become part of the work getting a new identity. The balloon acts as a border and frames a new space. The container is also the content blurring the idea of the art object. The beauty of this site specific lies in numerous factors: the invasion of space by a vessel that manages to alter the perception of a visitor but does not harm the building in any way; it denies the original textures to shower it with a homogeneous quality; and finally, it works as conceptual exercise in reduction and simplification. It is a variation of minimalism when a classic building, filled with details and adornments, finds itself...


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.


Germany based Eckenberg Academy commissioned Ecker Architekten to build a mono-volume with a special focus on social gatherings and extra-curricular activities. The resulting project is a very special Forum housing numerous multi-function rooms, a library, a wide auditorium, a friendly student lounge and, of course, a cafeteria. For so many diverse practices in the daily life of a campus, something must bring visual coherence to it all, and surely enough, a strong minimalist influence is what it takes. Sporting very obvious and explicit circles all over the forum, the visual repetition brings a surprising visual lightness to concrete; disguised as a double agent for light source and to guarantee proper ventilation throughout the building. Confirming its running motif, the architects chose to employ on selected walls an extension of the circle found at the main hall, and consequently charming round sculptures adorn several rooms to great effect. Preventing any possibility of said building to be considered cold or uninviting, the architects smartly played their final hand employing basic colors on walls and furnishings. The selected furniture does a great job retaining a very modern and slick feel, while still engaging and welcoming any user. A true case study on how...


Situated in Vallvidrera, a stunning Barcelona neighborhood with excellent views of the city, Vallvidrera House lies on a small land between a valley and a pine forest. This beautiful and totally white single family home was designed by Barcelona-based studio YLAB Arquitectos and was built to cover the maximum amount of square footage on a tight budget, while at the same time positioning the house for great views and to maintain absolute privacy. A smart solution with incredible effects. The structure is a single and compact cube that consists of three levels. The geometry of the volume directly reflects that of the sloped land it sits upon. The façade is covered in a white finish on all surfaces including the roof. The windows are flush with the façade creating a smooth surface. A fine perforated steel fence surrounds the low end of the land. I love how this white cube sits low on the ground in perfect balance with its surroundings and nature. Photography by Marcela Grassi.


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...


Spain-based architect Ramón Esteve designed a world-class residence with a privileged high view of the turquoise Mediterranean below; the scale of this project goes beyond 1,200 sqm, nevertheless it manages to nail a challenging combination of extravagance and minimalism impeccably. The outer façade facing the street is quite private and does not give anything away regarding its visual prerogative, a much-understated introduction to its wood-clad and geometric structure. On the opposite side lays a very modernist and playful take on various volumes, each one housing its own veranda and access to the beautiful view of the ocean. This project celebrates the natural landscape, yet the interior design brings forth symmetry defiantly. The interior design thrives in white color dominance, an effort to maintain a homogeneous feel in all rooms. Impressive how such a wide variety of materials managed to build a cohesive unit. Kudos to the excellent timberwork in the kitchen, bathroom and on the beautiful 6m high patio. With luxury comes great responsibility, and I’m pleased to see the architects did not ignore ecofriendly solutions: Two separate pools grace this residence, yet rainwater is recycled to fill each one. Lastly, the energy consumption is kept to a minimum with state-of-the-art...


Wall Cloud is a beautifully minimalist renovation project devised by Sasaki Architecture for a former waterfront warehouse in the Minato district of Tokyo that previously operated as a popular disco called Juliana’s Tokyo in the early 1990s. Sasaki Architecture intended to create an open space with floating walls and pillars. The beams and other components were reconsidered as different spatial components, and were redefined in the space. The ceilings were removed, and the beams now surround the space as drifting walls, while lights are used to enhance the sense of floating. Dividers of individual spaces for tenants are transparent glass attached beneath the wall volume. The attic of the former discotheque on the second floor remained untouched for a long period of time, causing an oppressive feeling in the space, but when an old space is given new life, it always brings excitement. I like that. The oppressive attic-like space of a symbol of the past was transformed like a wall cloud, and regenerated as an impressive and wonderfully spacious working environment. Superb. Photography by Takumi Ota.


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.


Narita International Airport adds to its roster the exciting and very original Terminal 3. As a joint effort from NIKKEN SEKKEI + Ryohin Keikaku + PARTY, this project unapologetically uses the low budget to its advantage with smart choices regarding the structure, applied materials and even the layout. A great example of heavy-duty minimalism infused with playfulness. To break the mould and ignore the customary moving walkways was not only an aesthetic choice but also a monetary one, since the budget for Terminal 3 was half of the usual sum; in a bold move, rubber running tracks were installed all the way through guiding the travellers and the airport’s staff. The clear lines leave no room for doubt, the blue surface leads the way for the departing passengers, whilst the red/earth colour welcomes the arriving commuters. It’s worth pointing out the great pictograms replacing illuminated signs as well. The interior design made with much-celebrated MUJI furniture is a perfect fit for what Terminal 3 is about. The brand’s affordable and functional furnishings enriches the ambient with great visual patterns and additional colour. Since the structure is quite raw and exposed, it is a great contingency plan to add explicit soft...


Parisian architects duo Betillon/Dorval-Bory took on the renovation of a 20 sqm apartment with an unyielding minimalist grip. The white color feels fresh and does a marvelous job infusing amplitude to a narrow space, whilst not losing sight of a bold conceptual statement. It’s all about two simple light installations calling the shots. It is satisfying to behold a small apartment project with special care to lighting, considering the usual method of installing ready-made product design; this case in particular brings to the forefront tailor-made raw and naked lamps fixed on a small partition. The dividing barrier defines the living area and kitchen from the sleeping area and bathroom. For the larger area seven fluorescent tubes are tasked to light the way, with its colder blue-ish glow. In the private area in the corner, it’s up to a warmer glow to fill the space with two low-pressure sodium lamps (aka SOX), the same technology used on street lighting. The effect of the SOX lamps are unusual and daring for a residential project, since it annuls and reduces every color down to a monochromatic variation. In this case, the minimalism sensibility isn’t limited to a adornment free interior design, but to...


The Australian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale is complete, just in time for the opening of the 56th Biennale in May of this year. The International Art Exhibit, taking place once every two years, has been held in Venice’s Giardini della Biennale, or the Biennale Gardens, since 1895. It is traditional for architects to design their home country’s pavilion as a unique identifier for their nation. The gardens include works by architecture greats such as Carlo Scarpa, Gerrit Rietveld, and Alvar Aalto. Australia’s Pavilion was in major need of an update: the country had been using the same temporary structure since 1988. Designed by Melbourne-based firm Denton Corker Marshall, the new pavilion’s dark square mass looms powerfully over its bordering canal. The facade is made from large slabs of black granite which protrude at points, allowing natural light to enter the windowless interior. The entrance floats on a concrete terrace, accessed by a dark steel ramp. On the canal side, the structure cantilevers slightly; this subtle gesture both embraces and respects the distinct environment. The interior is a clean, white box: the perfect canvas for various art exhibits. Australia’s sculpture-like pavilion is sure to be a hit at this Biennale and many...


Celebrated minimalist architect John Pawson has created an ethereal physical space for London-based label and designer Christopher Kane‘s very first boutique on Mount Street. Kane’s designs in no way have a minimalist language, with bright colors and geometric patterns in the current season. Yet Pawson’s space is a match made in contrast heaven with the use of off-white surfaces, mirrored walls and glass vitrines and display shelves. Accessories are displayed on fluorescent-coloured plates that rest on glass shelves in the wall as a small subtle hint to Kane’s effervescent designs. Using highly polished stainless-steel mirroring on the rail down the staircase that connects womenswear on the ground floor to the menswear on the lower floor, the descent is illuminated by a large cylindrical chandelier that emphasizes the volume of this atrium. The rail sits recessed into the wall, a clever architectural detail of Pawson’s, so clothes can be hung on display along the shape of the rail. Having designed only a small number of retail spaces, Calvin Klein Collections Store in New York being one of them, John Pawson’s retail portfolio can look forward to the expansion of more Christopher Kane’s stores, since establishing the brand’s spatial identity in this beautiful, minimalist architecture.