Narrow House, located in the small city of Bilzen in Belgium, is a wonderful collaborative design between the architects Bassam El Okeily and Karla Menten. You will have already noticed how the dynamic facade stands out like no other, with two balconies of irregular geometry covered by glass, which produces impressive and distinct light effects in a multitude of colours at night. Narrow House was built for a couple and features three levels; these being the ground floor, a library, and the third level a studio for one of the individuals who is an artist. Narrow House also features a backyard to complete this vibrant home. I continue to be surprised with the facade. Wonderful.
The Takanawa House is a simple concrete form nestled in a busy Tokyo neighborhood. Designed by Hiroyuki Ito of O.F.D.A., the strong exterior of this three-story structure hides an intelligent interior layout. The house is split distinctly in half by a central glazed staircase. The staircase connects the two halves with cantilevered concrete landings. The interior rooms are painted an airy white, and strategically placed courtyards ensure the home receives plenty of natural light. From the outside, the Takanawa House seems like a straightforward design. The thoughtful, playful interior is a secret world hidden within the exterior concrete box. I love the layout of this space: it is both simple and complex, open and protected, light and dark. Much like the staircase that connects the interior forms, each element of this home is connected through a thread of perfectly executed design.
Mur House by Apollo Architects & Associates in Yokohama City, Kanagawa is the perfect combination of pure lines and stripped-back Japanese simplicity. Conceived to house the client’s expansive art collection, the Mur House acts as an innocent bystander to the human animation anticipated unfolding within. Typical of Japanese residences, it is clear the architectural collaborative intended, through glazing, to frame the external world. From within, this house looks out, from a place of calm white-ness out onto the urban stage that surrounds. After entering this house, a long approach awaits and functions as a switch of in and out, whereby connecting spaces act as rooms, connecting the various destinations. The journey between these spaces is a continuation of this calm. At just over 80sqm and completed in 2011, this timber structure dwelling creates a distinctly bold silhouette. The combination of operable and fixed façade elements creates hubs of privacy, mixed with subtle porthole vistas from the outside world. The contrast between these elements creates, I think, a perfect haven in amongst high-densification.
The Ridge Road Residence is located on the Mornington Peninsular of Australia, within the Moonah Links golf course. Studio Four developed the design so that it addresses the existing site conditions and promotes environmentally responsible practices in its architecture – the adjacent tea trees that provide shade to the exposed living areas, full-height and completely operable windows for natural ventilation, various water-saving storage features and renewable timber as its main construction material. Above all, its minimalist aesthetic is what appeals to me most. I like how it sits low in elevation with terraced decks created from simple volumes so it blends in with the topography, and that the distinct separation of private vs public is complimented with such beautiful, seamless architectural details and contrast of white and black. Photography by Shannon McGrath.
This proposed project from Spanish architectural bureau Pereda Pérez Arquitectos answers two major design concerns. Firstly, due to building restrictions in Villarcayo, Spain, the house can only have ground floor. Secondly, the owners, a young expanding family, wanted to have a master suite, another two bedrooms and a bathroom, kitchen, garage, and a place for the children to study and play. All in a relatively small one-story building. The solution architects suggested is beautiful as it is convenient. All private rooms of the house are pushed to the blind concrete sides, freeing the open area in the middle for the living space. This airy central room also boasts access to the garden and great light. The concrete floor and ceiling repeat the textures we see on the outer walls of the building, bringing unity and coherence to the structure.
Look closely, or you might miss the charming La Marseta Country House. Designed by Sonia Miralles Mud and photographed by David Frutos, this Spanish home nearly blends entirely into the landscape. The structure of this house is formed from a long concrete ramp. The upper level of the ramp is a rolling garden, while the lower level contains the interior dwelling spaces. I love the relationship of this structure and the environment. The shape, soft colors, and rooftop garden create the feeling that the home has grown from the land itself.
The Tokyo-based architecture firm Shinichi Ogawa & Associates recently completed the Library House, a stunning minimalist residential project designed with a 6 meter high wall of bookshelves for the client who is an avid reader. What I love most about the architecture is that as austere and private as the exterior looks with the lack of windows and openings, the interiors are not compromised in terms of light with the use of skylights, open courtyards and tinted glass. The details in the architecture – the frameless doors, the bookshelf in the wall, the opening of the skylight – makes this a really successful minimalist design.
Twentieth Century Casa Orfila by Schneider Colao epitomizes the minimalist style. Through a combination of white on white, separated only by intricate shadow lines and seamless junctions, the perfect execution of less is achieved. The expression of discreet is overt. I like this. Completed in 2011 in Madrid, Spain, this 200sqm house is both considered and considerate. I am particularly partial to the use of stone, and the slightness of the veins that run through it, humanizing it. The introduction of the timber to the expressed ceiling adds another element of warmth to this otherwise quite austere interior. A home, after all, is supposed to entice such feelings of enrapture. Since combining forces in 2007, the architects, Ursula Schneider and Jesus Colao (Schneider Colao) seem to fuse together (quite beautifully) elements of their own nationalistic minimalism to create the modesty that is Casa Orfila. To me, this combination of warmth on cool is quite fitting.
Casa Mirador looms atop the sand, surrounded by vineyards, in Casablanca Valley, Chile. Designed by Matias Zegers, it is simultaneously a feature of the landscape and a feature apart from it. Both humble and commanding, this home seamlessly embraces its dry, dusty environment. The facade is composed of handcrafted concrete: weathered, textured, and varied. A narrow entry patio sits at the center of the structure; the living areas and a wine tasting room are situated on either side. The bedrooms rest at the back of the house, along with a walled terrace. A gorgeous exterior, smart layout, and impeccable landscaping- what’s not to love about this Chilean dwelling? It is everything I want from a modern home: beauty, precision, and a unequivocal attachment to place.
The 63.02 Degrees house by Schemata Architects is located in the dense urban jungle of Nakano, Tokyo, Japan. Completed in 2007, this enduring celebration of concrete and spatial efficiency highlights the raw beauty and tactility of Japanese minimalism. On a mere 48sqm site, I find the interaction of existing and introduced elements to be very Japanese; discreet, respectful and (surprisingly) playful. Understated and elegant, the transition between the three levels, materials and functions seems overtly effortless. I am particularly drawn to the consistency of the seamless palette of materiality. The dedication to the minimalist style is also to be congratulated. It is a much disciplined dedication indeed. Considering the site’s obligation to rigid context (being in Japan) it is refreshing to see space freed. Schemata Architects have re-invigorated their approach to the façade interaction with the streetscape. Purposely rotated (63.02 degrees) on this narrow restrictive site, the external walls deliberately open to maximize existing views and create landscape viewing portals. This place of quiet, in amongst a city of noise is perhaps the perfect epitome of what every house (rotated or otherwise) should aspire to.
The Stripe House is a modest, mixed-use home in the Netherlands. Designed by GAAGA, this three story house is named for the horizontal stripes carved into the facade on three sides of the structure. The groves were hand-carved into the plaster, creating a unique display of craftsmanship. The ground floor of the Stripe House contains an office and patio. The second story houses the kitchen and living space; and the third floor contains the bedrooms. The structure has very few windows, but the windows it has are large and strategically placed. The stripe house is sensibly designed, but not at all short on character. I love the hand-made facade; it gives the exterior of the home a warm, tactile nature. This home is simple and precise, and a lovely example of minimalist living.
Featuring a home in Hiroshima, Japan by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP. The Optical Glass house offers a welcoming, tranquil atmosphere rarely seen in such perfect combination with contemporary and minimal interior architecture. I love the simplicity in the execution of materiality, layout, solidity of forms and large scale geometric elements such as the wood storage wall in the main living zone. Color is expressed through the used materials such as warm brown from wood, soft gray from concrete, invigorating green from the central courtyard and beautiful blue from a small pool outside. Soft light penetrates through a reflecting tiled glass, highlighting the carefully curated interior space.