Minimalissimo


Categorized “House”

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.


The office of Pasel Kuenzel Architects has recently completed this project, Urban Villa, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In an almost utilitarian language, the residence is designed as stark and minimalist while the exterior and the details of the construction tell the story of what the house is about. The large 3300sf house is made of up 2 intersecting volumes – a horizontal for living spaces and a vertical for the more private office, bedrooms and a roof terrace. Using white painted raw timber boards made of Douglas fir that clad the exterior, the architects included large windows with black frames to punctuate the facade. The clean detailing of both the interior and exterior makes this project extremely elegant. My favorite part of this architecture is that all the white floors, ceilings and walls seamlessly define the space, leaving the texture of the exterior walls and grounds to reflect back through the large window walls, further emphasizing the personality of the building. Photography by Marcel van der Burg.


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.


Cardal Holiday House is a striking home built into the hilltop in Bemposta, Portugal. Designed by Cannatà & Fernandes, this building is defined by contrast. The upper and lower level are opposites in color, structure, and material. The lower level is a smooth expanse of concrete that juts out from the hillside. The second story is a light and airy form that appears to float stop the concrete which supports it. A parking garage and small garden are located on the ground floor. The main living areas are contained on the upper level, accessed by a dramatic staircase at the entrance. Cardal Holiday House is a gorgeous pairing of opposites.  The different forms and materials come together seamlessly and blend perfectly with the surrounding environment.


All four walls of the Light Walls House in Aichi, Japan are nearly void of windows. Yet the interior of this home is surprisingly bright. Natural light pours down from strategically placed skylights in the exposed wooden beam ceiling. Designed by mA-style Architects, the shady site made introducing sunlight into the home quite difficult. The well-designed skylights distribute and direct the light throughout the structure. Lovely light patterns are formed on the floors and walls, creating natural artwork that changes throughout the day. Freestanding white boxes, accessible only by ladder, form private spaces above the ground floor. Light Walls House solves a common problem with a beautiful solution. I love the how all the elements in this home work together to enhance the natural light. The hidden rooms and built in furnishings allow the home to maintain a sleek, pulled-together aesthetic.


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


Migliari House is an impressive arrangement of white forms loacted in a suburban area of Brazil. Designed by Domo Arquitetos, the structure consists of several boxy forms, each of which contains a different space organized by function. The living spaces are separated by interior walls that feature cutouts, light wells, and large openings instead of traditional doors. The bedrooms are grouped together in the east wing of the home. The linear grouping of the bedrooms represents family union. The exterior is largely closed off from the street, allowing for an introverted space that emphasizes domestic life. The back of the home, however, features sliding glass doors that embrace the tranquil outdoors. I’m captivated by the concept of this home. I love how the different masses interact: their intersection creates exciting shapes and shadows. The division of space by individual forms is a logical and beautiful design for a family home.


G house, a stunning minimalist private residence nestled in Afeka, northwest of Tel Aviv, is the result of the collaboration of Axelrod Architects and Pitsou Kedem Architects whose work may already be familiar among our readers. Their masterful attention to detail reveals itself in the frameless, flushed architecture. The intersecting beams, columns and planes of this project deliver the sunlight in an almost abstract way, penetrating the volumes and reflecting across the glass and walls on the inside. The roof floats over and cantilevers over the structure, providing much needed shade for this home. My favorite part of this project is the narrow, vertical stairwell, the ‘slice’, that faces the street not only serves as egress, but emphasizes the dramatic volume of the interior with the massive height and extensive use of glazing . The back of the house now has a clever way of letting light in. As the architects describe it: The ‘slice’, containing stairs to all floors, is punctuated by a linear skylight and a ribbon window that dramatically illuminates the stairwell. The result is a spectacularly unifying element in what would have simply been the backside of the building. Photography by Amit Geron. 


House K may look small from the street, but this intelligent design is large enough to house two families. With a maximum width of a mere seven feet, House K stretches into the sky to create additional square footage. Designed by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, this home achieves a comfortable living space by utilizing towers and space-saving staircases. Two thirty foot towers are connected by a central hall. Each tower holds the living areas for one family, allowing for privacy as well as connectivity. I appreciate this housing concept: two distinct but coupled spaces allow for an extended family to live in sync. The combination of wood and concrete is also lovely: the wood evokes the memory of traditional Japanese homes, while the concrete is distinctly modern. House K’s thoughtful design is a solution I hope we can see more of in multi-family housing.


Ma House is another lovely response to the tricky housing situation in Japan. Located in Aichi, Japan, this narrow home is so close to its neighbors that the outer walls nearly touch. The architects, Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates, react to the challenging site with a simple and airy design. The home has few interior walls and limited furnishings. Combined with high ceilings and natural light these elements allow the home to feel much larger than its actual footprint.   I am continually fascinated by the smart designs that emerge from the strenuous housing conditions in Japan. Size does not equal style: Ma House proves you don’t need a lot of space to live beautifully.


Standing out in stark contrast amidst the traditional Japanese architecture in the city of Kanazawa, Takuro Yamamoto Architects designed the White Cave House for a client who wanted multiple external spaces of terraces and courtyards reflected in a minimalist architecture. The monolithic volumes conceal a courtyard with a shallow reflecting pool, a covered garage which is the ‘cave’ connected garage for the client’s multiple cars to the living spaces, designed with functional minimalism. My favorite detail of this project has to be the fact that the experience of a courtyard in a climate with heavy snowfall is a luxury. As described by the architects: We designed Cave unstraight because it prevents passengers outside from seeing through, though it is not closed. By this arrangement, Cave takes a new turn for each part letting in the sunshine while protecting privacy of the courtyard, the terrace, and the internal rooms. Cave also serves as a route to remove snow from the external spaces in winter, otherwise you would be at a loss with a lot of snow in the enclosed courtyard. The accessibility for the garage doubles as a way to remove snow from the courtyard, a clever solution by the architects without compromising...