House F for a Violinist is another gorgeous build by one of my favorite Japanese firms, Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects. The small, dark structure is situated on a narrow plot in busy downtown Tokyo. The architects responded to the site’s slim condition with a three story home, which uses height and depth to meet the needs of the occupant. The ground floor is a covered entrance, which also functions as a carport. The second and third stories contain the living and sleeping spaces, as well as a practice studio for the resident’s musical needs. I love the dark silhouette of this thin home. The arched opening on the ground floor and the large windows above add visual interest to the facade while serving practical purposes. This lovely structure is simple and beautiful, and looks great when illuminated at night!
This two family dwelling is located in Minamikarasuyama, Tokyo. Atelier HAKO Architects formed the two homes in one building on a narrow plot. Concrete is the primary material used in this structure. A concrete facade ensures privacy for the dwelling while projecting a sleek and modern aesthetic. The pattern of dots on the concrete are a result of the fabrication process. In this home, however, they form a simple, lovely pattern on the exterior and interior walls. Louvered screens cover the large windows: they filter the light and create additional privacy for the residents. Each story of the building contains a home with all the necessities for a small family: bedrooms, bathrooms, and a main living area with kitchen. The interiors are divided by white walls that compliment the exposed concrete. Floating staircases lead to a glass-covered terrace on the upper story. Dwelling of Minamikarasuyama is an elegant solution for a multi-family home in a crowded city.
Casa V is a redevelopment project by architecture team Dosis de Arquitectura of an existing house that was constructed in the early 1960s. A stunning volume of curved walls and stark white embody this holiday home for the owners for half a century. As the years went by, the growth of the family could not be contained in the original house hence the work to adapt and expand on the multi-generation, multi-purpose building. Casa V was already located on a breathtaking site in La Coruña, Spain. The structure is reminiscent of Corbusier’s nom de plume: A house is a machine for living in. Form follows function - it exists to serve its purpose of facilitating activities within and to experience the views of the landscape. The present architects have continued the legacy as they so eloquently describe it: Spaces are defined by the unfolding of matter in space-time, which topologically adapts itself to what happens inside. The new house is formalized by the continuous flow of a completely neutral wrap – no edges, no color, no texture – and, within this wrapping, life, action, is the protagonist. Dosis de Arquitectura have aligned the design language – the characteristics of the wrap and typography of the architecture - with...
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.
It is rare to see a modern home with a conventional A-frame roof and wooden facade. Boreraig House, on the Scottish Isle of Skye, proves that chic and modern living can take many forms. Designed by Dualchas Architects, this home aims to connect with the landscape and local heritage. Boreraig House sits low on the skyline so as not to interrupt the stunning mountain views. Instead of adding space in height, Dualchas Architects created the structure in three connected bodies. The main block holds the kitchen, dining room, and lounge. The second space is for the bedrooms; and the third is a private study. The structure’s materials are derived from its surroundings: metal from the farm’s gates, lumber from the fence, and stone from the traditional property walls. I love the combination of modern and rustic in this humble home. The flush paneling and gray color of the wood modernize the facade. The corrugated metal does the same for the sleek roof. Overall, Boreraig House is a lovely, peaceful country dwelling.
House in Shimamoto is located in a busy residential neighborhood in Osaka, Japan. Container Design, based in Kobe, Japan, designed the simple home with the goal of connecting the residents with nature while maintaining privacy from near-by neighbors. The home is comprised of three basic materials: steel, glass, and timber. White galvanized steel plates cover the facade, protecting the retreat from the crowded street. On the north side of the home, large glass windows bring in natural light and offer a peak at the mountainous landscape. Timber is used throughout the interior: the ceiling and wall beams are exposed and the floor alternates between a solid and slatted wood pattern. I love the restricted use of materials in this home. The steel, glass, and wood feel complimentary yet still maintain an interesting contrast. House in Shimamoto is a no-fuss home that is sure to please anyone lucky enough to reside there.
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.