A typical Belgian farmhouse, known as a ‘fernette’ inspires this addition to a residence, House DS, with an expansive back garden in Destelbergen, Belgium. Architects Graux & Baeyens addressed the client’s request of ensuring the addition would provide ‘spacious, bright and contemporary living’ and molded the idea of 4 rectilinear volumes as extensions of the existing building, creating a stark contrast between old and new, past and present. A fifth volume in the form of a pool house also serves as a shed for additional storage. While I do wish there were more photos of the interior showing the transition between the existing and the new, the proportions of the new volumes, the unobtrusive appearance of its minimalist interiors and the well-designed layout of the spaces that connect the two structures present an elegant way of two styles coexisting. Photos by Julien Lanoo.
This three bedroom house renovation and extension was designed by London-based architecture firm Coffey Architects. It’s comprised of a series of levels connected by steps, with the living spaces cascading from the upper study area into the kitchen and dining area below. Reflecting the firm’s principles of light and composition and a connection between interior and exterior spaces, the house is full of visual connections with the outside, with glazed balustrades, steps and mirrors offering glimpses of the garden and sky into the lower levels. Since the rear garden is small, the garden fence is reduced in height to borrow the neighboring trees and plants while maintaining a decked area for relaxation in the summer. I’m in love with the way the surrounding greenery penetrates the smooth, polished white interior, lending the building a surprising warmth that’s reflected and complimented by the materials used inside (wooden surfaces contrasting nicely with white walls, steel and glass).
Recently I have been writing about residences which use minimalist design to focus the user’s attention inwards, rather than on the outer landscape. Today I will continue this trend by presenting yet another home which seeks to shield itself from its surrondings. Located in Tokyo, “Ring” is a simple home designed by Apollo Architects and Associates. The home gets its name from a large, cantilevered wall which circles the second story. The wall projects out from the top story; creating a covered entrance and hidden balcony. Inside, a simple floating staircase takes center stage. The staircase leads from the entrance on the ground floor to the living areas on the upper floor. The bedrooms rest privately on the ground floor. “Ring” is just one of the many innovative residences designed by Apollo and Associates. The Japan-based architects seem to have a knack for combining conceptual design with functional homes. I love how this home derives its form from such a basic shape. “Ring” is surely a soothing and peaceful place to dwell.
The Fealdbalz House, 2,900 square foot tri-level family home (also referred to as a sculpture) overlooking the Lake of Zurich, Switzerland was built by Gus Wustemann Architects and was created to accommodate both the private as well as public life of its occupants. The upper level was set-up for parents, while the lowest level, opened to the outdoor patio and garden, belongs to the children. With easy access to the garden and the pool, it becomes the playing, active area. In between these two levels, the center of the house contains the family life, where everybody meets and circulates. The main living area is connected to the garden with concrete stairs, a perfect place to admire the view. The architects wanted to satisfy desired level of intimacy with the contrast of wide open views in a suburban context. The solution was to use simple techniques such as Sky-Frame windows (sliding screens) which one can open and slide behind the fireplace and the stairs and translucent polycarbonate (scobalit) material for all the facades facing the neighbours. The result is an opening with no frames and the use of the scobalit facade provides a warm sheen and welcomes without giving up privacy.
On a quiet street in London sits a little home which is likely to go unnoticed by passerby. Aptly called “Hidden House”, this home has almost no relationship to the street on which it is placed. Designed by Teatum + Teatum, Hidden House utilizes leftover spaces in the city. Placed between two existing homes, this house turns its back to the city and focuses on its warm and intimate interior. The two-story home is centered around an internal lightwell. All of the living spaces and bedrooms are organized around this lightwell, which allows each space a plethora of natural sunlight. I am in love with this home! It is the perfect solution to the problem of privacy in a big city. The lightwells allow for a beautifully illuminated interior, while still emphasizing the home’s internal focus. The entrance doors are another example of Teatum + Teatum’s elegant solutions for privacy: they let in (or out) a soothing, patterned glow while obscuring watchful eyes in or out. Hidden House is truly a stunning piece of architecture, and a cozy home as well.
Nestled alongside an undesirable industrial yard in Japan lies the tiny House of Trough. The unattractive surroundings inspired the home’s architect, Jun Igarashi, to focus the attention of the inhabitants inward, on the home itself. Igarashi used a series of platforms, catwalks, and sheer curtains to divide the relatively open floor plan into separate living areas. The main living area, bordered by two catwalks, lies appropriately at the center of the home. Accessible by ladders, the catwalks lead to the bedrooms and other utility areas. The home has no outside space, but the changes in height and unique spaces of the home create a stunning interior landscape. The House of Trough is a home defined by space. Open space. I love how the architect created such a dynamic environment using minimal materials and room dividers. I am a huge fan of the many platforms and catwalks. They are so beautiful, but I hope the inhabitants have a strong sense of spatial awareness so they don’t fall off! Overall, this is a unique project which exhibits an elegant use of open space.
Casa Selva is located in the wild greens of Selva, Spain. Designed by Luis Velasco Roldan, this home was deeply inspired by its prime location. The home is centered around a courtyard and greenhouse. The greenhouse is very unique: it has a retractable roof, which allows it to be easily transformed into a summer veranda. Moveable wooden panels control the sunlight in the living areas. When the wooden panels open, the interior of the home seems to merge with the surrounding landscape. The thoughtful design of this house is what makes it so successful. Every element has been carefully calculated, not only to create maximum aesthetic appeal, but also to limit the house’s impact on the environment. The house is full of character, while remaining simple and classic. I especially love how the large windows and skylights flood the house with soft, yellow sunlight. It looks like the perfect place to laze around on a summer afternoon.
Designed by Marià Castelló Martínez with Formentera’s expansive landscape in mind, Es Pujol De Sera is a work-live structure that accommodates a small family dwelling as well as a small architectural design office. Completed in 2011, the building’s central annex contains iroko timber-made cabinetry and access to a skylight which separates the 2 programs with sliding walls and slits in interior walls that allow for the flexibility of private and public spaces to integrate into each other. Extruded planes of the volume on the exterior in the North-South orientation exploit the best views of the site. Using movable screen walls to provide a level of privacy and shade is a simple, beautiful architectural detail as the structure experiences physical changes that one might imagine on such an exposed location. Within the uncomplicated volume of this single-storey structure, the architect is successful in embracing the landscape with its wall-windows and accessibility of the exterior to the interior. I really appreciate the elegant simplicity yet carefully planned layout and program of the interiors which add such a great depth to the style of minimalism in architecture. Photography by Estudi Epdse.
This lovely house is located in the stunning Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. Designed by The Manser Practice, the Welch House sits right on the water’s edge, raised several meters off the ground. The appearance of the house is inspired by its dramatic, seaside location. The dark facade reminds me of stormy seas and cloudy skies. And the large windows, which cover almost the entire back facade, bring the sky and trees directly into the living areas. The house is reminiscent of another great raised home: Mies van de Rohe’s Farnsworth House. As with the Farnsworth House, this home remains minimal so as not to compete with the beauty of the surrounding landscape. I am a big fan of the dark facade on this home. It is made of cement particle board rain screen cladding painted with a high gloss enamel. Many minimal homes today are very light colored, but this house found a way to stay minimal while incorporating dark and dramatic colors. I especially love the bathroom; I don’t know if I would ever leave it!
House In Amagi is a single family detached home, recently completed by Atelier Cube in Fukuoka, Japan. The inspiration for the interior came from the outside. The house is surrounded by several cherry trees, and the owner wanted an atmosphere which encouraged enjoyment of these garden elements from each room inside the dwelling. The layout of the house looks unsystematic, allowing floor-through view of the entire place from nearly every angle. I love the multilevel floor arrangement, which separates the otherwise open space into functional areas. It also adds depths and makes the house to appear bigger. Another beautiful touch is an addition of the rectangular “windows” inside the partitions between the rooms. These voids also provide suport for shelves, that can hold plants or double as impromptu seating.
A small island off the coast of the Netherlands hosts this charming summer home. Aptly called Recreational Summer House, this home is a delightful destination for a small family. The home, designed by 2by4 Architects, holds only the bare necessities: one main room is all that is needed for the living area. An angled wall in the home conceals the kitchen, bathroom, and storage areas. The most stunning feature of the home is a corner wall which folds away from the interior, completing exposing the home to the outdoors. Suspended from the ceiling, a small fireplace keeps the residents warm inside or out. I love the simplicity of this charming vacation home! Extreme attention to detail allows each piece of the home to fit seamlessly together. Recreational Island House combines interior and exterior in a truly unique style. In summer or winter, this house looks like the ideal place for a weekend getaway.
This design of this residence located on Bondi beach takes advantage of the views and climate while delivering a modern luxury in the architecture and its details. Completed in 2011 by Sydney-based Redgen Mathieson Architects, the philosophy of the team is exhibited in the use of the materials such as Calacatta marble, white terrazzo tiles, American Walnut and dark bronze in the finishes which lets the undecorated space speak volumes of a style that is timeless. The use of movable glass panels to optimize light, views and ventilation into the living spaces, creates a strong relationship of the living experience with the environment. While I believe that minimalism should reveal good design, I also believe that it is possible for it to portray luxury. This project has proven that, maintaining the integrity of the materials as well as the architecture in a sophisticated simplicity.