If you find that the Ginan house appears to emerge from the surface of the earth, its because its made of earth: the facade is coated in a layer of gravel. Designed by Keitaro Muto Architects, this Japanese home is composed of two blocks of different size and shape. The blocks are separated on the outside by a small swimming pool, and connected on the inside by metal bridges. One block contains the bedrooms and the other houses the living and dining rooms. From the outside, the structure is mostly opaque, exuding a guarded feeling. On the interior, however, the home is open and airy. The outward sloping walls and high ceilings allow the home to feel much larger than it actually is. The built in furniture and monochromatic color scheme also contribute to lightness of the interior. The unique shape and material of Ginan House forces you to look twice. And there is nothing more pleasing than architecture that draws the viewer in, prompts questions, and leaves us with a lingering fascination. Photography by Apertozero.
A rugged house in a rugged environment, House at Camusdarach Sands is uniquely shaped to maximize the views of the sunrise and sunset. Designed by London based Raw Architecture Workshop, this home takes advantage of its picturesque location in Scotland by orienting towards the east and west horizons. The three story home is composed of a dark timber facade atop an exposed concrete base. The interior features bright white walls accented with light wood. The main living spaces are placed on the uppermost floor, so as to take full advantage of the spectacular views. The more private and less used spaces are located on the lower two levels. I love the unique form of this home. The angled structure is a wonderful design technique. House at Camusdarach Sands takes advantage of its full environment, from the ground to the sky. Photography by David Barbour.
This residence on an irregular site located in Islington, London is designed by Atelier ChanChan. The complete demolition of the previous building allowed the designer to instill her own design language into the facade of the house, a Herringbone brick pattern. Brick, being the material that is familiar to the context yet in a pattern that is seldom used on the exteriors. The warmth from the materials used both inside and out of this house exudes the comfort in its minimalism. The stunning detail of the floating staircase brings much light through the interiors; the sliding doors that provide a frameless opening to the courtyard; the walls in the bedroom that extends to the pitch of the roof – the architecture connects the spaces in an elegant and subtle manner that exemplifies understated, minimalist design. Photos via Atelier ChanChan and Dezeen.
Contrasted against the sunny, arid landscape in Portugal is the House in Quinta Do Carvalheiro. The home is designed by Italian based firm Giorgio Santagostino and Monica Margarido, also known as GSMM Architects. The form of the residence is directly related to the topography of the site. The structure is kept small so as to limit human intervention in the landscape. All of the rooms are arranged around a central patio. This patio connects the home to the outdoors without expanding the structure’s rectangular footprint. Large windows embrace the exterior while opaque walls protect the home from overheating at the sunniest points. I love how the house sits low on the horizon. At certain angles the landscape appears about to engulf the residence and pull it back into the ground. House in Quinta Do Carvalheiro achieves a perfect balance of man and nature. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.
MiniMod takes pre-fab living to the next level! Designed by MAPA Architects, this intelligent structure is a lovely solution for alternative and sustainable living. The prefabricated modules are completely customizable, allowing the user to design a dwelling focused on their needs and preferences. After construction, the modules are transported via truck to their final destination. MiniMod is composed of a steel frame with natural recycled pine on the interior contrasted with painted pine on the facade. Several green technologies are featured in the dwelling; among them is a rainwater filter, ventilated facade, green roof, and LED lighting. The single module in the photographs is located in Brazil. Off-site and no waste construction allow the home to leave a minuscule environmental footprint. The 26 square meter floor plan includes a bedroom, living and dining rooms, and a kitchen and bathroom. Floor to ceiling windows and a covered patio connect the home with the outdoors. MiniMod has it all: the elegant design proves that prefabricated living can be beautiful and good for the environment. Minimal in aesthetic and minimal environmental impact, MiniMod is truly a win for contemporary living.
Hideg House is a sculptural form emerging from the rocky landscape. Located on the site of a former quarry in Koszeg, Hungary, this wooden structure is the first realized project of the young firm Béres Architects. After three long years of construction, Hideg House is a modern vacation home which merges the natural and built environments. The single story design features a dark timber frame punctured with windows and natural wood cladding. The rooms are placed to the far sides of the home, while the voided center is a covered patio. The interior is bright, white, and simple. It is a welcome contrast to the dark exterior and busy terrain. All of the rooms are arranged to maximize the views of nature. The cabin overlooks the best of both worlds: one side faces the exposed rock face of the former quarry, while the south side offers a panorama of the forest. I love the juxtaposition of this design. Pairing nature and man-made structures side by side results in a captivating aesthetic.
Look carefully or you might miss the tiny Yokaya restaurant and residence in Fukuoka, Japan. This humble white rectangle is nestled on a busy street between several tall condo buildings. Designed by rhythmdesign, the structure is a mere 135 square meters and houses a restaurant on the ground floor with an apartment above. The front facade is entirely opaque on the upper stories, while a cutout on the ground floor invites passerby into the restaurant. Wood and concrete are the main materials used in the interior. In the restaurant, the simple design allows the food to take center stage. The apartment above is arranged with a similar aesthetic: built in storage keeps the space uncluttered and the furnishings are limited to essentials. I love the modest design of this duplex building. The clean lines of the architecture and precise use of materials come together quite elegantly. Yokaya is quiet and reserved, but it is its little form that stands dignified on this bustling street.
B House is one of the few landmarks on the soft, rolling meadows of Segovia, Spain. Designed by CH+QS Arquitectos, this home was inspired by a prominent color in the natural scenery: yellow. This environment is speckled by yellow in every season. Flowers, wheat, leaves, sheep and sun brighten the terrain with their pleasant hues. B house accentuates these hues using warm wood and soft lighting. The structure is small, almost miniature. Eliminating unnecessary space allowed the architects to shrink the home’s footprint. Indoor and outdoor common areas are situated in the center of the home, with oversize openings framing the views to the east and the west. The private functions of the home are pushed to the outer edges, while the basement den accommodates the children’s playtime. House B is a humble home which enhances the beloved fields that surround it. The architecture emerges from the ground almost organically. With a bit of imagination it’s easy to picture the home growing from the earth along with the yellow trees and flowers. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.
This sleek home is located on a sandy site in Comporta, Portugal. Designed by RRJ Arquitectos, this structure meets the needs of living in a harsh environment. Sun protection is a main concern in the scheme of House in Comporta. The single story home sits low on the site, maximizing coolness and minimizing sun exposure. The thick, concrete walls guard the home from the sun at the most vulnerable points. All the windows are recessed in the facade for extra shade during the brightest parts of the day. Clean lines, white walls, and hardwood floors are featured on the interior. I love how this home merges perfectly with its environment. The concrete facade appears to emerge directly from the sandy floor. The home is also sized so as to enhance the view of the trees and sky, rather than distract from them. House in Comporta is a perfect example of a structure inspired by the unique characteristics of its site. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.
House in Daizawa is located in a residential neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan. Designed by The Archetype, lead by Nobuo Araki, this structure aims to maximize outdoor space while creating a private environment for the residents. The home is situated in the middle of the site, allowing for a roomy patio in the front and a lovely backyard garden on the southern half of the lot. Concrete walls on both ends of the site separate the home from neighbors and the street. The interior features an open floor plan with large windows and hardwood details. I love Nobuo Araki’s simple yet thoughtful design. The outdoor spaces are perfectly framed by the concrete walls and large windows of the house. Inside and outside, the structure evokes a sense of seclusion reminiscent of a country dwelling. In a city as busy as Tokyo, the peaceful House in Daizawa is truly an accomplishment.
This beautiful vacation house has been built by Florian Busch Architects in Niseko, Japan. It is perched on a sloping lot overlooking Mount Yotei. Two blocks of the building are shifted in a perfect way to accommodate this challenging landscape. The structure is reinforced by a concrete shear wall and covered with light wood on the outside. The warmth of wood and coolness of concrete create an exciting textural dynamic in the interior. The lower level is comprised of bedrooms and private bathrooms, the upper one opens up to a living/dining area with the kitchen. The heated pool on the roof completes the design. Like the building itself, the interior is unadorned and simple. Well thought-out furniture pieces blend in nicely with the structural elements of the house. Nothing is there to distract from what this place is really about – stunning views of the mountain, serenity and peace.
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!