Located at the heart of an apple orchard, in the region of South Tyrolean Dolomites near Bolzano, stands a curious and eye-catching mirror structure. Celebrated architect, Peter Pichler blurs the lines between a relevant contemporary construction on the countryside and art installation. A valiant move for a region known for rejoicing long-standing traditions. The premise of the project is a Vacation Home, taking into account the surrounding area and the upmost comfort and privacy for the guests. The front of the house showcases an honest modernist façade, with clean geometric lines. The interior design follows the cue with a strong white color dominance, with the occasional raw wood on walls and furniture. It’s worth mentioning the house boasts a floating illusion above the ground thanks to well-placed foundations — the light-project for the night time is exquisite, taking the striking mirror walls a step further. It may not be an explicit intention, however I find the gorgeous Mirror Houses to be a crossbreed of flawless architecture and a site-specific that would fit art magazines effortlessly.
Located in Valencia province, Spain, lies House in Ontinyent — a private residence designed by Borja García, a local architecture studio. It is connected to the recently renovated original headquarters of Gandía Blasco, an outdoor furniture and textile factory. The house is an extension of the building and reflects the same values and aesthetics, externally and internally, with the use of white and neutral colours ensuring that the house conforms to the company’s contemporary design principles — simplicity and refinement. Borja García explains: The core of the project is a large open space on the ground floor and a sculptural staircase made of concrete that guide visitors to the upper floors. The materials, with an absolute use of white, are always naked and honest. The basement, a large sheltered space between concrete walls, connects the house with the pool. The pool, built in white concrete also represents a large water plane floating with the rest of the field. I appreciate the choice of the owner, José Antonio Gandía Blasco to link his work and his life in a unique concept — a sort of landmark for a small town. Photography Courtesy of Borja García Studio.
Torre de Palma Wine Hotel is an installation of a new program to the already-existed agricultural landscape in Monforte, Portugal. Completed recently in November 2014 by João Mendes Ribeiro, the new addition rethinks the use of older infrastructures, such as the farm buildings, in order to generate new architecture with multiple courtyards that accommodate different activities. Due to the scale of the project, I have condensed it to focus on the minimal interior that reflects the newness being introduced to the old estate. With a simple gesture of covering the interior in white, the architect masked his interventions, including replacements to structural elements. The new group of buildings share a common aesthetic of minimalistic and crisp geometry, having the highlights of wooden claddings, concrete textures, and tile works that complexify the white canvas. The monochromatic wine cellar is starkly contrast to the ground level, having dark materials with slivers of light that create the mood and ambience appropriately. The project is highly ambitious in my opinion, and it was finished successfully with beautiful spatial qualities that are both diverse and unified. While standing out in the bare landscape of the Alentejo plains, João Mendes Ribeiro cleverly tied his designs together...
Cement as a material for a luxury residence. The young Mexican architect Abraham Cherem of Cherem Arquitectos, recently completed the design of a residence on the outskirts of Mexico City. House P was built for a well-known football player, Aarón Padilla and his family of four, who wanted a concrete home that blended well with its surroundings. The project is based on the study of the house views and the circulation of the light inside. The architect created two large blocks of cement, creating a complex set of rectangles and curved walls. The goal was to minimize the view on degraded suburbs of the metropolis, focusing on the vast central patio. Inside, the walls are designed as cement curtains, which regulate the spaces and the entrance of light at different times of the day. Cherem Arquitectos used elements of modern Mexican architecture to design the courtyard, but were also inspired by the traditional Mexican patio, which creates a space to reunite elements in the centre of the house. I love cement houses integrated in natural surroundings. House P is the perfect place to live with a golf course as good neighbour.
Dar Mim is an understated white home located in the picturesque coastal city of Hammamet, Tunisia. The home is designed by the Parisian based firm Septembre, a firm known for consistently producing elegant and sophisticated designs. Dar Mim is a renovation of a traditionally styled home and courtyard. Septembre preserved the integrity of the existing home by barely touching the front facade and patio, and designing a matching extension in the back. The main living areas are situated around a central courtyard. The expansion in back features a guest suite with a separate terrace. A block and void system is used in the structure to filter light into specific areas of the home. All the building materials for Dar Mim were locally sourced. The wood and metal work was done by local artisans, and the plaster walls were made using old school techniques. These traditional materials allow this renovation to blend seamlessly with the older buildings in Hammamet. Overall, the excellent materials and thoughtful styling make Dar Mim a unique and successful design. Photography by Sophia Baraket.
Quite often Asian-inspired pharmacies are portrayed as spaces filled with dark wood, cabinets, shelves, and numerous remedies — resulting in a colourful but raucous experience for anyone but the owner. Unsurprisingly, Japanese design office id brings forward a simple and elegant updated embodiment for the Acupuncture & Pharmacy combo at SUMIYOSHIDO. A daring mint green color and clean lines fills Kampo Lounge; thus creating an ample and pleasant space for the staff and clientele. A perfect balance of the staple wall-to-wall to shelves filled with jars of medicine and contemporary touches while maintaining a strong identity as an archetypal pharmacy. On the other side of the shop sits a beautifully lit clinic for acupuncture and moxibustion treatments, making for a fresh and calming ambient for the patients. Updated versions of classic structures is a tricky territory, many times falling into unnecessary deconstructions. id skilfully averted that fate and decided to offer their clients outstanding solutions taking into account heritage and legacy, whilst keeping an eye on the end result: to resignify the experience with respect to old traditions.
Situated in a small village in Portugal is the Taíde House, a renovation of an old mill into a beautiful modern home. The house was thoughtfully designed by Rue Vieira Oliveira and Vasco Manuel Fernandes. The structure is relatively small, so as not to interrupt the surrounding environment. The kitchen, living room, and office are located on the ground floor. Two bedrooms sit on the upper level, accessed by a stunning floating staircase. When looking at the structure, it is easy to determine the old and new. The rough stone base is inherited from the old mill. Everything white is assumed new. The interior, all renovated, uses limited materials: white for the walls, hardwood floors, and marble in the bathrooms. The result is a truly minimal design. Each element of Taíde House is expertly curated, creating a home that falls nothing short of perfection. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG+SG.
In this age of rapid developments, more architecture firms have resorted to the method of adapt-and-reuse — a sustainable approach to repurposing unused structures. Recently, Dominique Coulon et Associés, a French architecture firm, have inserted openings for light to an original concrete building. They also enhanced the original two swimming pools and bleachers with a synchronizing blue color that unites the interior space. On the exterior, grey concrete were applied onto the extension to expand the old building’s facade and create a continuous conversation between the old and the new. The children’s area is doubled in height with curved walls, resulting in a spacious area that holds a different spatial quality. At the resting area, there is an organically shaped opening that provides a visual connection to the private garden. The minimal approach that the architects have adopted to the original structures, was what captivated me so much in the first place. The clean division of blue and white, and the play of curved and geometric lines, engulf this swimming complex with different pockets of space. In my opinion, such a simple change to the interior can cause a big direction of change in the usage of a building —...
Located in a residential area of the northwestern part of Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, lies a beautifully minimalist white structure. On the first floor is an aesthetic dental clinic White Essence Takashima and on the second floor an aesthetic salon — Salon de M. Following his client’s requirements, designer Ryutaro Matsuura explains: The building can give the neighbourhood a sense of affinity and good impressions as a symbolic object in the town. The interior offers a the space that is enclosed by four buildings into a void area with a top light. It was turned into a comfortable place with natural light. Perforated metal screens are fixed on the outside of the windows of the first floor treatment rooms to set up buffer spaces bridging the inside and outside. This made the cozy treatment spaces with soft daylight and patient privacy. Waiting in a dental surgery has never been so pleasant. We hope that this building will endear itself to the town’s people and be nurtured by them as a new landmark of the town. In this Japanese town, a visit to the dentist will no longer a daunting experience.
Pâtisserie À la Folie is a lovely little bake shop in Montréal, Canada. Designed by the Montréal based firm Atelier Moderno, this shop uses a minimal, neutral palette to show off the baked goods. The interior is a renovation of a former retail space. Existing concrete floors and exposed brick are painted in a warm, soft gray tone. Natural wood panelling has been added to parts of the ceiling and walls as a contrast to all the gray. A few hanging lights illuminate the register and display cases. While the design of this bakery is stunning, the real star of this interior are the rows and rows of colorful macaroons, pastries, and cakes. I love how the store’s simple palette highlights the goods for sale. Pâtisserie À la Folie is a bakeshop not easily missed on the streets of Montréal!
The design agency Nendo has created yet another retail space for the Japanese label, Beige. In addition to clothing, this concept store located in Tamagawa Takashimaya was also intended to sell interior goods, hold books for lending, and even turned into a gallery space for events and art exhibitions. Maintaining the brand’s minimalist direction, Nendo cleverly optimizes the already tiny space, zoning it vertically: library on top, clothing in the center and display gallery at the base. A 7.5mm beam installed at 2.05 meters above the floor serves as an attic-like shelf for the library of books, with magnetic bookends that keep them in place. Clothes and bags placed on hangers freely located around the store while low plinths serve as fixtures for display or for customers to step on and reach the clothes and books at the height of the beam. What a simple yet clever detail that takes the customer’s journey over the multiple levels. Its intentionally clean and pure finishes let the products and the activities stand out in the space. The space, though designed for the specific retail needs of the brand, manages to achieve a unique and flexible customer experience in a very simple concept. Photography courtesy of Takumi Ota.
A hundred years after the start of the First World War in 1914, The International Memorial Notre-Dame de Lorette was inaugurated last week, to reconcile the 580,000 casualties of the war in northern France. With a great sense of respect, regardless of nationality, rank or religion, all names have been written in alphabetical order on three-metre high walls, along a giant elliptical ring comprised of concrete for the exterior, and inset with 500 copper-toned panels. The memorial has been designed be the architect Philippe Prost and explains that he looked for a sense of unity with this form: I was thinking about the rings you make when you’re a child, or a human ring when everyone holds each other’s hands in a sign of fellowship, and that seemed to me like the image, the form, best suited to speaking about these soldiers killed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and who today are brought together all in one place. Brusque and delicate at the same time, symbolic and sensitive, a work full of emotion that does not leave indifference.