Minimalissimo


Categorized “Architecture”

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.


The recent completion of the Long Museum West Bund by Atelier Deshaus — an architecture firm based in China — is a spectacle of concrete curves that act as structural vaults, holding up the new additions to the existed wharf for coal transportation in Xuhui, Shanghai. This museum blurs the seams of the concrete connections, linking spatial differences to create a sense of vastness that is both minimally designed and experientially effective. The grey walls act as a background that gives rise to the displayed art pieces, while the mesh facades shed lights onto the flowing interior of this building. The blend of structures and the shear walls, the inside and outside, the old and the new, is what give the museum a unique spacelessness and timelessness. The only indication of spatial separation is the contrast of the wooden surface on the second floor with the dominance of concrete. I personally love the whimsical and beautiful personality of the curves; they connect the two level of the museum effortlessly. This flow gives the audience a freedom of roaming through this exhibition space, which was the initial intention of the architects. Photography courtesy of Su Shengliang & Xia Zhi.


This studio is the stunning headquarters of Norm Architects, a firm based in Copenhagen. Norm Architects are experts at combining traditional Scandinavian design with a modern palette. It is only fitting that the studio they created for themselves would represent this lovely design philosophy. Located in a classic building on a cobblestone street, this studio is the perfect setting for collaboration and creative production. The office features several conference tables, sitting areas, and displays of the firm’s work. Everything in the office follows a monochrome color palette. The grey, white, and black tones are an ideal backdrop for architecture and design work. The simplicity and impeccable details in this studio are hallmarks of Norm’s designs. I couldn’t imagine a better space for this intelligent and creative team to work in.


World renowned architect Tadao Ando is a clear trailblazer and vanguard. Early on it was clear his approach was on another level, and although he’s honed his style throughout the years, his first housing project still holds relevance. The Row House is a seminal work for contemporary and minimalist architecture. Located on a working class neighborhood in Osaka, the Row House imposed its first challenge off the bat, with a narrow, but not necessarily small space to work with. Ando’s response was a symmetrical composition, with simple forms and concrete as its main building material. Simple geometry is cleverly used to create an ample space for movement and transitions between each rooms, resulting in a self-sufficient living space. The visual revolution that was imposed in this wood-clad district isn’t the only innovation by Ando; the surrounding traditional houses are anything but private, with open windowpanes and gaps, and thin materials that makes for lousy sound isolation. The project in hand proposes a windowless façade and complete openness to the sky in the middle. Privacy is one of the main rewards for its residents, a change in the daily life, a concrete transformation of social patterns.


Mass Fradette Residence is a refined modern home in Greenfield Park, Canada. The home was completed in 2012 by Montreal firm Jean Verville Architects. Three interlocking volumes comprise the home’s structure. The volumes contain the garage and entrance, main living area, and upstairs bedrooms. The facade is covered in soft white wood cladding, with strategic openings for windows and outside access. The ground level features an open floor plan with long expanses of floor to ceiling windows. These windows overlook a garden, connecting the home with its surrounding natural environment. The interior is covered in a mix of matte and glossy white surfaces. Overhead lighting keeps things clean and minimal by eliminating the clutter of table and floor lamps. Polished concrete provides a modern, durable surface for the floors. This material continues on the exterior to form the back patios. Three bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the second story, accessed by a dramatic white and concrete staircase. An upstairs terrace provides a private outdoor space for sunbathing or stargazing. I’m obsessed with the unique geometry of Mass Fradette Residence. The blunt angles and crisp white surfaces are undoubtably modern, yet not without an element of playfulness.


Located in Hanekita, Japan, the new double-family residence by Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates is designed to have a playful attitude toward the distribution of lights and shadows, public and private, as well as interior and exterior. Katsutoshi Sasaki found his namesake architecture firm in 2008. With many notable projects published in numerous renowned publications and websites, surely, House in Hanekita will not be excluded. To accommodate programmatic necessities, the architect divided the second floor of the main loft to thirteen rooms superimposed by a 3×3 grid with spandrel walls, creating a flexible interconnected series of spaces that deal with private and public boundaries. Complemented with two indoor gardens (yes, on the second floor!), the main loft is separated from the other with a light well. On the  ground floor, which holds two kitchens and dining rooms, the two lofts share the same entrance and private gardens. The interior of this residence is covered with pale-colored woods, creating a lighter and spacious environment that further emphasizes the occasional pouring sunlight. Minimally, the clean cuts of every corner give off a sense of care from the designer. I especially love the simple additions of greens, harmonizing the interior wooden material with its...


Felipe Hess is a young architect based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He create his own studio in 2012 with projects ranging from residential to commercial to interior design. He has been involved in many incredible projects, located in the city of Sao Paulo, all adopting minimalist design. One such project is Sergipe, a spacious and bright apartment located in a 1960 modernist building. The project involved the demolition of almost all the walls to unify the space. The private areas of the apartment, consisting of a double bedroom with bathroom, are separated by a large white wall. A rigorous and elegant apartment, simple and contemporary lines give way to the illusion in the main entrance set inside a cube building, completely covered with yellow tiles from floor to ceiling. To create a seamless tile surface, Hess decided not to include handle in the design. Instead, the door opens by entering a PIN on a keypad hidden behind one of the tiles. The cube entrance is covered with shelves from the outside, and it creates the illusion, once inside, exiting from a magic door through the library. Fantastic.