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 —...
Categorized “Swimming pool”
Today we are featuring a house in Tavira, Portugal by Vitor Vilhena and photographed by Joao Morgado. The house is built around the original old building’s footprint and consists of two parts. Both parts are created through different architectural forms, one with sculpted geometry, the other with systematic, regular geometry but they communicate with a glass hallway. We get only a peek into the interior space but from what we see I like the option of enclosure with sliding doors (shown below). And as always, I enjoy when architecture nestles into the landscape and natural terrain. Not to mention the bonus of surrounding of 400 olive trees!
The design team at Cadaval & Solà-Morales have created an interesting structure 50km south of Mexico City, as part of a series of bungalows in a town historically popular among artists, poets, musicians and writers. Known as the Tepoztlan Lounge, the openness and its design around existing trees cleverly syncs both natural and manicured landscape into a communal space, where every activity embraces the surroundings. Its architectural form is what I like most about it. Its tri-point volume ensures there isn’t a front or back of the building, embraces every possible advantage of the views of the landscape and allows an openness that integrates internal and external activities yet provides shade and privacy if needed. Parents can be within reach of their children while cooking or in the pool; switching from hammock-napping to novel-reading to pool-plunging mode whenever is what this lounge is about. Its concrete structure as beautifully minimalist as it is, is also an energy efficient material in this climate, making it an incredibly desirable escape right now.
Lately I have been slightly obsessed with the work of photographer James Silverman. His ability to capture spatial qualities and light conditions of stunning homes around the world is endless. Today I would like to go back in time a little, featuring project from 2006 and designed by one of my all time favorite architects, Isay Weinfeld. Casa Iporanga is located in Iporanga, Brazil. Sophisticated layout and elegant use of materials seamlessly translate to incredible ease of living. Every room is connected to the outdoors, maximizing not only ventilation but also the luxury of such stunning environment. Weinfeld does his magic in carving out special zones within the property, combining envy-worthy luxury with casual settings where the comfort of living presents itself just the way it should be.
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.
Featuring Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa in Torres del Paine, Chile. The award-winning hotel is immersed in the landscape and emerges from the hillside, with views of the Torres del Paine National Park, declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. The architecture and interiors maximize the use of wood which exudes warmth, safety and protection. The hotel is like a cozy hideaway in contrast to the wide open landscape and one can only imagine the evenings spent in the different spaces within the hotel which are casual and friendly, supporting guests’ interactions as well as providing private zones for relaxing time and admiring the views. Furnishings and textiles were hand made by Chilean craftspeople, using natural materials from the region, high quality workmanship and inspiration from the surrounding estancias as well as the influence of the native Tehuelche people. The use of wood in such a large scale might feel excessive for some but I love the dedicated commitment to the primary material which deepens the connection to the outdoors environment.
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.
Aidlin Darling Design have been my favorite San Francisco based architects for quite a long time. With a portfolio filled with one stunning project after the next, it is easy to see why. I have chosen to highlight the Sonoma Spa Retreat as it has become somewhat an iconic project to which I often return to for inspiration. The spa pavilion is an intimate private retreat extending of an existing rammed-earth house and is opened to the landscape, framing distant views of San Francisco to the south. The simplicity of the space only accentuates the impeccable precision of detailed design decisions which admirably come across effortless. One is then able to appreciate the spatial quality (immediate and outer) through curated material selection and mentioned framed views. In each project, we seek to uncover an inherent spirit of place and interpret constraints as catalysts for performative design. The individual character of each project emerges through poetic spatial relationships, material richness, and exacting detail. Fantastic design philosophy, don’t you think? I hope you enjoy their work.
This swimming center by Eddea Arquitectos is located on the outskirts of Barbate in Spain. The design of the center seeks to provide an impressive health experience through a relationship with the natural landscape. The sports pavilion is housed around an interior courtyard and hall, which incorporates filtered sunlight into the center. Situated around this space are changing rooms, a fitness center, and the swimming pools. The swimming pools bask in a warm light from radiant ceiling fixtures. The entrances, private spaces, and relationship to the outside set this center apart from the majority of sports pavilions. Eddea challenged the traditional characteristics of these centers with a design that advances the space from mere utility to a unique aesthetic experience. One enters the center through the neighborhood to emerge in an area of soft sand dunes. One then moves through the interior void and finally into the private and swimming areas. The relationship between nature and swimming pool brings part of the surrounding environment into the interior spaces. The building is non-obtrusive overall, allowing it to blend seamlessly into its setting and give the user a tranquil health experience. This swimming center brings a new style of sophistication and quality to...
Introducing Catskill Mountain House in Catskill Mountains, New York by Audrey Matlock. Built based on simple forms and applying fluidity within spaces, the home becomes a retreat where architecture and nature become one. Some of the interesting architectural features are the white framework and a large cast concrete wall that protects the terrace, pool, and outdoor fireplace from a rocky slope. Full height windows allow for maximum light and expanding views of the Catskill Mountains. Interiors consists mostly of a monochromatic palette of black, white, and gray with the addition of blue and green coming in from the outside in a form of skies and nature. It would be difficult to compete with such beautiful views, don’t you think? Other features include heated and polished concrete floors, slate accent walls and ebony stained ash cabinetry.
My friends, hold on to your hats because today I am taking you to a breathtaking villa in Le Marche, to what seems to be a hidden jewel in Italy. Converted into a vacation home with a guest house, Casa Olivi is located on a hill in Treia and is a result of a 4-year renovation process by Swiss architects Markus Wespi and Jerome de Meuron. The 300-year old villa was destroyed by fire in 1995 but the architects revived it with keen eye for modern lines while being respectful of the original charm. The result is a stunning home that is elegant, minimal and oh so delightful for the eyes! If this is a “farmhouse”, we all might as well become weekend farmers, don’t you think?
Vincent Van Duysen is a Belgium architect whose work I’ve been drawn to for quite a while. It was almost too difficult to select only one of his projects to be featured here today and therefore here is a selection of my favorite spaces he designed. The use of singular element, frequently in a large scale, typically either defines the interiors or directs viewers’ attention to that particular element. I’m a big fan of the beautiful white space, panelled walls and strong geometrical shapes re-appearing in his designs. Hope you enjoy.