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.
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.
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?
Yes I am aware that it is the middle of December and many of you are probably covered in snow… but doesn’t a quick trip to Ibiza sound quite tempting? Designed by French architect Pascal Cheikh Djavadi, today’s home is calling our name with its minimal structure on the outside and a couple of surprising and elegant curves on the inside. The curves are balancing just right with the rest of the home, somehow making it even more inviting and fitting to its environment. There is a nice sense of both simplicity and personality that is so fresh and inviting. Carefully edited furnishing and neutral color palette with selected hints of color only add to the overall concept. Whether or not that was the plan of the architect, I love the play of rectangle being showcased in various scale throughout – from windows and doors openings, to fireplace, reading zone, selected seating, enormous bookshelf, and even seen in the design of the pool.
The O House, located in Vierwaldstättersee, Switzerland, was designed by Philippe Stuebi Architekten with Eberhard Tröger. Overlooking Lake Lucerne, its bold visual concept might classify it among slightly different minimal approach in architecture. First, there is the proportion of façade’s large circular pattern, so strong in impact, one might not realize the actual beautiful simplicity of the O House as a whole. The simplicity is coming from the selection of materials such as concrete, glass and smooth wood flooring to the use of smaller version of circular screen application used as a repetitious element helping to lessen the transition between the outside and inside. On both, the front and the lake side, this sculptural villa shows very expressive and ornamental facades. Facing Mount Pilatus, the white concrete elements are dotted with circular openings that allow glimpses into the two-levelled orangery with its exotic plants, as well as the lounge, the guest tract and the staircase accessed through one of the openings at the ground floor. I love strong, well-executed design intent. Here, even something so bold (and somewhat fun) such as the circular openings is finished with confidence. Because of their scale, repetition and simple materiality throughout the rest of...
Solo House Casa Pezo in Matarranya region in the south of Catalonia, Spain, is proposed by the award-winning Pezo Von Ellrichshausen Architects from Chile. Part of the Solo Houses concept consisting of eight to ten vacation homes designed by international young talents such as Mos Office, Studio Mumbai or Sou Fujimoto, Casa Pezo is a nod to modern approach to vacation homes. Like a geometrical sculpture raised above the ground, the 313 sqm Casa Pezo uses minimal shapes to achieve symmetry and strong but free direction of movement. Otherwise heavy concrete structure’s effect is lightened with generous openings wrapped around the entire home, some of which are filled with glass panels in opposing directions. I love that the only “enclosed” room has no roof but it does host a pool. The combination of the void of the roof, volume of water and wall openings on each side play on ones perception of interiors and exteriors. Casa Pezo’s simple geometry and effortless blend with Catalonian countryside is an exciting affirmation of strong idea with minimal distractions. Successful combination indeed.
This home in Tel Aviv, Agbaria House, is a pared down, minimalistic rendition of traditional Islamic architecture. Designed by Tel Aviv architect Ron Fleisher, it combines the rich, lush element of the mashrabiya screens with simple, elegant lines of modernist architecture. The house maintains certain typical building elements, like high vents for natural ventilation, high vaulted ceilings, and the traditional liwan, around which the private areas of the house are arranged, all the while adapted to contemporary needs and a simple, geometric aesthetic. Being myself a lover of both Moorish architecture and their vast influence upon European architecture (as in Venice, southern Italy, Spain and Portugal), as well as modernist architecture, this house was a delightful find. Photography by Shai Epstein.
Portuguese architect and Pritzker laureate Álvaro Siza Vieira designed this winery at Campo Maior, Portugal, in 2007. The building is an imposing, yet understated figure sitting atop a gentle slope amid the wide open plain of the vineyard. Its 120m x 50m volume is composed of elementary geometrical shapes and similarly basic construction materials. This is “silent” architecture at its best. Photography by Fernando Guerra.
This is one gorgeous house. Guerrero House, located at Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain, was designed by the famous Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza. The play on light, space and proportion is extraordinary. A small opening in an 8 meter high square wall is the only entrance. Center of the house is the 9 x 9 meter central square, which has a ceiling of again 8 meters high. All these bold measurements together aid to what Campo Baeza calls the construction of a luminous shadow. Now that’s poetry.
A sunken area was situated on top of a hill on Antiparos, in the Cycladic islands, Greece. Deca Architecture conceptualized the challenge of filling in this crater with a primitive inspired dwelling that was both wind protected from the Aegean Sea and modestly out of view from the village below. The vast areas of the house lies underground, with straight lined boxes jutting out of the hillside constructed out of stone that fits seamlessly into the rugged landscape. Deca Architecture really concentrated on tying the idea together with a strong concept. They explored the flow and the interweaving of the four basic ingredients of the dwelling: Stone, ‘lava flow’, ‘the alien’ and water. Here is an excerpt from the architects explaining the 4 areas. Stone: stone surfaces define the borders of the Krater. On the North side, a double height stone volume protects the Krater from the wind and houses multiple sleeping rooms and public gathering spaces. On the East, stone angled walls surround the Krater and form the entrance ramp. The South side features a stone volume, with a metal structure that supports a bamboo roof. Finally the West is open to sea views. ‘Lava Flow': A path flows under the lap pool, like lava...
This is House W, located somewhere in China. Just two open boxes and a stair case connecting them. And don’t you just love that tiny little tree in the back? House W was designed by Hong Kong based Fuquan Junze, who’s a furniture, interior and industrial designer. Junze started his own firm, Oil Monkey, back in 2007. Interesting little fact about this Junze is that he never had any formal training. Before entering the design profession, he worked as a mechanical engineer, administrative manager and even school coach… Amazing.
Oh boy, a minimalist villa… on the beach! This is Paraty House, located at Paraty, Brazil. It was designed by those Boys from Brazil, Marcio Kogan Architects. It consists of two 27m wide concrete boxes stacked upon each other, resulting in beautiful long lines and an amazingly huge ceiling. And check out the furniture – so many 20th century design icons! Photography by Nelson Kon.