December 8th, 2013 – The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca is blessed with natural beauty, picturesque villages, golden beaches, and—at least in Palma de Majorca, its main port—the contrast of country life with cosmopolitan energy. Beloved British architect John Pawson finalized his most recent piece of architecture, the Picornell House. Situated on a south-facing hill six miles from the center of Palma de Mallorca, is a two-story concrete dwelling that encompasses Palma’s blend of old and new. The monolithic architecture of the home is complemented with minimalistic style, employing large windows to welcome in the captivating views of the Mediterranean Sea and the island’s stunning arrangement of Aleppo pine, olive and almond trees.
Pawson’s design of the home celebrates the contours of the landscape, while affording optimal and — critically, in a climate such as this — controllable light penetration. The walls are thickened properly for optimal cooling in summer and insulation in winter, with natural cooling and ventilation supported by a sculptural, funnel-like courtyard within the floor plan.
The first level of the single-family home is visible to the street, then grows to a second level on the side oriented towards the sea. Here, a grand concrete staircase leads to the pool, which projects from the home toward the garden and underscores the dramatic attenuation of the site. Inside, the addition of contemporary furniture pieces promote a fresh balance to the streamlined architecture. Pawson carved out large windows to portrait the home’s amazing vistas, employing the existing scenery as artwork.
December 4th, 2013 – Perhaps this is the kind of workspace that makes our parents want to throw up in their mouth a little…then swallow. While they spent their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s slaving away in the confines of uninspiring cubicle squares, their now employed children are basking in the glory of contemporary designed workspaces. (Thank you, mom and dad, for leaving the world in a better place than you found it!) An even bigger ‘thank you’ should be extended to the design creatives over at Gensler who realized AirBnB’s homey new San Francisco Headquarters.
Gensler transformed a former industrial building in the rapidly-developing SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco, into a residential-esque workspace for the property-swapping website’s 200 employees. The architects hollowed out a central atrium foyer to filter in sunlight, a layout that naturally situated the office’s around the perimeter of the four-story structure.
The atrium includes a GSky Green wall, outfitted with 1,226 sq ft of beautiful greenery that stretches up to three floors high. The Green Wall is a grand centerpiece that adds to the overall aesthetics of the building, employees will be able to enjoy a breath of fresh air everyday.
The team at Gensler integrated touches of home to enrich the workplace ambiance. The rooms are all replicas of actual homes that can be rented through AirBnB, named for the places they can be found in from Reykjavik to Paris, Amsterdam to Bali. It’s a smart touch that speaks to the company’s house-swapping concept, as well as providing a variety of spaces for people to meet and work in.
After gutting the building, the architects preserved existing elements such as the atrium’s worn and unpolished concrete wall and flooring. To enhance the salvaged components, a pallet of fine natural finishes like wood, stone, and the greenery were introduced into the space.
Parts of the home are swapped in for the typical office space. Instead of a boardroom, AirBnB enlisted a cozy living room as a place to come together. Instead of a cafeteria, the team dines together in a large kitchen environment. Broad hallways are broken down into small conversational areas donning a ‘mi casa es su casa’ vibe. Oh, and let us not leave out the nerd cave, hopscotch, and even a place for employees to lay down their head for a nap.
San Francisco has rapidly become the headquarters for tech giants, who aspire to re-write the laws of the workplace. Rather than keeping workers chained to their desk for hours on end, companies like AirBnB increase productivity and positive attitudes amongst their team by cultivating flexible, interactive, and comfortable workplace environments.
Photography by Emily Hagopian
December 1st, 2013 – A total transformation took place on the coast of Spain for Xpiral Architect’s recently completed Tuning House. Javer Pena, founder and lead architect of Xpiral, was contacted by a French couple who wanted to turn two residences on the coast of Mazzaron into one “comfortable and familiar house” with plenty of room for entertaining guests. When Xpiral got their hands on the house they found that the layout, building systems, and materials were outdated and the direction of the house was not taking full advantage of the beautiful surrounding landscape and view. The architect refreshed the home by bringing out its phenomenological and climatic aspects while incorporating the elements and textures of the existing house itself.
The facade is outfitted with an artistic white crochet network that Pena says is his favorite element of the Tuning House. “The main innovative effort of the project was focused on the facade, which is a multitask element that came up after several steps of design.” Pena explained he “got involved with it from the early conceptual design to the final construction, being the one who directly built the crocheted component as a handicraft element.”
This element had three steps of design, which showcase the post-production work that went into the Tuning House. The first step was to demolish the south façade. This opened up the house to the sun and landscape. Next, the exterior was painted white to reflect the sun, which aids in temperature regulation. Lastly, thick rope weave over a glass fibber pipe network was made to create the façade. But this design was built for more than just aesthetics. The pipes water the plants, protect the house from the sun, and filter the wind.
Inside the house a kaleidoscope courtyard aids ventilation and a series of mirrors helps distribute light. The post-production work in this design shows technology and handmade design can seamlessly work together. The garden, which sits lower than the house, was turned into an open terrace incorporating an outside sitting room and kitchen. When all these elements come together a fine tuned, modern and functional living space is created rightfully known as the Tuning House!
Photography by David Frutos @ BIS Images
November 25th, 2013 – After surviving the traumas of devastating fires and wartime bombing, what’s left of Augsburg’s thousand year old St. Moriz (Moritzkirche) Catholic church has been paired-down and refined by beloved British minimalist architect John Pawson. Pawson says that he approached the project as a “re-tune of the existing architecture from an aesthetic, functional and liturgical perspectives, with considerations of sacred atmosphere always at the heart of the project.”
The renovated church building is situated in Augsburg’s historic center, right within a triangle formed by the Augsburg dome, Saint Ulrich basilica and Saint Afra church. Over the centuries, the church has seen various reconstructions and additions, leading to a conglomerate of style relics that have shed reference to their romanic, gothic and early baroque precursors. The impression of change, destruction and reconstruction has led to the decision to develop an integrative concept for the renovation of Saint Moritz.
Pawson and his team, with the consent and encouragement of local Catholic worshippers, have stripped away much of the old interior, rearranged a number of artefacts, and lit the church in compelling new ways. In particular, the architect laminated a thin layer of onyx to the windows, diffusing daylight rays throughout the building.
Pawson created an encompassing renovation concept for the church nave, paying tribute to the long history and tradition of the building while keeping in mind the needs of a modern community.
With its high vaults, illuminated cupolas and baroque paintings, contrasting with the dark wooden pews, the all-white church interior makes an overwhelming impression, culminating in the mighty statue of Christus Salvator by Georg Petel from the year 1632.
With the help of Bion Technologies, the renovation included an innovative illumination concept blending harmonically with the building’s interior features. This underscores Saint Moritz’s unique architecture. Modern lighting technology was called for to provide the mild yet accentuated illumination intended by the designer. The new and predominantly indirect illumination provides full surface flooding as well as accentuated highlighting of individual building components, giving a unique impression of space, plastic shape and detail. All fixtures are concealed in architectural recesses to prevent blinding, yet ensuring a most natural lighting.
Portuguese limestone lines the floor; hidden LEDs illuminate gloomy parts; certain Baroque elements, including the carved figures of the Apostles which look down on the congregation, have been retained. To no one’s surprise, Pawson executed extraordinary control in drawing on existing forms and elements of vocabulary, an architectural language has evolved that is recognizable in subtle ways as something new, yet has no jarring foreign elements.
Photography by Gilbert McCarragher
On November 13, 2013, acclaimed Brazilian architect and designer Isay Weinfeld opened A/Z, his first ever US exhibit at Espasso in New York City. Espasso’s showroom is dedicated to featuring modern and contemporary Brazilian furniture and this new exhibit showcases many of Weinfeld’s products. The exhibit also focuses on his newly released monograph compiling his most recent works in celebration of his studio’s 40th year. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with him to discuss his journey, which, according to Weinfeld, is far from being over.
“Pleasure,” Weinfeld said with warmth in his eyes as he contemplated the one word that sums up the feeling of looking back at his studio after 40 years. Weinfeld is responsible for numerous minimalistic and contemporary boutique, home, restaurant, and hotel designs, projects that have received many accolades. Though despite his tremendous success, Weinfeld does not feel that he has reached a marking point in his career worth such nostalgic reflection. “I don’t feel that time passed like this so quickly as I am still working. I don’t feel as if 40 years is a marking point, something that is strong. It’s still going,” he said confidently then adding with a laugh, “I am not dead yet.” And it soon became clear that as long as Isay Weinfeld is alive his designs would continue to flourish as well, for creating seems to be a part of who he is.
He admits that he doesn’t remember how he got into architecture, it simply just happened. This seems to be how he begins many of his designs as well, by just letting it happen. He doesn’t constrain himself to stick to any particular style or set of materials, in fact he says he cannot even commit to a favorite. Instead he treats each project as an individual, creating each piece with inspiration from various aspects of life, art, dance, theater, film, etc., and choosing materials that will best compliment his design. “I never start with a material, it’s always a consequence,” he explains. It is clear that Weinfeld views architecture as more than simply a strive for a finished product.
He treats the whole process like an art form and finds pleasure from the first sketches to the end product. “It’s like a baby that I take care of from the beginning to the end,” he says. And just like a father would say of his children, Weinfeld says that he cannot pick a favorite or most meaningful project because they are all unique and important in their own way. He does admit that he receives great pleasure from seeing the finished product of a work he put 100% into. Weinfeld doesn’t remember any significant ups or downs over the past 40 years and modestly says he always felt to be at a consistent middle level of work, never at the top, never at the bottom. But he says this is not what he focuses on, instead he focuses on doing his best designing a variety of projects like hotels, spas, fitness, and cultural centers. He dreams of designing a brothel in the future but says with a grin “I’m still waiting for a call.” A/Z will be on display at Espasso until December 1st. As I left the exhibit and thanked Isay Weinfeld for his time he gave a “good luck” to any aspiring architects. And as for anyone who is still looking for their calling he simply says to “let it be.”
Writing by: Jessica Britvich
November 18th, 2013 – Draped over the hillside of La Coruña, a busy port city of Spain, sits a new structure that is formalized by the continuous flow of a completely neutral wrap – no edges, no color, no texture. The unfolding piece of architecture, titled Casa V, is the work of Madrid-based studio Dosis de Arquitectura. Casa V appears to be a new build, but it is actually the rehabilitation, adaptation and expansion of an existing vacation house, designed and built in the early 1960’s. After spending nearly fifty years worth of holidays in the home, it became imperative for the growing family to expand the house.
In the span of the last fifty years, even though the number of family members have increased, the house has remained the same, unable to fulfill current and future needs of the family. Dosis de Arquitectura’s principal architects Ignacio Peydro and Isabel Collado set out to create a home where the entirety of the family’s three generations would be able to enjoy the holidays simultaneously.
The existing home remains at the top of the hill, allowing the fluctuating architecture of the new structure to unfold as it cascades down the slope. The expansion, which consists of a side wing that articulates itself with the old building on the northeast, is intended to house the two younger generations.
The original house accommodates social areas for the entire family, as well as sleeping quarters for the first generation. With the home’s new addition, each family member has their own independence while being together, under the same roof.
Peydro and Collado designed the home to spread across the land, creating the perfect opportunity for an entirely new social area for the family – the rooftop. The rooftop serves as a private garden and a quiet place to enjoy unobstructed views of the Spanish landscape.
The interior spaces take on the form directed by the architectural shape of the exterior walls. The bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and stairs all conform to the angular and curvacious likeness of the exterior architecture.
The harsh feel of unpolished concrete is juxtaposed with a smooth, high-gloss white finish to create the home’s stunning spiral staircase. Inside, areas are defined by the unfolding of matter in space and time, which topologically adapts itself to what happens inside.
Photography Courtesy of Dosis de Arquitectura
November 5th, 2013 – Once upon a time, architecture was at the forefront of social innovation, addressing issues that the entire society felt were worth finding creative solutions for. As we’ve zoomed into the 21st century, have we lost the true intention behind the meaning of architecture? Are today’s architects catering too much to cut-throat developers who settle with the realization of banal structures?
Introducing Fairy Tales: The World’s First Architecture Storytelling Competition. Have you ever dreamed of an architecture competition that would inspire you to create something whimsical, magic and fun? A competition that would excite your fantasy to produce something that can be appreciated not just by your fellow architects and designers, but by all audiences. Well, this dreamy new competition encourages all of the above, and is open to architects, engineers, designers, illustrators, students and creatives worldwide.
KNSTRCT was thrilled to catch up with one of the Fairy Tale’s high profile judges, Pentagram designer Paula Scher, to get her thoughts on the completion. Scher has created some of the most iconic graphics of the modern world such as the logos of Citi Bank, The Metropolitan Opera, CNN, and Microsoft. So what was it about the Fairy Tales completion that attracted the famed designer to the jury panel? “As an environmental designer I am attracted to narratives in public spaces.” Scher explained. ”Very often architects are purely concerned with form and ignore the spirit and even function of the building for formalistic reasons. I am pleased that there is an architectural competition where spirited ideas become the important part of the equation.”
The competition is an extension of Blank Space’s mission to uncover the true power of architecture by creating new opportunities for design to engage the public. Blank Space is asking for you to invent a story for your design. They would like you to rewrite the way architecture communicates itself to the world, and to do so in the most unconventional way. Schedule Launching Date: September 9, 2013 Early Registration: Until December 6 at midnight Late Registration: Until the Deadline Deadline for Questions: January 10 until midnight Submission Deadline: January 17, 2014 until midnight Results Announced: February 2014 * note: All the dates and time listed are EST, which is GMT-5 hours – More information.
November 5th, 2014 – Submerging a child into a vibrant, active, and creative environment is similar to pressing a ’play’ button on their sponge-like brains. And when we say play, we don’t just mean play. We mean activate, engage, and respond! Rotstein Arkitekter dreamed up an energetic and vivid space to spark the imagination and ignite the curiosity of the little tots who attend Stockholm’s Sjötorget Kindergarten.
The kindergarten is located on the ground floor, inside a newly developed block of connecting buildings in Stockholm’s Liljeholmskajen neighborhood. The area is facing a rapid growth spurt, and is searching for creative solutions for their new architectural and interior needs.
Founding architects Anders Rotstein and Rickard Rotstein applied hues of yellow, pink, blue and green to specific zones of the school. Using colors as a graphical wayfinding tool for the kids.
“Secret” hideouts, built-in wall seating, and canary-colored lookout towers are just some of the many exciting architectural elements injected into the space.
The architects worked strategically to create a nursery where the children can play and be creative. The team integrated storage into the walls and the stairs with dynamic play areas, huts and caves – taking the game of Hide-and-Seek to a whole new level.
Photograophy by Åke E:son Lindman
Outside, portions of the 22 feet high A-frame structure are covered with black steel cladding, while other parts of the exterior are outfitted with reflective mirror. Contrasting materials allows the mirror components to blend in with the natural surroundings, and the black-hued components to visually jump from the mountain landscapes.
The architects at UUfie created a free-flowing floor plan with comfortable and flexible spaces to meet the needs of a large family who will be housed in the cottage. A continuous set of windows are carved from the A-frame structure to provide natural light and openness – blurring the boundaries of interior and exterior.
In a conscious effort to integrate nature into the family’s daily activities, mirrored surfaces and several openings strategically punctuate the pale wood fish-scale textured walls.
The hand-chiseled staircase contributes to the raw aesthetic of the completely bespoke piece of architecture that was built using traditional construction practices and locally-sourced materials.
Formally educated in Tokyo, UUfie’s principal designer is highly influenced by the distinctive minimalist aesthetic of contemporary Japanese architecture. From that background, A delicate appreciation for nature, simplicity and fine details were scrupulously implemented into this poetic mountainside structure.
Photography by Naho Kubota
September 8th, 2013 – Shoreham Vineyard House, a weekend retreat designed by Jackson Clements Burrows, provides its owners with a place to relax from the everyday stressors of the week and just “wine” a little. This earthy weekender, seated comfortably among the vines from a vineyard on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia, offers its occupants with a weekend of understated luxury. The home was designed using passive design principals, which give the space a casual and modest feel despite its sizeable dimensions. Although the Shoreham House is ample in space, each room is fresh in character and function making this second home as comfortable and accommodating as the first.
Visitors approach the house up a gravel driveway, which leads past the left wing of the house to the main entrance, the garage. Approaching the house in this way makes it appear like a gargantuan wooden box. The house sits atop a natural cliff providing the house with a view of Western Port. The descending roof of the house was positioned to manage the winds, which are often very persistent on the embankment. The roof extends from the bulk of the house over the garage with a space in-between, which acts as the formal entry to the home. A wooden slider front door with an antique door inset brings texture and focus to the entry.
Entering the door brings guests into the entry hall decorated with bottles of wine form the vineyard. Guests can either go right towards the main living space and parent’s wing, left to the guest and children’s wing, or through a small entry to a climate-controlled wine room.
Let’s go right towards the heart of the house, the main living room. This room is very open with a kitchen at one end and a large fireplace at the other. Couches, chairs and a long table help create a homey space for lounging or eating with family during any season. Large sliding doors lead outside to the veranda, which overlooks the vineyard to the west and stone terrace positioned above a freshly planted garden to the east. The verandas was designed to be a social place, acting as another living room during the days of pleasant weather. The terrace overlooks the waters of Western Port, which gives the terrace a completely different character than the veranda.
Vines grow just beyond the verandas edge. The rooms of the house appear to be burrowed right between the vines so that “when viewed from this side, it is a house in the landscape, not on the landscape.” The house is mostly timber with the exception of contrasting black stained columns from the veranda. The columns were designed to imitate the linear growth of the vines. The deliberate selection of a limited palette was chosen to “settle” the design into its surroundings.
Continuing back into the house and past the kitchen is a second living room devoted mostly to television watching. A staircase between the kitchen and the second living room leads to the master bedroom, which sits beneath the high point of the roof. A smaller suite is connected to the bedroom. Both rooms have spectacular views of the waters of Western Port. Wooden blinds provide the master bathroom with privacy from the living room below.
Moving on to the left wing visitors will pass several bedrooms, another living space, and bathing areas. This wing was designed so it could be closed off when the owners are visiting without children or guests. The rooms in this wing benefit from vineyard views through sliding glass doors. Despite the many rooms, the house is described as being “one room think” which helps with cross ventilation while reverse brick-veneer construction aids in thermal performance.
Jackson Clements Burrows successfully created a materially and texturally warm and rich space “like an oak wine barrel,” which blends effortlessly into its surroundings.
Writing By Jessica Britvich
September 7th, 2013 – Perhaps it’s not just Isay Weinfeld’s extraordinary craft for designing beautiful structures that renders him one of Brazil’s most celebrated architects. Weinfeld has an innate knack for creating architecture and spaces that inherently bring people together. Two hours outside the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo is Weinfeld’s recently completed Casa Piracicaba, a monolithic concrete home built for a growing family to enjoy holidays and vacations with one another.
The three story, L-shaped structure is strategically arranged on a 21,500 square foot piece of sloping land in a gated community near the town of Piracicaba. The three floors are arranged in perpendicular axes, making the home’s exotic garden accessible from any floor. The lower ground is semi-subterranean and houses the storage areas, the mechanical room and garage.
The ground floor is laid out as an L-shape and accessible from the street through a curvacious S-shaped ramp. The ground floor is occupied by the service areas and the lounge/dining room. Here, the dining room is fully encased in glass, and overlooks the back portion of the land that merges with the pool deck through wide sliding doors. The other side of the dining room is shielded from the sun and secluded from the street because of a long sun baffle constructed of large vertical concrete slabs, unevenly placed along the whole facade.
On top of the house is a monolithic volume that stretches perpendicularly to the contour of the land and is cantilevered towards the street. This hulking piece of architecture is planted on the higher section of the land, and houses the sleeping quarters. The center of this rectangular structure opens onto a large wooden deck, built on the ceiling slab over the lounge/dining room of the second level.
The swimming pool is located in the nook of the “L”. Facing the pool, an open social area is integrated from the inside to the outside via a set of sliding doors and a wooden deck that leads to the water’s edge. The angle between the social area and the service area frames the pool.
Inside, all of the furnishings have been chosen or designed specifically for this house. Weinfeld himself created some exclusive pieces for the house, such as a bed, desk and one of the many sofas. The architect complemented his own furniture designs with mid-century classics like the Esterinha chair designed by Charles Eames.
While the main structure is concrete, the building displays a variety of interior and exterior finishes ranging from stone cladding on walls to marble in the bathrooms. The Piracicaba House embodies a sophisticated balance of sculpture, drama, and comfort. Making this home, the perfect holiday retreat for a large family to be together
October 2nd, 2013 – Buried in the trees of Kazakhstan’s sweeping Almaty forest is a cylindrical glass structure designed to help one with spiritual and creative development. At the moment, the four-story greenhouse designed by Architect Aibek Almasov, founder of A.Masow Design Studio, is still in early conceptual phases. Soon, the realized home will be a tranquilizing escape from the bustling of Almaty – Kazakhstan’s largest, most developed and culturally diverse city.
Almasov designed the ‘Tree in the house‘ as a tool of meditation, an abstract labyrinth of sorts. For thousands of years, human beings have created the spiral paths that fold back on themselves within labyrinths for reasons ranging from decoration to art and myth. Used as a meditation tool consisting of a walkable single line path, a labyrinth can be a source of solace and can quieten a distracted or over-reactive mind. For some, walking a labyrinth can help resolve inner discomfort and still the mind.
Inside the greenhouse, the single line path of the labyrinth comes in the form of an endless circular ring. The round layout of each floor is continuous from the first floor to the top floor, connected with a spiral stone staircases between each level. At the center of the home is one giant tree that ascends from the ground to the glass roof.
Natural materials such as wood and stone are integrated into the design to parallel the habitual surroundings of the structure. Here, guests of the retreat have the opportunity to use the space as a spiritual tool, quietly revolving on a pathway that can help one to ponder life’s greater mysteries.
Images by A.Masow Design Studio
September 27th, 2013 – We are all familiar with the old adage; good things come in small packages, but what about new things coming in old packages? This is absolutely the case when referring to Dutch Architect Co Govers newly renovated country home. The old farmhouse is tucked away within 60 acres of oak forest in the Mediterranean and was in need of reconstruction due to building regulations. The architect saw this as a perfect opportunity to put a spectacularly modern spin on the old stone weekend home.
ZEST Architecture, Govers’ Barcelona-based architecture studio, stepped in to help her transform the old ruins into a modern, luxury estate in an old stone envelope. “I had always dreamed of building a house for my family, and all we could find were ruins, because building is restricted all over Catalunya and if you don’t want urban, you can only restore a ruin.” The architect noted. “So we set out to create a super modern restoration.” This quickly became an challenge for Govers as the estate is a protected ruin in a national park. “However, the authorities liked our use of materials, and because we chose to make all our interventions almost as a separate layer on top of what is the old stone envelope, our interventions are strikingly modern and yet they only enhance and emphasize the beauty of the old house.”
“I immediately thought that we should turn the house “upside down” – live upstairs and sleep downstairs.” Govers reminisced of the moment she first saw the home. “I figured that if we could change the terrain on the South side to connect with the top floor (where the new pool is located), we could create a real inside-outside experience, to coincide with the pleasant climate. We used the pool to form this intermediate level, connecting the downstairs garden, where the bedrooms are, with the upstairs garden, where the kitchen is.”
To enhance the authenticity of a house riddled with timeless trinkets and undying hardware, Govers chose to construct the contemporary architectural add-ons from durable and everlasting materials. “We worked with a brilliant steelworker from an old town nearby, who made all the Corten steel features for the house, including the staircase and all the hinges of all the shutters. He really helped us go to the max with the Corten steel. I also really love the Corten steel doors to the outside shower downstairs, they are perforated with the blown up shapes.”
The lower levels of the farmhouse stay comfortably cool in the summertime because this is where the animals once lived. With this in mind the bedrooms were strategically placed on the lower level of the home. This puts the living area on the upper level, which works perfectly to make best use of the view. The living area also has direct access to the brand new south facing part of the garden and swimming pool.
ZEST made use of locally produced cork insulation to insulate the house to Passivhaus standards. On top of the insulation lie straw Claytec panels. This allows the old stonewall to remain breathable while keeping the warmth in during the winter and out during the summer. Also, due to well-designed cross ventilation using open doors and windows the house never needs air conditioning. Grovers chose to harness the remarkable view of the enveloping forest and the serene Mediterranean Sea by opening the house up on all sides. This allowed the light to flood in and brings the outstanding view inside.
The house relies on geothermal installation for heating and hot water. Since there is no need for paint due to the natural Claytec plaster the house is an entirely non-chemical environment. The instillation of solar panels and a small windmill is also in the works, making this weekend home healthy for the earth, body, and soul.
Photography captured by Jesús Granada | FOTOGRAFIA DE ARQUITECTURA
Writing by Jessica Britvich
September 19th, 2013 – West of Fiji and southeast of the Solomon Islands is a small island nation known as Vanuatu. Time moves a little slower in Vanuatu, not that anyone there actually minds, in fact this is a big part of the appeal of the place. Emerging ever so slowly on the island is a half-realized luxury resort on a spectacular tract of land where the forest meets the sea. “We see the bones, the inner working, the structure – the important business of architecture before the detailing of surfaces and slick styling. This is architecture at its rawest.” Remarked photographer Peter Bennetts, in regards to the beauty behind Architect Kristin Green’s soon-to-be new hotel, La Plage D’hotel Du Pacifique.
The first of 18 villas are nearing completion with a strategic design that allows wind to pass through with little to no need for air-conditioning. Here, modern forms take on an ancient roman bath providing escape from the demands of the city. Areas of the resort are separated by dancing concrete limbs intertwined casting shadows to relieve one from the tropical sun.
While building the fortress, Green explored a cinematic experience, coupled with the ideas of leisure, romance and dreaming. With these experiences in mind, the architect created an open air roof garden for dining, cocktails and sun bathing, along with a casual poolside grill bar and a formal restaurant. In addition to the restaurants, the establishment features 18 undulating villas, a spa, swimming pools, and outdoor facilities including; Pétanque, beach tennis, swimming, handball & board games.
All components of the villas are custom made; complete in-situ concrete board marked walls, floor & roof, concrete benches, day beds, cast-in-place basins and handmade light fittings, inbuilt furniture, sunken baths along with timber herringbone windows which are hand carved from local timbers by local craftsman and hand cut stone floors. Green is regularly on site coordinating fabrication techniques and ensuring consistency of local construction methods.
Each villa is conceived as a robust, cyclone ready building, the result of a series of key relationship studies between man, building & the tropical landscape. The nature of the body disrobing, exposure, privacy & the personalized experience offers a certain romance and seclusion for its patrons.
The resort’s spa offers a place for the leisure, relaxation and sensual decadence that one would expect from a quality 5-star experience in the Pacifique. A concrete slide, colonnade and capital recall the Ancient Roman baths, a direct homage to Emperor Hadrian (the pool is literally measured from & at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli, outside Rome); ‘only here can one truly dream of being lost in time’.
Irregular clusters of Pandanus & palm trees, a simple landscape of grass and white sand ground surface make bare feet in Vanuatu is an absolute must. The tree roots emerge from the ground like something of a child’s dream, creating gentle barriers and shadows. The architecture of La Plage D’hotel Du Pacifique is designed to protect from violent storms, and offer patrons are a chance at romance, to dance, dream and escape; rekindling love, offering hope for the future & their well being.
Photography by Peter Bennetts
September 9th, 2013 – Living in New York City is likely to cause bouts of cabin fever. When the constant buzz of the city won’t ease up, New Yorkers are lucky to be only a short car ride away from a variety of beautiful weekend destinations, one of which is Fire Island. Following a devastating fire in November 2011, New York architects HWKN (Hollwich Kushner) were commissioned by FIP Ventures to redesign the legendary Pavilion dance club of Fire Island Pines. The wooden pavilion is again the harbor’s main attraction, welcoming visitors as they arrive by ferry with two, lively stories of outdoor terrace and a “Welcome Bar”.
“Although the new building has the same envelope and mix of uses as its predecessor, the similarities end there,” says Matthew Blesso, developer and managing partner of FIP Ventures. “The Pavilion is in context with other Pines architecture. It is made of wood and be modern and casual, yet bold and iconic. It is the first thing visitors see when getting off the ferry, and we’ve envisioned it to be the heart of the Pines community.” By ‘visitors’, Blesso means over 800,000 people who arrive via ferry to Fire Island Pines every summer.
The dynamic façade creates a three-dimensional experience by incorporating the public boardwalk up into the building facade. Benches, wide staircases and storefronts will activate the base while an entrance, formed by a set of bleachers, will provide a viewing platform, stage, wedding chapel and extended dance floor. The ground floor “Welcome Bar”, the high-tea terrace and the Pavilion Club will all be connected by an internal loop of stairs.
“We designed the new Pavilion around the community and experiences at Fire Island,” says Matthias Hollwich, co-founder of HWKN. “The building forms intimate public spaces out of a single volume. It is carved and rutted like a piece of driftwood washed ashore by the sea.”
Photography Courtesy of HWKN
August 20th, 2013 – Set in the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase on the banks of the Cane River Lake, the design of the new Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame mediates the dialogue between sports and history, past and future, container and contained. Visionary and architect Victor “Trey” Trahan, founder of Trahan Architects, merged two contrasting collections that were formerly housed in a university coliseum and a nineteenth century courthouse into one new space, elevating the visitor experience for both exhibitions.
The museum is configured to interpret athletics as a component of cultural history. While sports and regional history may appeal to different audiences, the exhibits and configuration explore interconnections between the two.
The spaces flow visually and physically together, arranged to accommodate state-of-the-art exhibits, education, and assembly and support functions. The internal organization is an extension of the existing meandering urban circulation. The pathway branches throughout the first level galleries and classrooms, and winds its way upward, concluding at a veranda overlooking and reconnecting to the historic town square.
Historical pastiche is set aside in favor of a design language inspired by the riverfront setting and the 17th century bousillage found in the region. The exterior cladding of pleated copper panels alludes to the nearby plantations, controlling light, views and ventilation, and employing surface articulation rather than architectural ornamentation.
The “simple” urban container contrasts with the sinuous entry and foyer within, highlighting the dialogue between the city and the natural environment.
The flowing interior emerges at the entry, contrasting with the patinated exterior shell, inviting the visitor within. The dynamic foyer reflects the carving of the ancient river’s fluvial geomorphology. Sculpted out of 1,100 digitally milled cast stone panels, the shaped surfaces seamlessly integrate all building systems. Washed during the day by natural light from above, they also serve as screens for films and exhibits, further merging content and context.
August 20th, 2013 – The recent recipient of two German Design Council Awards, SPARK is an internationally-renowned, innovative architecture and design consultancy with a flare for creating breath-taking, modern buildings. Led by their fearless leader and founding director Stephen Pimbley, SPARK continues to take the architecture world by storm with their larger than life creations – not only in size, but also in electrifying architectural charisma. A U.K. native, Pimbley attended the Royal College of Art London in 1984 where he was a Gulbenkian scholar. He then started his professional career at the London offices of Richard Rogers and Partners, subsequently joining Troughton McAlsan’s team and becoming project director of Alsop’s famed Hôtel du Département in Marseille. Pimbley’s star continued to rise as he led the rejuvenation of Clarke Quay in Singapore, spring-boarding his jump to Asia and the eventual founding of SPARK, together with a handful of architects. Thankfully, we had a opportunity to chat with Pimbley about his influences, taking big risks, and whether or not he is satisfied creatively.
K: Where did you grow up and how was creativity a part of your childhood?
SP: I grew up just outside Cardiff on the coast of South Wales. The fine arts were perceived as being a soft educational option in Wales during the 1960’s and 1970’s. As a consequence, I was steered towards what was considered to be polite classic subjects, such as the sciences. I collected British Empire stamps, drew birds, super heroes, and cars, and listened to my main men Marc Bolan and David Bowie. My ability to draw, the advent of punk rock, and its portent of an alternative future saved me from following my father into banking.
K: Who influences your work?
SP: The people I have had the privilege of working with, those I currently work with, and the website ffffound.com.
K: What is your preferred rendering media?
SP: Anything that gets the message across, people it seems have become very snobbish over how information is produced, are you Grasshopper, 3D Studio Max or Sketch Up? Personally I have always liked collage, a somewhat distorted but heightened reality.
K: What is your favorite budget material to use in design?
SP: Corbusian concrete, i.e. it does not look like manicured Japanese concrete used by Tado Ando and others.
K: Can you describe the evolution of Spark as an architecture firm?
SP: The senior partners of SPARK have worked together for 12 years, albeit in a practice that changed names when it changed hands. We survived the uncertainty of being bought and sold to build our own business in a part of the world that is undergoing huge social and economic change. We constantly do our best to keep up with demand and build things that have quality and cultural credibility.
K: Are you satisfied creatively?
SP: Yes, amidst moments of worthlessness, despondency, despair and fear.
K. Have you had a point where you’ve had to take a big risk to move forward?
SP: Buying our business out and away from a leviathan of an architectural corporation, so we could breathe more easily and take responsibility for our own future. It’s the best thing we ever did!
K: Is it difficult to find a balance between work life and family?
SP: There is no balance, or at least the fulcrum has gone missing.
K: What does wasted time look like to you?
SP: People who come to work late and go home early
K: What work are you most proud of?
SP: A library built as part of the Fai-Fah project.
K: What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?
SP: A lot of what passes for legacy is mere ego propping, so probably a time capsule: my bits and bobs contained in a Crawford’s custard cream biscuit tin I buried in my parents back garden in 1970. It contains, if its still there, a Blue Peter badge I pinched from my next door neighbor, a Welsh rugby program signed by Gareth Edwards, and a used ticket stub for the Leeds United versus Chelsea FA cup final replay.
K: If you could give one piece of advice to another architect starting out, what would you say?
SP: Start your own studio as soon as possible.
August 15th, 2013 – Architect Gonzalo Mardones Viviani, founder of Gonzalo Mardones Arquitecto, served up a monolithic and contemporary home for retired international tennis champion Marcelo Rios on the foothills of Santiago, Chile. The sculptural, and visual expression of the structure was achieved by using simple line forms that allow the architecture to adapt to the sloping hill. The home is built on a series of levels and is half-buried in order to showcase the stunning visuals of the magnificent natural scenery.
Perhaps the most captivating feature of the home are the rooftops. On top of most levels, an expanding large terrace stretches out to the distance: a place to stay, enjoy the views, the environment, and sunshine. On the highest level, the continuous roof was intended to be covered with natural vegetation and grass, but Marcelo, like every time he visited Wimbledon says that “The grass is for cows”, which led the architects to implement a roof with synthetic grass.
The artificial grass was installed on rafters, which created an opportunity to generate an air bed that protects the cover from direct sunlight, preventing overheating and affecting the air conditioning inside the house. The garden was designed as a raised platform over the sprawling adjacent golf course, where it is possible to see it but not to be exposed to it.
Viviani chose to use just one material, the exposed concrete. The architects added titanium dioxide to the concrete to give the material a standout whitening effect. By including a titanium dioxide additive to the concrete, a process known as photocatalysis then takes place, causing the material to help break down smog or other pollution that has attached itself to the concrete substrate.
The house was designed with two opposite faces: one face is closed off to the street and is surrounded by courtyards, the second face is completely open to the terraces, garden, and views. The entrance hall acts like a kneecap that relates and distributes the different levels of the home, generating inside a sum of continuous merged spaces seeking the views to the garden, the golf course, the remote landscape, and natural light.
The home includes an impressive 9 bedrooms, 4 terraces, grand kitchen and living areas, a theater, game room, swimming pool, and a proud trophy room to display the world class awards and medals of Rois.
August 14th, 2013 – Built on an urbanisation-control zone that is legally an un-buildable plot of land between a residential area and farmland, the Boundary house was never supposed to exist. However, the clients’ of Yasuhiro Yamashita, founder of Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier Tekuto, have vested rights in the land that made it possible to have their house built on this specific site. Tekuto gave careful consideration as to how he could make the most of land like this – land situated between residential areas and farmland, a site sandwiched between urban and rural areas – as well as newly developed residential sites with a number of suspended issues, which are often found in Japan.
Tekuto concluded that rather than impose an urban style of architecture, the answer would be to suggest that the house exists in harmony with nature. The architect took into account that the site had once had close ties with the natural area surrounding it. “To formalize this, I aimed to build a space that stimulates the five human senses and that allows people to enjoy a boundary-less sensation between nature and the architecture.” The architect explained.
The maze-like structure of the building is designed so that the interior can merge with the exterior, and top lights offer the first solution for blurring the boundaries between architecture and nature. Sixteen top lights, with openings of similar detail, are set on both the interior and exterior, and separating the outside and inside is just inlaid glass.
The second solution lies in how the walls are structured. After numerous discussions with the construction engineer, the material Tekuto decided to use for the interior walls is a structural wooden material made by combining 62 mm of glue-laminated timber in a concavo-convex manner. Their surface is painted with a persimmon tannin containing Bengara (sanguine) or ferric oxide-based red coloring. Polished, charred Japanese cedar wood was used on the exterior walls, giving an almost identical appearance to the inner walls.
Seven identical potted plants, placed both inside and outside, are the third solution to blurring the boundaries. Together, these three features make you lose the sense of whether you are in or out. They will obscure the boundaries between architecture and nature. Tekuto says that he “wanted to create a space where it is difficult to distinguish between the inside and outside by carefully choosing the materials for walls, floors, and ceilings: therefore, we have selected a high-density wall material, white flooring material, and a specially textured ceiling material. I believe that choosing the right material can be more effective than simply reversing inside and outside.”
The design of the house has become very similar to the shape of the pear garden situated next door to Boundary House. Tekuto pondered on the garden, saying “I really do not know if this is because I was somehow influenced by the garden, or because a garden-like shaped house is a very common style of architecture in this area.” Another garden is situated on the rooftop and, when the plants and trees grow, these green areas will seem to merge with the garden next door, making the house look even better.
July 9th, 2013 – The story behind Marseille’s new museum, MAMO, short for MArseille MOdulor, runs deep into the roots of modern architecture to pay tribute to a building and an architect. The recently opened MAMO is housed in the upper levels of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, an extensive apartment complex built in 1947 that is often described as a “vertical village”. The pioneer of modern architecture was an instrumental urbanist who spearheaded the movement toward contemporary vertical living, making it no surprise that the architect would push the boundaries of urban living by incorporating all of 337 apartments, a restaurant, a hotel, a bookstore and a nursery school into one tower.
The beloved building was widely noted as a meaningful and prized piece of architecture and went on to be classified as one of France’s historical monuments in the 1980′s.
A turn of events took place for Cité Radieuse in 2010, when the building’s rooftop gym and solarium went up for sale. Designer Ito Morabito, who goes by Ora-Ito professionally, purchased it as a collector might. “Like you buy a piece of art, but architecture,” he noted. After the acquisition, it became Ora-Ito’s self-appointed mission to honor the iconic structure.
Ora-Ito transformed the rooftop of Cité Radieuse into MAMO, a contemporary art center dedicated to exhibitions and creative ateliers. The renovation was a three year undertaking that involved a full restoration of the original rooftop structure, including the removal of an unsightly add on, and the realization of design elements in Le Corbusier’s blueprints that had not been realized when the building was originally constructed.
The opening of MAMO kicked off with the exhibition of Ora-Ito’s friend and sometimes collaborator, the French artist Xavier Veilhan. Titled Architectons, the exhibition features a series of large-scale sculptures made specifically for this space and includes an angular bust of Le Corbusier on the rooftop. Veilhan created Le Corbusier’s bust as a way to pay homage to a master on the top of his legendary build. “Le Corbusier would be proud,” Ora-Ito said.
Photography by Diane Arques
July 30th, 2013 – Scattered among a grove of cork and olive trees, the 56 private suites that make up Évora’s new Ecorkhotel give travelers the opportunity to experience a contemporary and eco-minded lifestyle. Designed by architect José Carlos Cruz, the architecture is a refreshing reminder of Portugal’s traditional whitewashed plaster structures re-worked with a purist twist by balancing elements of simple form with nature. To relate the building to it’s surroundings, Cruz outfitted the entire exterior of the main building with recycled cork cladding, a 100% natural product harvested by hand from the native cork oak – making the Ecork the first and only hotel in the world with this feature.
The town of Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its rich history and well-preserved old town center. Évora is still mostly enclosed by ancient medieval walls, and houses a large number of monuments dating from various historical periods, including a Roman Temple. As the world has deemed this nearby land universally important, the realization of the Ecorkhotel was created with respect for the local history and consideration for nature.
The hotel was designed with maximum energy efficiency in mind, using geothermal and solar energy to heat and cool 56 villa suites. In addition to the geothermal and solar technology, eco-minded materials such as cork wrap the exterior of the main building, working as a thermic and acoustic isolator.
To mimic the twelve acres of rolling hills that the hotel is situated on, the architect designed large rolling curves that hang over the hallway that leads in and out of the main building.
A gridded pathway of yellow bricks directs hotel guests through rows of connected boxy white villas, each with a small kitchen and private terrace, flat screen television, and eco-friendly linens.
The walls of the hotel’s courtyard and the villa terrace partitions have rows of cut-out shapes that cause interesting shadows throughout the day, and double as a glowing lantern in an ancient forest at night.
The Ecorkspa has five treatment rooms, four being for private purposes and another room for couples treatments, the indoor swimming pool, a Turkish bath, and a sauna. The spa also features a relaxation room with a Chromotherapy device, where trained chromotherapists claim to be able to use light in the form of color to balance “energy” wherever a person’s body be lacking, whether it be on physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental levels.
July 23, 2013 – Behind a humble garage entrance, a surprising experience begins to unravel as an architecturally dynamic and edgy space is filled with a collection of colorful toy bears. The outrageous ‘Garage of Bears’ is an ingenious collaboration between the creatives at OpenBox and Onion. The design directors at OpenBox, Nui Suwannatrai and Prang Jenpanichkarn, realized the architecture of the home before calling upon Onion’s founders, Arisara Chaktranon and Siriyot Chaiamnuay, to spearhead the design of the bold display units that house the bears in the garage.
Needless to say, The owners of the home are avid Be@rbrick collectors, rendering this home incomplete unless their family of cartoon-styled bears were respectfully showcased. The figures are an anthropomorphized bear, with an extremely simplified form and a pot belly.
Each plastic figure features nine parts (widely referred to as tools in the toy industry): head, torso, hips, arms, hands, and legs; These nine tools allow eight points of articulation: swivel head, swivel waist, ball joint arms, swivel wrists, and ball joint legs.
‘Garage of the Bears’ is an exploration of one simple form and space, shaped by desired visual impacts from various angles. The backdrop of the angular display units are white with black grid-like lines running through them. The lines strategically add visual depth to the shelving, while insinuating movement for the viewers of the collection as they go from bear to bear.
Sheets of glass are secured to the front of the shelving to ensure the protection of the Be@rbricks.
Size matters in the Garage of Bears. The design process of the well thought out display units began with the Be@rbricks themselves. It is thought of as a house of seventeen 400% Be@rbricks. The bears come in all different sizes, many are twenty-eight centimeters high and are referred to as 400% Be@rbricks as its actual size, while some are referred to as a 100% Be@rbrick, at seven centimeters high.
Inside the units are floating white platforms that the bears stand on, equally spaced apart, but constructed to hold the specific size and weight of the bears.
The owners chose to display their prized collection in the garage, the architects knew that they needed to transform the garage into a place where the owners and their company can actually enjoy.
With this in mind, the architects created a raised lounge area, essentially a viewing room. The lounge is also enclosed by glass, where the owners can view their collection in an impressive environment.
Adjacent to the lounge is a monochromatic marble restroom, where one of the bears stands at all times, facing the corner, as if he were taking a leak!
July 17th, 2013 – Surrounded by a family of seasoned Moonah trees, the Blairgowrie House, is an extensive reworking of an existing seaside residence in Victoria. Wolveridge Architects conjured up the contemporary additions to the home with their joyful, and meticulous clients in mind – a young family of five. What was once a modest beach house, has been transformed into a minimalistic and visually balanced wood-filled retreat.
Blairgowrie is a small seaside town along the coastline of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, a place where owner-builder, Tim Prebble, has meticulously executed Wolveridge Architects’ design to produce a flexible and current home for his family. The house’s main living areas occupy the first floor – opening up the long house to an overflowing amount of natural light and expansive views over the Bay.
On the ground level, the garage and storage area neighbor one another, while the master bedroom and bathroom, which remain in the older portion of the house, are found on the significantly smaller second level near the back of the property. Dark stained timber cladding and anodized window frames create a geometric design on the new facade – a rearranged and futuristic play on a Federal styled facade.
The initial design concept was derived from the sheltered, north-facing courtyard, which creates a temperate outdoor area for the house that can be utilized throughout the year. Located at the center of the home, the courtyard welcomes visitors as they climb the stairs from the entrance up to the first floor. The space is sheltered from the sun by a roof of timber battens and from the wind by the rest of the house, buffering the space from cool southeasterly and southwesterly winds.
The main living areas of the home have been configured around the courtyard, joined by a series of louvers that encourage cross-ventilation through the house. Three children’s bedrooms and two bathrooms reside near the front of the home, while behind the courtyard the house opens up to become an open-plan living, kitchen and dining area. The new extension cedes to the existing house, which sits slightly higher on the sloped site. The lower level of the old house has been transformed into a den-like sunken children’s playroom.
Deeply set windows create a patterned facade, allowing light in without overwhelming the house with the intense heat of the summer sun. In sunlight, the aluminum frames of these windows cast shadows over the building’s timber skin, while at night the house becomes illuminated by the glowing, lantern-like windows.
July 9th, 2013 – A short drive toward the coast from São Paulo’s bustling concrete jungle, is Paulista Coast – a quintessential tropical paradise. Here, the seemingly endless stretch of a white sanded beach, crystal blue waters, tiny nearby islands to hop around on, and a handful of contempo-tropical holiday homes are what make this South Atlantic destination a wonderfully indolent getaway. The latest of tropical homes to grace the Paulista Coast is Recidencia MC, designed by the São Paulo-based architects at Jacobsen Arquitetura.
The stunning 13,000 square foot, three-tiered home is situated on a half acre plot of land directly on the Paulista shoreline, with a neighboring home visible on one side.
With privacy being one of the main issues for the owners, Principal architect Paulo Jacobsen implemented a U-shaped design, which created an exterior courtyard and an indoor garden that have direct views of the beach. This architectural layout allows a connection of internal and external social areas.
In addition to implementing a U-shaped design layout, Jacobsen developed a perforated wood paneling system that outfits the exterior of the home – helping to maintain privacy, but allows ventilation and natural lighting to filter in. On the second floor, the perforated panels slide open to intersect the interior of the home with the refreshing outside scenery of the Paulista Coast – with a glass railing functioning as a visually silent barrier. On the inside of the U-shape, the homeowners can enjoy their privacy while still embracing the openness of the home and its tropical surroundings. Walls retract and the windows open at the spaces that are located on the inside of the “U”. The kitchen and the grand living room become fully exposed to the courtyard and neighboring ocean.
An important aim of the project was to work with local elements and traditional building techniques to maintain the home’s authenticity to its location. In addition to the open kitchen, awe-inspiring living rooms, indoor garden, and home theater, a contemporary spa was built on the lower level of the home. Here, a sauna, pool, and sleek wood lounging area team up to create a secluded and tranquil spot for the vacationers. A true home away from home.