In keeping with the recent somewhat-theme… a home with a courtyard! But with a circular twist… so even better it’s a tower/courtyard theme mashup…
But it’s not a round building. The perimeter is fully rectangular to fit the site and the surroundings. Only the wedge-shaped carport with rounded fence and the equally angular window on the front façade gives any hint of what’s within. (Nicely, the box also is a rich grey stucco that both hides the wood within and the wedge cutout once again gives it away.)
Add in a few double height spaces and a few choice changes in levels to create different conditions within, all splaying from that central atrium, and you’ve got yourself a nifty little house. Cool stuff.
The aptly named 360° house by YUUA Architects
Is this a house for Rapunzel? Sure, why not… but it’s even cooler than that! Take a restored hull of and old mill as the literal core, add an airy addition to one side to compliment the heavy brick construction of the mill on the other, and you have a most intriguing place to live.
Not surprisingly given both living in a tower but also its smallish size, the tower, there’s a lot of vertical division going on within, with the library on the first floor, the bathroom on the second, bedroom on the third, and crowned with an office (with a view!). All accessed by a sweeping stair that travels along the outer edge and punctuated with arched windows.
This photo shows off much of what I love here, including the way the heavy texture of the brick plays off the slickness of the floors and the steel and glass addition. And the fun of tower living! But also how much that arched opening into the brick tower it looks like a giant pizza oven…
Adaptive reuse, tower living, libraries, and more. Great stuff.
House Wind by Architecten De Bruyn
A fun little folly tonight, in the form of the Smile. A temporary pavilion at the London Design Festival back in 2016. Made of cross-laminated wood as a double cantilever structure, it seems to rest, precariously balanced, in the middle of the courtyard. As a folly it’s akin mostly to spatial art, inhabited purely for the experience and joy it brings.
The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects
There’s something quite appealing to me about the “simplicity” in this house design, with its solid, board-formed concrete base topped with an airy wood top that’s entirely ringed with windows.
Though the base is created in concrete, there’s plenty of openings, some with a perforated concrete screen, and similarly though the upper story is all windows, each has a shutter as well. The mix of the concrete base, wood mid, and steel roof all are well proportioned and pair well into a most pleasing combination.
Oh, and it’s got a two-story courtyard down its centre, because apparently I am very much on a courtyard kick right now…
Unfortunately there aren’t too many photos of the inside that show the gamut of different spaces that the plans hint at, so we have to let our imaginations fill out what’s just offscreen.
On the whole, solid work!
House on Lake Zell by Steiner Architecture f/f
There’s a couple of reasons to love this former power plant in the heart of London. The first is the building itself, majestic, assertive, and positively iconic in all of its art deco glory (especially so from its use on the cover of a Pink Floyd album).
Sweet design with sweet detailing, and a great reminder that even industrial buildings warrant great design for those who both work within and live around it.
The second is the amazing mixed-use adaptive reuse of the building that was recently completed. Retail and office spaces use most of the space within, including the cavernous turbine and boiler halls, while residential lines the periphery and, with a remarkable flair, as new glass and steel boxes set delicately atop the existing brick base. Well-proportioned and taking cues from the existing conditions, the new apartments compliment the original design very well. A trio of linear gardens join also the residences atop the building.
Even the old control rooms were given a chance to join in the fun, handsomely restored to their glory.
Reading up on the history, after the station was decommissioned there were some unfortunate twists and turns and false starts that resulted in a long dormancy and the whole thing falling into disrepair. It’s fortunate and great to see this new form come to fruition, restoring the landmark design while also providing a great mixed-use addition to the neighborhood. And it’s adaptive reuse, so you know I have to love it. Great stuff.
The Battersea Power Station, originally by Giles Gilbert Scott, and one of the largest brick buildings in the world. He also designed the Bankside power station, also the site of an amazing adaptive reuse into the Tate Modern art gallery! Adaptive reuse design led by WilkinsonEyre (more pictures, videos, and historical photos at their site — and check out the jaw-droppingly interesting Chimney Lift, an elevating glass room the size of the inside of the chimney that emerges to give 360 views, wow).
I live in a house that is sometimes known, fully tongue-in-cheek and delighted for the pun, as a “Likeler.” That is, “like an Eichler.” Eichler homes essentially defined the ‘California Modern’ house type of post-and-beam style construction, open floorplans, and access to light.
However, spend anytime in an actual Eichler house and the difference between them and my own is readily apparent. The better design of an Eichler home is completely palpable. The quality of the spaces and the connections between them, the connection between indoors and out, the play of light, all of those are often downright exquisite.
That includes one of the more common Eichler features, that of the private courtyard. Sometimes bordering the front of the house, sometimes ensconced in the middle, this little garden could be seen and accessed from numerous places within the home.
These images are some mighty fine examples of the type. They don’t really need much more description; their awesomeness speaks for themselves. These are homes designed and built nearly 60 years ago, and their design still shines as an example… and, hopefully, as a reminder and lesson that great design is for everyone and ought to be afforded to everyone.
Courtyards of Eichler Homes, some designed by Robert Anshen as well as Claude Oakland & Associates. Of note, Eichler also had an inviting and inclusive intent beyond the walls of the house – it’s pretty cool, read a bit more about their history here or here.
Here’s a nice, humble, and neat train station gracing the countryside of the Czech Republic. Solid brick, a playful gable roof that isn’t quite exactly a gable roof, and a reimagining of the traditional sheltered platform that leads to covered bike parking. I dig it.
Train Station Čeladná by Projektstudio
The sinuous forms of the columns for this chapel are so smooth and seamless that some views almost look like CG rendering. But it’s a very real place, in Japan.
Used primarily as a wedding chapel, there’s a lot of show going on here, from those sensual columns to the curvy all-glass walls to the fact the whole thing seems to float effortlessly above the placid pool of water. Trippy? Yes. Over the top? Sure, but the theatricality of it all is fully intentional for the theatrical event taking place within. It’s a neat space.
Cloud of Luster Chapel (even the name is full of show biz!) by KTX archiLAB
I didn’t see this one while I was last in Toronto (though now it’s on my list), but this is a very cool pair of duplex houses.
The two units in each house are stacked atop each other, and there’s a mirroring effect between the two of them. Sunken courtyards (replete with colourful murals), generous windows, and multi-story spaces make the lower units dynamic and filled with light. But no doubt it’s the scrim on the top floors that catch the eye, both from inside and out. Made of wood with a seemingly random pattern (but that supposedly draws something, though I can’t see it), the scrim also screens a raised patio.
Inside in both units, the skylights, courtyards, murals, and, of course, the scrims make for some pretty nifty living spaces.
They’re simple but thoughtful moves that elevate this from the typical banal box of a house into something much more exciting. Great suff.
Double Duplex by B-CA
I’ve joked more than once that I travel thousands of miles to go visit apartment buildings… and my recent-ish trip to Toronto was no exception. There continues to be a condo boom in downtown, and it was encouraging to discover that – beyond the obvious example of BIG’s King project – many of them were willing to go beyond a banal box in the sky and reach for some design goodness. Including this one here, which I think would feel quite at home among the apartment buildings I saw while in Denmark.
On the whole it’s all pretty self-explanatory/evident, with shifting and interlocking cubic volumes to create engaging geometries that further define themselves in a distinctive base, mid, and, of course, the giant “bridges” that span from building to building. All aligned to create framed vistas towards the water and the Toronto Islands.
While it may not be as bold as some others (again, the obvious examples of BIG’s projects) it’s definitively solid work. Inviting, interesting, enlivening, and again great to see as a step forward for design in Toronto.
Pier 27 Condos by architects-Alliance