It’s been ages since I mentioned the Rural Studio, but here’s one of their earliest (and still great!) projects, the Butterfly House.
As with (all?) their projects in Hale County, the Butterfly House was created from found, reused, and plentiful materials, assembled in a bold and enlivening way. Noticing that the future owners spent much of their time on their porch, the house was designed to be nearly half porch, covered by the striking butterfly roof. Not only does it create the grand heart of the house – it even comes complete with its own second-floor overlook – the roof also collects rainwater and provides passive cooling for both the porch and the house.
When humble materials meets serious design intention and ingenuity, you get inspired living.
The Butterfly House by Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio
I will readily admit that I do very much enjoy a good dose of theatricality in buildings. And this one has it in spaces!
Starting on the outside…
… with its bamboo laced walls allowing for dramatic shadow play both day and night…
… to the glowing entryway and it’s geometrically delightful reflecting pool and garden…
… to the reflecting pool that, once inside, becomes an actual pool for swimming…
… to the delightfully dramatic rock garden centerpiece, with walkways made of stone slabs that tantalizingly hover…
… to more hovering elements in the more domestic areas…
… to the soaring living area…
… and culminating in the oppositely introverted and quiet (yet still so elegant) tea room.
C4L House by CUBO
A giant, pink, spiraling, sculptural staircase. That bold gesture forms the heart of this townhome, where even the main walls spiral inward in unison.
The stairway also acts as a giant atrium and kind of courtyard, pulling light to nearly all rooms as well as allowing a tree to grow in the main living/dining area of the home. It also allows the house to operate in the vertical direction, creating continual visual connections across all levels so that the family can be in touch with each other as they pass from room to room.
All those interlocking spirals and forms coupled with the play in levels creates a tonne of interesting little spatial and sculptural moments, where light and materials and plants all get to dance together. Very neat and solid work!
Maison TT by Nghia-Architect
Love this little retreat/cabin in the hills of Mexico. Small and straightforward, yet delightfully evocative.
For starters, it’s a truncated box, with a patio covered a triangle of canvas as an awning that completes the rectangle from above… with a bonus that the canopy is supported/suspended by a nifty steel beam perched on the cabin’s roof.
The cabin itself rests on a foundation that’s a tad smaller, making it all appear to hover and float off the ground.
Board formed concrete lends a nice texture and scale to the whole thing, left natural within but painted black on the outside — something that I think works really well, creating subtle highlights and a rich ‘charred wood’ look that lets the building fade well into the landscape.
Enclosed on three sides, the last side is slick steel and glass, stretching towards the light and the world.
A small retreated of simple elements designed with care and flair. Great work.
Bungalow H by ET.co
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
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
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.
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