Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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.

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

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

Architecture Monday

Perhaps one of the most famous architectural photos of all time.  Certainly it is one of the most famous of modern architecture, and likely introduced many to this new mode of design and its new architectural ways, forms, and materials.  It was built in 1957 as a Case Study House, which themselves are an interesting thing, some 36 home designs sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine as experiments in American residential architecture.  This one, the Case Study House #22, overlooks Los Angeles by dramatically cantilevering the glassed-in and nearly transparent living room over the edge of the cliff, something this photo by Julius Shulman does wonders to highlight.  To the eyes of the day it must have appeared completely otherworldly.

The Stahl House (Case Study House #22) by Pierre Koenig.

Architecture Monday

Is it gauche of me to post two BIG designs in a row?  Feh, no matter, for I will use this to illustrate the ways they employ similar forms and ideas in responsive and different ways, and with a different language of materials.  Behold, the appropriately named 79&Park (it’s next to a park, you see…)

 

Another of their “landform courtyard” style buildings, this one places the emphasis on wood and windows, with large vertical forms stacked upwards, each unit distinguishing itself with its own arrangement of fenestration.  The result delivers order without rigidity, and variety without becoming a jumble.

Of course, the big moves still ring true here, with the stepped sections of the building responding to the aforementioned park while providing for both the courtyard as well as the sweet green rooftop gardens (complete with trees!).  This arrangement also allows the units the most out of those giant windows, with plenty of avenue for light and views outward.

The killer is that this isn’t likely considered highly unusual or “grand luxury.”  If my impression of the country when I visited was correct, this level of design is not that uncommon nor reserved for the hyper-well to do.  It’s a recognition that quality of life affects us all, and why shouldn’t we strive for areas that shout, “this is a spot for living and living well!”

79&Park by BIG Architects.

Architecture Monday

If you looked at this and thought, “That looks like a BIG building,” well, you wouldn’t be wrong.  One part 8 House, one part Mountain House, with the addition of a striking gesture towards the water.

Starting with a simple courtyard square shape, the building angles itself down on one end while angling upward on the other, allowing it to open itself towards the city while also embracing the water on the other.  Really embracing, as the water flows into the courtyard for easy access.  And really open, as a public path from the city rises up and circles the whole building along a green roof.

Unfortunately, there’s no interior shots I can find yet, so no idea what it’s like in those units with the giant angled windows that overhang the water…

Though I joked at the start about being able to recognize it, really there’s no knock against them to engage their well-tested features in new ways to create another neat and enlivening place to live.

Sluishuis by BIG and Barcode Architects.