Posts Tagged ‘house’

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Architecture Monday

July 16, 2018

When I visited the Ennis house a few years ago, it was only for a drive by.  Being a privately-owned house, seeing the inside, and the results of the renovation being undertaken, was not possible.  UNTIL NOW… for it is up for sale!  And with that comes a real estate listing that includes a raft of pictures that shows that the inside of most glorious example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s textile block houses is as impressive as the exterior.

There’s a lot to see here, in many ways, quite literally, with the eponymous textile blocks (each concrete block being hand pressed in a mold designed by FLW) creating both a rhythm and a richness of texture over every surface.  This is further heightened by the wonderful designs and additions of the geometric stained-glass windows, mosaic hearths, wrought iron tracery, wood rafters, and even the custom furniture.  What makes this this a masterful design is that all this detail doesn’t devolve into a cacophony. It avoids any “visual barf” effect more commonly associated with gaudy ‘richness’.

The blocks also illustrate very clearly the proportions and divisions of space that render the house so successful.  Both the sculptural ridges that bisect the room height and the alcoves and offshoots that frame the walls and openings create divisions of space that are felt, giving the rooms multiple layers of scale.  Seated on the couch, the room can be at once snug and even intimate while maintaining a sense of expanse and wonder.  (It’s a bit like being in a small clearing amongst a copse of trees – you’re sheltered, but you can sense the greater world out there)

For me, this is the piece de resistance.  Eliminating a corner of the house, letting what ordinarily would be solid melt into a vista that perfectly frames the downtown.  In a town renown for its movies, that’s superbly well pulled off drama!

The Ennis house by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Definitively one of the great ones.  Fully restored, furnished, and on sale now at this link.

(If you buy it, please invite me over for a visit!)

All images by MLS listings

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Architecture Monday

July 2, 2018

This is a level of playful niftiness I can totally get behind.  It’s also a great thought provoker on how we can design more smartly and use less space/resources/etc by designing with (still playful!) flexibility in mind.  All in a small garden house.

Four elegantly designed wood structures interlock on a wood deck; two of the structures are quite solid, two are greenhouse-like windows from floor to the top of the pointy roof.  We can do the math, but there’s five basic configurations that alternate the position of shade and light, solid and void, view and privacy, and even open versus enclosed.

There isn’t much more than that, but there needn’t be.  With things closed up, it’s a cozy cabin perfect for huddling close to the fireplace on a cool winter’s night.  Push the glazed ends out, and you’ve got room for a ginormous dinner party.  Flip it around, and your daily living space takes in all the beauty of spring or fall.  Sleep under the stars, or sleep curled up in the corner.  Come summer, the house splits and you’ve got patio living at its finest.  Or zebra it all.  Rearrange to respond to whatever flies your fancy that day.

Very cool.  And very nicely done too.  I really like the intricate and beautiful wood trusses that form the greenhouse portions, and there’s something equally elegant in the pairing of the wood siding and steel roof in the cabin portions.  The wood stove is designed to mesh well (and be safe!) in all configurations, even providing an outdoor cook spot when the centre is open.  And like the house itself, the lot is both expansive and nestled, with a pond on one side and a copse of trees on the other.

I like this aplenty.  The Garden House by Caspar Schols.

Also, bonus video!

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Architecture Monday

June 25, 2018

The first word that comes to mind in seeing this house is “lantern.”  Maybe because of the warm glow amongst the dramatic skies of northern Nova Scotia, but also because of its vertically stretched proportions making it appears it has been set, gingerly, down on the land.  It catches the eye and marks a place without needing to invade or dominate the landscape.

Surrounded by woods and with views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the board pattern that adorns its face matches the trees that encompass it in both colour and thinness.  I love the updated interpretation of the traditional east-Canadian windbreak, rendered in heavy, rusting, steel that marries well with the marbled patina of the wood slats.

Inside, all that height is put to good use, with walls and a mezzanine becoming like freestanding objects within the lantern.  The narrow strips of window and skylights casting a playful air throughout the space, balancing the large windows that let the view flow out towards the water on the other.

Well proportioned, embracing vernacular architecture, and ensuring a light touch that nonetheless creates something special and a joy to be in.  My biggest add or alternate would have been to add a hearth.  Overall, a wonderful cabin retreat.

Rabbit Snare Gorge by Omar Gandhi Architect and Design Base 8

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Architecture Monday

June 18, 2018

Constraints can be fun, for they remove the paralysis of the blank slate, and call forth creativity and invention.  This project certainly had both in spades; for one, it’s a renovation (and perhaps adaptive reuse?) of a lovely and quirky stone building in an Italian hillside town, and for two, it’s absolutely tiny.  And it’s an apartment.

 

Here’s what the existing conditions brought:  a lofty space made of richly textured walls that constrict the further in you go thanks to walls not aligning.  It also brought a floor level that was several steps below the equally small entry yard.  Into that context, the renovation begins with an elevated deck and fire pit in the entry space, coupled with extended brick and rusted steel walls to create a private courtyard.

Inside, though, is a tonne of very cool additions and installations.  Most noticeably is the barrel vault that creates the second floor.  Much more than a flat ceiling would be, it maintains a sense of height (in what is not exactly a very high room) while also splitting the ground floor into different zones without walls or encroaching on the limited floor space.  Adding to this feel are the bits of built-in furniture and cabinets, especially the sofa/mantlepiece/fireplace that extends to accentuate the angular shape of the room.

Up the spiral staircase, a thickened closet becomes a restroom and shower, while on the opposite, angled, wall, the headboard grows in thickness to follow the closet and create depth between itself and the angled wall.  Nicest of all is the freestanding sink and mirror, a statuesque object next to the window (itself with a sweet thick steel plate sill) overlooking the mountains beyond.

My only quibble would be with the exposed wiring, not for its exposedness, but for its seeming lack of care.  In a space where there is a lot of play between the beautiful existing stone and the slickly crafted additions, the wiring occupies an awkward middle ground.

A very nicely done project, fully using the great character of the oddly shaped existing space and adding just what’s needed to make a beautiful abode.

Effegi House by Archiplan

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Architecture Monday

May 28, 2018

So, you want to build housing in an already developed urban area while keeping it affordable and avoid mass demolition and relocation.  Cool.  In that case, you can adaptive reuse, and/or build in the interstitial spaces, those little lots and underused and awkward side yards and alleyways.  In the case of Starter Home* 1 (the * is part of the name, not a footnote…), that’s exactly what OJT did.  Squeezed into a narrow lot in New Orleans, the home is pretty much what it says on the tin, a nice house for those just starting out.

Befitting the nature of the project, the constraints and surroundings of the site informed the design.  And while there are a few choices I’m not fond of, it is a nicely done solution.  The front face of the house starts low, to maintain the scale with its neighbors, before rising towards the rear, up to the maximum height allowed by code.  In addition, the front gutter and first of the sawtooth roof ridges closely align with the roofline of one of the ones next door, a subtle but harmonizing move that further ties the home to the community.

Inside, we have a two and a half level home, sporting an airy loft near the back.  I especially like the interval between the house and the cleaned muscular brick of its neighbor, as the space between acts both a lightwell and, with its gapless wood deck kissing the wall, a nice textured backdrop. The open plan and plethora of windows keeps the house feeling big and grand, ready to accommodate multitudes.  And if you want to curl up in a cozy spot, that loft’s got you covered.

It’s always great when a research project gets built to really test things out.  This one came out quite fine.

3106 St Thomas by OJT.

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Architecture Monday

May 7, 2018

I call this… playing with brick!

Saint Peter House by Estudio Tecali and Proyecto Cafeina

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Architecture Monday

April 2, 2018

Here’s a rather remarkable house renovation.  I say remarkable, because without being told I wouldn’t have known that it wasn’t new.  Done, as these things often are, on a budget, it uses a few creative moves to maximum effect, crafting some mighty fine living areas including a sweet roof garden.

Most noticeable of course is the new face to the house.  It’s very cool how just by using a simple repetitive pattern of darkly stained wood, punctuated by a few elements, such as the larger gaps between boards breaks it down into a grid within a grid, or how light comes through certain boards compared to others, makes the whole affair look like a finely crafted jewel box.  I especially like how the trellis punctuates things with it’s difference and its greenery.  The shadow play is also fun, both between all the boards but especially in the little bits such as off the water chain.

Inside, the space has been left largely open, with spaces mostly delineated by thickened cabinetry and shelving.  Lots of carefully crafted light, lots of space to move, lots of places to display books, knick knacks, and more.

It’s an oddly shaped and small site, but both the on-ground landscaping and that roof garden make the most of it.

This is solid work.  Modest comes to mind as a word, but most certainly not in a pejorative sense – there’s no reason why something done without unlimited funds and without grandiosity cannot be both done and done well.  This would be a great house to live in.

The Sparrow House by Samantha Mink