Bloot Architecture have designed a minimalist house extension in The Netherlands, that contrasts the brick architecture of a 1927’s house.The architects used retractable glass walls, so that the fig tree in the backyard could easily be viewed and enjoyed, and the natural light could be enjoyed year round. A new kitchen was created inside the extension, and the dark cabinetry is a strong contrast to the white walls, ceiling, and light concrete floor. Adjacent to the kitchen is the dining room. When the glass walls of the extension are open, the home owners now have a semi-enclosed outdoor space that allows them to enjoy the back garden. The fully glazed facade has a minimal roof ledge, and from the inside, there are virtually no visual barriers to the outside. The construction of the extension is kept out of sight but for one plus-shaped column, which makes the roof of the extension appear to float.
The Sonoma WeeHouse is, in fact, not one but two houses—one main house and one guest house—on a hillside site in Santa Rosa, Calif., just north and west of the vineyard-rich region that gave it its name. These small, impeccably detailed, minimalist, weathering steel-clad boxes were designed by St. Paul, Minn.–based firm Alchemy Architects for a client that knows a thing or two about fine-detailing and minimalism: Apple’s senior design director of real estate and development, himself an architect who collaborated on the design.
The structures were designed as part of Alchemy’s WeeHouse system of modular, prefabricated houses. The 640-square-foot main structure, which features an ipe-lined interior and a 9-foot-tall sliding glass door on either side, was assembled in Oregon in two parts: a 16-foot by 40-foot module and a bolt-on porch, which were each shipped to the site largely complete. The 330-square-foot guest house, a single unit, followed suit. The steel-framed modules were then set on concrete plinths on site, ready to occupy. The porch cantilevers out over the hillside, offering views of the valley below, and it was this striking profile that caught the attention of the jury. “It’s so tiny, but quite dramatic,” David Baker said.
With such small footprints, not a single inch can be wasted. The main house features a whitewashed oak bed in the middle of the structures, with the frame forming the bedroom walls, and privacy screens pocket into the bathroom ceiling in lieu of traditional swinging doors. In the guest house, a built-in oak wardrobe serves as storage, and the wall of the bathroom. But throughout, the minimal palette is used to great effect. “I love the use of natural materials,” R. Michael Graham said.
Jim Olson, co-founder of Seattle architecture studio Olson Kundig, has made a series of additions to a bunkhouse he designed and built aged 18, as a first-year architecture student.
The Olson Cabin is located on a forested site in Longbranch, a village situated on a peninsula in the Puget Sound. The site has been in the Olson family since the early 1900s.
The project has involved numerous expansions over the decades to a 200-square-foot (19-square-metre) bunkhouse built in 1959. The tiny cabin, which sits atop stilts, was designed by Olson when he was a teenager. "When he was 18 years old and a first-year architecture student, his dad gave him $500 and said, 'Go build a bunkhouse'," said the team at Olson Kundig, founded by Olson in 1966 and later joined by Tom Kundig.
The cabin was first expanded in 1981, which resulted in three small pavilions linked by wooden platforms. Olson undertook more additions in 1997, 2003 and 2014, including the creation of several bedrooms, a living room with a large glass wall and a unifying roof. The dwelling now totals 2,400 square feet (223 square metres). With each modification, the architect has worked to preserve older elements. "Each successive expansion and remodel has reused and integrated the previous structure rather than erasing it, revealing the history of the architecture and the process of its evolution," the studio said. The architect has used simple and readily available materials at all stages of the cabin's evolution. Columns and beams are made of wood and steel. Walls are covered in plywood and recycled boards, with large expanses of glass offering views of the scenic terrain.
"The cabin is intentionally subdued in colour and texture, allowing it to recede into the woods and defer to the beauty of the landscape," the studio said. "Materials enhance this natural connection, reflecting the silvery hues of the overcast Northwest sky and tying the building to the forest floor."
New York studio T W Ryan Architecture has renovated a black house in the Long Island beach town of Montauk, using pale finishes inside to contrast the dark exterior of the gabled forms. Surf House comprises a couple of connected pitched-roof volumes on a sandy lot in Ditch Plains, a famous surf spot in Montauk, and spans 177 square metres. Two rows of houses separate the project from the beach. T W Ryan Architecture gutted and transformed the home for a young family, originally from coastal Ireland and now based in New York City's West Village.
The studio retained much of the exterior, but altered the layout – initially a garage in the lower gabled section and three small rooms squeezed into the top of the two-storey portion. A new wrapping stairwell housed inside a small extension now leads up to the upper floor, where the main living areas are located. Below are three bedrooms and a large bathroom, complete with an outdoor shower.
Ship-lap black cedar is laid vertically across the exterior, while the extension is lined with a "corduroy" of cedar battens.
The clients were living on a rural property east of Seattle but found themselves drawn back to the growing vibrancy and culture of the city. They loved the peaceful setting of their old home with its quietness and easy indoor/outdoor living but it was oversized for two people and two small dogs. The new project would distill their way of living into a smaller footprint, specifically tailored to their tastes and activities.
Helen Street is on the north edge of the Madison Valley neighborhood abutting the fringe of the Washington Park Arboretum, but within easy walking distance of the village center. Early design discussions focused on a simple modern structure with a purity of materials and a quiet palette constructed on a modest budget. The home should be open, light filled and private but also transparent and open to views to the landscape. Above all, the owners described a quiet design integrated with landscape that would create a tangible calmness in the home.
The concept grew from this premise, drawing complexity from the opportunities and constraints of an urban corner lot. A courtyard in the center of the site brings light and private outdoor space deeper into the site and serves as an organizational hub for the home. The sunnier south and western fringes of the site are reserved for gardens. Territorial view corridors helped identify where the building could be very transparent and where privacy was more important. The material palette was simple with a largely glassy main level with solid volumes crisply detailed in cement panels. Floating above, the roof plane and master suite are clad in naturally weathered cedar planks. Anchoring the house around the courtyard, the outdoor chimney and garden shed are clad in heavy reclaimed timbers, stacked and blackened.
Wedged between a block of terrace houses and a row of sixteen garages, the narrow, windowless West London storage shed that Notting Hill-based architectural practice De Rosee Sa was asked to turn into a two-bedroom home was far from ideal. Yet despite the spatial limitations and the tight planning constraints, De Rosee Sa managed to create a modern, daylight-filled, two-bedroom house of minimalist elegance and impeccable craftsmanship that nonetheless references the site’s industrial past.
The owners, who live across the road, bought the property containing an old timber yard in order to prevent it being overdeveloped. Its extremely narrow footprint and the impossibility of having windows along its 37 metre-long boundaries, coupled with strict planning limitations that dictated that the new building could not exceed the existing one-storey structure in height, posed serious challenges in converting the run-down shed into a modern residence. To overcome these hurdles, the architects incorporated several skylights and a series of small courtyards to inundate the aptly names Courtyard House with natural light.
The courtyard walls are clad in Western Red Cedar battens, which together with the steel-frame glazing allude to the site’s history as a timber storage yard. The timber battens continue inside, cladding the two small auxiliary volumes on the back of the courtyards that house a guest toilet, a study niche and a utility room, further blurring the distinction between the indoors and outdoors. The cedar striated surfaces, along with the herringbone-patterned parquet flooring, are the only textural elements inside the house softening the otherwise stern, minimalist interiors of crisp white surfaces.
Eschewing ornamental flourishes, the house is sparsely furnished with an eclectic selection of vintage and rustic pieces that elegantly complement a refined aesthetic that harmoniously oscillates between modernity and quaintness, and speak to the fact that “once inside, you forget that this house is in London”...
Architectuuratelier De Jaeghere
Villa NTT despite being located in the centre of a city, gives the impression of being in a park. A short avenue guides the visitor to a deeper area that is first surrounded by large, majestic trees and then opens with a view of Poelberg. The slope of the terrain and the favourable south orientation enhance this sense of openness. The new villa is built on the site of a previous house. The same volume was requested as the demolished villa: a ground floor with a gabled roof. The architects have optimised this precondition for a linear and thin volume with a gable roof that responds to the maximum to its environment. The result is a recognizable volume with a minimalist composition, white walls and dark exterior carpentry. The façade has a fairly closed character. Once inside, the visitor quickly faces the view through the long glass façade. The rhythm of the glazing and the columns gives the impression of a gallery. The terrace table reinforces the link between the interior and the exterior, and creates an additional spatial experience in relation to the slope of the garden. The long canopy on the back wall prevents intense sunlight and creates a transition to the outside area.
Something similar that I tried to do some years ago as a low-cost house for my own family in Warton, Lancashire
An artist's cottage on the edge of a lake in the Scottish Highlands has been named as the UK's best house of 2018.
Lochside House, a cottage designed by Haysom Ward Millar Architects, was chosen from a shortlist of seven projects to win the RIBA House of the Year prize.
Cambridge-based Haysom Ward Millar Architects designed the property as the home for a ceramic artist. Made up of three humble buildings, the house is crafted from natural materials that complement its scenic location.
Charred Scottish larch clads the building's exterior, which is shielded behind a traditional drystone wall. Inside is bright but pared-back, with highlights including ceilings lined in oiled timber, a focal fireplace and large windows framing views of the lake and mountains. The house is also off-grid – it produces its own electricity from solar panels, and sources clean water from its own borehole.
RIBA president Ben Derbyshire described the house as "the perfect addition to this dream landscape".
By containing its scale, sensitively positioning the crop of buildings on a promontory around established trees, and making use of local materials, the architects have created a home which perfectly responds to its exposed, unique location.
Architect: HaysomWardMiller Architects
Contractor: Spey Building and Joinery
Structural engineer: Peter Brett Associates
Quantity surveyor: Torrance Partnership
Energy consultant: EcoFirst Consult
This guest house is the first of three structures to be built alongside a winding lane atop a ridge in the Santa Lucia Preserve, positioned five miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The vast rolling topography is filled with sea breezes, warm sun, panoramic views of the Santa Lucia Mountains, and a forest of ancient live oaks and madrones.
Once part of a historic cattle ranch, the site will be marked by a procession of three stone chimneys. The second of these chimneys currently rises from a long wall that borders the guest house and its swimming pool, and much like an ancient barrier or urban boundary, serves to establish a personal enclosure. The wall’s tapering edge suggests a long history, yet the architecture is distinctly modern. Here a simple, timber-framed shed springs from the stone wall, supporting naturally weathered zinc roofing over cedar-clad volumes.
The guest house takes advantage of passive design opportunities in its temperate climate. Expansive windows provide natural lighting throughout, while a broad overhang shades interiors from the summer sun. Sliding doors and operable windows use the prevailing winds for natural ventilation, as well as expansive views of the surrounding mountain range. Wood flooring in the living spaces is reclaimed from an old barn structure.
As visitors arrive to the property, they will pass the first chimney marker at the barn, proceed past the existing guest house, and end at a drive culminating in a stone-enclosed courtyard marked by yet another chimney and the primary house for the family, now in design.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architects
Photo: Nic Lehoux
Woori is a minimal home located in Melbourne, Australia, designed by Inbetween Architecture. Located on the first floor of a 1960s apartment building in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Toorak, this apartment has canopy views and a sense of privacy rarely found in such a location. The rooms are generous, but the 1980s renovation was looking tired. The living space felt internalized despite the garden outlook and north facing position, and the floor plan was not conducive to today’s contemporary open-plan living.
Tasked with giving the apartment a ‘refresh’, we challenged the client to also consider giving the floor plan a few tweaks; a dressed up 1960s floor plan is still a 1960s floor plan. The original kitchen with adjoining meals area, while large, was completely separated from the dining and living rooms and the access to the balcony was awkwardly tucked away in a corner of the living room. The biggest alteration was removing the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms to create open-plan kitchen / dining and give the kitchen a view to the garden. The meals area was reconfigured to create a walk-in pantry with casual meals catered for at the new island bench.
At the heart of this project was the need to give the apartment a cosmetic refresh. There were some oddities from the previous renovation, but the bones were always good. The approach was to simplify and streamline, to create a feeling of freshness, openness and light. We worked within the existing constraints, such as layout of wet areas and locations of existing fixtures, but dramatically updated the look through a coordinated and refined selection of new fixtures and finishes. By making small tweaks, we were able to improve the functionality of the spaces within their existing general layouts. Approaching the project with a consistent material and colour palette provides continuity throughout the apartment. Working with a limited base palette reduces the visual clutter and allows the selected features to stand out against a more subdued backdrop.
This is stuff I like, old and new, that I hope you do too.