Hoedemaker Pfeiffer have designed a new home in the Pacific Northwest that was inspired by a treasured stone and wood home lost to fire decades earlier in the hills of Appalachia.The architects designed a main house and a guest house that take full advantage of the sweeping views of Puget Sound in Washington State, with the main home sited on a small plateau high on top of a steeply-sloping hillside. A pair of thick stone walls in the main home separates the main level into public and private realms and flanks a central stone staircase. Light wood, a sloped ceiling, and plenty of windows, ensure that the interior is bright and welcoming. There’s a built-in window seat for taking in the views, while doors connect the interior with the deck. The deck provides expansive views of Puget Sound. The master bedroom in main house has a similar design to the kitchen, with a window seat, a high sloped ceiling, and access to a deck. Also in the master bedroom is a simple, contemporary room divider that separates the closet from the sleeping area. The master bath occupies the stone bar at the rear of the main house but projects beyond to afford a view to the water from the bath and shower. The guest house features a dining room that was conceived as a three-sided glass object floating in a forest of trees. Below the dining room, there’s an alfresco dining area that’s lit from lights underneath the cantilevered dining room above.
KOTO [ KO-TO ] The traditional Finnish word for ‘cosy at home’ is made up of the design husband and wife design duo Johnathon Little and Zoe Little. Having spent the past decade in Oslo where Johnathon previously worked for Snohetta, Johnathon and Zoe wanted to acknowledge, not only the enduring minimal aesthetics of Scandinavian design they became attached to but the Nordic lifestyle and the value of a healthy work-life balance.
‘We are creating beautiful small buildings that allow people to connect with nature and embrace outdoor living.' Our ambition has been to create a lifestyle brand that is centred around the Nordic concept Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv), an expression that translates to “open-air living”.
Norwegian poet Ibsen described the term as the value of spending time in the remote outdoors for spiritual and mental wellbeing. KOTO are challenging how we think about buildings in the landscape from every angle, from construction to how they are used and the environmental impact at every step along the way. We have created an ‘off the shelf’ housing solution, that addresses the demands of our changing mindsets towards house buying.
‘They are a sculptural interpretation of the small buildings that you see across Europe, from Bothys to Alpine huts and Norwegian Hytte. These small pitched roof buildings are an integral part of the landscape and provide warmth, shelter and an opportunity to fully immerse in nature. That is the heart of the ethos at KOTO .'
Partnering with manufacturers Kudos has brought an exceptional level of experience and craftsmanship to the finished product and builds on years of their development of low energy, timber frame buildings. Koto’s modular concept allows for flexible living. 1, 2, 3 or 4-bed combinations with additional ‘add-ons’ including outdoor showers and saunas. Thinking about each living space as a separate design exercise has allowed us to create unique experiences in each space.
Throughout the buildings, expansive concealed storage walls maximise floor space and maintain the clean aesthetic. The space is flooded by natural light, cosy nooks and generous bespoke window seats, maximising use of space whilst connecting the user to the outside world. Although working with a relatively small footprint, the tall diagonal ridge opens up the spaces dramatically.
Each bedroom is designed to feel like a private retreat within the landscape, key pieces of furniture all from Hay have been curated to create a calm, minimal environment. Occupants can enjoy flexible space, to sleep, to relax and to disconnect. Features include concealed storage walls and fold down beds. Even though each ‘pod’ boasts a large glazed facade, they can be orientated in such a fashion they will always remain private. Continuing the Nordic aesthetic, each cabin has a Morsoe wood burning stove and neutral interiors create calm and elegant spaces.
The interiors in the ensuite bathroom give a striking contrast. Dark colours and copper Lusso fixtures bring a feeling of ‘noir opulence’, enveloping and awakening all senses. The black outdoor shower and add-on sauna cabin all add to the ‘spa' experience. The collection of KOTO buildings within the landscape can be ‘added to (or taken from)', reconfigured to the needs of the client and the constraints of the site. They are designed to last a lifetime and can even be relocated to a totally different site years later.
Photography - Joe Laverty
architect: mw works
location: Key Peninsula
area: 2,200 sq ft
photography: Jeremy Bittermann
Nestled into a forested slope along the eastern edge of the Case Inlet, this small retreat opens to a western view of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound. Anchored by a weathered cedar clad bedroom wing, a bold concrete cantilever projects the living and dining into the forest and toward the view. An ipe deck slips from inside the kitchen into a meadow to the south, separated only by large sliding glass doors extending the sense of interior directly to the outdoors. A broad flat roof hovers high above the living spaces creating the feeling that one is sitting outdoors amidst the trees. Smaller, thoughtfully placed apertures define the exterior of the bedroom volume, along with a single large opening belonging to the master bath to give the users a ritual of bathing within the forest. A balance of simple lines and rugged low maintenance materials, this modest retreat is a welcome sanctuary from the city.
American studio Walker Warner Architects has created an auxiliary dwelling for a northern California residence that consists of gabled volumes wrapped in reclaimed wood.
The project, Portola Valley Barn, is located in the town of Portola Valley, which lies just south of San Francisco. Built on a four-acre (1.6-hectare) property with a main residence, the new building houses guest quarters, an office, and spaces for entertaining and relaxing.
Encompassing 5,200 square feet (483 square metres), the dwelling consists of gabled forms that stretch across a clearing in a grove of trees. The volumes are loosely arranged around a terrace and verdant lawn. "The compound comprises three primary structures – a spacious home office, a home theatre and a luxurious guest suite – connected by interstitial entryways containing a kitchen and powder room," described Walker Warner Architects, a San Francisco-based studio.
The landscape was designed by Walker Warner Architects in collaboration with Janell Denler Hobart. Plantings include California lilacs, coffee berry and strawberry trees.
Photography is by Matthew Millman.
In Villa Rotonda, completed July 2010, the archetypical “house with saddle roof” has been abstracted to its vernacular essentials. The design of this house in Goirle is a collaboration of architects Pieter and Thomas Bedaux of Bedaux De Brouwer Architects. In the design they quietly continue the legacy of their grandfather Jos. Bedaux who started the firm in 1937. Yet, the building also showcases the minimalist modernist twist which they are better known for these days. The house is situated near a busy round-about with lots of noisy traffic. Measures had to be taken to guarantee a comfortable and quiet living space. This basic constraint became the leitmotiv for a building with two opposite characters; a closed-off protective side and an open inviting transparent side.The protective side is apparent when looking at the house from the round-about. The street façade is entirely closed with the exception of a single window. However, this doesn’t prelude a dark interior. Right behind the façade a patio with a water basin cleverly allows light to enter whilst pushing the living area’s even further back; away from the busy street. A long wall wraps around the perimeter of the lot. This wall ensures privacy and encloses the spacious garden. It makes it possible for the residents to enjoy light, air and the outside. Here, the inviting open side reveals itself. The garden façade is rendered completely transparent, displaying a collage of lively spaces. Glass extends from ground level up to halfway the second level. A recess in the first floor makes it possible to experience the full height. The result of these spatial inventions is that the garden is pulled inside even more.The house is clad in a medium gray brick with dark gray slate roof tiles. A material pallet typical of the Bedaux repertoire. The characteristic front façade chimneys also remind of earlier designs by previous generations.
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.
This is stuff I like, old and new, that I hope you do too.