Shrouded House is a discreetly opulent residence for a young, design-aware family of four (plus a Labrador retriever) in Toorak, considered the most prestigious neighborhood in Melbourne, Australia.
Inarc Architects was in charge of the architecture and interiors of the project, completed in February, with Allison Pye Interiors consulting on the interior design and furnishings.
The 13-room residence consists of the 850 square-meter (9,150 sq. ft) main house plus the 300 square-meter (3,330 sq. ft) basement, and the 70 square-meter (753 sq. ft) poolside cabana. The previous house and the earlier landscaping on the site were demolished. The new landscaping replaces most of the removed trees, and responds to the needs of the new house and its residents.
The project gained its moniker Shrouded House from the main feature: the effective screening of the slightly twisting and turning exterior from the adjoining properties and the street by bronze aluminum battens. Used throughout the exterior, the battens give the structure its homogenous coloring and its sense of lightness.
Bronze, steel and glass give the residence its contemporary sculptural presence yet they also allow light and clouds play on, reflect and penetrate the structure, which makes the entire building appear smaller and less monolithic. The effective use of these materials also helps connect the exterior to the interior spaces.
As the structure is also broken up into smaller-scale components, the sizeable house does not appear overly imposing or grandiose.
The interior is open, warm and light-filled with white, sandstone and oak surfaces linking the spaces together.
I love the understated way in which the designers have interpreted the family’s needs of privacy, warmth and openness through timeless, understated architecture.
Over the past seven years, at our creative agency, Access, we have worked with a number of residential and commercial property developers from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, helping them with development and strategy.
Yet we see so often the sad sight of yet another mediocre building going up. We see city councils approving mediocre design and we see cities looking uglier because of it. We see property developers rushing to get their building up, wanting to make a quick sale and profit, and not really caring or thinking about the aesthetics of the building.
Does the building enhance the surrounding area or make it worse? Will the building still look great 10, 15 or 20 years from now? Will it become an iconic landmark and a beloved site, or will it become a dated gimmick?
Property developers — and city councils — need to wake up and realize their influence on the cityscape and take that role seriously. This is the case not just for residential development — the same applies to office buildings, hotels and all public buildings in general.
The aesthetic of a building should be the Number One priority. There is not much point in creating and promoting beautiful interiors when the exterior tells a different story. The whole building should tell a cohesive story.
So many developers do not see the value, or even think about the aesthetics of the car park, for example. Would it hurt to splash some colour and graphic design on the concrete? Would it hurt to make the lifts and foyer more like those of a great hotel and less like a jail or a warehouse?
What amenities does the building provide? Is there a café, a library, a car wash? Engage us and wow us to the point that we cannot wait to sign on the bottom line! Excite us enough that when you go to market, so much buzz has been created that the units sell in 24 hours and at the price you asked for.
If a building is desirable and unique, and offers something truly beautiful, trust us, consumers WILL buy. It’s a no brainer, yet so many buildings keep going up that do the absolute minimum. They may tick off a few boxes and get the interior right, but not the rest. It’s not enough.
Your potential buyers, the couples and the mums and dads and even grandparents are design conscious these days. The internet has opened everyone’s eyes to what is possible. People browse sites all over the globe, they learn, they engage in design. Design is no longer a closed shop. It is everyone’s.
Kids growing up now understand that design plays a crucial role in everything they consume, from the car they buy to the clothes they wear, to the headphones they listen to, to the cookware they cook, to the hotels they stay.
My advice to developers and city councils: Save yourself a lot of money, time and headache, and get it right the first time!
Take design seriously
Much architectural jargon has been lavished on this Tribeca warehouse loft renovation but we just like the look of the cool, dynamic, elongated space.
This is not exactly a cozy home but its brutalist strength fits an old Manhattan warehouse well.
The Inverted Warehouse Townhouse has received numerous U.S. awards. It is the creation of Dean-Wolf Architects of New York, where architect Charles Wolf were in charge of the project.
We like the visible stairs that create a sense of lift and movement upward. We like the large surfaces of brick, steel and glass. We like the visibility between floors and from space to space that solves the potential problem of dark boxy rooms inside a windowless warehouse.
It is an impressive conversion of a loft (of 10,500 square feet) within a vast warehouse that covers the entire lot, leaving no room for outside space, garden or patio.
The main achievements of Dean-Wolf’s work are cutting the roof open to let the natural light in and then using glass panels to let it shine into the dark centre of the expansive structure.
By doing this, they also created “outdoor” space inside, making the residence feel like it has a courtyard. They also created a large garden deck off the main living room.
To open up the key areas of the residence to this natural light, the main entry, via an elevator, is now on the fifth floor where public spaces and the bedrooms, playrooms and study are located. In a more typical townhouse, this “parlor” floor would be accessed through the front steps of the building. – Tuija Seipell
Itiquira House – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Aaaahhhhhh… Relaxing and breathing deeply. It may not come as a surprise to anyone that this would be our reaction this exquisitely refurbished residence, located in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
It has so many of the features we love. The structure seems to belong to the site. The indoor spaces connect with the outdoors, and the subtle surface textures and materials showcase the art and the mid-century modernist vibe of the furnishings.
There is visual room to breathe, to see. There’s space to enjoy the art, distance to appreciate the gardens.
It lacks all of the typical design-magazine photo-session set-ups; the painfully over-staged vignettes, the overly sterile designer look. There is no ego or bravado, just ease and style. This is cool without trying to be cool; dramatic without all the drama.
This is that confident, mature style that is so difficult to achieve and impossible to fake.
The white, colonial-style house has good bones to start with: unobtrusive scale and proportions, spectacular site with access to views, natural building materials.
It is also surrounded by sublime mature gardens originally designed by the late Roberto Burle Marx, the designer of the Copacabana Beach Promenade with its distinctive, black-and-white Portuguese geometric wave pattern.
But the already great structure of this house was improved by a recent, complete overhaul by Brazilian architect Gisele Taranto.
The 1,500 square-meter (about 16145 square feet) house consists of two blocks. The larger block is the main family residence, the smaller one accommodates staff rooms, laundry, garage, home theater and the spa that is directly connected with the outside pool and patio area.
Taranto retained this division of functions, but rearranged most of the rooms and built two additional spaces on top of the existing ones: a home office with a roof-top garden on top of the residence, and an additional two-bedroom apartment for staff on top of the other block.
To provide better access to the outside, new, much larger windows and sliding glass doors were created. Wooden exterior slat screens and a wide canopy all around the house were built to provide protection from the extreme sunlight and heavy rains of the area.
High-quality natural materials, such as corten steel, limestone, marble and peroba do campo wood are used throughout, but they remain as a subtle background for the art and furnishings.
In this project, Taranto collaborated once again with Brazilian lighting designer Maneco Quinderé and landscape designer Gilberto Elkins. Tuija Seipell
Villa Veth is a modern, customized villa, a private residence for a family of four. It is situated on a large parcel of land by a forest near the idyllic town of Hattem in the eastern part of the Netherlands.
Although the structure from some angles resembles today’s favorite and by now highly overused form – long, narrow boxes situated at odd angles – the design of this villa manages to avoid that cliché by locating only one floor above ground. The result is a classic, modern residence that functions well for the family inhabiting it, yet looks like it could have existed since the 1950s.
The ground floor and principal living area of the two-storey residence is divided into two. On one side are the master bedroom and two kids’ bedrooms — all with separate bathrooms — plus two small studios.
The other half –the south-facing side — of the floor plan is taken up by an open-concept living area that includes the kitchen, dining and living spaces. One wall of the living area is constructed of frameless curved glass, enabling a seamless connection with the outdoors.
In addition, this space opens up to a vast, unadorned terrace or platform, part of which is covered and equipped with floor heating. The first floor also includes a small separate play and TV-room, a laundry and a tiny powder room.
The total floor surface area of the residence is 475 square meters (about 5,113 square feet). 123DV is an architectural firm that specializes in modern villas and supervises the entire construction process. Tuija Seipell
October 26 2011
Predisposed as we are to loving all things that involve curving wood, natural light and minimalism, it is not surprising we fell head over heels in love with this exquisite chapel. It is made with 20 tons of unadorned wood and not a single nail or metal fitting.
It is called Capela Árvore da Vida- Seminário Conciliar de Braga — The Tree of Life Chapel at St. James Seminary in Braga, Portugal.
Built inside the existing seminary, the chapel was designed by architects António Jorge Cerejeira Fontes and André Cerejeira Fontes, with sculptural work by sculptor Asbjörn Andresen.
All three are with the Braga-based Imago, also known as Cerejeira Fontes Architects – Imago Atelier de Arquitectura e Engenharia. Andersen is a Norwegian sculptor, who lectures and works in Sweden, Norway and Portugal. The Cerejera Fontes brothers are both engineers and architects currently pursuing PhDs in Urban Planning.
Other participants in the beautiful chapel project include sculptor Manuel Rosa, painter Ilda David, the organ builder Pedro Guimarães, Italian photographer Eduardo di Micceli and civil engineer Joaquim Carvalho.
The chapel functions as an intimate prayer room, a place of quiet contemplation for those living in the seminary. Every detail of the structure and its adornments draws its origins from the Bible. Even the overall floor plan and structural solutions echo the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.
There is an intimate and gentle connection between the outside world and the chapel itself, with an inviting, fluid pathway leading into the space, instead of a categorical doorway with a heavy, excluding door.
The structure resembles a hut, a boat, a honeycomb or a forest. The wooden slats — that also provide shelving for books — and the open ceiling allow light to play its magic at all times of the day. This is a time-lapse video of the building process here. – Tuija Seipell
exclusively by photographer Nelson Garrido.
This stunning house, perched on the hillside above Lake Lugano in Switzerland, certainly takes advantage of the views of the lake and the idyllic, historic village of Brusino Arsizio with its population just under 500.
The residence and office, designed by Milan-based architect Jacopo Mascheroni of JM Architecture for a financial consultant and her family, consists of two sections: a rounded glass pavilion and a reinforced concrete structure that is partially inserted into the mountain.
The client asked for maximum access to the views, but otherwise allowed the architect creative freedom to imagine an exceptional house that clings to the hillside.
A 3,700 square-foot glass house forms the most visible part of the residence and resembles a viewing pavilion of a major sightseeing attraction. It is an open-concept living space, with a white-walled central section that contains the kitchen, bathroom, stairway, storage and mechanical room.
The underground level houses the entry hall, three bedrooms, two baths, an office, laundry, staircase, and playroom. The bedrooms open to an inner courtyard garden.
Radiant heating, use of natural light, geothermal heat pumps and a rainwater collection system are the main environmentally friendly features of the structure.
Jacopo Mascheroni was born in 1974 in Milan and worked for Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects in San Francisco and Richard Meier & Partners in New York City before founding JM Architecture in 2005.
The firm has completed several major residential projects for private clients, as well as commercial and retail spaces. – Tuija Seipell
Right beside the stairs leading from the relocated living room to the new kitchen, is a new central courtyard that encircles an existing mature banksia tree.
The materials and colors are minimalist and pure: raw concrete, glass, white walls and spotted gum hardwood.
The interior design by Janice Chenchow of Chenchow Little, veers toward mid-century modernist with several Scandinavian and Italian pieces including a Woodnotes’ hand-tufted wool “Sammal” carpet (Finnish for “moss”) carpet in the color “Ice.” We also love the lighting choices, especially “Parentesi” designed by Achille Castiglioni & Pio Manzuʻ for FLOS.
Susanne Nobis has the enviable privilege of living in this gorgeous, tranquil house in Berg by Lake Starnberg (Starnberger See), a popular southern Bavarian recreation area for the residents of the nearby city of Munich.
As both the client and the designer, engineer/architect Nobis designed the home and office for her own four-member family and for her architectural practice.
It is a beautifully minimalist, modern take on a traditional twin wooden boathouse, popular by the lake. While the boathouses are on stilts over the water, Nobis’s house is on 60-centimeter high illuminated legs.
This gives the house its wonderful, impermanent, hovering feel but it was in fact a necessity in this location where the ground water rises very high. This also meant that everything must fit in the space above ground — no basement or cellar possible.
The structure, mainly of wood and glass, includes two separate but connected houses. House one includes living, eating and cooking functions on the ground floor, and the “gallery” above it.
In the second house, two offices and guest room are on the ground floor, bedrooms and bathrooms above it.
Nobis’s goals were to provide ample views of the lake, to let as much natural light in as possible and to not interfere with the surrounding nature or old trees.
She also wanted to use materials sparingly and economically, and to reduce everything to its essential beauty, purpose and function. Shelving and stairs of metal and wood, open storage, minimal furniture — all give the house its clarity and lightness.
The structure is long and narrow, but thanks to the use of glass and wooden slats, it appears almost transparent.
Nobis says that in essence, the house is nothing more than a shelter from the climate, a space where one can move as freely as possible. We envyingly agree. – Tuija Seipell.
Ideally, wouldn’t we all like to live in a climate where outdoor living is possible year-round? And wouldn’t we love to live in a space where the divide between indoors and outdoors is non-existent? São Paulo-based Fernanda Marques achieved this idealistic balance in her Loft 24-7 residence, presented at the CasaCor exhibition in São Paulo, Brazil.
In the 250-square-meter (about 2,700 square feet) space, Marques has erased the barriers by using “outdoor” elements inside and “indoor” elements outside and creating easy visual links between the two. Limestone, rough stone, steel, glass, wood paneling and furnishings that speak to the architect’s modernist style, all create a harmonious, seamless environment where you are never quite in and never quite out.
Fernanda Marques is the chief architect at Fernanda Marques Arquitetos Associados that is involved in both residential and commercial architecture, interior design, furniture design and real estate. – Tuija Seipell.