When Belgian architect Wonne Ickx and Spanish curator Ruth Estévez bought a small 1910 row house in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City ten years ago, the building was in rough shape, with earthquake-damaged floors and an awkward layout. After spending the past seven years living and teaching in Los Angeles, Ickx and Estévez have returned to the house with their two sons—but only after transforming it into a colorfully finished home. Originally built as a suburban playground for Mexico City’s captains of industry, Roma slipped into impoverishment and was eventually engulfed by the 20-million-strong megalopolis. The devastating 1985 earthquake, which killed thousands and leveled countless historic buildings, exacerbated the situation; the disaster was particularly brutal to the neighborhood, which sits on loose clay soil. In recent years, though, the area has finally seen a change in its luck. Filled with galleries, restaurants, art studios, and offices, the once-down-trodden neighborhood is taking part in Mexico City and its rich design scene. Read the full walkthrough on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Posts tagged with "Residential Architecture":
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an AN interview series. On October 17, 2019, Isabella Calidonio and Tanvi Rao, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Jennifer Bonner, principal of MALL. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN for clarity. Isabella Calidonio and Tanvi Rao: Can you tell us how MALL began, and more generally about your path from graduate school at Harvard to today? Jennifer Bonner: I finished at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 2009, almost exactly when the recession started. I had already worked in London for Foster and Partners and David Chipperfield Architects, but I wanted to work for another architect before I started my own practice. Unfortunately, there were no job openings anywhere, so I applied to teach at various schools. Georgia Tech offered me an adjunct position for a semester. The question then became, “How do you start teaching and build a practice at the same time?” I next started wondering what the name of my office should be. Perhaps it would have been more beneficial to first ask myself where I would find clients! I began with Studio Bonner with full intentions of getting licensed and using the word architect in the name of my firm, but that never happened. My work at that time, during the recession, was directly linked to academia and the majority of the projects were speculative ideas installed in galleries or within the institutions where I was teaching. After practicing for five years, I moved to Cambridge to teach at the GSD with an ambition to rethink the identity of my practice. That's when MALL was born. A lot of people use their own name and a lot of people use acronyms… There are two kinds of acronyms: SOM, which is an acronym for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the founding partners, but if you ask your generation, most do not know their names or what it stands for. The second model would be the acronym OMA, or Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which has nothing to do with Rem Koolhaas’s name. I was more interested in the OMA model, and imagining an acronym that is flexible and might even change from project to project. There have been a few different variations, "Mass Architectural Loopty Loops" and "Maximum Angles, Little Lines." Beyond the name, the practice has been running for about ten years now. The first five years were hard work, figuring out my architectural interests by setting up a series of conceptual projects, while the last five have been really enjoyable and productive, and include building those ideas. What is it like to run an office by yourself? During my first three years in practice, I partnered with Christian Stayner, an architect in Los Angeles. It was a very useful time to gain momentum together, especially in the beginning of our careers. Now we are working independently and developing very different types of projects. That partnership and pursuing public art projects was one way of coping with the recession. Today, MALL is what I call a “one-woman band” and I hire various employees on a project-by-project basis. It is liberating to run an office on my own and to define what that looks like. You are a mother, a sole-practitioner, a curator, a writer, an Associate Professor and Director of the M.Arch II program at Harvard. How do you manage to stay afloat, and how do you bring together all of these different identities? In particular, do you reflect often on your identity as a female architect? Last year I won a Progressive Architecture Honorable Mention Award. Apart from one other firm, eight other winners were male, and it got me thinking about the importance of being a female solo-practitioner. I also asked myself “Why aren't there more women winning these awards?” and whether I should be teaching less and practicing more. At the same time, I wondered how I could devote hours to teaching and administrative roles while also making highly creative work? Part of the magic at MALL is the ability to remain small and to be highly selective about what projects that I take on. Most projects begin with a research question, not an inquiry from a client. In the case of the PA Award, the project began four years ago as a body of conceptual work titled “Best Sandwiches”, later, we pitched it to several developers as a midrise tower, “Office Stack”. To answer your question about how I balance all of these roles, after a decade of being in the thick of it all… I couldn’t imagine it any other way. We know that you're really interested in pop culture, and encourage your students to look outside of the discipline for ideas about representation. Can you talk a bit about your sources of inspiration and how you incorporate them into practice and teaching? I am inspired by popular culture and tendencies found in art. I often wonder if art can push architecture in new directions today. I believe it's possible. For example, when selecting materials for Haus Gables, I was looking at contemporary art practices and traditions found in the American South, not references from the discipline of architecture. From a geographic standpoint, I'm constantly moving… seemingly every three years over the past two decades and so I'm always in a different city, which creates a persistent curiosity that encourages me to carefully observe the world around me. I also believe that Instagram is very useful for this as well, because now I have access to what others are observing in the world even if I’m sitting in a basement studio space in Cambridge. Regarding teaching, I just started a new course at Harvard called “Representation First (!!!), Then Architecture.” We’re not looking at architectural representation. We’re looking at art practice, popular culture, and material found in the every day, as a way to encourage inspiration from places other than within our own discipline. We’re looking at cake decorating techniques from the 18th century which include intricate piping from French masters, but also methods found in America with the use of marzipan in the 1950s. Other things we obsess over in that course… food photography, 1980s bubble letters, or the origins of clipart. Perhaps these cultural eccentricities can offer architectural design and representation something new, or at least unexpected. When you share your work, have you found that these non-architectural influences and modes of representation resonate with a broader audience? Do you alter your presentations relative to your audience? It’s important to know your audience, but I don’t think we have to make such a strong distinction between academic audiences and the general public. I’m interested in using devices that already have a broad appeal—like the image of a gable or the medium of a guidebook—to draw people in, to educate them by making them feel included in a discussion about architecture. For example, in the interior of Haus Gables, I wanted to select a material palette that linked the house to local cultures in Atlanta. The soft white wood used in the primary structure of the house draws associations to Scandinavian architecture. But I was building a house in Atlanta, in Goodie Mob’s “Dirty South”… it couldn’t have been a Scandinavian house. I put pressure on myself to create environments on the interior that resonate with Atlanta’s aesthetic culture. This is where the faux finishing comes in. There is a tradition of faux finishing, where southerners could not afford precious materials such as Italian marble and instead painted it onto domestic surfaces. To answer your question about audience… is it locals who rent the house out for amateur photoshoots with big ambitions to “fake it until you make it”, or the fan base for Atlanta rapper Mulatto who shot her “Longway” video there, or is it architectural academia all along? Perhaps it’s all of them. Beyond incorporating faux finishes in Haus Gables, we see a very playful array of colors, patterns, shapes, and textures on the interior. How did you select these interior finishes? Is it simply a matter of taste or is there some science behind it? It may be bit of playing out taste… you have to start somewhere. But the design of the interior environments was also very intentional and conceptually oriented. There is an idea about combining expensive materials with inexpensive materials, like rubber vinyl you might see in hospitals or fake wood vinyl from Home Depot. The expensive materials elevate the inexpensive ones. So, there is an economic argument to make here, too. Overall, each room took on a unique identity relative to the material selections. To reinforce difference, transitioning between rooms and around corners became important moments. When I received the final architectural photographs of the house, I saw something that I did not anticipate. All of the colors tend to flatten space. It reminds me of a trend in contemporary fashion—color blocking—where bright yellow, pink, and mint green become a color block. In one 55’ long view through the house, you can see similarities to color blocking in fashion as the bedroom, dining room, and kitchen start to look like a Marni sweater. It's interesting that you've thought so much about the color and the overall visual experience of the interior of Haus Gables. Why is the exterior white? The cross-laminated timber that is exposed on the interior is monochromatic. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a soft white wood. And I knew that the finishes should be kind of daring or bold, to create an environment that the soft white wood could not create alone. The idea for the exterior in white was really because of Domestic Hats, a project that served as the conceptual precursor to Haus Gables. I was drawn to the idea that Haus Gables is a full-scale model, almost a replica of one of the massing models I created for Domestic Hats. So white, as a color, links the built house to the white foam architectural massing model. The exterior of the house also has a unique texture. I was inspired by John Chase’s Glitter Stucco & Dumpster Diving. In that book, Chase writes about how ordinary houses in Los Angeles finished with stucco are often additionally finished by the owner with glitter… to make the house sparkle. A kind of upgrade. The glitter in Haus Gables is a reference to this phenomenon in Los Angeles. I was also inspired by Mary Corse, who painted with glass beads. The same glass beads that are used by the Department of Transportation in road striping. Chase’s Glitter Stucco and Corse’s reflective beads become a “dash finish” in the façade of Haus Gables. Maybe it's a house with way too many ideas, but it was my first building at MALL, I couldn’t help myself! We recently learned that Haus Gables had no client. How did this affect the design, and what was it like to design a house without a client? I have a bunch of family members… aunts, uncles, sister, mom, dad, but none of them have asked me to design a house and it’s fair to say that they don't see the value in architecture. And then there's me… I've invested 20 years of my life in architecture. As you may know, many architects receive their first commissions from a family member. This was not going to happen for me. We, meaning me and my husband, decided we had to do it ourselves. We bought a piece of land in Atlanta when we were teaching at Georgia Tech, and applied for a construction loan. On one hand, there's a lot of freedom. Nobody was presenting demands like where to put the bathroom or how many closets to have. But there's still a budget, and there's tremendous stress associated with taking on the financial risk of such an experimental construction project. For example, the CLT panels were from Austria and required payment in full before they started manufacturing the product. That doesn’t totally align with bank financing. Overall, there were many difficulties as a result of moving forward without a client. Still… it was totally worth it! I believe I was able to achieve several of MALL’s architectural ideas faster than if there was a traditional client involved. We just have one more question. What has been the most rewarding moment in your practice thus far? That’s an easy question for me to answer. Completing Haus Gables has been the most rewarding moment. To build something after talking about it for years and years… it was very liberating and very rewarding. Despite the struggle to get it built, I wouldn't change a thing.
One Thousand Museum, the Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)-designed residential tower opposite Miami’s Museum Park, has been documented in detail by Hufton & Crow in a newly released photo series. Incorporating Hadid’s signature curves and an exoskeleton, the 62-story structure was the late Hadid’s last residential tower design and was completed posthumously in July 2019. Boasting views of Biscayne Bay, the 30-acre Museum Park site was redeveloped in 2013 in an effort to increase public space surrounding downtown Miami’s cluster of art and science museums. Known for its distinctive concrete superstructure, the exterior of One Thousand Museum reflects ZHA research into high-rise construction, blending an expressive “web of flowing lines” with solid structural support. The building’s diagonal bracketing system provides strength against powerful hurricane winds, and base columns fan out as the tower rises to meet at the corners, resulting in a tube-like shape that provides additional resistance against wind. “The design expresses a fluidity that is both structural and architectural,” explained ZHA’s project director Chris Lepine in a press statement. “The structure gets thicker and thinner as required, bringing a continuity between the architecture and engineering.” Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) used in the formwork creates an architectural finish requiring minimal maintenance, and that “crystal-like facade” balances the heavy concrete features of the structure. The interior offers slightly different plans on each floor as a result of the exoskeleton’s curvature. Terraces on lower-floor units cantilever from the corners while upper-floor terraces are incorporated behind the concrete lines. In addition to its 84 residential units, One Thousand Museum features landscaped gardens, an aquatic center, an event space, and on-site parking for residents.
In Santa Barbara, Valencia (the original, Eastern Spanish municipality, not the Western U.S. incarnation), a green grid can found rising out of the landscape. Embedded into the same stone as the nearby 758-year-old Valencia Cathedral, the grid is, in fact, a house designed by London-based studio Space Popular with local architects Estudio Alberto Burgos and Javier Cortina Maruenda. “We've never built anything in concrete, I doubt we ever will,” Space Popular cofounder Fredrik Hellberg told AN Interior. “We try and avoid it, to be honest.” It’s a statement that only ten years ago, back when Hellberg and his wife and fellow co-founder Lara Lesmes were studying at the Architectural Association, would’ve garnered odd looks from their peers. Now, however, the conversation around the most destructive material on earth has changed. So instead of building with concrete, Hellberg and Lesmes have opted for steel and brick. This marriage of the two materials, though, is not as you’d expect. Rather than employing a brick facade to mask a steel frame, almost the opposite is at play here. While steel still serves as a structural frame, it is by no means hidden. Painted green and proudly on display in the form of a grid, composed of 12-feet wide cubes, the steel is a mere four inches thick and feels incredibly delicate. The tectonic distich is completed with loadbearing Guastavino vaults that span various parts of the full structure in half and quarter-width iterations. It’s a language that is spoken throughout the house—both internally and externally, with flourishes like a brick-vaulted staircase and green trident railings dotted in every corner. “We wanted to eliminate all thresholds between the inside and outside,” Lesmes said. This objective was achieved through a semi-internal courtyard, sliding doors, and by having the gridded structure cover the entire plot, besides the pool area. The house is currently up for rent but the developer has plans to sell it in the long run. “To have a grid superstructure creates a sense of possibility—you can add a lot of awnings etc.,” Lesmes added. “Hopefully [the eventual owners] will cover the structure with plants, netting, a hammock, or fabrics to delineate shaded areas, that will create a sense of boundary.” Read the full project profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Unlike old-money elites, who are more likely to adhere to long-established aesthetic traditions, self-made upstarts are often more accepting to changing styles. Hoping to become trendsetters, these parvenus often align themselves with other fledgling talents or those attempting to redefine their respective disciplines. Though this transaction brings challenges, coming up in society together can be a great advantage. Putting trust in creatives who have yet to prove themselves can be risky. However, the ability to defend each other’s approach, pool resources, and share the limelight ensures that both parties achieve some form of success. One has only to think of the emerging European industrial class in the late 19th century and its appropriation of the art nouveau style as a means to differentiate itself from the old guard, assert its new affluent position, and express its progressive values. In turn, this new societal group was able to offer support for a nascent architectural movement. There is no better precedent for this exchange, especially since the early 20th century, than the relationships that have formed between celebrities and architects. Entertainment superstars have often called on their design counterparts to design homes that represent their wildest dreams. In many cases, architects are given carte blanche and limitless budgets. Such projects offer them the chance to flex their muscles and to express new styles or articulate new theories. A recently-opened exhibition at the Villa Noailles in Hyères, France, seeks to better understand this particular phenomenon. Curated by Audrey Teichmann, Benjamin Lafore, and Sébastien Martinez Barat, Houses for Superstars L’architecture hypermédiatisée surveys this theme from different perspectives. Read the full story on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an AN interview series. On September 3, 2019, Ella Arne and Eliza Williamson, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Benjamin Freyinger and Andrew Holder of the Los Angeles-based The LADG. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN and was lightly condensed for clarity. Ella Arne and Eliza Williamson: Thank you for joining us. Our first question is a very simple one; how and when did your practice start? Andrew Holder: We started our practice when we were still students. Ben and I were in graduate school at UCLA from 2002 to 2005, and we began working on our first project together at the end of 2004. If you look at the older projects in our portfolio, you’ll see stores for a ski boot retailer called Surefoot. Surefoot in Vail, Colorado was our first project. I don’t think we intended to form a durable corporate entity at that time, and it wasn’t our intention to be a practice forever. The Surefoot store was our first opportunity and was followed very quickly by a residential remodel in downtown Los Angeles and a loft building across the street from SCI-Arc. But to the original question, “How did it start?”... we were raised on a myth of how architecture firms start. You sit down and write to clarify your position in the world. After that is absolutely clear to yourself and others, you begin to work. Our experience was almost exactly the opposite… the work came first. What is the identity of your practice, and how has it changed over the years? We started our practice during boom years for construction in Los Angeles. It was a good time to be an architect. For the first four years, we were totally consumed with work and executing projects commissioned by various clients. During the financial crisis of 2008 it became clear to us that architecture purely as a service for the market was not enough for us. We decided that we needed another layer of activity or set of incentives to impel what we were doing, because we felt as though the financial crash had removed many market-based incentives. We weren’t making money anymore. The thinness of incentives that we had thought would stick around forever was revealed. We needed new reasons to get out of bed in the morning, which lead us back to the idea that we needed an operating theory of what architecture wants to be in the world. We asked ourselves why we do this on a very personal level, but also how architecture can engage a broader audience. It was in 2009, 2010, and 2011 when we first started thinking through architecture’s relation to audience. In those years, you see the emergence of animal figures and biomorphic forms in our work. These things were essentially the most direct answer that we could imagine to the question of how architecture interfaces with a mass audience. Our answer to that was architecture sheds its status as an object, and it becomes a subject. I know how to participate in a crowd if I’m a living thing. We were doing everything we could think to do to turn architecture into a subject that could participate like other people. We reached a limit with 48 Characters, an installation at the University of Michigan where we were creating plaster versions of balloon animals. We started to realize that if architecture as a subject needs formal complication, then we have to come up with different ideas about how to make habitable space. It’s a very simple initiating problem. And that question essentially initiated a string of investigations up to the present day where we are thinking about assemblies of objects that produce rooms. Who exactly are you referring to when you talk about audience? Who is the audience for your work? We always want to have a couple of different conversations simultaneously. We are hoping that the balloon animal projects are immediately legible with no specialized knowledge in architecture. Stuffed animals have a mode of communication that requires little to no expertise. It just requires enculturation. You have to have been a person on the planet for a while. At the same time, balloon animals have a kind of second discursive tale. They're plugged into issues in architecture that are for sophisticated audiences. That longer tale has to do with the history of complex form and architecture, and the history of the use of digital tools and a long conversation about character. What exactly that term means… it looks like Ben is joining us now. Ben Freyinger: Hello. Sorry, I’m super late from another meeting. We were talking about how your work resonates differently with different audiences. But now that we have both of you here, we can ask how you maintain the identity of your practice considering both of you are in different locations. Ben: Case in point. Andrew: It'll be interesting if we have different answers to this question. Ben, what is that noise? Is that an airplane? I can assure you there is no airplane in Cambridge. Okay, so first, the geographic distance for us is profoundly clarifying. So, to revisit the history of how we started… Ben there's incredible background noise. Please go inside. Ben: I'm on a job site. I'll mute my microphone when I'm not speaking. Andrew: Great, thank you. So, bear in mind we started as students, which means that didn’t yet have formalized understandings of our roles. What we had was a desire to work together. It was when we started living on different coasts that we had conversations about who does what. It was that moment of specialization that also required us to have conversations about the operating theory of the practice. All of a sudden, in order to be efficient in schematic design, we needed to constantly be referring back to ideas we had about how to make space and how to use assemblies of objects loosely fit together to produce things like rooms and interior order. Those were as much theories of architecture and how it should work as they were a series of conversations regarding how to distribute labor between the two coasts, and how to clarify what Andrew does and what Ben does. Ben: I agree. To be blunt about it, having two people with either similar ideas or productively conflicting ideas in the same room is not always productive. There's the personal growth that you need to go through in order to expand in your career and move forward and learn new things that tends to get stunted when there is someone else in the room. Independently, we've discovered that the practice can grow and that there is a need for specialization. But no matter how specialized we each become in our roles, we still wear a lot of the same hats. We still do a lot of the same things. Andrew: Here is an example of how, for instance, something we produce has multiple lives, and becomes useful for the office. When I wrote “Notes on More,” the Log piece about density, I was interested in an academic audience. But I was also writing it as a letter to our office. It was how I was structuring thoughts about design, and was asking, “Can this help give us a common understanding of how to sit down to work?” We're always growing and shrinking, so it means anywhere from two to six people are participating in schematic design. Everyone has to be extraordinarily coordinated in their work output. The essays help hold that together. Can you talk more about the way in which the preference for using everyday objects informs your aesthetic sensibility? Also, how does this approach impact constructability and construction? Andrew: Interesting. We haven't used the word sensibility a lot in our conversations with one another. But maybe we should more often, because we have definite ideas about where we want to end up in terms of how things look. We want a kind of casualness, as though materials could come together in a variety of orientations and we would have simply picked one of those possibilities. We want a sense that our material palette is not elevated and expensive, but is common to the point of being retrievable from a junkyard if funds are limited. We also want for the fits between things to produce an occasion for design. If things fit together too perfectly, design is discouraged. One way that we create opportunities for design is by subjecting our work to physics by frequently positioning things with respect to one another so that all of the energy and intensity is in an interface or point of contact. Ben: We are using materials that are readily available and, in some cases, kind of ugly. And yes, it's in the interface between the materials and how they respond to one another or how they coexist… it’s where the invention is. The reality is that we have contractors that are looking at what we are producing. What they see is complicated or complex. We can break it down very logically, piece by piece, and explain why it isn't. But the reception of it is often “Oh, this is unusual… this is too complex to build.” Andrew: I also want to say that the casualness and looseness is not just for its own sake. Actually, let me go back. I'm totally fine if it's casualness for its own sake. I have no need to justify it further, but maybe we have an additional possibility. One thing that starts to happen as things are loosely arrayed against one another is the production of crenelated edges, which makes it difficult to assign things to the inside or outside. Elements often fall outside of the proper territory of the house or building. This means more engagement in the surrounding context. If you can't figure out where the envelope is, you're always questioning what’s around you. For us, that's good politics. We want to self-consciously style ourselves as part of architecture’s progressive crowd, but we don't see that as being related to exclusion on the basis of privilege—educational, financial, or otherwise. We're trying to resort to things that have a democratic availability and low barriers to intellectual engagement. Given this attitude towards being democratic and inclusive, what kinds of projects do you hope to work on in the future? Andrew: In the very immediate future, we're really interested in the suburbs and we're really interested in the single-family home, which may seem a weird answer to your question. We're trying to think of ways in which the form of the house can open up and start to create shared regions with neighbors. So, imagine many House in Los Angeles I’s next to one another. We'd have to imagine a different way of describing what constitutes yard or private ownership. Ben: We’re looking at the fringe areas of Los Angeles, specifically hillside areas, which encourage invention with regard to what Andrew was saying about the concept of yard or the concept of private ownership. We want to challenge and reconsider these things. Andrew: If you look at the larger context for House in Los Angeles I, you'll see that it's part of a series of suburbs that stretch between downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. They're all super irregular, hillside lots. House in Los Angeles I looks kind of flat, but it's at the edge of a pretty steep hillside. What that means is that buildable area is tightly circumscribed. You can only put houses in certain spots, which leaves huge portions of the hillside unbuilt but also given up for shared uses. We want to be deliberate about how built form can preserve collective spaces that have already emerged, and start to encourage the emergence of new collective spaces. You spoke earlier of your dissatisfaction with conceptualizing architecture as being subservient to the market. How would you position your practice in relation to the market now? Is the market something you engage with critically? Andrew: What the market asked of us in 2009 did not overlap with how we wanted to spend our time. We wanted personal and intellectual satisfaction that the task given to us by the open market did not demand. We wanted to do more thinking and more drawing and more model building… and we weren't doing a lot of those things. When we talk about a reaction against an exclusively service-based practice, it's not that we were withdrawing from the market or the structure of how business works in Los Angeles. It's that we were trying to construct a viable business model with habits of life and thought and work that we found to be more humane and of interest to us regarding ways we wanted to live our lives. I would love to be a soldier of resistance against late capitalism, but my tools for thinking through that problem are more effective when I examine it at the scale of what I do when I get up in the morning. We’re encouraged that the market is now telling us that it has niches that support our habits. What's been the most fulfilling moment in your professional careers thus far? Andrew: I had a very fulfilling experience on my last site walk at House in Los Angeles I. It's been a while since I've been out there. When I went out, it was just after all of the rain in Los Angeles, but before the landscaping went in, so it was super muddy. My foot got stuck in one of the courtyards. There I was stuck in an idea we'd only been kicking around on paper. Ben: I'm going to play a similar card, but I'll zoom out a bit. For me, it's the physical evidence of the work. I can relate this back to Andrew's comment about how we choose to lead our lives in the office. If there's physical evidence of that work in the world, that is also the litmus test of our success in trying to bring a desire to operate, practice, and live a certain way into the market productively and reconcile those two things. I can look at it, I can touch it, and I can see it. That never gets old.
Deep within New York’s Catskills region, this reinterpreted American side-gable house casts an impressive profile. Set back on a 45-acre lot, the black-stained, pine-clad structure incorporates a diverse set of interior environments with expansive views of pastoral farmland. Brooklyn-based firm Feuerstein Quagliara implements a so-called “program bar” that makes the most of the site’s undulating perch and southern exposure. Extruded along an east-west axis, the house segments into six equal blocks: a guest bedroom, entry foyer, dining room, kitchen, living room, and master suite. As the more intimate bedrooms offset from the central array, residual alcoves and impromptu patios form within the core’s recesses. Tying the home together, the gabled roof evenly covers both indoor and outdoor spaces and creates a crystalline mass. Sliding glass doors maintain an even flow throughout the entire interior and forge a strong connection with the exterior. Anchoring both bedrooms on either side is a central communal core. This main, open-plan living space has large skylights and vaulted ceilings. Two Baltic birch kitchen islands float in the center of the space and delineate between a lounge and dining room on either side. A clever interplay of stark white walls, wooden built-ins, and polished concrete floors and countertops makes for a minimalist yet inviting interior scheme. The same contrast of materials and textures carries through to the home’s bathrooms, where custom wooden cube tubs sit pretty in the white-tiled volumes. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
The chance to renovate a rotating midcentury house is a rare opportunity to make an already groundbreaking design even more compelling. Georgia-based firm Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects accepted the challenge when they got the call to update the Round House, a home designed in 1968 by forward-thinking architect Richard Foster for him and his family on a four-acre hillside property in Wilton, Connecticut. Though the house may be likened to the world-famous Chemosphere designed by John Lautner, the Round House has the distinguishing feature of containing a large ball bearing ring base that allows its occupants to rotate the home at will. A full rotation can reportedly be performed in as little as 45 minutes. While the firm went to great lengths to bring the home’s exterior back to its original condition—including the preservation and/or replacement of its wooden shingles, its floor-to-ceiling windows, and the patio’s cobblestone flooring—the updates shine through the home’s interior spaces. The firm's goal was to bring even more light into the 2,997 square foot floorplate by removing as many partitions as possible, adding to a previous renovation that eliminated the wall between the kitchen and living areas and created an open-plan scheme. This move created space for a larger master suite and a secondary bedroom. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Located one block from the Atlanta BeltLine, Ashley Avenue II by Atlanta-based TaC studios was inspired by nature. Built for jewelry designers, the home features handcrafted and custom components, and the subdued interior’s rich woods and locally crafted furniture provide warmth and clear functionality. The house is 35 feet wide, creating a challenge to maintain connections between living spaces and the exterior courtyard, garden, and pool, and the spacious kitchen ties the house together at its heart. It showcases a stripped-down aesthetic and embodies an approach that blends the modern with the elemental. A pocket door divides the kitchen and a pantry, which accommodates extensive shelving, an extra refrigerator, a prep area, and a dishwasher. The kitchen’s central waterfall countertop continues into the pantry, which unifies the two spaces. “The clients are great entertainers who wanted to be able to expand the gathering area on short notice to have everyone in the kitchen,” architect Cara Cummins said. The kitchen’s details come together in an interplay between interior and exterior spaces. Large 12-foot sliding doors open from the kitchen to the terrace, which can be enclosed by retractable screens. Inside, opposite the kitchen, a white oak stair on a custom steel stringer rises to the roof level with detailing that allows for illuminated art displays. Custom millwork throughout the home was designed by TaC studios and built locally by McMeubel. The architects selected materials with an eye toward their longevity: Brick, cementitious stucco, cement board, and ceramic roof pavers all emphasize lifecycle durability. The home features LED lighting throughout, lighting system controls, foam insulation, and high-performance windows. Outside, a bronzed screen blocks the setting sun and was made as a nod to the historic city blocks of the Old Fourth Ward. Architecture & Interior Design: TaC studios Architecture, Cara Cummins, AIA Location: Atlanta Cabinetry: Design, TaC studios; fabrication, Gatto Kitchen Systems Countertops: Neolith, Calcutta Appliances: Miele Flooring: Ceramic tile, Imola Concrete Project 48x48 Lighting: Pendant, SONNEMAN Custom table and buffet: Design, TaC studios; fabrication, McMeubel
Origami is a new residential development by Waechter Architecture in Portland’s Piedmont neighborhood. As an urban gesture, the project occupies a full city block with twelve wood-framed townhouses. The buildings’ footprint frames a shared internal court at the back, where each residence has private space for gardens and parking. Exterior wall surfaces allow each unit to retain its own character. The design takes inspiration from origami, the process of folding paper to create complex forms. In a play of light and shadow, the team utilized the concept of “the fold” to shape a roofscape that connects the gabled facades of each unit. Waechter decided to use Hardie siding and asphalt shingles to bring together the exterior walls and roof surface. To enhance the desired qualities of shadow relief and texture, the designers went beyond cladding with several techniques, including a flashing detail and window placement. Principal Ben Waechter explained the approach, noting, “At a building scale, we folded the facade, and at each of the folds there is a special detail that visually gives the impression that the facade plane has been scored and folded. This three-piece flashing detail allows the fold to bend at a concave or convex angle. All the windows are recessed into the wall cavity rather than attached directly to the outside face of the sheathing. With the windows recessed, the trim is able to be applied perpendicular to the facade, giving it more visual depth than what is typically achieved with standard flat trim." Origami is a study in scale and balance for new multifamily housing. The project’s concept provided individual articulations of each unit while maintaining the sculptural impact of the whole, and in turn, created a subtle identity for the development. Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: Waechter Architecture Contractor: Yorke & Curtis Structural engineer: Grummel Engineering Civil engineer: KPFF Landscape: Lango Hansen Rainscreen: James Hardie Concrete block: Mutual Materials Windows: VPI Quality Windows Doors: Andersen, VPI Quality Windows Cabinetwork: Euro-American Design Paint: Miller Paint Solid surfaces: Caesarstone Floor and wall tiles: Emser Tile Lighting: Kuzco Lighting, RP Lighting + Fans Plumbing: Duravit sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and faucets
Yellow doesn't always get the best rap in Western society. Though its origin can be traced to the sun, the source of all life on this planet, and such innate sources as egg yolks, bananas, and autumn foliage, the color has come to take on a number of nefarious meanings. In wayfinding, the tone is used to indicate interruption while idioms like "yellow-bellied" denote cowardice. According to surveys in Europe, Canada, and the United States, yellow is the color most people associate with amusement, gentleness, humor, and spontaneity, but also with duplicity, envy, jealousy, and avarice. Though the color can be identified as a popular choice in architecture and design at different, albeit indulgent, periods of history, recent trends have seen it go out of fashion. What comes to mind is Robert Adam's particular strain of Neoclassicism in the 18th-century or the linoleum-lined kitchens of the 1950s. Shaking things up for the first time in a long while is cutting-edge, Barcelona-based practice ARQUITECTURA-G. The young firm is perhaps also the first to have pulled this primary hue out of its dark and frivolous mire, giving it new purpose and standing, if not also a restrained redemption. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Set among the winding hillside streets overlooking West Hollywood's Sunset Strip is the Wolff Residence, a striking home designed in 1961 by the great mid-century architect John Lautner. Named after interior designer Marco Wolff, the home's original owner, it was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2006 and has now been listed for $6.5 by George Salazar and Tilsia Acosta of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. "This is a jewel," said Salazar. "Anyone who comes to see it is blown away." The manner in which the Wolff Residence is dramatically sited against a near-vertical slope is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, Lautner's first mentor when he arrived in Los Angeles. With less than a quarter-acre of land to call its own, the primarily stone-and-glass home divides 1,664 square feet across three floors, while leaving plenty of room for the architect's signature flourishes. A dining room, updated kitchen and an airy living room with 16-foot-tall windows make up the home's top floor, which includes a stone fireplace, a fully-grown eucalyptus tree within an interior courtyard, and plenty of built-in copper seating areas that extend to an outdoor terrace. From this floor, a medievalesque staircase leads to the master bedroom suite, which is nearly divided in half between interior space and an outdoor terrace with panoramic views. On the bottom floor is a sun deck and a swimming pool that cantilevers over the street to extend beyond the home's roofline. In 1970, the client hired Lautner architect a second time to build a guest home on the West side of the property, effectively turning the one-bedroom bachelor pad into a four-bedroom family home. Though the architect's similarly-designed Foster House was recently purchased after sitting on the market for less than half a year, the inflated price tag and unusual spatial layout of the Wolff Residence may prove to be a difficult sell.