Casa Monte na Comporta in Grândola, Portugal is a house that sits in its surroundings as if it had always been there yet it also manages to look completely fresh, cool, new and spectacular.
The house’s undulating shape echoes the gently sloping sand dunes, and its hard and angular surface planes contrast beautifully with the rounded shapes of the surrounding trees.
It has a bunker-like feel but it really does not look like a bomb-shelter because the exterior is broken into smaller sections with varying materials. The sky, the trees and the water in the pool provide all the color. Tactile texture is everywhere, inside and out. Light and shadow become the main players. The entire dwelling exudes organic calm.
Although it seems so, this house was not built into existing dunes. The exact opposite happened. Luis Pereira Miguel and team at Lisbon-based Pereira Miguel Arquitectos, built the dunes so that they could situate the house under them.
Pereira Miguel is a multi-disciplinary firm — architecture and interiors, commercial and residential — that works with various collaborators in Portugal and around the world. The seamless conversation between nature and house, surroundings and building is a theme visible in many of the firm’s projects but none as distinctively as in the Dune House.
The two crescent-shaped Barchan dunes that the architects created hide the house under a road. Eventually, it will look like the sand, the house and the wind have coexisted here forever. In a hundred years, it may look like some secret hub of notorious infiltrators or perhaps it we look more like a dwelling of friendly earthlings. Already the house shows a delicious hint of ancient cave and that aspect is going to get better and better after years of wind and weather action.
If you were able to look at the footprint of the house from the sky (and you are not, because it is partly under the sand), you’d realize that it consists of four slightly angled ”arms,“ almost like a wonky letter X with each section housing a separate function.
From each section, the view and feel are different from the others. With the constant action of the forces of nature, the view will also shift year by year, season by season, inviting contemplation and creating harmony.
Completed in late 2008, Casa Monte na Comporta in Grândola is, not surprisingly, drawing attention. It will be featured on Portuguese cable television this month and it will most likely be popping up in many design and architecture magazines in the coming months. That someone (other than me) is lucky enough to live in this house is almost too much to bear. - Tuija Seipell
Photography by ultimasreportagens.com
It seems as though a wooden boat washed up on shore amidst a neighbourhood of typical Aussie beach houses just south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. From the street the house’s irregular form reveals nothing of what unfolds once within the property.
At a closer look, the façade consists solely of a postbox. According to the design team at McBride Charles Ryan the openness of a holiday house in a beach community renders the front door arbitrary. You stop in for the weekend – your mates stop over for a Sunday afternoon drink.
The architects valued the existing scale of Blairgowrie – the house is certainly not an obstruction built within the community. Instead, it’s modest irregularity opens up into an impressive four-bedroom beach verandah. Bold blacks and whites sit on top of the stained timber floors, which run the length of the house.
A dramatic red support structure, the most striking interior feature, draws the divide between inside and out. According to the architects, the support shelves are where beach memories will be stored – a place where all the stuff you see every day will sit as you and your family grow. - Andrew J Wiener
Photography: John Gollings
The boxy and containery appearance of residential buildings currently attracting accolades and attention is starting to get boring. However, simplicity, clarity and openness are qualities that continue to appeal.
While this is yet another house of stacked boxes, we cannot help but admire the vacation residence clinging dramatically to the sloping hill up in the trees of the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada.
Locals, used to a more traditional ski chalet in this popular ski resort area, refer to the building as the cube, a name choice requiring no imagination. When the Montreal-based architectural firm Saucier + Perrotte won the Canadian Architect magazine’s Award of Excellence for this project in 2004, the magazine called the entry the Lac Superieur Residence in Lac Superieur, Mont-Tremblant.
Whatever the moniker, the house stuns with its elegant lines, stylish use of materials and lack of unnecessary distractions.
As it should be, the building’s real redeeming features reveal themselves inside. The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows provide all the visual stimulus you’ll need, and at the same time, demand a streamlined approach to everything else in the interior.
The boxy-cubey theme continues inside as do the color scheme and the lack of distracting materials. The residence is divided into three functional areas’ sleeping quarters on the top floor, middle and entry floor for living and the lowest level for play.
Although the building looks like a disorganized corner of a stylish container-port it exudes a solitary, silent grace that allows the distinctive, four seasons of the mountain to provide the main attraction.
The building meets the criteria for a log cabin as described in the area’s design guidelines for recreational development yet, fortunately, fails to resemble a Tyrolean mini castle. - Tuija Seipell