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
Bridle Road Residence in Cape Town, South Africa, is a beautiful example of a sizeable structure that does not impose itself onto the landscape at the base of Table Mountain.
The single-family residence does not look massive or overly grand, but instead exudes a classic elegance with Scandinavian/Japanese lightness, precision and scale. The proportions and division of the walls and windows — including the “picture windows” overlooking the Cape Town harbor — create an openness without the feel of exposure.
Interior and exterior spaces are integrated seamlessly, which adds to the sense of site appropriateness — that this building belongs to this site.
The architecture is by Cape Town’s Antonio Zaninovic, known for his ability to let the landscape lead the architectural solutions. The Santiago, Chile-born, Zaninovic graduated from the University of Chile’s School of Architecture in 2000 and spent five years at Steven Harris Architects in New York before establishing his own practice in 2005 with Madrid, Spain-born architect, Ana Corrochano.
The interiors of the residence are by Lucien Rees of New York City-based Rees Roberts + Partners and the landscape by David Kelly of Rees Roberts + Partners.
The building and site feature several sustainable solutions including the self-cleaning outdoor pool, natural cross-ventilation, use of earth temperature as climactic moderator, use of heat-repelling glass, and maximal use of local materials such as poured finish concrete and balau wood.
The house and its landscape won an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2010 Honor Award in the Residential Design category, - 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
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
All images sent to TCH 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
When restoring this traditional Victorian terrace house — now known as the Skylight House — in Sydney, Australia, the architects and designers at Chenchow Little had to leave the street façade intact because the house is part of a conservation streetscape.
But the ornate, white exterior now hides a beautiful, minimalist dwelling that includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a new kitchen.
Flipping the typical Victorian terrace-house floor plan around, the designers placed the secondary bedrooms on the ground floor and the living rooms on the top floor. The living areas gained access to natural light via the new series of south-facing skylights, and to views across Parramatta River thanks to strategically placed windows.
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.
Project architects, husband and wife, Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little, established their Sydney-based firm in 2004.
The Skylight House won the Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter Award 2011 Residential Architecture Award for Alterations and Additions. - Tuija Seipell
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.
Photography by Roland Halbe.
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.
This residence in the Pavilniai Regional Park, near the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, is one of those that we just have to point out, although it is neither brand-new nor unfamiliar to many readers.
The confident combination of history and modern needs of an upscale family was achieved by the architectural firm G. Natkevicius & Partners.
Located by in the valley of river Vilnia that gave the city its name, the park and the city have a rich history with the oldest written records dating back to 1323. The Puckoriu escarpment in the park has rare rock formations from the Ice Age. A large munitions factory on the site dates back to the 17th century.
It seems that in Vilnius private residents can buy pieces of such storied land, and when the current owner of the site - a banker and collector of antique books - bought it, a single bright-yellow building stood on it. On further examination, the owners found out that the building was part of the cannon foundry and it was built of valuable, historic Vilnius-made bricks.
The yellow house itself was not as big as the four-member family wanted their home to be, so they decided to build their new home of glass and erect it around the historic brick house. The exposed brick adds a tactile sexy feel and softens the potentially cold atmosphere of the glass structure. A sensuous curved opening, cut for the staircase that is outside the brick house, adds another focal point that works beautifully with the square elements around it.
The owners' antique library is now in the basement of the old brick house, the kids' rooms are on the ground floor, the master bedroom on the top floor. The other functions - living, dining, cooking, baths, garages - are all within the new glass structure. As a stunning bonus to the historically sensitive solution, the residents enjoy an amazing 360-degree view of the park. Sigh. - Tuija Seipell
This residence was completed in January this year, yet it exudes a classic, modernist elegance that will ensure it will look just as timeless 50 years from now. Located in Buenos Aires, the “L House” by architect Mathias Klotz and associate architect Edgar Minond is the main residence of a small family.
Although this could be categorized as yet another grouping of concrete boxes representing the tiresome trend that just does not seem to want to die, this residence avoids all of the pitfalls most of such houses fall into.
In contrast to the stacked-concrete-boxes syndrome, not one section of this residence sticks out over anything, nor jut in an odd angle. No vanity ideas, no statement characteristics, no ego trip.
The house looks unpretentious and serene. All of its parts belong together and, loveliest of all, the structure appears to have sat on the site for some time. Simply put, it belongs. It all works.
European modernist sensitivities are apparent both inside and out. The use of wood, glass, steel, concrete and travertine limestone creates a coherent composition of materials and allows light and shadow to complete the decorative touches.
Without being too severe or controlled, this residence is composed of order. Some angles offer a Japanese or Scandinavian vista, as the indoor and outdoor spaces interact harmoniously.
This kind of simplicity is difficult to achieve and therefore it is so rare.
The architect, Mathias Klotz, was born in Viña del Mar, Chile, in 1965. He is one of Chile’s best known architects whose work includes private residences, hospitality and public buildings. In 2001, he received the Borromini Prize for Altamira School in Santiago de Chile. - Tuija Seipell
The excellent photography of this residence is by Roland Halbe of Stuttgart, Germany given to TCH exclusively.