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
Dupli Casa, a private residence by the Neckar river, near the old town of Marbach in South- Western Germany, is a wonderfull example of connection and fluidity. It connects the inside with the outside, up with down, air with ground and - most cleverly - past with present and even future.
From the outside, the three-storey concrete villa looks like a bit like some sort of a fiberglass motorboat job gone funny, yet it also manages to look immensely appealing and intriguing. From some angles, the structure appears to be standing upside down - the lower exterior rim spilling onto the lawn and forming a part of a roof structure, if the building were to stand the other way around. It could have been blown there by the wind; it could be a StarWarsian vehicle frozen in place; it could be just taking off to outer space.
The outdoor swimming pool and the white surface surrounding it seem like a perfect reflection of the house, almost as if the house had been face down on the ground, and when it was lifted off the ground, the process had left an imprint of a swimming pool on the ground and the large window opening in the house.
The views from the inside are amazing, especially from the vast ground-level openings that again, give the sensation of flying, being airborne, weightlessness. Everything is fluid, flowing and smooth.
All of this is very much in keeping with the main inspiration for the house. The new residence follows the footprint of the previous dwelling and its numerous extensions. The idea was to let the 'family archaeology' continue in the new building. It's a house that remembers its beginnings in 1984 yet projects boldly into the future.
Dupli Casa is the work of Jurgen Mayer H., founder and principal of his cross-disciplinary studio. J. Mayer H. Architekten in Berlin. Other team members include Georg Schmidthals, Thorsten Blatter and Simon Takasak, plus Uli Wiesler's architecture studio based in Stuttgart. - Tuija Seipell
Golf and drab are synonyms, right? And the mere mention of Golf and Country Club makes you run. Away. Fast. Golf may indeed have a bit ofan image problem but that did not deter the 'rich-based' Smolenicky & Partner Architektur when they were retained to work on the expansion of the venerable Sempachersee Golf Club located near Lucerne in Switzerland.
In addition to the new club house-restaurant building and the newmaintenance building, both of which Smolenicky designed, the expansionincluded a second 18-hole golf course. All of this has made Golf Club Sempachersee the largest golf club in Switzerland and, quite likely,the club with the coolest club house.
In their approach to the club house, Smolenicky sought to manifesttwo things: what they call the country character of the golfing culture of the Sempachersee course - and the course's worldly sophistication. They took their design cues from the rural warmth of a timber barn and the clear lines of a Maserati sports car. The resulting building, the sleek and minimalist interior, and themagnificent 180-degree panoramic views of the Sempachersee lake and theAlps might just be reasons enough to give golf another chance. Or, atthe very least, rethink what a golfing environment could look like. By Tuija Seipell
There’s a new planet in the solar system and it’s called Luxury. Actually, it is here on earth, on a little-known island called Nurai, located northeast of Abu Dhabi city.
The 130,000-square-meter island is about to be transformed into an achingly glamorous and luxurious resort and exclusive private residential estate, comprised of one boutique luxury hotel resort with 60 suites, 31 beachfront estates and 36 water villas.
The mammoth project is a collaboration between New York based Studio Dror, led by Dror Benshetrit, that has designed the residences, and the Paris-based firm AW2 are responsible for the design of the hotel.
The sheer scale of the project is awe-inspiring; the incredible multi-storey water villas alone will span 515 square metres each, comprising of three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a private rooftop garden with spa pool, private infinity pool, multiple decks, outdoor barbeque area, gourmet kitchen and concealed service quarters. No doubt Tom & Katie are making their reservations already.
As for the private “Seaside” residences (which are sure to be snapped up by Saudi Princes and oil shieks because they will probably be the only ones who can afford them), the five bedroom-six bathroom estates span across between 3,000 — 6,050 square metres.
Each “Seaside” estate will include a private beach and garden, rooftop garden with spa pool, infinity swimming pool, indoor reflecting pools, concealed service quarters, entertainment patios, outdoor dining areas, chef and show kitchens and outdoor showers.
The resort is due to open in 2010 and residences start at €20 million. By Lisa Evans
The owner couple of this beautiful pre-fabricated cabin on the shores of Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada, has been coming to their large recreational property for a quarter-century. But the big property in a great recreational location translated into lots of overnight guests and no privacy for the owners.
They felt they needed a 'getaway,' a place at their own property where they could capture the peace and serenity of the surrounding four-season nature without disturbing any of the existing trees or structures. They needed a place that remembers what the Simcoe cottage-country is all about.
The brilliant, award-winning solution by Toronto-based Taylor Smyth Architects is the one-room Sunset Cabin, a real cabin with a decidedly contemporary feel. The wonderful cabin has won several architectural and design awards and met the clients’ needs perfectly.
It is a one-room (190 square feet in size), self-contained box that was built by furniture craftsmen in four weeks in a Toronto parking lot and installed on site in 10 days.
Three of the exterior walls are floor-to-ceiling glass and of those, two are encased in horizontal cedar-screens for privacy, shade and light effects inside. One of the cedar screens has a large opening providing a direct view of the sunset from the built-in bed. The rest of the screen has random smaller gaps to allow various vignettes of the surrounding nature and to create fantastic light patterns inside. The slats are positioned so that there is no direct view in from the outside, but at the same time, it the inside feels almost wall-less.
The untreated cedar of the outer structure will turn silvery grey over time, helping the cabin blend in with its natural surroundings. In addition, the roof, visible from the existing main building, is a green roof planted with native plants of the area, further ensuring that the building mixes in with the landscape rather than sticks out in it.
All interior surfaces are unpainted birch veneer plywood, including the built-in storage cabinets. Doors at both ends of the cabin allow for cross ventilation. The interior floor extends outside to form a deck where the rustic feel continues with the screened-off outdoor shower.
The owners are apparently spending more time at their property than ever before. They enjoy the cabin year-round, heating it by a wood-burning stove and, if needed, electric heaters. Most likely, they are not inviting guests to share the space, so we can join in only by admiring the images. By Tuija Seipell