Breezy brick house with a ground-floor cafe mimics the shape of a cuckoo clock

July 16, 2019 by  
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In the coastal Vietnamese city of Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City-based architectural firm Tropical Space has combined a single-family home with a coffee shop to create an architecturally striking mixed-use building that evokes the playful shapes of a cuckoo clock. Dubbed the Cuckoo House, the home is built predominately from locally sourced clay brick to tie the structure to the local vernacular, while the use of bold geometric shapes throughout the building give it a distinctly contemporary edge. The home also takes advantage of sea breezes with its porous facade that harnesses natural cooling for relief from the tropical heat. Built for a couple and their two children, the Cuckoo House spans an area of nearly 3,000 square feet across two floors and an attic. To make the most of its rectangular east-west plot, the architects split the ground floor into three sections: the entrance gate and parking pad on the east side along with a small storefront and bathrooms; the coffee shop and bar in the middle; and a semi-enclosed courtyard with a pool on the west side. Large arches surround the brick-paved courtyard and bring cooling breezes and views of the surrounding garden into the space, and full-height glazing wraps the coffee shop to blur the line between indoors and out. Related: Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home The residential section of the building is located atop the ground floor “base block” and split into three blocks: the double-story Block A with the master bedroom on one floor and the bathroom and walk-in closet on the other; the double-story Block B with the kids’ bedroom above and the living room below; and Block C that contains the kitchen and dining area. All three blocks are connected and open up to outdoor terraces with operable glazing and views. “Like a habit, most of people’s daily activities usually take place in functional spaces. Tropical Space detaches walls, which are used to defined the place and offer the buffer space to urge people to leave their rooms and join together,” the architects explained. “These buffer layers can be used flexibly, connecting the indoor and the outdoor of the house, which could make the family activities be both private and open. Meanwhile, it allows the breeze to go through all corners of the house, and make it chill in the tropical summer.” + Tropical Space Images via Tropical Space

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Breezy brick house with a ground-floor cafe mimics the shape of a cuckoo clock

Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

July 11, 2019 by  
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In an effort to beat the tropical heat in southern Vietnam’s Long An province, Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm Tropical Space created a home that maximizes natural ventilation. Dubbed the Long An House, the residence takes inspiration from traditional Vietnamese architecture but uses contemporary design elements to create an energy-efficient house that follows the local vernacular yet stands out with a minimalist design. Topped with a sloped roof divided in two parts, the home features porous brick walls, an open-sky courtyard and a layout that harnesses the region’s cooling crosswinds. Spanning an area of nearly 3,230 square feet, the Long An House includes two floors arranged around a central courtyard open to the sky. A simple construction palette of brick and concrete defines the minimalist building, which is punctuated by views of greenery throughout. Brick is featured in the home in a variety of ways, not only as a structural and facade material but is also used for cooling the home. The front yard is paved with hollow clay bricks, which can absorb the rain and reduce heat on the floor, while porous brick walls let wind and light through without compromising privacy. “The Vietnam traditional house is stretched from front to back creating continuous functional spaces,” the architects noted in a project statement. “These spaces’ boundaries are estimated by light with different intensity and darkness. The layout utilizes the wind direction of the local area in different seasons.” Related: A “green veil” of plants protects this home from Ho Chi Minh City’s heat Oriented east to west, the Long An House is entered from the west-facing front yard with a vegetable garden that connects to the living area through massive glazed doors that fold open to allow cross-breezes to blow through the length of the home. The courtyard with a pool occupies the center of the home and is flanked by two corridors. The one to the north contains a galley kitchen, while a terrace is found on the south side. The rear of the home comprises a master bedroom and another courtyard (also with folding glass doors) with access to the chicken coop. Two en suite bedrooms are located on the upper floor. + Tropical Space Photography by Oki Hiroyuki via Tropical Space

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Porous brick walls keep this bold Vietnamese home naturally cool

Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

June 12, 2019 by  
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In a Chicago suburb full of traditional gabled rooflines, California-based architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa has inserted a modern dwelling that puts a sculptural twist on a humble and overlooked building material: Chicago “Common” brick. Historically considered unattractive and only fit for unseen areas such as chimney flues, Chicago “Common” brick is given renewed attention in a recently completed courtyard house , dubbed the Thayer Brick House. Not only does the contemporary home use the brick for almost its entire facade, but it also shines the spotlight on the local resource with a sculptural, street-facing facade that’s made with twisting columns of stacked brick. Made from indigenous Michigan clay, Chicago “Common” brick has long been considered undesirable and cheap due to its variations and irregularities. Instead of the classic red color, the prosaic material takes on a more yellow hue and has been traditionally used for areas hidden from the street, such as the side and back walls, chimney flues and structural support behind the facades. In making Chicago “Common” brick highly visible in the Thayer Brick House, Brooks + Scarpa is celebrating a local material and inviting passersby to reconsider unexpected uses for everyday materials and concepts. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork “By using the familiar in an unfamiliar location and application, the material becomes perceptually both old and new at the same time,” the firm said. “This makes one more aware of not just the building, but also our sense of place. There is a sense of discovery, something spontaneous and unexpected. The object is important, but it’s the experience that has a profound impact and leaves something that lasts well beyond the mere physical and visual existence of the building. This gives us the opportunity to not only learn about design but also about ourselves, our collective cultures and our place in society.” The use of Chicago “Common” brick helps contextualize the building and gives the building an unexpected appearance. The street-facing facade is made up of columns of brick rotated at varying degrees to make the courtyard look open or closed depending on where the viewer stands. Passersby can see the full effect of the facade, which has a moire-like pattern that appears to move as one walks past it. The sculptural facade also has the added benefit of reducing glare and providing privacy to the fully glazed interior volume. + Brooks + Scarpa Photography by Marty Peters and Brooks + Scarpa

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Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

January 8, 2019 by  
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Hanoi-based design studio Nghia Architect has completed Maison A, a beautiful home that brings to life the cherished childhood memories of the client. Located in Nam ??nh, a coastal village southeast of Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, the house was created for the client’s aging mother and is large enough to accommodate her children and grandchildren who visit during the holidays. Inspired by the traditional countryside vernacular, Maison A is built for comfortable modern living and features a triple-skin facade that brings daylight, fresh air and a beautiful floral appearance to the home. Spread over an area of 78 square meters, Maison A catches the eye with its sculptural red exterior constructed of floral ventilation bricks handmade in the Bat Trang Village. The perforated sections let in daylight and ventilation into the house, while the bricks are customized with hollow interiors that trap air to serve as a heat-insulating layer. The second layer of the triple-skin facade is a layer of plants that provides additional privacy and a pleasant microclimate . The third “skin” is operable glass, which the mother can close during large storms. Related: Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home To recall the many banana trees that grew around the client’s childhood home, the architects worked with local craftsmen who used a hand-pressed intaglio method to imprint banana leaves onto parts of the concrete facade. Inside, local stone craftsmen were employed to turn locally sourced laterite stone (called “hive stone”) into the family bedroom wall. “Maison A mixes the countryside traditions with modern comfort in-depth material research to create an ancestral place for the mother and her returning children,” the architects explain. “The brutalist composition of local materials reflects the richness of the surrounding cultures while the design elevates them to higher grounds. From here, the memory of the family is recorded in each brick and passed down through generations.” + Nghia Architect Images by Tuan Nghia Nguyen

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Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

Zero-waste packaging is coming to a freezer aisle near you

January 8, 2019 by  
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This past year, frozen food made a comeback thanks to healthier and tastier options hitting your grocer’s freezer, and the debunking of the myth that fresh is always healthier than frozen. For the first time in five years , the frozen food market has grown, and consumers are starting to see frozen products as a healthy option for easy meal prep. Now, one grocer is taking freezer food to the next level with bulk bins and zero-waste packaging. In recent years, frozen food companies have shortened their ingredients lists by removing artificial ingredients from frozen dinners and meal kits, and they have also introduced new flavors and recipes . Recent studies have shown that frozen fruits and veggies are healthier than fresher fare because of the fast-freezing techniques that lock in the nutrients. Fresh foods gradually lose their nutrients during the time it takes to go from the farm to your kitchen. Related: Major supermarket chain is the first in the UK to remove palm oil from all its food Now, to capitalize on this growing trend, the Globus Hypermarket in the Czech Republic has introduced a self-service frozen food section that minimizes packaging . The grocer has set up displays of various frozen fruits and veggies — everything from broccoli and cauliflower to plums and berries — and customers can scoop up as much as they need and take the items home in reusable packaging. There are also processed frozen food items and frozen meal kits available, which aren’t as healthy as the frozen fruits and veggies. But offering a no-waste version to these treats is better for the planet. The rising popularity of frozen food could mean a lot less food waste , which is a huge global problem. In the U.S. alone, 40 percent of the food produced ends up in the trash. When consumers opt for frozen over fresh, the food doesn’t go bad nearly as fast. Compared to the enormous waste that goes with takeout meals (plastic containers, cutlery, paper napkins and plastic bags), opting for frozen food can be a lot better for the environment, especially when it comes without packaging. + Globus Hypermarket Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery

December 26, 2018 by  
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The site of a former house in Bogota has been reborn into a gorgeous bakery and cafe that respects the surrounding residential context. Designed by New York City-based Studio Cadena , the sculptural building draws the eye with oversized triangular windows, a monolithic concrete envelope and contemporary interiors featuring playful terrazzo floors, timber furnishings and pops of greenery. With an area of 7,500 square feet, the restaurant marks Studio Cadena’s second and largest commission for Masa, a popular bakery chain in Colombia. Inside, the building comprises a cafe and bakery along with a dining area and separate retail space. Outdoor seating can be found along a street-facing patio as well as in the rear garden area that overlooks the kitchen through a large circular window. To achieve an airy and open feel, the architects used an open-plan layout and delineated spaces with strategically placed elements such as a long concrete bar, cylindrical wood-clad service station and multi-tiered seating platform at the entrance. “The idea is that everything is connected, but the spaces remain fragmented for intimacy,” explained Studio Cadena founder and principal Benjamin Cadena. “In any space in the restaurant , you might hear or smell things that give a sense of the adjacent spaces, but it isn’t completely open. The design defines distinct spatial volumes yet allows you to move through them with the freedom of an open plan.” Studio Cadena designed all of the surfaces, fixtures and furniture. The variety of lighting designs also distinguish the different spaces, from the large paper globes in the corner cafe to the hand-painted metal mesh that hangs down in the middle of the building. Related: An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant The building volume is built with textured cast-in-place concrete walls inside and out. Triangular windows of different sizes punctuate the concrete envelope and open the restaurant up to natural light while establishing a connection between the street and the interior. + Studio Cadena Photography by Benjamin Cadena and Naho Kubota via Studio Cadena

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A recycled brick wall runs through this breezy home in Australia

October 19, 2018 by  
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Bright, breezy and surrounded by nature, the Cedar Lane House is a place of peaceful respite on the southern coast of Australia. Sydney-based architect and photographer Edward Birch designed the light-filled residence at the base of a mountain in Meroo Meadow. Spread out across 280 square meters, the linear home is anchored by a recycled brick wall that runs the length of the building and imbues the interior with warmth and softness. The Cedar Lane House is organized into three pavilion-like spaces linked by a central east-west hallway. While indoor-outdoor living is celebrated with ample glazing and a natural materials palette, the views are deliberately obscured from the entrance to create an element of surprise when visitors turn the corner and see spectacular landscape vistas through the living room’s walls of glass. In addition to the whitewashed recycled brick wall, the home interiors are dressed in Australian hardwood, white surfaces and other minimalist materials to keep the focus on the outdoors. The open-plan living spaces — including a living room, dining area and kitchen — occupy the heart of the home and branch off to an outdoor terrace and an indoor lounge on either side. The easternmost side of the home is defined by a master en suite with an outdoor shower and a spa. Three additional bedrooms, a rumpus room and an outdoor courtyard are located on the west side. The arrangement of spaces makes it easy for the homeowner to close off portions of the house depending on the number of people staying. Instead of main water connections, the house relies on recycled rainwater , which is collected in underground tanks and re-circulated around the building. Related: Passive solar home stays naturally cool without AC in Australia “From the recycled bricks, rough oak floor to the zinc bench top in the kitchen, the internal materials are intended to be imperfect, to mark and scratch and to tell the story of the lives lived inside the house,” Birch said in a project statement. “As the timber cladding silvers and the wash on the bricks get eroded away, the house ages gracefully and settles into the landscape around it.” + Edward Birch Via ArchDaily Images by Edward Birch

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A modern farmhouse in South Africa blends style with sustainability

September 6, 2018 by  
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Strey Architects is bringing a contemporary style to the countryside with its recent project, Link House. The home, which features a plethora of sustainable design elements, showcases simple living at its finest by meshing luxury and minimalism . Features ranging from design for natural ventilation to solar heating and rainwater collection tanks meld seamlessly into the gorgeous modern farmhouse. In designing Link House, Strey Architects was tasked with building a farmhouse that was both aesthetically attractive and humble. The result is a beautiful countryside home that features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a formal dining room, a lounge, a pool and a large playroom — all in a sustainable design . The house, which takes on a U-shape, also includes a large deck out front, an open kitchen and a garden. According to the architects, the house was designed with two wings and positioned to take advantage of the seasons. During the hotter months, the west wing blocks the sun and acts as a privacy screen. When winter comes, the northern and southern wings allow more sunlight inside the house for optimal heating conditions. The house also features fold-away doors and top-notch ventilation, which eliminates the need for a traditional HVAC system. Even the building blocks for the Link House were made from sustainable materials. The foundation is built from recycled plastic and is designed to air out dangerous radon gas. The walls and ceilings feature board insulation to properly protect the outer brick siding. Inside, the floors are crafted from recycled teak parquet. The stunning modern farmhouse wouldn’t be complete without a rainwater catchment system and solar water heating throughout the residence, making it completely sustainable throughout the year. Although the Link House is sustainable, Strey Architects did not sacrifice anything on design and aesthetics. The end result is a home that will fit in just about any location and fully comply with building regulations while remaining stylish and green . + Strey Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Dook / Strey Architects

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Artist revamps dingy interior of a 1962 Airstream with vibrant florals

September 6, 2018 by  
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While most Airstream renovations tend to go for a minimalist aesthetic to create the illusion of more space, surface pattern designer  Bonnie Christine used her love of florals to convert her 1962 Airstream trailer into a gorgeous home on wheels. To transform the formerly drab interior, Bonnie lined various accent walls in wallpaper with a forest green background and light pink flowers to add a fresh and vibrant flair to the incredibly compact 150-square-foot tiny home. Bonnie and her husband bought the 1962 Airstream Overlander in order to take their family of four on the road. However, the interior was in dire need of a makeover before they could set out on their travels. To completely revamp the living space , the talented surface pattern and fabric designer used her artistic skills to create a fresh new aesthetic. Related: Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels Renamed “Marjorie” after the original owner, the project is an example of an Airstream renovation done right. Bonnie began Marjorie’s makeover in the kitchen, where she stained and rebuilt the cabinets before painting them in a soothing green tone. Using this earthy moss color as a starting point, the space then needed a little extra vibrancy, which came in the form of the “Pimpernel” wallpaper by William Morris. Bonnie says that although the floral wallpaper was a bold decision, it was also an easy one. “As a surface pattern designer, I also wanted to give a nod to the father of surface design himself by using a William Morris wallpaper,” Bonnie explained in an interview with Design*Sponge . “I find it endlessly inspiring!” The rest of the tiny home is equally as inspiring, with a fresh decor that brightens up every corner of the compact living space. A small dinette set was kept in neutral colors to contrast the floral wallpaper, and the kitchen uses shelving and storage to avoid clutter. Even the home’s itsy-bitsy bathroom gives off a spa-like feel. To complete the ethereal atmosphere, the entire living space is flooded with natural light . The family has clocked several thousand miles since the renovation, traveling from North Carolina to the Grand Canyon in their shiny Airstream, with many stops in between. Bonnie explained that traveling in a tiny home has opened up a world of adventure for the family. “I am most thankful for what this tiny home represents — the ability for our family to be completely mobile,” Bonnie said. “We can go for a small weekend trip, or set out on a cross-country adventure with our home right along with us. There’s nothing more grand than seeing the wonders of nature and the great outdoors through our children’s eyes!” + Bonnie Christine Via Design*Sponge Photography by Bonnie Christine

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Artist revamps dingy interior of a 1962 Airstream with vibrant florals

Abandoned NYC warehouse is reinvented as LEED Gold-certified apartments

June 21, 2018 by  
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A new apartment complex infused with nature has taken root in New York City’s concrete jungle. Local design firm COOKFOX Architects completed 150 Charles Street, a residence that takes over the abandoned Whitehall warehouse on the Hudson River waterfront. Designed to blend in with the existing urban fabric, the modern building also boasts a low environmental footprint and LEED Gold certification. Located in the West Village, 150 Charles Street offers 91 residential units — including 10 individual three-story townhouses — on an approximately one-acre lot. Built to incorporate a pre-1960 warehouse , the building preserves the warehouse streetwall and the original material palette of concrete, brick and glass. Greenery is embedded throughout the building from the lush central courtyard to the cascading planted terraces and green rooftops that overlook waterfront views for a total of 30,000 square feet of landscaped space. Dirtworks, PC led 150 Charles Street’s landscape design. “Incorporating ideas of biophilia  — our inherent connection to the environment — access to nature throughout the building is related to themes of prospect (wide, open views) and refuge (safe and protected interior spaces),” COOKFOX Architects wrote. “150 Charles combines the best of the West Village townhouse garden view and the waterfront high-rise river view with cascading terraces designed as a ‘fifth façade.’” Related: Sneak a peek inside Pacific Park’s first greenery-enveloped residences in COOKFOX’s new video In addition to abundant greenery that features native and adaptive species, the apartment complex earned its LEED Gold certification with a variety of energy-efficient and resource-saving features. The team reduced construction waste and used locally sourced, recyclable and recycled building materials. The building is wrapped in a highly insulated envelope and fitted with smart building systems to optimize energy use. The units are equipped with Energy Star appliances. Rainwater is harvested and is reused as landscape irrigation. The outdoor air is also filtered for 95 percent particulates. + COOKFOX Architects Images by Frank Oudeman

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Abandoned NYC warehouse is reinvented as LEED Gold-certified apartments

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