A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

September 11, 2020 by  
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Local practice Salem Architecture has recently renovated the Maison Ave Courcelette, a stately, midcentury home with an improved indoor/outdoor connection in the heart of Montreal. Originally constructed in 1947, the house was built with beautiful attention to detail and sculptural, rounded openings — elements that both the architect, Jad Salem, and the owner wanted to preserve and highlight. The resulting transformation achieves those goals while generously opening up the interior to the large exterior courtyard and bringing an abundance of natural light indoors. Located in the residential borough of Outremont, the Maison Ave Courcelette project connects to a large backyard and is surrounded by many mature trees around the perimeter of the site. To improve the relationship between the home and the outdoors, the architects opened up the rear, south-facing facade with large sliding glass doors. The stones of the facade that were replaced by the new glazing were kept for use in a possible house extension. The new cladding on a portion of the rear facade is made up of vertically oriented timber elements that complement the original stone of the house and serve as an openwork sidewall for privacy from the neighbors while allowing natural light to filter through. Related: Transformed midcentury modern home focuses on sustainability To protect the house from unwanted solar gain in the south, the architects created covered outdoor terraces as well as a retractable canopy for comfortable use of an entertaining space with a sunken seating area and a fire pit next to the pool. “The landscaping, in separate areas, offers owners the opportunity to enjoy the backyard while having a variety of experiences and atmospheres,” the architects noted. New windows have also been added to other parts of the home to bring in additional daylight. Inside, original midcentury building elements have been elegantly enhanced. The architects added new arched openings that follow the configurations of the existing arched windows to elevate the sculptural feel of the home. The railing of the central curved staircase — a major focal point — has been kept minimal so as not to detract attention from the staircase’s sculptural shape and the rounded openings in the ceilings. The original wood floor has also been maintained in some rooms while materials for the new floors were carefully selected to complement existing finishes. + Salem Architecture Photography by Phil Bernard via Salem Architecture

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A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

Sustainable teak home blends into the Costa Rican hills

August 19, 2020 by  
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San Jose-based Studio Saxe has completed Tres Amores, a contemporary family home that takes in spectacular ocean and mountain views in Costa Rica. Nestled on the hilltops in the town of Nosara, the luxury home was designed to blend in with its lush surroundings through its staggered massing and natural materials palette, which includes exterior cladding of charred teak wood with black-framed windows. The home also takes full advantage of its beautiful surroundings with an emphasis on indoor/ outdoor living via floor-to-ceiling glazing and sheltered outdoor patios. In response to the seismic conditions and constrained footprint of the site, the architects created a lightweight steel structure that was pre-cut offsite and then quickly assembled onsite. The structure is wrapped in sustainably sourced teak wood cladding that was charred for longevity and finished with natural oils. The dark exterior takes cues from the landscape.  Related: Luxury prefab Costa Rican home features dramatic wing-like roof Covering an area of approximately 515 square meters, Tres Amores is spread out across two staggered floors topped with extended horizontal roof planes that shield the interiors from the sun. The living spaces located on the lower floor connect to the private bedrooms above via a light-filled stairwell with full-height glazing that frames views of the ocean. The interior decor is kept minimalist so as not to detract from the landscape views. As with all of Studio Saxe’s projects, special design consideration was given to sustainability and site conditions. Tres Amores’ bioclimatic design was informed by site studies that include wind patterns, sun exposure and temperature data. The home further minimizes energy use with solar hot water heaters and water recycling through filters and state-of-the-art treatment plant systems. The architects said, “This design is a clear reflection of an approach to design that combines high tech preemptive design with low tech construction methods.” + Studio Saxe Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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Sustainable teak home blends into the Costa Rican hills

Green-roofed CLT home opens up to a dreamlike garden in Germany

August 10, 2020 by  
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Near Hannover, Germany, Bremen-based treehouse specialist and architecture practice Baumraum has completed the Green Dwelling, a green-roofed , cross-laminated timber home built to achieve a strong fusion between the landscape and the built environment. Located on a large 2,000-square-meter site, the house takes inspiration from its lush surroundings, which include an adjacent forest and a dreamy garden developed by perennial specialist Petra Pelz. Natural materials define both the interior and exterior palettes, while large glazed windows strengthen the connection between the indoors and out. The Green Dwelling was created for young clients who wanted a new home that neighbored their parents’ existing residence. When the clients first contacted Baumraum, the conversation began with talk of building a treehouse that then evolved into a commission for the design of a new house in addition to the treehouse. The overarching design goal was to create “an oasis in the green” filled with natural light, ecological construction and strong visual and physical connections with nature.  Related: Sigurd Larsen completes a luxurious, treetop hotel cabin in a Danish forest The resulting home features a Z-shaped floor plan that begins with a garage, side rooms and entrance area at the front of the house, then transitions to a spacious living room with an open kitchen. The layout culminates with a guest room, bathroom, sauna area and bedroom in the rear. Large windows installed in each room provide garden views. The entire structure was built from cross-laminated timber and the natural, untreated larch surfaces were deliberately left visible throughout almost all of the interior. A lush green roof tops the home. On the western border of the property, the architects have also added the Tree House Green Dwelling, a treehouse perched atop an oak tree that serves as a year-round retreat and playground. Three flights of stairs lead up to the treehouse’s 4-meter-tall terrace and the square treehouse cabin , which rises to a height of almost 6 meters. Highly reflective stainless steel wraps around the facade to render the building almost invisible in the landscape. + Baumraum Photography by Ferdinand Graf Luckner via Baumraum

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Green-roofed CLT home opens up to a dreamlike garden in Germany

Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone

June 15, 2020 by  
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This stunning 4,585 square foot home in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico exemplifies sustainable  indoor-outdoor living  at its finest. In 2018, architecture firm FabrikG completed the home, which is located in an off-grid community about five and a half miles from downtown San Jose del Cabo on the East Cape hillside. It was constructed using  rammed earth  with locally-sourced stone and designed with passive solar principles. Paired with unobstructed ocean views and abundant outdoor spaces, Hawk Nest House creates a balanced harmony with the natural surroundings. The home’s east side consists of three rammed earth volumes situated around an outdoor common area, with a walkway leading to the property’s best sea views. A tile vaulted roof covers the living room, and the kitchen’s arched entrance is also made of rammed earth. A small patio off the kitchen offers even more ocean views. In addition to the  solar panels , which provide enough power to sustain the entire property, designers also included a water treatment plant to reuse water for irrigation when needed. Related: Mexican winery built from recycled wood and rammed earth blends into the valley landscape The main living quarters are located in the house’s right wing, connected with a wooden walkway. There are two master bedrooms, plus two bathrooms surrounding a patio with an outdoor shower, tub and local  stone walls. Apart from the main house, there is also a garage, a rammed earth guest house and a small, vaulted meditation room. The owner, an artist, has a studio situated on the northeast end of the property. For the landscaping, native desert plants on the patios and outside property require little to no irrigation.  According to the architects, this type of construction using rammed earth and traditional local stone masonry is advantageous in arid climates. The thermal mass of the thick earth walls regulates temperatures throughout the day and night, while the openness of the house encourages cross-ventilation . Unique elements are found throughout the home, including windows accented with sustainably-sourced and naturally-treated wood, and exterior walls treated with charred wood and coated in natural oil (a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban).  + FabrikG Via ArchDaily Images via FabrikG

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Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone

Airy Santa Monica Canyon home embraces views of nature and art

May 27, 2020 by  
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Reclaimed materials, a world-class art collection and an indoor/outdoor lifestyle combine in this recently completed Los Angeles residence designed by Santa Monica-based firm  Conner + Perry Architects . Built for  Los Angeles natives, this luxurious four-bedroom family home with large windows and a natural material palette was thoughtfully inserted into a wooded Santa Monica Canyon. Salvaged materials taken from the old existing home on-site and felled wood found on the property have been repurposed into beautiful focal elements for the house, such as the grand entry doors and outdoor furniture.  Designed to embrace the “quintessential California indoor/outdoor experience,” the two-story Santa Monica Canyon home opens up with fully pocketing glass exterior walls to a central courtyard with a pool and outdoor shower. Extended canopy-like cantilevered eaves protect from the sun. The charred wood ( Shou Sugi Ban ) siding, copper, exposed steel and concrete materials that wrap the home’s exterior were selected for their organic nature and their low-maintenance, climate-compatible qualities.  To pay homage to the history of the site, which was used as a Forestry Service test station for Eucalyptus tree testing in the 1910s and 1920s, the architects  salvaged  much of the original 1940s cabin that once occupied the property. Related: New Santa Monica City Services Building will produce more energy than it uses The home interior takes cues from nature and includes a mix of massangis gray  limestone  and French oak used for the floors, weathered brass, blackened steel elements and a variety of marble and tiles. The warm yet restrained palette also provides a neutral backdrop for the clients’ world-class art collection; the interior floor plan was designed to frame views of either the art pieces or landscape views. “Each of them has described the house as having a magical or mystical quality, allowing light in at the right moments, as well as the shadows of the trees , and a calming mirroring effect,” Kristopher Conner, Conner + Perry Architects co-founder, said. + Conner + Perry Architects Images by Taiyo Watanabe

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Airy Santa Monica Canyon home embraces views of nature and art

Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

May 27, 2020 by  
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Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is attempting to jump-start its economy through the Relaunch Decree, a revitalization package of 55 billion euros ($60 billion) that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his cabinet passed earlier this month. The stimulus includes tax breaks for clean energy projects and renovations; Italian homeowners are offered free rooftop installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through the Relaunch Decree. To help Italy recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, incentives — like tax credits for homeowners pivoting toward energy efficient home improvement projects — are offered. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Tax News , “Individuals can offset 110% of qualified building renovation and energy efficiency costs incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021 against their tax liabilities in five equal installments (up to certain thresholds).” Related: First home solar pavement installed on a driveway PV Magazine explained that the bonus is “for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%.” Any solar photovoltaic installations for the next year-and-a-half will be subsidized. Only a few weeks ago, Green Tech Media warned that Italy’s subsidy-free solar sector had stalled due to the pandemic, placing many projects on hold. While the solar industry is no stranger to vicissitude cycles, the pandemic added unexpected variables. “For the sector, the Relaunch Decree is certainly a great opportunity for the spread of photovoltaics on the roofs of Italian homes,” said Paolo Rocco Viscontini, president of PV association Italia Solare. Italy’s investment incentives for solar should come as no surprise, since Statista describes Italy as “the leading country worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar PV.” Since the early 2000s, Italy has been a strong proponent of solar installations. In 2017, it unveiled its National Energy Strategy — a 10-year plan to decarbonize, expand renewable energy and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As of early 2020, Italy is second only to Germany in the photovoltaic sector, with solar power as the country’s preferred renewable energy source. In 2019, Italy had a 69% increase in solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2018. That growth was deemed “the most substantial recorded in Italy” by PV Europe with a grand total of 56,590 new solar power system installations in 2019, of which 50,653 were residential. While COVID-19 dampened photovoltaic growth for Italy’s first quarter of 2020, many nonetheless hope that the Relaunch Decree’s incentives can support a swift restart of the solar PV sector. Tom Heggarty, principal solar analyst for global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said , “Solar [projects are] pretty quick to develop and construct. So once we start to see restrictions lifted, the industry should, theoretically, be in a good place to bounce back quite quickly.” Via EY Global Tax News , PV Magazine , Green Tech Media , Statista and PV Europe Image via Giorgio Trovato

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Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

April 30, 2020 by  
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A constant connection to nature pervades the Home by the Park, a newly completed single-family residence that faces a park in the South Indian city of Hubballi. Bangalore-based practice 4site architects designed the house to engage views of the adjacent park from multiple floors and vantage points, while bringing the lush greenery indoors with the creation of a rain courtyard and landscaped terraces. The abundant plantings not only give the house a sense of tranquility but also create a cooling microclimate to counteract the region’s tropical climate . Commissioned by a nature-loving family, the Home by the Park adheres to the teachings of Vastu Shastra, a traditional Indian system of architecture that champions the integration of architecture with nature and recommends spatial arrangements to improve the flow of positive energy. Located on a linear east-facing plot, the Vastu-compliant home spans 7,050 square feet across three floors, with the bottom-most floor partly buried into the earth because of the 3-foot change in elevation between the east and west sides. Related: Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India To visually connect the home to the adjacent park to the east, the architects inserted three gardens — the elevated front garden, the central rain courtyard and the rear private garden — so that all of the main rooms in the home enjoy access to nature. The centrally located rain courtyard is a double-height space open to the sky that serves as a light well and connects to the living areas on all floors. In addition to a variety of seasonal plants that provide year-round interest, the rain courtyard also features a sculptural fountain with a waterfall feature and has become haven for birds that nest in the trees and shrubs. The driveway, garage, storage room and home theater are located on the lowest floor. The next floor comprises the main living areas, including an expansive kitchen split into wet and dry sections; a guest en suite with a living room that connects to the rear garden; dining area; the master en suite bedroom; and the prayer room located opposite the rain courtyard. The top floor houses three additional bedrooms, a family living room, an outdoor terrace and a U-shaped walkway that provides views into the rain courtyard.  + 4site architects Photography by Petrichor Image Labs via 4site architects

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A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam

December 17, 2019 by  
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In Vietnam’s coastal region of Quang Ngai, a one-of-a-kind home with a roof topped with fresh vegetables has infused new life into a rural village. Designed by Ho Chi Minh City-based architecture firm TAA DESIGN , the recently completed home — dubbed The Red Roof after its red facade and eye-catching roof — is the residence of a married couple who grew up in the area and sought a unique home conducive to their traditional cultural lifestyle. Designed with an emphasis on connecting with nature, the home features a flourishing vegetable garden on its roof and multiple courtyards for seamless indoor-outdoor living. Located along the main road of the village, The Red Roof is a compact residence of 80 square meters that stretches east to west on a long and narrow plot. Accessed from the west end, the entrance leads past a gated front yard with a bicycle repair space to a covered porch that opens up to a double-height living room. Tucked behind is a kitchen and dining area next to a small interior courtyard and bathroom. A set of stairs to the mezzanine and the rice storage area separates the kitchen from the master bedroom in the rear; this space leads to the small backyard. Related: This self-sustaining Australian home harvests its own food, energy and water A second bedroom with a bathroom and an alter room are located on the mezzanine level. The alter room has access to a courtyard and the terraced vegetable gardens on the roof. The vegetable garden not only gives the couple ample opportunities to indulge in their love of gardening and cooking, but it also helps tighten bonds with the community, who benefit from the harvest. “In Vietnamese traditional landscape, ‘the red roof’ house represented for a time of regional local architecture,” the architects said in a statement. “However, now new multi-story houses with steel roofs seem to have lost the identity of village landscape.” The architects used a stair-step method as to not overwhelm the urban landscape with another towering, steel structure. Instead, the stair-step design “establishes the communication between the space on the roof and the space under the road. ‘The red roof’ has the intent to keep, to store and remind the familiar rural lifestyle.” + TAA DESIGN Images via TAA DESIGN

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A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam

Rammed-earth walls make up a beautiful retreat hidden in the Zhejiang mountains

October 10, 2019 by  
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Hidden in the misty mountains of Zhejiang , a new eco-sensitive resort made from local materials entices visitors with spectacular views and laid-back charms. International architecture firm kooo architects designed the Retreat Village, which comprises a cluster of luxury suites, for their client Hangzhou Origin Villa Hotel & Resort in the Dashan Village in Zhejiang, China. Taking inspiration from the local vernacular, the architects used local materials and techniques, such as rammed-earth construction, to create a resort that blends into its surroundings. Completed over the course of two years, the new Retreat Village is located on a remote, rural mountain. Although most of the original village architecture was built from rammed earth walls using local soils, the architects decided to only use rammed earth for a portion of the new construction so as to keep the interior from feeling too dark and constrained. The earthen walls are complemented by a natural material palette of bamboo, red bricks, stone and carbonized wood. To reduce site impact, the architects used locally produced as well as recycled materials and carefully sited the buildings to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Each of the buildings point in different directions to preserve privacy and to maximize views. An indoor- outdoor living experience is also emphasized in the design. Moreover, the use of natural materials and careful siting help make the village disappear into the landscape. Related: MAD’s ethereal Yiwu Grand Theater will “float” on Zhejiang waters “There is no light coming from this lonely village’s surrounding at night, so one can feel sufficient brightness even with a minimum amount of lighting,” adds the firm. “We kept the lights that can illuminate the entire space uniformly, such as downlights, to the minimum, and used all-directional soft umbrella-like lights such as free-standing lamps and table lights throughout the space. These fixtures project soft arches of light and shadow, illuminating the seamless finish and rounded edges of the walls and ceilings. Wrapped with the warmth of light, the rooms feel more calming and comfortable.” + kooo architects Images by Keishin Horikoshi / SS

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Rammed-earth walls make up a beautiful retreat hidden in the Zhejiang mountains

Greenery-filled renovation rethinks Indonesian colonial architecture

August 14, 2019 by  
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Indonesian architecture firm Kantor Gunawan Gunawan has transformed a century-old Dutch Colonial house into the PB House, a modern home with a strengthened connection to nature. The house, which has been handed down for three generations, has been updated to meet the needs of the new family while paying homage to historical elements. Indonesia’s lush tropical greenery has also been brought indoors with full-height glazing that pulls in garden views and frames a massive green wall . Following the typical Dutch Colonial style, the house was originally designed in quarters, with many rooms arranged along a main axis and joined together by a long hallway. To modernize the space, the architects knocked down most of the walls and created a large open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen that measures 10 meters by 6 meters. The ceilings were also raised to create a more airy feel. Related: Cooling breezes blow straight through a low-energy brick house in Indonesia To bring greenery into the 300-square-meter house, the architects had to grapple with the challenging narrow site, which only allowed for a small sliver of landscaping along the house. Making the most of a constrained footprint, the architects added a huge green wall on the west side that is framed through tall glass sliding doors in the living room. The walls of glass have also been installed throughout the house to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. The exterior of the building was given a fresh coat of paint, a black door and new window seals. It was also spruced up with original mosaic glass but has otherwise been kept the same. In contrast, the interior of the home has been completely transformed. “Using white, gray, orange and dark wood pattern, Kantor Gunawan Gunawan creates a consistent color palette throughout the whole house,” the firm noted. “The furniture is also consistently made of the same walnut material as the door and wall background. The dark wood and gray marble flooring also set the tone of a cozy and welcoming living area, as it also extends to the pantry table and to the wooden decking at the terrace.” + Kantor Gunawan Gunawan Photography by Mario Wibowo Photography via Kantor Gunawan Gunawan

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Greenery-filled renovation rethinks Indonesian colonial architecture

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