Category Archives: residential

A House for Pink Floyd

A House for Pink Floyd by arqbauraum, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Susana dos Santos, José Pedro Azevedo and Nuno Cabanal (arqbauraum) for  their entry in the ICARCH Competition "A House for Pink Floyd."

Exterior view. Image courtesy of arqbauraum

“How would the painter or poet express anything other than his encounter with the world” - Maurice Merleau Ponty

“Much of the modern movement has drawn the intellect and the sight, but left aside the human body and its sensations […] – but also left the memories and the dreams dislodged.” - Juhani Pallasmaa

The work is based on Man meeting with himself and does so through the senses.

Exterior detail. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Actual architecture has the ease of technological advances that everyday flood the offices with new materials. However all these amenities have achieved are for buildings to be deprived of presence, making them the fruit of unbridled consumption, of the ostentation and many times from the creator's Ego. Today architecture is endowed with a star system that dictates the trends as the world finds itself grappling with political crises and austerity. All these components have assembled an explosive cocktail when we look at the landscape of cities only to realize that the concept of "inhabit" is degraded.

Concept. Image courtesy arqbauraum

With this work we aim to give back to Man, in any place of the World – squares, gardens, glades, parking lots from big malls, etc. – the right to inhabit the planet without stratifications of any kind.

We have done it by going back to the children's imaginary to the age of dreams and curiosity, and in a simple and pure way we have created a multitude of spaces that enable each one, in a singular way, to be and to think.

Program. Image courtesy arqbauraum

To the image of the ordinary house we subtract its mass as an allegory to the present and to the reality we now live in; because both rely on the way we gaze and feel them. It's also a symbol of change because the absence of mass gives it a building-site character and also a lightness that emerges to oppose the image of concrete boxes.

Initiation Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Within the space of the house we've laid out five boxes made of white concrete in the exterior and black in the interior to keep the game of oppositions.

We wander through a synesthetic route that begins from north and ends at Nascent. Through it we primarily find the purification volume that intends to raise our vision and auditory senses.

Revelation Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

In the following box we find the shadows that symbolize the air. Its aim is for the individual to question the visually perceptible truth and also for the visual experience to assume tactile characteristics – feeling with the hand the form is "observed."

Purification Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Through the pathways between the boxes we are in the constant presence of the soil, the nature, the use of the sense of smell that refers to memories and the quest of Man through glades that were created from the subtraction of the total volume.

In a third moment the visitor is confronted with the light that symbolizes fire and the sense of feeling through the skin.

Knowledge Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

After reestablishing the equilibrium of the senses and the opening of the soul and the mind, we find the last two spaces. One is a space with books and the other with dialog, music and exchange for the house of Pink Floyd is what each and every one of us wants it to be.

With this project we wish to return to Man a place for him to pulse with the World, a space that appealed to solidarity and to the strength of the use of words.

Reflection Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Plan. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Section A. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Section B. Image courtesy arqbauraum

V’ House

V' House in Maastricht, Netherlands, by Wiel Arets Architects, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Wiel Arets Architects (WAA).

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

V’ House was constructed for a couple that collects vintage cars, and is stitched within the medieval tapestry of Maastricht. The city dictates all new structures remain within the envelope of pre-existing buildings, and so a cut was created in the house’s front façade to generate a triangulated surface, which leads from one neighbor’s sloped roof to the opposite neighbor’s vertical bearing wall. As the house’s site is long and narrow, voids were cut into the maximum permitted volume to ensure that natural light spills throughout the interior. The ground floor is both open to the exterior elements and sunken to the rear of the site, which makes possible the maximum two-story height allowance. A covered portion of this exterior space serves as an outdoor parking garage for the owners’ collection of Aston Martins.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

As the house finds refuge between two historical buildings, it is a burst of modernity within this currently gentrifying neighborhood of Maastricht. The house is enormous, totaling 530 m2, and is entered through two oversized sliding glass doors that perforate its front façade. These doors serve as the house’s main entry and open to either their left or right for entry by foot, and both simultaneously retract to allow the entry of automobiles. Due to safety and privacy concerns, these glass entry doors have no handles or keyholes and are instead are remotely opened from any iPhone, from anywhere in the world. For further privacy the house’s front façade was fritted with a gradient pattern of dots, which disperse in placement as the house rises towards the sky and focus at a distance to compose an image of curtains fluttering in the wind. Actual curtains align the interior of the front façade to afford additional privacy.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Circulation throughout the house occurs via two paths. A 'slow' stair leads from the ground floor to the expansive living room, which is connected to the partially raised kitchen and dining areas by a small ramp. A 'fast' stairwell traverses the entire height of the house and, together with the platform elevator, allows for direct vertical shortcuts to all levels of living. Thus this house, with its multiple circulation interventions, such as its living room ramp and ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ paths, is organized not around the traditional notion of stacked floors and is instead organized around its circulatory section. At the apex of this 'fast' route is the entrance to an expansive roof terrace that’s also the most public space of the house, as it offers panoramic views over the spired roofline of Maastricht.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

The living room has been suspended from two I-beams that span two masonry bearing walls that surround the rear of the site. Steel tension rods measuring 5x10 cm extend from these I-beams into the almost fully glazed façade of the living room, which allows its volume to float above the Aston Martins below. For privacy reasons, this glazing was treated with a highly reflective coating that casts a hue of chartreuse or amber depending on the season and angle of the sun. Only when inhabiting the master bedroom is this hanging of the living room apparent, as the I-beams are visible from the master bedroom, which opens onto the living room's roof, which functions as a private terrace for the owners.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Heating and cooling is provided via a concrete core activation system concealed within the floors and ceilings of the house, while all storage is built into the circulatory areas in order to divide spaces and define rooms. These custom designed storage units also outfit the office space, where they conceal a bed that can be lowered to accommodate temporary visitors, such as the owners' now grown children. All storage areas recede in prominence due to their fluid integration, which allows the house's interior to remain flexible and open for ephemeral definition. The one-piece custom designed kitchen was constructed in stainless steel, and the dining table, which is connected to it, cantilevers 3.5 m toward the front façade. The custom furnishings and storage spaces, together with the in-situ concrete and multiple roof terraces, make the V’ house an expression of free space in a regulated heritage context.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Floor plans courtesy of WAA

Floor plans courtesy of WAA

Building sections courtesy of WAA

Three Cusps Chalet

Three Cusps Chalet in Sé de Braga, Portugal, by Tiago do Vale Architects, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy Tiago do Vale Architects.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects


In the second half of the 19th century Portugal saw the return of a large number of emigrants from Brazil. While returning to their northern roots, specially in the Douro and Minho regions, they brought with them sizable fortunes made in trade and industry, born of the economic boom and cultural melting pot of the 19th century Brazil. With them came a culture and cosmopolitanism that was quite unheard of in the Portugal of the eighteen-hundreds.

That combination of Brazilian capital and taste sprinkled the cities of northern Portugal with examples of rich, quality architecture, that was singular in its urban context and frequently informed by the best that was being done in both Europe and Brazil.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects


The "Three Cusps Chalet" is a clear example of the Brazilian influence over Portuguese architecture during the 19th century, though it's also a singular case in this particular context.

Right as the Dom Frei Caetano Brandão Street was opened, a small palace was being built in the corner with the Cathedral's square and thanks to large amounts of Brazilian money. It boasted high-ceilings, rich frescos, complex stonework, stucco reliefs and exotic timber carpentry. In deference to such noble spaces, the kitchen, laundry, larders and personnel quarters, which were usually hidden away in basements and attics, were now placed within one contiguous building, of spartan, common construction.

Built according to the devised model of an alpine chalet, so popular in 19th century Brazil (with narrow proportions, tall windows, pitched roofs and decorated eaves), the "Three Cusps Chalet" was that one building. Due to the confluence of such particular circumstances it's quite likely the only example of a common, spartan, 19th century building of Brazilian ancestry in Portugal.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Sitting at the heart of both the Roman and medieval walls of Braga, a stone's throw away from Braga's Cathedral (one of the most historically significant of the Iberian Peninsula) this is a particularly sunny building with two fronts, one facing the street at West and another one, facing a delightful, qualified block interior plaza at East, enjoying natural light all day long.

At the time of our survey, its plan is organized by the staircase (brightened by a skylight), placed at the center of the house and defining two spaces of equal size, East and West,  on each of the floors. The nature of each floor changes from public to private as we climb from the store at the street level to a living room (West) and kitchen (East) at the first floor,  with the sleeping quarters on top. Materials-wise, all of the stonework and the peripheral supportive walls are built with local yellow granite, while the floors and roof are executed with wooden beams with hardwood flooring.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects


Confronted by both its degrading state and degree of adulteration, and by the interest of its story and typology, the design team took as their mission the recovery the building's identity, which had been lost in 120 years of small unqualified interventions. The intention was to clarify the building's spaces and functions while simultaneously making it fit for today's way of living.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

The program asked for the cohabitation of a work studio and a home program. Given the reduced area of the building, the original strategy of hierarchizing spaces by floor was followed. The degree of privacy grows as one climbs the staircase. The stairs also get narrower with each flight of steps, informing the changing nature of the spaces it connects.

A willingness to ensure the utmost transparency throughout the building, allowing light to cross it from front to front and from top to bottom, defined all of the organizational and partitioning strategies resulting in a solution related to a vertical loft.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

The design team took advantage of a 1,5 m height difference between the street and the block's interior plaza to place the working area on the ground level, turing it westward and relating it to the street. Meanwhile, the domestic program relates with the interior plaza and the morning light via a platform that solves the transition between kitchen and exterior. This allows for both spaces to immediately assert quite different personalities and light, even though they are separated by just two flights of stairs.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

The staircase geometry, previously closed in 3 of its sides, efficiently filters the visual relations between both programs while still allowing for natural light to seep down from the upper levels and illuminate the working studio.

The second floor was kept for the social program of the house. Refusing the natural tendency for compartmentalizing, the staircase was allowed to define the perimeters of the kitchen and living room, creating an open floor with natural light all day long. Light enters from the kitchen in the morning, from the staircase's skylight and from the living room in the afternoon.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Climbing the last and narrow flights of stairs we reach the sleeping quarters where the protagonist is the roof, whose structure was kept apparent, though painted white. On the other side of the staircase, which is the organizing element on every floor, there's a clothing room, backed by a bathroom.

If the visual theme of the house is the white color, methodically repeated on walls, ceilings, carpentry and marble, the clothing room is the surprise at the top of the path towards the private areas of the house. Both the floor and roof structure appear in their natural colors surrounded by closet doors constructed in the same material. It reads as a small wooden box, a counterpoint to the home's white box and being itself counterpointed by the marble box of the bathroom.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects


Fitting with the strategy of maximizing light and the explicitness of the spaces, the material and finish choices used in this project were intentionally limited. White color was used for the walls, ceilings and carpentry due to its spacial qualities and lightness. Wood in its natural color is used for the hardwood floors and clothing room due to its warmth and comfort. Portuguese white Estremoz marble, which covers the ground floor, countertops and on the bathrooms and laundry walls and floors, was chosen for its texture, reflectivity and color.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

ll of the original wood window frames of the main façade were recovered, the roof was remade with the original Marseille tiles over a pine structure and the decorated eave restored to its original glory. The hardwood floors were remade with southern yellow pine over the original structure and all the surfaces that required waterproofing covered with Portuguese Estremoz marble. Ground floor window frames were remade in iron, as per the original, but redesigned in order to maximize natural illumination (as on the east façade).

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Floor plans courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Building sections courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Taipei Sales Center

Taipei Sales Center in Taipei, Taiwan, by Oyler Wu Collaborative, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Often the unusual circumstances surrounding the design of a project leads to the most unusual results. In the case of this temporary sales center in Taipei by Oyler Wu Collaborative, the convergence of a set of ongoing architectural interests converged with an unusual site, timeline, program, and developer to create an unexpected outcome.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

The existing building is really a conglomeration of different buildings, built over several decades. The outcome is a five-story volume pierced (quite literally) and interconnected by an intricate ribbon of rope, steel, and fabric. The renovation creates an entirely new identity and is suggestive of the modern intervention that will soon occupy the site.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Located on the future site of a new 16-story residential tower (also designed by Oyler Wu Collaborative), the developers were interested in renovating the existing corner building to become the sales center for that future building. The program includes meeting and exhibition rooms as well as a model home. Interestingly, the program called for only half of the square footage of the existing building. With the most desirable spaces being on the upper floors, the second and third floors were left unprogrammed.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

The initial design brief called for a new “skin” with a thickness of no more than 7 inches to work within. The limited programmatic needs created the potential for an intervention that somehow made use of those spaces. With the desire to create a “spatial ribbon” that flowed between facades and into the building, one of the primary features of the building is a torqued void that cuts through the southern facade of the building and then re-emerges on the eastern facade. In the spirit of Gordon Matta-Clark, this void offers unusual views of the city through, out of, and deep into the heart of the building.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

With much of building acting as a simple volume, the intricacy of the detail in the facade creates a visual and spatial connector between the openings. Beginning at an oculus at the ground floor, the ribbon flows up through the voids and spreads across the facade eventually linking up with windows, wrapping into adjacent facades.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Project Team:
Dwayne Oyler, Jenny Wu, Huy Le, Sanjay Sukie, Mike Piscitello, Zhao Ji Luo

JUT Land Development

Drawing courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Drawing courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Clifftop House

Clifftop House in Maui, Hawaii, by Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti, 2011

The following text and images are courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Maui's south coast is gentle and works for indulging all-inclusive holidays, whereas its north coast is a rough surfer’s paradise with strong winds and most important perfect waves. Windsurf sail designer Robert Stroj moved from Europe to Maui to lead the design research studio of Neil Pryde in Kahului, Maui. While exploring the island with his wife, they soon fell in love with the area of West Maui Mountains on the north coast; a very unpopulated area with high cliffs at the cost, fresh onshore breezes and unobstructed views to the ocean.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

After finding the perfect spot it took them three years to buy the land and several more to finish the house. Now they live there with their two sons and a dog. The home in such an environment becomes crucially important. Besides being just a home, this house works also as a social venue for the owners. The evening events are culinary blasts, where every guest realizes that cooking is not just necessity but more an obsession. Therefore the kitchen and the dining form the center of the house.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Perfect ocean view, beautiful cliffs, strong winds and unspoiled rough landscape—Is there any space for a house? It was a very unusual task for us European architects usually dealing with quite dense urban environment. It was hard to understand before its first visit and easy to respond after some days spent there.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

The concept defines several "houses" under a common roof. Each separate "mini house" is a U-shaped volume in order to open up and frame the perfect ocean view. The houses are self-contained private units combining bedroom and bathroom as en-suite double room. A fluid public space between enclosed private volumes serves for cooking, eating, lounging, etc.

Sketches courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

The ensured privacy within the separate houses allows for a home without hallways, and furthermore for a continuous social and typological change: the four-person family home can be easily transformed into a mini hotel for 3 couples or 3 families with small children. The spatial concept even allowed the transformation of both "service houses" into a workspace: the garage into a sail loft - workshop for sail prototypes and the utility into Robert’s ocean view design studio.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

The roof concept is strongly related to the rough climate with plenty of sun and strong ocean winds. The area of the roof is twice the size of the house, so the size of the covered outdoor space equals the size of the indoor space. The house needs no air-conditioning, since it is cross ventilated throughout. The folded roof is carefully attached to the walls of the U-shaped volumes and defines specific spaces. It also serves as a folded wooden deck for contemplating, playing or releasing the radio controlled flying wings, with the aim to materially and topologically integrate the house with the landscape.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Local materials are used for the finishing of the house. The walls are rendered with the specific plaster using beach sand inside and outside and furthermore emphasize the smooth indoor-outdoor relationship. The same Ipe wood is used for the floor, terrace, ceiling and even the roof. On the other hand the house is for U.S. standards typically constructed out of concrete blocks, which just reflects the European origin of the owner.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

We like to believe the architecture is done on site with a strong control of the construction process. Here we were not able to visit the site while in process as often as we would want to, but all the essential supervision and site-coordination work was carefully done by the owner, an industrial designer mind who was always in touch online. The owners’ true passion for this house was stretched to the level that the last seven years they largely helped with most of the physical work from roof cladding to stucco or furniture. Within this extensive process they have already built a long-lasting relationship with this house, now their home.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Floor plan courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Diagram courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Leaf Facade

Leaf Facade in London, England, by Squire and Partners, 2013

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Architectural inspiration can be found just about anywhere nowadays—forms and structures can echo those of animals; buildings can become landforms through the manipulation of landscape; and a building's function can dictate its expression, among an almost infinite number of tactics. In many cases inspiration comes from something nearby, such as an area landmark or an important view. In the case of Squire and Partners' design of a private house in Mayfair, London, inspiration came in the form of a house one block away.

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Drawing courtesy of Squire and Partners

The five story residence—consisting of four bedrooms, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a home cinema, two roof terraces and an area of green roof—sits in a conservation area, so the architects converted an old pub (The Red Lion) and retained an 18th-century brick wall, behind which the house rises. Cladding of the house was inspired by a building on Curzon Street that faces the preserved brick facade. Seen below, the building on Curzon street stands out because it is the only one on the street covered with ivy (Virginia Creeper, actually), as well as standing out for its location at the end of the short perpendicular street visually connecting the two otherwise unrelated buildings.

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

As the process documentation below indicates, the architects abstracted the leaves that make up the facade on Curzon Street and found ways to create a repeating element that has some depth, texture and shadow. The final result does not have the seasonal variation of the (literally) green facade one block away, but the scale and pattern have quite a nice effect, both from a distance and up close.

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Per Squire and Partners: "The contemporary interpretation of leaves is crafted as a metallic shingle, which cover a three story elevation and rooftop pavilion. The PPC [polyester powder coating, I presume] coated folded aluminium leaves – 4,080 in total - subtly vary in tones of bronze to mimic organic growth patterns. The concept was designed over a three year period of research and development working closely with Swiss manufacturer Tuchschmid."

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

The color variation in the "leaves" is particularly noticeable up close, though not really from a distance. The yellow-to-brown range gives the facade an autumnal hue that also recalls bricks, but with a diagonal orientation rather than a horizontal one. The best aspect of the repeated detail is the folds, which enable the leaves to overlap but also to cast shadows and face in two directions. This feature ensures that the leaves will reflect the light in various ways throughout the day, tracking time in their own way, just as the facade with Virginia Creeper tracks time (the seasons) in its own way.

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners

Photograph courtesy of Squire and Partners


Modern Ruin

Modern Ruin in Sante Fe, New Mexico, by Autotroph Design, 2012

Photographs by Alexander Dzurec and Kate Russell are courtesy of Autotroph Design

"Modern Ruin" is an apt name for this house and studio in Agua Fria Traditional Village, just outside Sante Fe. Sharing a piece of property with a family member's house, a green house, chicken coops, and a garden, the new structures designed by Autotroph Design recall the area's traditional adobe architecture and its modern industrial infrastructure. The project appears like something incomplete—a ruin—even as it provides relatively comfortable appointments for the owners, who are also the builders.

The project is comprised of two primary volumes: the dwelling in rammed earth and weathered steel, and the studio in a prefabricated Quonset hut. The house is a two-story structure with service and living spaces on the first floor and a bedroom upstairs. A roof terrace extends from the bedroom over the kitchen and living room.

Inside, the industrial aspect of the design comes in the form of steel joists, corrugated decking, fixtures, and exposed conduit that stand out against the thick rammed earth and CMU walls. The open living area benefits from a glazed garage door that unites the space with a patio to the south. Another patio can be found on the west, just next to the kitchen.

The owners are two artists and avid art collectors, and the "modern ruin" jibes with their lifestyles in a couple ways. First, the house acts as an armature for the display of art, especially on wood walls that were sanded down from the formwork used for the rammed earth. Second, the house is itself an artwork, in terms of the rough qualities of the materials and details, like the kitchen island and sliding doors.

The house also benefits from a number of sustainable features: passive solar orientation and window shading, natural ventilation, solar-thermal radiant floor heating, rainwater catchment, a green roof, permaculture landscape and reused building materials. These features blend seamlessly with a design that finds inspiration in traditional methods, all the while expressed in way that is contemporary and unabashedly (in a good way) rough around the edges.

Villa Nieuw Oosteinde

Villa Nieuw Oosteinde in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, by Engel Architecten, 2012.

Nieuw Oosteinde (New East End) is a new neighborhood in Aalsmeer, a town fairly close to Amsterdam. A quick glance at the website for the area reveals a mix of primarily traditional dwellings, where gables predominate regardless of type (single-family, semi-detached, rowhouse). Yet within this new/traditional neighborhood Engel Architecten has inserted a perfect cube of concrete, wood, and glass.

From certain angles, such as the photo at right, the house looks like it is only a cube, when in actuality it is made up of that volume and a small workshop on the side; both are linked by a glass corridor. Even as the architects describe the house as a cube, its materiality forces a reading of something else, something striated with a wood base, a tall upper story in concrete, and a band of glass in between. The roughly 1:3 ratio of wood/glass (if we combine them for simplicity's sake) to concrete comes about from the latter serving as guardrails for a roof terrace.

Inside, the house's square plan (10 meters per side) is pretty straightforward, split into four smaller squares. On the ground floor these relate to entrance, living, dining, and kitchen, even as the last three are one continuous L-shaped space. Powder room, storage, and stairs share the entry square, the last heading up to three square bedrooms and the stair's square shared by a full bathroom. Large windows are located on one side of each bedroom and the bathroom, pinwheeling about the plan such that each exterior expanse of precast concrete panels are exactly the same.

Besides the workshop, the only other "violation" of the cube is the rooftop projection clad in wood. Housing the stair and some storage, this volume naturally allows access to the roof terrace, whose definition through the concrete panels leads one's eyes to the sky and treetops. Photographed with fake grass and some outdoor furniture, this space is reminiscent of a Le Corbusier rooftop (you know, that one). Beyond this superficial comparison, the roof terrace nicely "takes back" the ground that it sits upon—one of Corbu's Five Points—giving the residents something that the neighboring gabled houses can't have.

Slip House

Slip House in London, UK by Carl Turner Architects, 2012.

Occupying one of four plots forming a gap in a typical Brixton terrace, Slip House constitutes a new prototype for adaptable terraced housing. Three simple ‘slipped’ orthogonal box forms break up the bulk of the building and give it it’s striking sculptural quality.  The top floor is clad in milky, translucent glass planks, which continue past the roof deck to create a high level ‘sky garden’. Designed to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, it features ‘energy piles’ utilizing a solar assisted ground source heat pump creating a thermal store beneath the building.

PV’s, a wildflower roof, rain water harvesting, reduced water consumption, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery within an airtight envelope with massive levels of insulation make this one of the most energy efficient houses built in the UK. A prototype brownfield development offering dense, flexible, urban living – the house is a vehicle for in-house research into sustainable design, seamlessly integrating the often conflicting aesthetic requirements of architecture and alternative low energy systems. We are working to develop this model for multiple developments and as affordable housing.

Living and working (‘Living over the shop’) is something that really interests us.  We see a prototype new ‘terraced’ house, squeezed into under-utilised city (Brownfield) sites. This flexible type of home can allow for the artisan or home-worker to sub-let or downsize.  This can enliven local communities and produce ‘homes’ which create opportunities rather than be dormitories or financial assets. Slip House is flexible and can be used as a single home, studio workspace and apartment, or two apartments.

The perimeter walls are load bearing, freeing up the internal areas of supporting columns or additional load bearing walls. The house’s open-plan layout ensures that walls / dividers are simple to erect and require minimal construction effort. This aspect of Slip House is not only financially sustainable but also environmentally so, as it helps to ensure the permanence of the overall structure, as minimal modifications can allow the house to adapt to changing lives and living situations indefinitely.

Archway Studios

Archway Studios in London, UK by Undercurrent Architects, 2012.

According to Undercurrent Architects, over 10,000 arches comprise the Victorian railway infrastructure that cuts up the city of London. Their design of the aptly named Archway Studios—a live-work space—positions the building under and adjacent to one of these arches, thereby exploiting the potential for the other 9,999. This particular one is part of a 19th-century railway viaduct in the Southwark district. The load-bearing brick vaults of the viaduct are accompanied by some rusting steel above; both appear to have influenced the architects in their design.

The three-story structure looks like it merely sits next to the viaduct, or caps one of the openings. But it actually extends underneath, sitting atop a rubber foundation and separated from the brick above via an independent liner and plenty of acoustical blanketing. This results in a fairly open and light living space on the ground floor, but that is only half the story. A section through the building would reveal an "L" shape—one leg level to the ground and one leg pointing up, extending past the railway's guardrail, as the building actually does.

The vertical leg contains a bedroom and bathroom one floor above, accessed via a spiral stair, and the work space above it still, up a straight-run stair. A skylight caps the volume, and combined with the shape of the floors below, daylight extends all the way to the ground floor. Natural light also enters the interior through the narrow windows that are located in the gaps between the surfaces of weathering steel that cover the vertical volume. These windows are very important, given the confines of the site and the need for privacy.

The rusty steel skin is easily the most striking aspect of the design. The way it appears to drape itself from the top of the building and peel back to admit daylight as it extends to the ground recalls Undercurrent's Leaf House, but turned on its side. In addition to their organic forms, each house takes its inspiration from their surroundings (industrial infrastructure, trees) and creates an interesting dialogue between inside and outside. The Leaf House's freedom of structure is not available with this London site, but the architects let the interior follow the archway, making the residents aware of their unique situation.