- 300 Cornwall \ Kennerly Architecture & Planning
- Tetris House \ Reza Aliabadi & Ehsan Zareian of rzlbd
- Danish Village Summer House \ Powerhouse Company
Posted: 08 Oct 2013 09:09 AM PDT
Not every part of old San Francisco is perfect. Here was a hiccup in the fabric where two streets slide together at an awkward angle, creating a mini district with unrealized potential as an urban place. The two streets are broad and have very different character. The building responds to this fact, amplifies it, and activates the cityscape around it.
The long rhomboidal parcel spanned by 3 wide bays each holds two homes; the building is then cleaved by landscaped courts to soften the transition from city to home. Suspended above and between these gardens each of the six homes is clearly expressed as a 2-story box of wood, stucco and glass. A retail storefront space and parking garage are tucked beneath.
Interlocked in section, the living spaces of each townhouse stretch from street to street and open directly to private patios. The gardens below serve as semi-private entry courts and offer glimpses through the narrow block. With the interlocking concept, each home is given its own expression on the street; each gets a patio and exposure on at least 2 sides. The wood paneling nestled into each sculpted volume recalls the stained wood entry alcoves of Victorian mansions.
+ Project facts
Site: Neighborhood commercial zone in San Francisco's Richmond District
+ All images and drawings courtesy Kennerly Architecture & Planning \ photo by Bruce Damonte
Posted: 08 Oct 2013 08:40 AM PDT
We have all played the game "Tetris" at least once in our lives. We were mesmerized by the magic of geometry and rewarded by our efficiency. For rzlbd Tetris is not just a game of block arrangement and fast performance, but it is a quest of effective design. If a designer of space was to be structured as Tetris blocks, there would be virtually zero wasted space within a building. When a client demanded a program that seemed impossible to fit in a 40' by 110' lot, specially if one tries to respect a tight zoning for an infill project in a city like Toronto, rzlbd decided to practice the challenges of "no leftover space" with a simple rule in mind: every inch is a usable inch.
The house is 3000 square feet, three-story structure that has the same program as a 4000 square feet house previously designed by rzlbd, 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 2 laundries, nanny room, home office, a large living/dining area and a spacious kitchen, bar with a wine cellar and entertainment area, covered garage and of course lots of storage area. Although Tetris house is compact in program, it manages to channel sufficient natural light throughout the entire length of the house. The light well that penetrates from the upper floor to the basement plugging into the living room with a glass-covered opening is an invisible Tetris element that helps bring a vertical light element into the house.
For better efficiency the 55 feet long wall on ground floor is filled with a continuous built-in millwork that adapts to the needs of the programs. It transforms from the office shelving by the entry foyer, to the kitchen/dining cabinets and the fireplace in the living area. The millwork not only connects the four programs but also creates lots of storage space and a clean modern look to avoid a congested floor plan. The Tetris elements that plug into one another create challenges such as meeting appropriate height clearances and stair landings to properly meet the floors. These issues were carefully dealt with in section by individual steps on each level corresponding to the change in programs to allow for sufficient height on the lower levels.
The exterior of the house is a surprising jumble of different materials and claddings that courageously expose the Tetris elements of the interior spaces. This bold exposure is not an attempt at creating a harmonious façade, yet it is an attractive and charming scene as it displays the geometry of a well-played Tetris game.
Design: Reza Aliabadi [ rzlbd]
+ All images courtesy borXu Design
Posted: 08 Oct 2013 08:24 AM PDT
Powerhouse Company was asked to design a weekend house for a young family in northern Sjælland, Denmark. Village House is an exploration on the possibilities of the Summer cabin, the traditional Danish vacation home. While keeping the cabin's footprint small, spatial as well as sustainable, there is a wide range of spatial possibilities, by using a five-fingered floor plan.
Keep it in the family
The house is a cluster of five wings, like miniature cabins. These fan out like a hand spreading five fingers over the site, generating a variety of views, light effects and outdoor areas. This variation means the house provides an enjoyable environment all year round and at all times of day. For example, a large window above the living room allows sunlight to bathe the dining table at around midday.
Summerhouses are traditionally family spaces, but when children grow older they need more independence from their parents. Hence the 'village of cabins' organisation, with radiating individual spaces that are united in the centre. Each member of the family effectively has the option of privacy when they need it. Meanwhile a star-shaped central space, uniting the living room and kitchen, forms the shared area which nevertheless offers pockets of seclusion to spend time alone while still in the family circle.
This solution faithfully reflects the rather different desires of the family members. One wanted a picturesque, cosy and archetypal summerhouse, while another wanted a spacious and contemporary feeling. Both desires are united in the design.
A certain frontier feeling
In basing Village House on the classic Danish summerhouse, while adding modern ideas of space, Powerhouse Company has created a contemporary harmony. The elementary wooden structure has a pitched roof, and it is black, the most discreet colour in nature, like the dark shadows in the surrounding woods. Inside, the uniform white surface maximises the northern light.
The rustic but modern solution is low maintenance, which is more important for a holiday home than offering lots of space. From an architectural point of view, its close relationship to the context is especially significant in a holiday home. The house contrasts with the routine home of the clients, and provides the basis for a separate lifestyle. Isn't that what we are looking for when we go on holiday?
+ Project data
Location: Sjælland, Denmark
+ All images and drawings courtesy Powerhouse Company
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