New Concrete House in Brissago (2013) by Wespi De Meuron Romeo Architects located in Brissago, Switzerland | The Hardt
A simply cut monolith in washed concrete, which is docked directly to the road, rises from the natural topography of the slope. Two cars are parked almost directly on the roof. The visitor is guided down along a linear alleyway to the entrance door. An entrance courtyard is located directly behind the wooden entrance gate. Across this courtyard, one enters the house on the top floor and will be received by the kitchen with a long dining table and an open fireplace. Already when entering, the room open itself to the landscape, the “Lago Maggiore” and the mountains. The entrance door and the glass front to the court can completely be a shift into the wall so that the outside and the interior space flows together in the summertime. Lift and staircase lead to the lower floors.
At the floor beneath is located the additional living area, with living room, fireplace, library, and TV, as well as a covered outdoor terrace and a generous courtyard with natural stone pavement, two olive trees, and a fountain. Means wide openings to the court and to the outside, exterior and Interior, landscape and architecture forms a unity. The inside participates to the court, like the court participates in the landscape, offering spectacular views. The court can be closed by two wooden gates, which generate a secure feeling. This court becomes The Hardt of the house; different paths join together here, like in a historic village. On both sides of the court walkways and stairs lead down to the large garden terrace with swimming pool and outdoor kitchen.
On the two lower floors of the house are placed three bedrooms and the baths, as well as fitness room and a sauna; they are also connected to the garden and swimming pool by appropriate exits. Due to its spatial diversity, complex relationships between interior and exterior spaces, diverse path choice, this house can be experienced like a historic village.
When Donald Judd began his Marfa project in the early 1970s, he would never have predicted the near-mythic status it would end up achieving. The small town of 2,000 residents is 20 miles from the next town and nearly three hours from the nearest major airport, yet it features a contemporary art museum, the Chinati Foundation, and the highly instagrammable Prada Marfa, and attracts artists, celebrities, and urbanites looking for a simpler life—or the latest music festival—all year-round. Besides the austerely beautiful high-desert landscape, this creative enclave is also well known for is its minimalist interiors, architecture, and furniture. Last month, the Monacelli Press published Marfa Modern: Artistic Interiors of the West Texas High Desert, Helen Thompson’s look at 21 homes that illustrate the former water-stops sky, light, and unique sense of isolation. Here, a preview of seven of the homes featured inside.
The Coolest Pool
Trendsetting Austin hotelier Liz Lambert renovated Marfa’s 1950s-era Thunderbird Hotel into a boutique hotel, transformed a large plot of land into El Cosmico, a “nomadic hotel and campground”, and spiffed up an adobe bunkhouse that used to belong to her uncle for herself in the meantime. A water tank is a short jeep ride from the house—it’s her favorite spot for a quick swim and a breathtaking desert view.
“Trendsetting Austin hotelier Liz Lambert renovated Marfa’s 1950s-era Thunderbird Hotel into a boutique hotel.”
Pop Art in the Desert
Houston-based architectural designer Barbara Hill, a red-haired “Miss Texas, 1956”, prefers to remove decorative and architectural elements rather than add them. She spent a year and a half transforming this adobe building, which had been a private dance hall, grocery, and candy store in turn.
The house is located downtown and passersby, curious to see what’s beyond the wall, often peer over the top for a look. Their curiosity is rewarded by a view of a fire pit that anchors the front yard, which was created by Houston and Marfa-based metal artist George Sacaris. Marfa resident and landscape architect Jim Martinez designed the garden.
Hill used birth plywood on both the ceiling and the floor of her home, for visual continuity. White plaster walls add luminous glamour to the rough-and-ready décor. Deep-set windows throughout soften Marfa’s glaring midday light and suggest that the hefty structure is here to stay.
In another 864-square-foot adobe house in Marfa, Hill removed acoustical-tile ceiling in the two front rooms to reveal three additional feet above. Hill installed pink neon light behind the seven-foot-tall Warhol that presides over the dining table and its black and white Bertoia chairs. The bar cart in the kitchen is from Kuhl-Linscomb in Houston.
“Marfa, Texas Has Really Come Into Its Own As A Central Hub For A Flourishing Creative Art Scene.” – Asher Hardt
Earthy Meets Modern
King and Lisa Grossman purchased this century-old adobe building from Barbara Hill; she used it as a weekend retreat but it was once a lawyer’s office and later, a beauty parlor. Two delicate-looking steel rods stretch across both edges of the room’s width—these necessary structural elements are much stronger than they look and give the adobe lateral support. The hay bale coffee table is by The Art Guys, and a pair of Charles and Ray Eames sofas flank the table.
A long French work table, designed by Barbara Hill, now makes an inviting dining table. Blackened steel cabinets are a dramatic counterpoint to the luminous white plaster walls throughout.
2.0 Sliding Doors
“The chairs at the dining table were made as part of a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s,” says Helen. “The green hand-built chair belonged to Martinez’s great-grandmother.”
The 80-degree angle floor plan of the home is a nod to Jim Martinez’s grandmother whose New Mexico home had the same east-facing floor plan.
“The chairs at the dining table were made as part of a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s,” says Helen. “The green hand-built chair belonged to Martinez’s great-grandmother.
Color That Pops
When Houston interior designer Marlys Tokerud made the decision to purchase a 1904 adobe house in 1999, she planned to tear down the 550-square-foot pink stucco frame house also on the lot. But Tokerud soon realized she could renovate the little house to live in while she remodeled the main house and soon found oak flooring and a perfectly preserved longleaf pine ceiling that had been the underside of the original roof. A horse trough serves as a tub in the master bath, where vintage blue bottles line a concrete shelf lit by a slit window in the plaster walls.
In the main house, elements such as the 10-foot-high ceilings, 14-inch walls, and painted wood doors were kept intact. Longleaf pine floors were used elsewhere in the house. Not long after Tokerud and her partner, Rick Houser, finished renovating, however, another fire broke out in the kitchen. The repairs offered an opportunity for upgrades, such as plaster walls, discreetly recessed track lighting, and multiple coats of a glossy paint on the ceiling. Houser built a kitchen island out of half a bowling lane imported from El Paso and brought in industrial lighting form his Houston woodworking shop. In the living room, a Christian Liaigre chaise serves as an antidote to the circa 1904 house’s rustic underpinnings. Metal artist George Sacaris built the base for the pine dining table, which was formerly a Mexican door.
On the site of a former Volkswagen repair shop known as George’s Garage, Vilis Inde, a lawyer turned art collector and gallery owner, and his partner, Tom Jacobs, decided to build a gallery and residence. Pard Morrison’s fired-pigment-on-aluminum sculpture Schneewittchen, 2013, stands tall in a courtyard between the gallery side of the building and the residence. An orange chair by Donald Judd is just visible beyond, in the gallery. A grid pattern inlaid in the interior courtyard defines the space.
This is a house built for living, but also for art. The all-white residence and gallery are designed to help it recede in an unobtrusive way—both from the perspective of the viewer in the street as well as from a visitor stepping inside. Box shapes play a dominant role in the gallery’s design, and squares appear as a recurring motif throughout the bedroom, as with the bookshelves and the chair.
On a lot next to a gas station, on a highway a few blocks West of downtown, Jamey Garza, of Garza Marfa, built a 1200-square-foot cinder-block house covered in gray stucco for a Los Angeles-based couple looking to make a design connection in Marfa. Initially, the couple had wanted a roadhouse but decided on a private getaway after logistics and reality set in. Concrete floors, which were part of the original plan remained and exposed steel trusses and cypress ceilings cover the main room, which includes living, dining, sleeping, and cooking spaces. The casement windows wrap three sides of the room and were painted in a rich orange hue of auto body lacquer. White hard-plaster walls provide a luminous contrast to the velvety gray stucco on the facade. A screened porch on the Westside offers both protection from the sun and a destination for perfect breeze-catching.
This home was painstakingly remodeled over the course of eight years by Austin-based chef Terry Nowell. He added a bathroom and upstairs sleeping loft and modernized the kitchen. Nowell painted the portrait that hangs above the sofa and the red ladder he built that leads to a sleeping loft.
A dried agave plant in a corner of the downstairs bedroom emphasizes the ceiling height (which Nowell raised from seven to ten feet). A “truth window” above the pairs of windows exposes the original adobe brick. Both inside and out, the adobe blocks are covered in cement. Nowell made the white pine bed, woodblock table, the desk, and the floor lamp. He also built the wood side table.
Lotus House (2005) by Kengo Kuma, located in eastern Japan by a quiet river, deep in the mountains | The Hardt
Lotus House (2005) by Kengo Kuma, located in eastern Japan by a quiet river, deep in the mountains. Kengo says he thought of filling water between the river and the house and planting lotus so that the dwelling would be conveyed by the lotus to the river and continue into the woods on the other side of the river. The architecture itself is basically composed of holes. It is divided into two wings, with the hole-shaped terrace in between serving to connect the wood in the back of the house with the woods on the opposite bank. Wall surfaces are also designed as countless holes.
I thought to build a state where nature and architecture were blended on a quiet riverbank in a deep mountain. I thought about watering between the river and the house, planting a lotus, and creating a state where the house continues to the river and the forest of the opposite bank with Lotus pond as a medium.
Construction of the building itself is based on a hole. The building is divided into two buildings, and a large terrace-shaped in the shape of the holes that occurred during that time plays a role of connecting the forest on the back side and the forest on the other side. The wall is also designed as countless holes. While using a material with a sense of weight as a stone, we made a light wall like the wind blows through. By hanging a thin travertine plate of 20 cm × 60 cm, 30 mm in heat from a flat bar of 8 × 16 mm and making it a detail constituting a checkered board like porous pattern, it is like a paper while it is a stone, and a lotus I could make a light wall like a petal.
Official trailer of the film “Koolhaas Houselife” by Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine
Maison Bordeaux by Rem Koolhaas located in Bordeaux, France | The Hardt
Maison Bordeaux by Rem Koolhaas located in Bordeaux, France. With the ability to make even the simplest and straightforward programs spatially dynamic and in a constant state of redefinition, Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA have redefined the term that “a house is a machine for living” in their design of Maison Bordeaux. Completed in 1998, Maison Bordeaux sits on a small cape-like hill overlooking the city of Bordeaux. The house was designed for a couple and their family, but before Koolhaas and OMA were commissioned for the project in 1994 the husband of the family was in a life-threatening car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Two years after his accident, the couple approached Koolhaas to design them a new home outside of Bordeaux. Despite having been paralyzed, the man did not want t straightforward house rather he wanted a complex design, stating: “Contrary to what you would expect. I want a complex house because the house will define my world.” Koolhaas proposed a rather simple volume that was spatially complex and innovative in terms of the interior organization and conditions. Koolhaas proposed a house that was the compilation of three houses stacked on top of one another; each with their own unique characteristics and spatial conditioning.
The house appears as three separate entities that fluctuate between opaque and transparent. The lower level sits as a heavy mass that is carved into the hill. The interior is cavernous and labyrinthian, in a sense, where all of the intimate activities of the family take place. The middle volume is the most transparent as well as the most occupied space in the house. It is the space for the living area that is situated partially indoors and outside offering extensive views over Bordeaux and allowing for a multitude of activities with its open plan. The top volume is similar to the lower level in that it is opaque and conceals the bedrooms of the children and the couple. Unlike the lower level, the volume is penetrated with porthole windows that create views for the residents from their beds.
With each floor being inherently different it is perplexing as to how a handicapped man was able to live in such a spatially complex house. Even though there is no duplicated, or repeated, organizational system, all three volumes are tied together by a central elevator that moves between each floor. However, it is not simply just an elevator for vertical circulation between floors, but it is masked by the husbands office that provides access to the entire house moving from the kitchen, the lower level, all the way to the bedroom on the highest floor, which was driven by a large hydraulic piston that raised and lowered the room whenever necessary. This ingenious idea of creating a room that is capable of moving vertically through the house creates a spatial dynamism within the house that is always changing and redefining the space of the office as well as the space where it stops.
With the three differentiated volumes stacked on one another, it appears as if the highest volume is floating on the middle volume because of the transparent glass. With such a complex organization among floors, the overall structure of the house comes into question as to how these volumes stack up to one another. With the third volume seemingly floating on top of the middle volume and actually cantilevering over it, one wonders how it could be supported. The cantilevering volume is supported by a steel tube that conceals a spiral staircase that extends throughout each level of the house. In addition to the steel cylinder, there is an L – shaped brace that supports the back end of the house, which is complemented by a steel beam that runs along the roof that connects to a tension cable that is buried in the ground to stabilize the lateral loads – a signature of architectural intent by Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond.
Maison Bourdeaux is a masterful innovation of space that far exceeded the expectation of the client’s wishes. Maison Bordeaux remains as a private residence that does not allow public visitors; however, regardless of its seclusion, it is still an innovative architectural landmark that was true “a machine for living.”
Within an exclusive video interview, Zumtobel had the chance to talk to Rem Koolhaas. In this context, Koolhaas provides insights into his work. In particular, he emphasizes the creative freedom of forms and the potential of lighting in contemporary architecture. He uses artificial light as a coding to understand the complexity of his buildings.
Movies On Design 2015: Koolhaas Houselife 25—26 September / 2, 4 October 2015
Aesthetically and Geographically Related Projects:
Stone House Transformation in Scaiano by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architects | The Hardt
Stone House Transformation in Scaiano by Wespi de Meuron Romeo architects. Situated in Caviano, Switzerland, the renovation of the 1,786 ft² (166 m²) home took place in 2014. The original substance of this historic stone house, in the core of the village of Scaiano, consists in the main building with a cellar with vault and two floors above with kitchen, living and sleeping spaces. A later added annex, also completely made in solid natural stone, contained on the ground floor a small grape brandy distillery, on the 1.floor a room with above an attic. Exterior stone stairs and some small walls in front of the main facade seems to have been created at the same time as the annex. In front of the main building, there was original – before the annex was built – a small square, the only one in the village structure.
Before the conversion, this building was inhabited for over two decades. It was protected with a provisory roof against decay, but it needed a complete renovation to be adapted to the contemporary needs of comfort. The stone walls were mainly maintained, just the joints had to be remade. The isolation is applied to the inside of the walls. All wooden beam floors were replaced with concrete floors, which reinforce the old walls additionally. On the main house, a new pitched roof in wood construction was inserted in the stone walls, meanwhile, on the annex, it was created a roof terrace with a natural stone-paved floor. The main architectural target of the intervention was to carve out the force of the massive stonewalls and to gain this archaic simplicity of the volume of the historic building. So the external stone staircase was removed to create again the small village square in front of the house, with a fountain and bench, which invites to spontaneous encounters.
The old cellar with vault becomes the new main entrance: it was divided into an unheated outdoor zone and in heated entrance zone with the wardrobe and a small room with washbasin and shower. On one side the old stonewall was cut out and a stair was integrated, to lead up to the upper floors. The old grape brandy distillery is now also connected to the cellar with vault and can be used as a cool summer outdoor loggia with a simple fireplace in raw steel.
The glass façade in front the rooms, towards the lake, has been placed with a distance of about 60 cm from the old stonewalls. This glass front protects against the outside climate and it’s like a second skin behind the effective facade. This outer zone is mainly not covered and it rains in. This concept allows, on the one hand, the authentic conservation of the historic stone façade, which tells the history of the house and on the other hand, it generates zenith light for the rooms with exceptional light reflections. It would not have been possible otherwise to get sunlight into the rooms, in such a village structure with narrow streets. The materialization of the interior is adapted to the archaic existing: natural impregnated cement floors, stone grey plaster for walls and ceilings, oiled larch wood joinery. The new intervention is not contrasting the existing substance, new and old are merging together and creating a new ensemble.
Casa Arimon (2017) by Garcia-Duran located in Sabadell, Spain | The Hardt
Casa Arimon (2017) by Garcia-Duran located in Sabadell, Spain. Architecture is essentially the search for light. And this is what the architect Marc García-Durán does in the renovation of an old family home. The house was built by the architect, urban planner and mathematician Josep Oriol i Bernadet in 1858. It was completely renovated in a modernist style by Josep Renom i Costa in 1911 and partially renovated by Santiago Casulleras i Forteza in 1945.
In an amazing dialogue with the architects who preceded him, Marc García-Durán has cut walls with his drawing pen and stripped staircase structures. Not to create new spaces or rediscover old spaces. But rather to create while rediscovering. To dilute the hands of time. To search, definitively, for the light. The architect has not only conversed with time. He has also conversed with the space, with the factory that is next to the house, with the family’s textile tradition, transforming the wool into a glass and the old boxes of thread into closets. The exterior of the house is classified as an asset. I have no doubt that after Marc García-Durán’s intervention the interior will be classified the same way one day
Pamela Ruiz and Damian Aquiles Havana House located in Havana, Cuba
Pamela Ruiz and Damian Aquiles Havana House located in Havana, Cuba. About once a month, the Havana villa that Pamela Ruiz and Damian Aquiles brought back to life amid obstacles that only a Cuban could appreciate becomes electric. Massive chandeliers cast dancing shadows on the tile floors, the saffron perfume of paella fills the air and guests like Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Anne Bass and the Proenza Schouler designers mix with local artists and cultural figures.
Ruiz, an American, came to the island two decades ago to scout locations for an ad campaign, then met and fell in love with Aquiles, an artist. Since then, she has become Cuba’s Peggy Guggenheim — without the inheritance and retinue of famous lovers. Against the backdrop of the couple’s magnificent house — it took them eight years to gain rights to it and another seven to renovate — Ruiz, who grew up in a middle-class household in Queens, has become an unlikely social locus as the country rejoins the West. It may seem that she is merely in the right place at just the right moment, but back in the mid-1990s when Ruiz decided to immigrate to Cuba, everyone, including Aquiles’s family, thought she was crazy. The Soviet Union had fallen and food and gas were scarce; cats became a delicacy and horse-drawn carts replaced buses. There were virtually no other Americans except for Black Panthers and fugitives; the few European expats and diplomats weren’t interested in socializing with her as she didn’t have the right sort of pedigree. But settling Aquiles and their son, Bastian, now 18, in the United States would have meant huge hurdles, and despite the privations, she loved the culture: the colors, the energy, the warmth of the people.
In 1999 she spied the villa while walking through the leafy Vedado neighborhood where she and her family were living in a two-bedroom apartment. They had always fantasized about owning one of the pre-revolution estates in that part of town, where the cratered sidewalks are speckled with bougainvillea blossoms. This once-grand house looked abandoned, its shutters closed, the paint peeling, a mountain of junk in the yard. When she knocked on the enormous door, the tiny face of an Afro-Cuban woman peered out.
“Excuse me,” Ruiz said in Spanish, “but I wanted to meet the woman who lives in my dream house.” “You have transparent eyes,” said the woman, who immediately sensed Ruiz’s sincerity and let her in. The hundred-year-old house was dark but clean; it smelled vaguely musty, like the bottom of a grandmother’s purse. Best of all, it hadn’t been subdivided into apartments for hoards of relatives as many Havana houses had. The woman, Vincenta Borges, had come there in 1950, as a housekeeper. The childless owners had died in the 1970s and left the house to her. She couldn’t read or write and lived on food vouchers. She had no money for repairs.
Ruiz desperately wanted the house, but real-estate transactions in Cuba at the time were a Kafkaesque ordeal. Buying and selling the property was illegal, but a permuta, or swap, was allowed. The houses need to be of equal value; size and land aren’t figured in, so a large villa in disrepair might be worth the same as a two-bedroom apartment with a new kitchen. But Borges didn’t want Ruiz’s place — too many stairs. A ground floor with a veranda to hang her laundry would be perfect, she said. It took Ruiz eight years to arrange a three-way swap — someone with a place Borges would want who also wanted Ruiz’s apartment.
Then came the hurricanes. In 2008, just after they moved in, three deadly storms washed away more than 100,000 homes and nearly a third of the island’s crops. The government commandeered all construction material — bricks, concrete, and wood — so the couple was left to comb the city for salvage. “Whenever we found a building that had collapsed we’d ask if there was anything for sale,” says Ruiz. The mahogany beams of their roof are from a wrecked historic site, the century-old bricks of their patio from a burned-down cigar factory. With no hardware stores in Havana, Ruiz, who retained her citizenship, made trips to the U.S. to carry back suitcases crammed with new wiring. Friends from Aquiles’s hometown moved in — for years — to help them with labor. “I called it ‘campismo con techo,’ ” she says, camping under a roof. Over the years, Ruiz collected bits and bobs of Modernist furniture on the island, a legacy of Cuba’s midcentury stylishness, pre-Castro. Rather than fill the rooms with random battered pieces, she hired a car painter to spray the lot in black lacquer. She brought the chandeliers back from the mainland and from Mexico, disassembled and stowed in luggage; one Murano masterwork weighed 150 pounds.
As the house started to come together, so did Ruiz’s influence. During her early career in New York, she had represented the photographer Juergen Teller, who was just starting out and worked with a lot of well-connected people with whom she had stayed in touch. The philanthropist and art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, an old friend, sent an increasing number of travelers her way and Ruiz began to throw parties, a godsend in a culture that until recently has forbidden privately owned businesses and had virtually no place for creative people to mingle. Over the years, Ruiz produced shoots in Havana for Teller, William Eggleston, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, and arranged for U.S. galleries to bring ambitious exhibitions to the island, including one of Louise Bourgeois’s work that was the country’s first show of a major contemporary artist.
The house was finally finished last year, and since December the flow of visitors has become a flood. Meanwhile, Ruiz recently co-founded a foundation, Cuba Untitled, to continue the cross-pollination of cultures and artistic ideas. “The house is beautiful, but it’s what goes on inside the house that’s important,” Ruiz says. “I have waited my whole life for this moment to occur.”
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