Maison Bordeaux by Rem Koolhaas

Maison Bordeaux by Rem Koolhaas

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.”



© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA



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







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Stone House Transformation in Scaiano by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architects

Stone House Transformation in Scaiano by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architects

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.

© Hannes Henz



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Casa Arimon (2017) by Garcia-Duran

Casa Arimon (2017) by Garcia-Duran

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



Photos by Adrià Goula



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Pamela Ruiz and Damian Aquiles Havana House

Pamela Ruiz and Damian Aquiles Havana House

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.”

Written by Joe Dolce

Photos by Stefan Ruiz
Arrangement by Asher Hardt



Borgo Merlassino (2015) by Deamicis Architetti

Borgo Merlassino (2015) by Deamicis Architetti

Borgo Merlassino (2015) by Deamicis Architetti located in Novi Ligure, Italy | The Hardt


Borgo Merlassino (2015) by Deamicis Architetti located in Novi Ligure, Italy. We decided to emphasize architectural differences within the principal building and the other recovered structures (house, barn, stable, pigsty, cote, warehouse, garage, cistern, and lobby) as well as to underline the main building’s supporting structure made of raw earth walls. As a consequence, the main building’s facades have been redefined through the use of dark plaster on the existing openings and by cleaning and preserving the recoverable fields.




The accessory constructions – with their different structures and dimensions – have been variously upgraded, but unified by the bright colors and the plaster finish. The new interventions are identifiable through the use of different building techniques (iron paneled ceiling) or of new renderings of traditional techniques (wooden roofs and roof tiles with beams rotated by 45 degrees.)


© Gabriele Leo





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St Vincents Place Residence by B.E. Architecture

St Vincents Place Residence by B.E. Architecture

St Vincents Place Residence by B.E. Architecture located in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia | The Hardt


St Vincents Place Residence by B.E. Architecture located in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. As a modern renaissance home, the St Vincents Place Residence is a new archetype developed through reinterpretation of classical references with a modern sensibility. The client, as a patron, put his belief in architecture, artists, and artisans to create a nourishing environment that goes beyond surface treatments by inscribing contemplative experiences into the physical form. Positioned behind a significant heritage façade, the new extension is a cultural bridge between historical significance and modern progress. Embracing the consideration of time, the design response examines pinnacles of architecture and design throughout history. It recreates original elements that extract and expand upon qualities of substance, inspired by those that are proven to span the test of time. Although the majority of the home is a new building, it is not immediately recognizable as such.


The reworking of older-style details in the front section of the original building includes curved cornices, arched doors, and custom steel fireplaces, which are not typical modern construction methodologies but feel at ease within the Victorian frontage. Integral to the details is an authentic demonstration of the unusual level of craftsmanship, an appreciation of the capacity of mankind. Even the smallest of details, like the hand-stained dovetail joints along the timber skirting, is deserving of a moment’s reflection.




The modern counterpart in the rear extension uses in-situ concrete, terrazzo style stone floors, painted timber ceilings and bluestone walling to create a point of difference from the front. Rejecting stark minimalism, the classical details are exchanged for rich textures continuing the hand-hewn character throughout the house. Leading the way to intellectual discourse, the substantial art collection explores topics of philosophy, literature, religion and even science. At moments these are literally written into the walls, such as the three-story light-well built around the lightwork Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens by artist Nathan Coley and the niche installation of the wax sculpture Romeu ‘my deer’ by artist Berlinde De Bruyckere. As carefully curated as the art collection, the interior of the house is an eclectic mix covering diverse cultural references across many eras. Many of the rooms are positioned around knowledge, encasing collections of books on expansive shelves and using them as a centerpiece within the custom coffee table in the living room.


A refined, casual aesthetic is created, incorporating unique vintage pieces sourced from Europe and Asia as a direct historic reference. Each piece adds to the dialogue of the space with exotic and interesting stories of when or where they are from or how they were created. Many of the pieces are one-of-a-kind designs by B.E Architecture, commissioned expressly for this project, pushing the artisanal character of the architectural detailing into the furniture. Combining history, art, and culture, the St Vincents Place Residence is ultimately a place of rebirth, simultaneously reviving an exceptional period home and cultivating a place of renewal that elevates the quality of life for the client.

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House AB Barcelona (2015) by Built Architecture

House AB Barcelona (2015) by Built Architecture

Located in Barcelona, Spain, House AB Barcelona (2015) by Built Architecture | The Hardt


Located in Barcelona, Spain, House AB Barcelona (2015) by Built Architecture. The challenge is to find a balance between the existing and the new. Recover and revalue the features of the original apartment, while getting rid of any element that blots the vision and distresses the perception of space. Space must be wide and clear. The project diffuses the central corridor, a typical Eixample feature with abundant doors and hallways, in order to merge the space around a new centerpiece of furniture. Such central element is used as a divider between public and private areas and develops along the length of the apartment. Simultaneously, it hosts the storage needs of the apartment whilst organizes and distributes the floor in three different areas.



The design recovers and uplifts both the original modernist mosaics and the high ceilings with gypsum moldings. The project frames all recovered mosaic with a natural oak tree parquet which resembles colorful carpets mounted on the pavement. The central furniture element, built with the same natural oak tree, rises from those frames as a great sculpture that contracts and fractures itself in order to fly over the mosaic and to achieve precise alignments with the parquet. All design solutions aim to activate the space contiguous to this central piece, furbishing it with functionalities and activity. Furniture as the volume is no longer what counts. The empty space created between the furniture element and the walls of the apartment is now what matters.



The central furniture element reaches 234 cm. in height, which has been considered a domestic, intimate and human scale measure, best suited to the monumental ceiling heights of the nineteenth century. Thus, light is allowed to flow between rooms above the central volume. It is right at this moment, between ceiling and floor, that the true key of the project appears: a subtle black metal plate crowns the oak volume and generates a new distribution of spaces apart from the pre-established by the rhythm of rugs and frames. In this way, the space folds compress, opens and expands following the demands of the project. Resorting to doors is no longer necessary as the metal plate and wood volume offer walls, and their game of levels and breaks enables the user to perceive and understand the three different areas of the apartment. The transfer between public areas, rooms or service spaces always occurs through a metal threshold. Equally, toilets and showers are located under the metal plate, next to the only interior courtyard that is used for natural illumination and ventilation.





Just like the central piece concentrates all required closets and storage space, including a foldable bed, linen, dryer and washing machine or fridge, the fine metal plate allows and supports all the doors and panels that the new layout demands. Wooden or glass sliding doors pivoting as regular doors, or even shower screens, as well as the large mirror in the dressing room, are all supported by the metal plate, which holds the necessary ironwork and supports frames. In this manner, any distortion between the original elements and those strictly new is prevented.



The perimeter of the apartment is completely free by concentrating the intervention in one single and continuous volume that works as a spine. The juxtaposition of regular cells with of colorful mosaics, gypsum moldings and lush, pine carved doors and stained glass windows are precisely the flexible and polyvalent value of Eixample flats. Such feature allows the user to continuously adapt the distribution of the flat in response to lifestyle requirement. Thus, the house is offered as a blank canvas in which to easily arrange furniture, paintings, art pieces, objects and family mementos cumulated during a lifetime without feeling inhibited or restricted by the new project.



This is a modernist flat in Eixample where original values are recovered and acclaimed through a new central furniture element, which must be as singular, surprising and innovative as it is discrete, flexible and respectful, always responding to the needs of the user and favoring the life that will develop around it. Consequently, the project is best understood as an art gallery whose main objective is to offer the best possible frame to exhibit art whilst at the same time providing an optimal experience for its users.


© Eugeni Pons



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