House N18 by DRTAN LM Architect located in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | The Hardt
House N18 by DRTAN LM Architect located in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. No. 18 is a three-story green residence located in the suburb of Sunway Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The site slopes up gradually from the street towards the rear, meeting the foot of an abrupt reinforced incline that marks the start of the nature reserve behind. The brief called for a sustainable green home for a large family with generous open living spaces to entertain guests and private rooms customized to each family member’s requirements. The house plan was conceived as a series of large halls based on 6m X 6m modules that are linked together both horizontally and vertically to create interlocking spaces. These are bound together by the raw off-form concrete structure and earthy clay brick screen walls. The resulting three-story box has spaces cut-into and cut-out of it to create high volume spaces, courtyards, nooks and hanging gardens.
The front arrival portico is supported on a formal series of large diameter sienna red steel columns. Beams that bear the roof garden above run across the slab in their exposed concrete form creating a visual landing strip upon arrival as the row of lights hidden behind each beam is unveiled file by file. A collage of concrete, brickwork, and timber becomes an intentional feature wall by the main entrance. A solitary concrete wall with a rectangular cut-out, flanks the right side of the driveway forming a private lawn that fronts the open living area beyond. The entry foyer and formal living space is a tall voluminous space with a large dragon ball light hanging in mid-air. This is an open space designed to promote natural ventilation and lighting and opens out unto the private front lawn. Even the bamboo garden beyond the kitchen is visible from the living hall – an openness that is visually and spatially liberating. The adjacent hall is the dining room that has sliding glass doors on both ends. One end opens into the poetic garden with a sculptural frangipani tree as a backdrop and a koi pond with a fountain in the forefront, and the other end opens to a forest of saplings in a bed of pebble stones. The kitchen and service yard is located to the rear of the house.
The sculptural stair wraps around an off-form structural wall that takes one through to all the upper levels. The stairwell acts as a lantern contained by a double glazed enclosure and illuminated by the moon-like wall lights. The double volume informal family hall is located on the first floor overlooking the fountain courtyard. A hanging roof garden with giant yucca trees sits on the roof of the front concrete portico. Hallways lead to the various bedrooms. The master bedroom sits on the second floor with a zen exercise and tea room. Shoji screens replace window blinds and tatami mats line the floor in the room that is connected to a Japanese garden terrace.
The western façade is protected by a wraparound metal box louver sunscreen. The house is totally cross ventilated with minimal mechanical air conditioning. The large roof has 200mm thick 50kg/m3 rockwool and two layers of heat reflective foil in addition to a fully ventilated roof space that houses the rainwater harvesting tanks. The roof also houses an array of photovoltaic panels that generate up to 5 kW peak of electricity, solar hot water panels and wind turbines to ventilate the house interiors. Other green features are the use of low VOC paints, raw material finishes, water saving taps and sanitary wares, low energy light fittings and local native landscaping. The overall aesthetic is one that is clean and minimally raw and natural.
Fleuve (2013) by APOLLO Architects & Associates located in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan | The Hardt
Fleuve (2013) by APOLLO Architects & Associates located in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The client, who is a hair stylist/a salon owner, requested us to design a house with a hair salon. It is an exclusive and luxurious hair salon where the salon owner himself provides all services, and the number of clients is limited to only two at the same time. Our design strategy is to minimize the size of the salon, to create a compact and intimate space where the hair stylist gives utmost attention and professional service to the customer. On the contrary, we provide the maximum floor area of the house. The glass-clad salon has a stylish and sharp atmosphere, but the sharpness is softened by greenery in the front yard and low and deep eaves above it. Lounge for resting is provided as a buffer zone between the hair salon and the house. And entrance court with a family symbol tree is specially designed as a transitional zone where the client is able to switch his mood from business to private.
The client’s wife practices tea ceremony, so we design a Japanese room to welcome tea guests, with a compact courtyard (called “Tsubo-Niwa” in Japanese) attached. Our intention is to fill the space with an atmosphere of a warm welcome from the hair salon to the tearoom, and in and out of the house. On the second floor, family room and child’s room are divided by the stairs in between. Study room in the middle acts as an intermediate space in between. The roof of the hair salon becomes a wide roof balcony adjacent to the family room. It can be used as an extended family room on occasions such as big parties with many guests. From the windows, one can enjoy the view of the family symbol tree, along with the beautiful background of the adjacent park and trees along the street.
Ferreries Cultural Centre by [Arquitecturia] located in Tortosa, Spain | The Hardt
Ferreries Cultural Centre by [Arquitecturia] located in Tortosa, Spain. The old local market of Ferreries, after falling into disuse for several years, has been restored and extended to become the new 26,855 ft² (2,495 m²) Cultural Center of this neighborhood. The main old nave of Ferreries market it’s preserved and through its extension a new transition space is generated in order to enable the connection between the existing building and Joan Monclús square; furthermore, the elevation that defines this public space is completed | The old nave gets involved to the public space intertwining its interior to the exterior through a new access. The Joan Monclús’ Square intervention solves the access to the existing building in terms of slope, at the same time gives the option to carry out open-air activities related to the Cultural Center.
Light Walls House (2013) by mA-style Architects located in Toyo kawa, Japan | The Hardt
Light Walls House (2013) by mA-style Architects located in Toyo kawa, Japan. The site is in a shady location where a two-story neighboring house closely stands on the south side, and even the shade and shadow on the path intensify the impression of darkness. Therefore, the design intended to create a space with uniformly distributed light by adjusting the way of letting daylight in, and the way of directing the light. By taking into consideration the space for the residents, the functions for a living, and the relationship with the surrounding environment, the creation of a diversity and richness in the house were intended by controlling the concept of light.
Along the edges of the 9.1m square roof, skylights are made, as if creating an outline, in order to provide sunlight. The roof beams narrow the sunlight, and the slightly angled clapboard interior walls with laminated wood reflect and diffuse the light. As a result, soft and uniformly distributed light is created and surrounds the entire space. Along the outline of lighting, workspaces such as a kitchen, bathroom, and study are arranged. Private spaces such as bedrooms and storage are allocated into four boxes. The path-like spaces created between them are public spaces. Each box attempts to balance within a large spatial volume. Light coupled with the rhythm of scale raises the possibilities of the living space for the residents.
Considering each box as a house, the empty spaces in between can be seen as paths or plazas, and remind us of a small town enclosed in the light. The empty spaces, which cause shortening or elongating of distances between people, are intermediate spaces for the residents, as well as intermediate spaces that are connected to the outside when the corridor is open, and these are the image of a social structure that includes a variety of individuals. In terms of a natural component, in which light is softened by small manipulations, and of a social component, in which a town is created in the house, this house turned out to be a courtyard house of light where new values are discovered.
Combs Point Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson located in Finger Lakes, NY | The Hardt
Combs Point Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson located in Finger Lakes, NY. This property had a wildness that captured the client’s interest immediately. They understood the raw beauty of Seneca Lake when they began looking for a site on the exposed eastern shoreline. A hunting lodge once sat on the site, but burned to the ground many years ago. It wasn’t until they hiked upstream, into the 100-plus acre property’s deep cut ravine that they found a waterfall, hidden within the site’s botanically diverse plant palette. It was the site’s inherent drama and ephemeral delicacy that bound the owners to this place and ultimately defined the design direction for the house and landscape.
The project scope included a four-season weekend retreat for a family of four that supported their active life on the lake and love of the out-of-doors. In addition to three bedrooms for the main house, the architect was asked to create areas for office, exercise, and guests, in addition to a boathouse and garage. From the beginning, the Landscape Architect (LA) worked closely with the design team towards a strategy that would repair and enhance the site’s ecological function.
The design decision to break the program down into separate but connected structures came from the need to respond to the narrow site, the solar orientation, and the disturbed area of the old hunting lodge. The extrusion of the parts along a line of circulation, the site’s outdoor hallway, created opportunities for outdoor rooms formed by the interplay of existing trees and the framing of the space by the building walls.
The design resolution locates the primary family room on the point, like a boat, with its prow forward, exposed, and open to the drama of the seasons and the prevailing eastern winds at the water’s edge. The more private rooms of the house gather behind this front room and are more protected, nestled in the ravine. A bridge for pedestrians and the family’s all-terrain vehicle spans the creek and connects the main house to the boathouse, which sits at the water’s edge. Further still is a three-car garage on the bluff above the main building site. All cars remain high on the bluff at the garage, thereby limiting the primary circulation around the house to foot-traffic.
The LA, the architect, and the client agreed that the site’s inherent natural beauty and ecological diversity needed to be prioritized over all other site decisions. The client stressed the desire to be responsible ecological stewards so grading was minimized to pathways and roads and the diverse plant palette carefully edited to allow the house to slip into the existing landscape.
The charge of making the site appear untouched was far more difficult to achieve than it might seem. The LA began with a comprehensive survey of the existing plants and determined that the diversity of the herbaceous groundcover was both remarkable and unusual, even in the Finger Lakes. The LA, with a staff trained in landscape architecture, arboriculture and horticulture, determined that the project sat within four existing ecological communities: Dry Upland Forest, Moist Upland Forest, Floodplain Forest, and Seasonally Inundated Wetland. The project planting plan mixed these communities into five planting zones (See Planting Zones Diagram). The plant list is composed of plants that fall within a mix of vegetation communities (See Plant List).
Plant groupings within each zone reflect variations in elevation, slope, and aspect. The most interesting lesson learned was that the shale soils change pH radically as they degrade. The tops of the relatively shallow ravine have much lower pH than the bottom. The result is extreme diversity in a small area because of the dramatic changes in soil pH, light, and weather (Seneca Lake’s deep waters moderate the temperatures on the site, so it can be snowing at the garage when there is no snow at the main house). There was not an analog upon which to model this project. Finding the appropriate plant material in nurseries proved challenging and it was difficult to find trees that blended seamlessly into the forest. The layout of the plants mimicked existing conditions so that the plants looked to be the result natural propagation in the microenvironments where they occur naturally. The careful culling or retention of existing material was an integral part of the project. Three years later, the site is healthier than ever, with bursts of trout lilies, trillium, and ferns in the early spring.
This is a highly volatile site and the weather extremes are felt throughout the seasons. The builder and the LA discussed in detail site drainage and water flow to save existing trees. The LA planted the slopes and pinned down dead trees to provide slope and wind erosion control during seasonal storms and to trap organic material so seedlings could grow rather than wash out. Vegetation grows easily in the fertile soils of the flatland with its high water table at 18” deep. The stream run can be violent in the spring and after heavy rains, with water elevation changing from flood stage to nearly dry throughout the year. Rather than guarding against these conditions, the design team saw these ephemeral shifts as an essential part of the experience of the place.
During the two-year planting process, it became apparent that a traditional approach to landscape management would not work. The LA wrote a meadow management plan for the different meadow areas but the plantings would require constant editing by someone who understood the plants over time and could choose which volunteers to keep and which to pull. The LA and client searched for the right person and found a botanist from Cornell University, who became so attached to the property that he now serves as a consultant that supervises the on-going site work. His discovery of a threatened New York State species on-site, Agastache nepetoides- Yellow Giant Hyssop, deepened his commitment to the place.
Materials and Site Details
All aspects of this project were carefully adapted to the site and considered for their regenerative results. The house design has a respectful relationship to the land and site, using sustainably harvested tropical wood for the boardwalk, a beach shale gravel path excavated from the shore edge of the site, New York granite paths, and beach shale splash blocks and drip lines. Through careful siting and thoughtful interplay of architectural elements, this project shows the result of a highly collaborative design process where the role of each discipline is blurred to create a simultaneously bold and ethereal composition, unique to its place and time.
Photos by Nic Lehoux
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Casa PN (2011) by ZD+A located in Mexico | The Hardt
Casa PN (2011) by ZD+A located in Mexico. The basic design methodology involves an essential challenge to any system of design. This is achieved primarily through a critical analysis of two aspects:
a) Site Analysis
b) Program Analysis
For analysis, I really mean questioning not only the extrinsic or apparent elements but also those intrinsic or intangible. For example: In the first floor we consider orientation, geometry, constraints, solar exposure, views, physical factors (climate temperature, noise) hours of operation, The program is not a list of needs, instead, we try to integrate both material needs as well as effective and cognitive needs. The basic question is how to integrate dynamic needs to a seemingly static exercise (a building). The solution is often uncertainty, understood as a scheduled failure. The site makes the program which in turn defines the site. From the general to the particular and back, inside out. This is a lot between party walls located in Lomas de Chapultepec in Mexico City. It is a virtually flat and regular site (13 of frontage x 25 of depth). The only view corresponds to the front facade (west orientation) into a wooded glen, as there are taller buildings on the three boundaries. North-south orientation on the short or cross axis.
The dimensions of the site (about 310 meters) are not typical of this area because it mostly consists of larger lots (1000 square meters). The construction respects the setback dictated by building regulations (5 meters setback on the front) and approaches the southern boundary for maximum sun exposure during the day. The design scheme raises two primary actions: intervening the topography, to generate a new “tabula rasa” where besides serving as a base it is also inhabited inside. On this new modified territory, two boxes or volumes are stacked where the negative space becomes as important as the positive space. Creating spaces like the living room on the ground floor and the gym on the first floor, through a bridge and rooftop terraces.
In turn, the interior spaces are also determined by programmed volumes (storage, work, etc). This system of organization responds to an analysis of the program where the functions are grouped by level, with the public area on the ground floor (living room, dining, service) the family area on the first level (living room, bedroom, gym, garden) and on the top floor the more private area (master bedroom, living room, terrace, dressing room and bathroom)
The street facade respects the required setback and also sets a dialogue with the typology of the neighborhood, which in order to work with an upward slope, often presents a masonry wall (volcanic rock) and vegetation on top. Thus continuity is achieved in the urban fringe. One element of design that was used is to achieve the depth of the site can be understood from different perspectives, both long and short sense. This allows for a large spatial extent (both inside and outside). To achieve the desired finish, to translate the natural features of the environment, we chose a brutalist concrete. To this end, we used formwork based on reused poles horizontally modulated every eight inches. This texture is very attractive when it is bathed in natural light during the day and artificial light at night, which includes flush lights on the lower floor. Another purpose of this finish is to get the first level to transmit its own topographical nature as if it were pre-existent and emanated naturally from the ground.
Different types and uses of wood
Firstly, we used American oak, inked and placed in panels hiding doors and modular boards, which in turn contrasts with a much coarser application of reused wood on the stairs, the larger interior volume than starts on the ground floor and extends to the first level. This element promotes visual communication between the two levels.
This finish was chosen so that there was a clean and smooth relationship between different environments, and to simultaneously highlight the coarsest textures of concrete and wood. Epoxy resin is used on all floors of the house, except in the living room and gym, which by their nature and location suggested a different application. Thus, in the first case, we resorted to a dark marble (ebony) and in the second, ash staves.
Anodized aluminum is used for doors in black and in some cases, steel profiles with the same finish. The purpose was to ensure that the doors are naturally incorporated with the outside, for which we also designed them to be fully folded so that the boundaries between interior and exterior are diluted. This item, along with the large windows allow unobstructed natural light and a play of reflections that enrich the composition.
Designed to dissolve the boundaries of the site and to provide greater depth and breadth, the landscape is present at all levels -Gardens, terraces, green roofs, and planters. Thus any sense of confinement is avoided and instead, we promote a continuous communion with green areas. Another purpose of gardening was to integrate the building with the natural environment and act as if it was already part of it and did not look artificial or “manufactured”. For a more efficient and self-sustaining maintenance, endemic species were chosen and a controlled, low consumption irrigation system was installed. Finally, the landscape design is incorporated with green areas, trees, and gullies of the front.
The first action or level is structured through exposed concrete walls that simultaneously address the materiality of the earth, the intermediate box is made of concrete walls, and the second box is a space frame or Vierendel truss that achieves large spans
The verticality of the project coupled with a pre-existing lateral building forced us to think of different mechanisms for the light to filter into the first level, this was achieved through skylights and small windows. The solar incidence on the third level (south facing – east to west) forced us to think of a lattice to offer the desired protection without compromising the views. Large windows allow reflections to be very important in the design as well. Space – Although the various spaces are rarely contained by a door, spatial clarity is achieved by dividing elements or level changes while achieving integration between the interior and exterior and a spatial fluidity.
Serenity House by DBALP located in Phuket, Thailand | The Hardt
Serenity House by DBALP located in Phuket, Thailand.“The Serenity House is a three-story private residence in Phuket. It is a second home for a small family: husband, wife, two children and two housemaids. The prime requirement from the owner is a full panoramic view of the sea and the integration of nature. The programme consists of 4 bedrooms with bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen, garage for three cars and the infinity swimming pool. The project is perched on the slope of the mountain in Phuket. Since the site is located in a village, there are planning restrictions on the individual design by the local developer. Therefore, the sloping site becomes a point of departure for the concept. But how does the topography of the mountain turn into the architecture? To answer this question, an interesting technique that can open up the possibility of becoming architecture is to ‘graph topology’ from the site. In this way, the graph is drawn to respond to the slope of the site. Such a technique on the slope analysis creates nine varieties of topological graphs as an alternative. This project demonstrates a topological graph as a technique in order to design the condition, rather than condition the design. After this process, the ‘topological graph’ is interpreted as a sequence of abstract spaces and the uses. Therefore, the eight graphs are eliminated from the design process since only one graph can meet certain functional criteria and all requirements. The design develops into mass model study only insofar as it shows a sequence of space and investigates the differences of level on the sloping site.
In regards to the client’s requirements, there are two priorities: the full panoramic view of the sea and the integration of nature. This raises the question to us: What is the integration of nature in this project? And how to bring it into the design? We propose that the notion of experience should be brought into the design. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘experience’ means an event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone. The integration of nature is, therefore, a relationship between the notion of experience with the nature and the sequence of abstract spaces and the uses. In other words, this is a link between landscape and architecture. Undoubtedly, the full panoramic view of the sea is a part of experiences – seeing an event or a scene over the sea. However, another sign of experience to achieve integration of nature is a ‘realness’ of material. In such a way, all materials in this house represent the beauty of natural texture. Apart from the study of topological graphs, it is important to translate these two requirements from the client into the design and this is why our client is happy with the Serenity House. For example, if one visits the house, there is a sequence of space that offers a variety of experience. To begin with, the visitor arrives at the outdoor entrance court as a big space. After that, he or she will walk through a tremendous wooden door and pass through the small corridor, but then again, walk across the entrance bridge, where the inner narrow court with fountain, waterfall and fishpond is situated, to the living area of the house. This experience in each space of a sequence would somehow be able to leave an impression on his or her.”
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