Patagonia’s surreal landscapes make it a dream destination for a rural retreat but its remote location makes it less than ideal to build one. Casa Sombreros overcomes the challenge with a prefab construction. Overlooking Patagonia’s largest lake, the shingled dwelling is made entirely from prefabricated materials and was assembled in five months. It’s comprised of two intersecting volumes perched over the bank on steel stilts. The foundation is secured directly to the bedrock for added stability while contributing minimal disruption to the existing terrain. Internally, native timber lines the open living spaces, a complement to the rugged scenery viewed from east-facing glazing. Wrapped in oak decks, the interior effortlessly transitions to the outdoors for unobstructed views of the glacial waters and the Andes mountain in the distance.
Housed in a former 19th-century auto repair garage, the Porta Volta Garage Conversion fuses its historic roots with contemporary finishes and custom furniture to create a modern loft in Milan. The building’s original arches and exposed brick walls create a dramatic backdrop for the open living space. A larch wood ceiling complements the classic details while concrete walls and furniture, fittings, and fixtures designed by the architect add to the industrial atmosphere. As a tribute to the owner’s passion for sailing, the home incorporates subtle nautical references including wide-lank oak floors resembling the decking on boats, wooden stairs in the shape of propellers, and slate-colored bathroom tile from Liguria — a maritime destination frequented by the client. The centerpiece of the interior is the staircase. Its spiral steps transport inhabitants to upper-level’s master bedroom through a two-story concrete cylinder.
Casa MM is sited at the foot of a mountain range that draws in tourists to its nearby trails. To combat the high traffic area, the dwelling uses a wedge design. The narrow end of the home is oriented at the paths while the roofline inclines toward the peaks, taking the focus off the visiting hikers and placing it on the surrounding scenery. Its sloping profile mimics the rolling terrain while the concrete and stone facade complements the rugged environment. External materials are left exposed on the interior and are met with rich wood tones. The combination creates a modern atmosphere that balances the views of the rural landscapes.
Designed by INT2 architects and rendered by Dave Bowcutt, the House ILL places an off-grid cabin in the forest of Latvia. The dwelling is imagined as a simple, gabled form that has been wrapped in black metal siding. Its ends are clad in reclaimed barn wood, tying the structure to the landscape and offering a warm contrast to the dark facade. While the modern retreat is easy on the eyes, it’s also easy on the environment therefore creating a harmonious union between minimalist design and eco-friendly living.
Situated on a hilltop in Southern California, the Wild Lilac House is a modern refuge in San Bernardino National Forest. The property is comprised of a main residence and pool house. Both are formed by thickened walls running east-to-west across the terrain, shielding the home’s more private areas and protecting the interior from the sun. The concrete barriers are connected by a glass facade affording views of the sunset across the valley to the west. To the east, sliding glass door expand the living space out to a central courtyard with an integrated pool and spa. Concrete steps lead up to the pool house offering an additional perch to overlook the mountainous landscape.
A small Australian home has given traditional board and batten siding a contemporary update. The black fibre cement dwelling uses its mullions to create geometric, grid-like patterns for a sleek, modern take on the classic facade. Internally, natural plywood panels line the interior providing a warm contrast to the dark exterior shell. Polished concrete floors add to the minimalist aesthetic while the kitchen’s black tile backsplash mimics the external cladding. In the main living area, sliding glass doors expand the modest interior to a covered timber terrace overlooking the property’s lawn and garden.
Neighboring the forest of southern Chile, the Maullin Lodge modernizes the traditional vernacular of the area. Much of the dwelling is clad in recycled timber shingles and takes on a simple, gabled form like a classic southern home. Topped with a metal roof, the oversized eaves create a covered outdoor terrace overlooking the native trees. Its interior is dominated by open living spaces where timber beam ceilings hover above concrete floors. A northern glazed facade wrapping the main living area floods the room with natural light while windows inserted into the pitch of the roof bring in rays from above. Although the internal partitions are lined in wood planks, the walls of floor-to-ceiling glass afford views of the rural landscape to the ground floor as well as the mezzanine above.
Located in Australia’s capital city Canberra, the Red Hill House is a lesson in simple sophistication. Its minimalist exterior is formed by a series of interlocking rectangular volumes. A row of hedges conceals the geometric exterior from the street creating an entry from a forecourt. Internally, a double-height foyer leads to the main living area. Stark white walls and limestone floors produce a singular palette that is complemented by dark stained American oak and contemporary fixtures. While an intersecting pavilion extends toward the tennis court to house a garage, a loggia provides access to a pool and steam room. Walls of glazing inserted throughout the interior slide open, expanding the indoors out to a park-like garden with terraced lawns and reflection ponds.
In April, Notre-Dame caught fire during a renovation and continued to burn for over 15 hours. Much of the cathedral was damaged including the roof and the 19th-century timber spire but not beyond repair. While the beloved 850-year-old landmark awaits restoration, Gensler has designed a temporary place of worship for the people of Paris and its visitors. The proposed interim structure will be located in the cathedral’s Parvis Square just outside the church and will feature a rectangular charred timber frame to represent the ancient beams lost to the flames. Wrapped in translucent polycarbonate walls and an ethylene tetrafluoroethylene cushioned roof, the transparent facade will flood the chapel with natural light to provide an ethereal atmosphere while at the same time, keeping the focus on Notre-Dame itself.
Before her death in 2016, Zaha Hadid had multiple projects in the works. Among them was The Opus — home of the first ME by Melia hotel in the Middle East. The only building design by the Dame in Dubai, the free-form glass and steel structure is located in the city’s Burj Khalifa district. It bears the architect’s signature sculpted style, resembling a cube with its center carved out. The central void creates two, tower-like volumes connected by a three-story bridge. Along with the 100 rooms and 60 apartments for the hotel, the Opus will also offer 12 restaurants, a rooftop bar, and 56,000-square-feet of office space.