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The Architectural Trio: Edition #42
Welcome to this week’s Architectural Trio, which contains three wonderfully designed houses in America, South Africa and Japan. Since this is my last article of 2017, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for engaging with the blog over the past year. In what’s been a landmark year for me personally with the completion of my degree and a move abroad, it has been a pleasure to continue developing Barn21. I’m looking forward to discovering what 2018 has in store and building on what’s turned out to be this site’s most successful year to date. All that remains is for me to wish you a happy new year, I hope that 2018 works out to be a great year for you.
Fitty Wun, America, Feldman Architecture
This San Francisco house oozes fun and community. Designed for a couple with three boisterous young boys, it balances an open layout to allow subtle control, private spaces to escape the chaos and joyful additions to match the family’s “work hard, play hard” attitude. Formed over four levels on a relatively narrow plot, the vertical circulation plays a key role in the usability of the home. The hub of the property is no doubt the double height kitchen space, which is overlooked by walkways on the higher levels. It is a bright and airy space with warm wood panelling and white painted walls acting as a calming backdrop to the activity of the family. Alongside its funny name, a swing hanging down from the staircase further reinforces the fun and novel aspect of the design. The secondary spaces radiate off the open, central core on various levels, including a roof terrace which offers views over the city. One would be mistaken for thinking the photos of the front and back of the property are from different buildings. Fitty Wun’s grey street facing facade mimics the monochrome houses in its vicinity, whilst the white painted and timber clad back facade reflects light into the garden and matches the interior aesthetic. I am definitely jealous of the three boys who get to grow up here, as it is abundantly clear that a lot of thought has gone into making this an ideal home for the whole family.
House Invermark Renovation, South Africa, SAOTA
Inspired by Glass House and Farnsworth House, this Gilbert Colyn designed home sits in esteemed company. Originally completed in 1969, it had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of demolition due to its unprotected status until Stefan Antoni of SAOTA decided to purchase and renovate it. The architect’s alterations aimed to bring back the authentic character of the original design and streamline the property for contemporary living. A number of partitions were removed to open up the primary spaces, whilst a new two sided fireplace loosely splits the lounge and dining area. Moving the pool to the sunnier side of the property improves the experience it offers, whilst also facilitating creation of a large lawn on the mountain side of the house. Inviting Gilbert Colyn to visit and critique the alterations was a brave move by SAOTA, however it paid off as he judged the renovation to be a success. He was especially pleased by the restoration of the original wooden roof, which is absolutely beautiful, and retention of a group of trees he planted in 1967. Renovating a modernist classic is always a massive challenge and often comes with controversy, however SAOTA’s sensitivity and creativity have resulted in a perfect balance of historical reference and modern day practicality.
Hiragi's House, Japan, Takashi Okuno
This U-shaped house focuses its attention on a tree which the client’s family have nurtured over several generations. Framing a courtyard containing the sentimental element, the property is minimal yet warm and tactile, in keeping with the elegantly simple nature of Japanese architecture. The main double height living space contains a dining area, lounge and kitchen, with extensive glazing allowing plenty of natural light and sliding doors facilitating a strong connection between indoors and outdoors. The restrained material palette of white walls and timber accentuates the angular geometry of the structure and functional components which have been incorporated into it. I would encourage you to seek out more photos of this project, since they demonstrate the exquisite balance and tranquillity of the design. Alongside its humility, there is a quiet skilful charm in the junctions between and proportions of each element. It is as though every single piece has been minutely measured and considered against its surroundings, and the result is tranquil perfection.