LABor Studio transformed this historic office building in Chihuahua City, Mexico, by maintaining the facade and adding a contemporary addition to the home.
The designer’s description
This house is located in the historic center of Chihuahua City, in north-central Mexico. This district displays a deteriorated urban fabric due to the demolition of a great number of old buildings being replaced by surface parking lots. The population has migrated to the fringes leaving an empty housing stock.
The project was aware of the importance of both the restoration and integration of architectures while demonstrating the possibilities of contemporary housing in the urban center.
The old building is a two story structure built in the early twentieth century in a 40 square meter footprint. The construction system includes adobe walls, wood beams, a limestone facade, and an earthen roof.
The project and construction began in 2010 working with an office program. Restoration started by eliminating all of the non-original additions and rebuilding the earthen roof. The frontal facade was stabilized since it was detaching from the main structure. The neighboring 300 square meter property was added to the program while during this first construction stage. Therefore the program changed from office to a house.
The old and new construction was articulated by a vertical stair cube. The stair provides access to the two stories and the rooftop terrace where views of downtown Chihuahua can be enjoyed.
Access from the street happens in between the old and new constructions in a sequence that first goes through a patio-zaguan before penetrating to the interior. This access patio allows for additional light and ventilation for the old building while allowing for the concentration of rainwater collected from the rooftops.
Once through the threshold in the ground floor one can access a painting studio in the old building or the social area in the new building. The latter is a double height space composed of the living room and the kitchen. Both areas are divided by a bar and joined in the exterior by a patio. The garage can be added to the expansion of the social areas spilling to the exterior.
The second story contains the family room in the old building while the new construction has two bedrooms separated by a library-bridge. One bedroom is related to the street in the front and the other looks to the backyard.
The third and top level is a rooftop terrace with a steel plaque grill. The floor is a ceramic tile which allows the earthen roof to breathe out excess moisture. Plant pots and a light-well complete the arrangement with patio furniture.
The backyard has hardscape and softscape areas. The grasses, shrubs, and trees are a selection of native plants. Concrete modular pavers allow for the absorption of rainwater in order to help support the plants.
In the back of the property there is a water fountain framed by recovered timber from the construction’s scaffolding. Other recovered materials include the original limestone flooring, some of which was reinstalled while another part was crushed and used as ground cover to reduce the loss of moisture.
Casa Brutale is a geometrical translation of the landscape. It is an unclad statement on the simplicity and harmony of contemporary architecture. It is a chameleonic living space, created to serve its owner and respect the environment. It is the inverted reference to Casa Malaparte, encased and protected by the tender earth that has hosted the human civilization for millennia. It is a complete study of aesthetics, structure, function and engineering, which thoroughly detailed, awaits solely its realisation.
Casa Brutale is OPA’s challenging vision of innovative architecture, where innovation refers to long forgotten terms such as ambience and materiality. Its subtle form allows for the magnificent view and the game of light and shadow to take center stage. The residence is constructed with simple materials: wood, glass and concrete, the convergence of the surrounding earth and water. The landscape is integral to the underlying concept, since elements penetrate and prevail over the construction. The roof of Casa Brutale, a glazed bottom swimming pool, is a continuation of the poetic Aegean Sea and in perfect communication with the vast blue of the Greek sky.
In essential simplicity, Casa Brutale is defined by three thick concrete slabs with all the installations preformed. The crystalline pool, made by reinforced glass, is set between the walls to smoothen the hard materials and let the abundant natural light through, illuminating the residence. The enormous glass façade frames and extracts the beauty of the Aegean. And small details of black-coated steel and brown/red aged wood complete the composition.
In literal groundbreaking integration, Casa Brutale penetrates the landscape. The underground building benefits from a perfect homeostatic mechanism with thermal insulation from the surrounding ground, and the cooling properties of the swimming pool. The optical impact of the building on the landscape is minimal, with only one façade on the cliff side and no volume extruding from the ground level.
Light penetrates the transparent or semi-transparent surfaces of Casa Brutale, bringing it to life. The dynamic light patterns caress the bare concrete with refractions and shadows. Bare concrete, or beton brut, is the finishing technique that gave the name to both brutalism and Casa Brutale. Raw, unpretentious, monolithic, marked by the wooden planks used to mold the casting.
After descending 50 stairs to the Aegean, under the shadows of epic concrete beams, you reach the entrance (also accessible by elevator). The tall, rotating door of aged wood (with the axis at ¾ lengths) opens to a breathtaking sea view, through the glass façade. The remaining space is bare, pure and simple; minimalism at its best. A concrete cast dining table is combined with concrete benches, clad with warm wood. Smooth curves sculpture the fireplace on the wall next to the bench. Behind the dining table, the guest room is formed under an old-fashioned Zoellner slab with a glass corner. Next to the guest room, there is a small passage to the utility rooms (storage room, bathroom and WC).
An inner staircase consists of thin, steel steps that allow the optical continuity from the kitchen to the glass façade. The staircase leads you to the mezzanine floor, where the master bedroom is exposed to the same overpowering vision of the Aegean. The bed is cast of concrete with wood finishing, while the walls are covered with mirror to enhance the play between light and shadows.
Casa Brutale redefines the harmonious coexistence of human and nature in a poetic homage to pure Brutalism.
Loft apartments always have a distinct feel. Their openness, combined with their usual amounts of streaming light, makes them instantly appealing for most urban dwellers. Who wouldn’t want more light and a sense of more space in what’s usually a more crowded area? But lofts can also feel a bit cookie cutter, especially when the original space has been mass-converted to support loft living. A dozen or more lofts with the same feel and layout can feel stifling. This loft, designed by Indot, takes the idea of a traditional loft and plays with it using geometry, color, and texture. Don’t think that lofts are just limited to red exposed brick and neutrally painted walls.
Once upon a time, Arrighi was a watchtower peering over Tuscany and all along the Niccone Valley, with an adjoining fortified farmhouse. In recent years, the dwelling known as Castello di Reschio, in Umbria, Italy, is the result of a meticulous restoration that resulted in a luxurious L-shaped main house, and a standalone guest cottage.
Once the fortified farmhouse and watchtower, the impressive five bedroom main house is approached via a large paved courtyard beyond the entrance gates, past the sweet guest cottage that contains a double bedroom, en-suite bathroom, library and fully-fledged kitchen.
A glass encased external staircase tower is flooded with sunlight, and soaks in the extensive view over the very private and unspoiled 2,700 acre Reschio Estate, filled with rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, chestnut and oak trees, extensive infinity pool and pool house. (HOUSE TOURS)
HOUSE TOURS, . “Transition of a Fortified Italian Farmhouse.” home Designing. N.p., 18 Jul 2012. Web. 18 Jul. 2012. <http://www.home-designing.com/2012/07/transition-of-a-fortified-italian-farmhouse?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed: home-designing (Home Design Ideas)&utm_content=Yahoo! Mail>.
all images courtesy of architects of invention
london-based practice architects of invention has recently completed the ‘prosecutor’s office’, the firm’s first project constructed in tbilisi, georgia. delicate, transparent volumes are suspended within a stark black frame, creating an exterior of floating elements. the combination of envelope components represents a metaphor of the internal functions, visually dominated by the typically uncompromising nature of the legal system in contrast with the endless reflections of the mirrored elements contained by it, representing the versatility of the process. approximately 70 percent of the profile is setback from the solid sides generating chasms between the outer and inner massing. a ground level passageway has been formed by carving a void beneath the stacked boxes.
a security checkpoint and lobby welcome visitors at the entrnace level while the top storey is dedicated to the judicial offices. the staggered floor plates generate balconies and terraces accessible from the interior while a sky garden may be used for conferences and celebrations. positioned adjacent to the court building, the workplace facilitates 60 staff members and adequate parking for commuting employees. (db)
db, lauren. “architects of invention: prosecutor’s office, tbilisi .” designboom. N.p., 04 Apr 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2012. <http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/20191/architects-of-invention-prosecutors-office-tbilisi.html>.
Marlborough House is a project implemented by architecture company superkül and consists of a home conversion in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Here is more from the press release we were sent: “The many original interior partitions of this small house in Toronto were removed to create a remarkably welcoming and well-lit house characterized by its open relationship to the landscape out back. Ash wood millwork and a stone floor on the ground level tie the interior of the house to the crushed gravel courtyard outside, which features a small cedar garden pavilion. Dark-bronze anodized window frames provide a counter-point to the light interior palette and buff bricks on the street facade.
The tall windows on the three storyvoid at the centre of the plan provide a generous light to the rooms around it, including the principal washroom, which is separated from the void by a translucent, stretched vinyl panel. Cast glass pendant lights hung at different heights in the void create an optical shift that playfully distorts the scale and height of the void”. [Design team: Andre D’Elia, Meg Graham and Grant Hutchinson] (“Freshome”)
“Modern Home Conversion in Toronto Showcasing Inspiring Details.” Freshome. N.p., 03 Apr 2012. Web. 3 Apr. 2012. <http://freshome.com/2012/04/03/modern-home-conversion-in-toronto-showcasing-inspiring-details/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed: FreshInspirationForYourHome (Freshome.com)>.