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Best of Conversations in Design 2012 (part 1): Swedish Design by Eero Koivisto

orsta gallery on a farm

orsta gallery exterior view in the day

It is not everyday that a private client sought an architect to design his own private museum. This is exactly what Anders Fasth, an avid art collector who lives on a farm with his wife Birgitta, asked Claesson Koivisto Rune to do. The result is a stunning building.

orsta gallery on a farm

The modern gallery is located next to a traditional farm home. The grandchildren of the couple can admire the brilliant structure when they play on the sand box. I like how Claesson Koivisto Rune added remarkable details to transform what could have been a standard rectangular building.

The museum sits on top of an artificial hill that was created to protect the art collection against nature. The walls at the bottom follow the curves of the hill and the roofline exhibited the inverted curve. These curves create the illusion of concave walls and add panache to what would have been otherwise a straightforward building.

orsta gallery glass beads exterior walls

Another striking element is the reflective nature of the exterior walls. Glass beads were scattered across the white painted structure using a technique developed by Swedish artist Mikael Pauli. The reflective effect can be fully experienced when the sun is at a proper angle, or at night, if you direct light beams towards the walls.

orsta gallery :: exterior walls at night with red and blue lights

You can see here the effect at night when they projected a red and a blue beam to the facade.

orsta gallery interior views

Inside, the floor plan is divided into 4 exposition rooms. The architects played again with the visitors. The two walls that you see when you enter the space are at a slight angle. It will take you a few minutes to notice. The owner wanted a fireplace. Look at the clever nook designed for the fire logs. I love the entire project.

orsta gallery plan

If you plan to pass one day by Kumla, Sweden, you could ask the Fasth for a visit. This rich man opens his private museum to visitors upon request.

Claesson Koivisto Rune is a Swedish multi-disciplinary studio that puts architecture and design on the same level. They created everyday products up to impressive buildings.

+ Conversations in Design
Claesson Koivisto Rune

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Wow for the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Observatory Designed by Snohetta

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion shows a wood construction like I have never seen before. I like how the benches are organically shaped to provide the visitors a stunning view of the wilderness. Wood pegs were used as fasteners for the wood section of the building. The rest is made of raw steel resembling the iron found in the local bedrock.

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

The visitors could sit at the south facing exterior wall and enjoy the warmth of the interior space. The organic nature of the building is stunning and unusual. I dream to see a similar design at a ski resort.

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

You can admire more photos on Arch Daily.

+ photos: Ketil Jacobsen and
+ via Core 77 and Arch Daily

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

A Modern House in an Urban Forest

dining room :: a loft in the forest

Sometimes it’s good to look at past issues of magazine. I did it online on Dwell and found this inspiring modern house that is built on a forest lot on the border of the Portland. By keeping most of the trees, the couples have no need for drapes for their large windows. Who would want to break the view to the forest?

outside view of a loft in the forest

They play with the stain color to achieve a seamless look with the forest.

great room of a loft in the forest

The owners were after a loft feel. Their choice of furniture in the living room is not for me, but I can see the appeal for some. Otherwise, their modern great room seems functional and inviting.

+ photos: John Clark for Dwell

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

What I Like the Most from this Geometric Hamptons Guesthouse

adjacent bath

adjacent bath

This huge guest house has plenty of things going for her (in French, a house is female). It unusual shape delivered fabulous spaces beautifully filled with high-end finishes and modern furniture. My top ideas to steal from this project are:

The adjacent bath is practical as more people can use its components at the same time. The blue tiles from Ann Sacks is stunning; sadly, I could not find which model it is.

modern kitchen

The kitchen cabinets are a mix of custom made (upper cabinets) and a Bulthaup kitchen system (lower cabinets and island). It shows that you do not have to stick to one company to achieve the design you are looking for.

nurseryworks bunk beds

I rarely look at bunk beds as a design inspiration but these ones caught my eye. The Duet Bunk Beds from Nurseryworks provides storage under the bed and at the end. You have a choice of wood and colors.

cabana room

The cabana room is inviting and provides tons of storage.

+ Geometric Hamptons Guesthouse from Architecture Digest – photos: Scott Frances

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Space Saving Designer Tricks

the lair holiday house in tasmania

the lair holiday house in tasmania

Excellent space planning often leads to no waste space in a home. It often requires to think outside the box to found easy to implement solutions. Let’s look at two efficient ways to achieve that goal.

Placing the bedrooms at each end while the open kitchen / living area occupies the middle of the house eliminates the need for a corridor. This is what architect Rick Bzowy did for this superb perched over a hill resort holiday house. Located in Tasmania, this modern architecture house costs $2.5 millions. You can stay at The Lair for $1,100 a night.

Storage Units used as Wall Partition

tall storage units use as a wall partition

Another space saving technique is to delimit the space between two rooms with tall storage units. In a Montreal loft, the owner raised a mid-century bookcase on a platform. Then, they hung full-length drapes at the back of bookcase to add privacy to their guest bedroom.

A full-height storage and display unit separates the dining room from the living room. By keeping the center low, you maintain a visual connection between both rooms.

+ The Lair Holiday House in Tasmania
+ Factory Special from Canadian House and Home – January 2011 issue – photo by Jean Longpré
+ Minimal to the Max from Canadian House and Home – January 2011 issue – photo by Rob Fiocca

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Solid Poetry Reveals Patterns on Wet Concrete

solid poetry patterns in wet concrete

solid poetry patterns in wet concrete

I have to warn you, seeing this material will make you wish that it rains or snows more often. What happens is that moisture on the concrete pavements hits a certain level, a pattern is revealed. It is so cool and beautiful!

Solid Poetry is the result of a student project done in 2004 by Susanne Happle and Frederik Molenschot. Susanne got the idea while she walked on the street and admired the fall leaves on the sidewalks. The possible applications of Solid Poetry are various.

solid poetry applications for a concrete desk and a lavabo

At home, it can turn a sink or lavabo into a conversation piece. Other applications are for the shower, on a concrete deck or around the pool. They even dreamed of a skyscraper made out of this material. If someday a corporation decides to build a building that reacts to moisture, it will certainly become an attraction and enhance the city view.

As far as I know, this innovative material is available through the Dutch company Terratorium. Be careful since that information is dated from 2006. So, it may or may not be on the market. Let’s hope, I inspire others to add fun effects to building materials.

+ Solid Poetry

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

The Sustainable ISEAMI House by Robles Arquitectos

Iseami House designed by Robles Arquitectos in Costa Rica

eco-friendly home Iseami House designed by Robles Arquitectos in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a superb destination. I have been there and recommend it to anyone. Naturally, the Costa Rican climate is well suited for bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out.

Have a look at one of the remarkable modern architecture house designed by Robles Arquitectos. The house is not only beautiful; it is eco-friendly on several levels. ISEAMI stands for sustainability, ecology, art, mind and investigation. I feel that they are on the right track with this project. The space planning is simply breathtaking.

Interior views of Iseami House by Robles Arquitectos in Costa Rica

Eco-Friendly Features

The ISEAMI house doesn’t have any public service supply as electricity or water. This is a practice that I experienced in small eco-lodging complexes built in the middle of the jungle. In the case of the ISEAMI house, the hill house is located 30 km from the closest town, Puerto Jimenez. Therefore, you do not have any other choices than to be self-sufficient for water and electricity.

They went further with their material selection. First, they opted for low maintenance materials that could resist the conditions of the Osa Peninsula. They factored in the humidity level, high percentage of rain, mould, fungi and its flora and fauna. Plus, all materials had to be 100% recyclable at the end of its life cycle. I am impressed! You can read the details on Design Milk.

+ photos: Robles Arquitectos

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Grand Designs Magazine

grand designs magazine

grand designs magazine

A few years ago, I watched on TV Grand Designs with great interest. I also bought a few issues of the Grand Designs magazine. But that time is long gone since neither is available in Canada at this point in time.

It is not that the brand has not continued to grow. Kevin McCloud expanded it with the Grand Designs Live event in UK. Voted Consumer Show of the Year, the event brings design and inspiration for your home, combining cutting-edge design products, interactivity and an eco-friendly message. With so many reruns on TV, it seems tat they could be a space for discovering what people are building in UK and Europe. After all, modern architecture is more developed there than here.

Although the last episodes of the show dated from 2008 on BBC Canada, I enjoyed watching them. Sadly, I never had the chances to watch all of them. I am still hoping that the show will be presented again in Canada  some days since the series continues to produce new episodes airing in UK. To give you an idea of the types of houses that I am talking about, browse the modern homes showcased on Grand Designs. As a bonus, I included two modern houses that were featured in their latest issue in an attempt to convince you about what we are missing.

+ photos: Grand Designs magazines – July 2010

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Minimalist Fire Pit

hill house designed by architect david coleman :: photo by Lara Swimmer

hill house designed by architect david coleman :: photo by Lara Swimmer

There are a lot of good things that I could say about this modest house designed by architect David Coleman. For one thing, he reduced the footprint of the building not just for the construction but also by keeping the living space small (1100 sq) during the cold weather. The usable space doubles during summer.

But the thing that really caught my eye is the fire pit cut from the wooden desk. You can not be more minimalist and functional than that.

+ photography: Lara Swimmer
+ via Contemporist

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Vote for your Favorite House We Love on Dwell

ridgewood residence

maison noire by architect Pierre Thibault

The only Canadian house that Dwell selected for their House We Love competition is here in Quebec. It’s the Maison Noire by the architect Pierre Thibault. His house is all black outside and all white inside. Maison Noire is one of 20 finalists.

ridgewood residence

What I enjoy the most are how architects succeed with the integration of the single-family residences in an urban environment. The Ridgewood residence is amazing. I still have to vote since I did not look at every project yet, but it has an advantage on my heart.

house we love finalists: Swedenborg house and sigg house

The Swedenborg house represents an excellent integration of a modern architecture house in a traditional neighborhood. The Sigg house exhibits nice craftsmanship and I like their inviting kitchen.

zack house :: dwell\'s house we love finalist

You can say the same with the Zack house, which feels very LA. Voting for your favorite residence will be hard since the 20 selected houses are awesome. You have until June 27th, 2010 before midnight to cast your vote.

+ House We Love by Dwell

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Fukuoka House

Fukuoka family house

Fukuoka family house :: residential modern architecture in japan

You feel like you are outside inside this Japanese family home. For that alone, I think it is a great architecture project. Plus, kids have room to play.

kitchen and playroom/living of the Fukuoka family house

I do not know how they deal with the concept of privacy from higher buildings or if they provide any means for natural ventilation to cool down the Fukuoka House but I find the concept of a glass roof very intriguing. The effect on photos is superb.

Fukuoka family house :: modern architecture

+ photos: Suppose Design Office
+ via Blue ant Studio