Transparent modern house

By Fat Hippo

In this lakeside house, wood veneer ceilings run architecture, estate, home, house, interior design, landscape, property, real estate, sky, gray
In this lakeside house, wood veneer ceilings run indoors to out, helping connect the interiors to the natural world. A second outdoor fireplace here on the exposed side of the house is used on windless summer days. Deer antlers are another appropriate inclusion for the semi-isolated mountain home. The design is by Fat Hippo Design Group.

There are several ways to integrate a house into a natural setting. One is to set it low on the land; another is to use local materials. A more radical approach is to allow almost unbroken views through the home to the scenery behind.

This residence, by architectural designers Nathan Shearing and Martin Gvardijancic of Fat Hippo Design Group, combines all three strategies to create a vacation home that celebrates the mountain setting, without detracting from it.

Shearing says the design was shaped by several factors, including the nature and orientation of the site, and the request from the owners that they be able to enjoy the scenery from any room. There was also a requirement for privacy from the neighbors.

"We set the structure low on the long, narrow section as there was no need to build over two levels to capture the views. This in turn provides some privacy from a distance, as the hillside partly obscures the house from the street. It also helps ensure the house does not dominate the setting."

Another consideration was the sun, which penetrates from the same side as the entry the side opposite the main outlook.

The interiors and furnishings  of this home architecture, house, interior design, real estate, table, gray, brown
The interiors and furnishings of this home in the mountains reflect natural materials and are relatively understated to avoid detracting from the setting. Timber cabinetry is paired with a natural stone waterfall benchtop on the island. Industrial glazing was particularly important on the exposed, scenic side of the holiday house. The design is by Fat Hippo Design Group.

"To optimize views and privacy, we created a loose H-shaped design. The long central bar comprises the living space, which is much like a viewing gallery, completely walled in glass. A guest suite and garage are in the left-hand wing while the other, smaller wing contains the master suite.

"Fundamental to the design was the concept of being able to look right through the interior from the approach. For maximum transparency, we designed a slender central roof plane, tilted at an angle that makes it almost invisible when viewed from above. The angle also matches the gradient of the land and the interior steps, to enhance this effect. And the tilt of the roof allows the sun to flood into the interiors from the north."

The wings provide privacy from neighbors and enfold outdoor living areas on the entry side of the house, sheltering them from cold winds that blow off the lake.

"Unlike many houses designed to focus on magnificent scenery, this one does not conceal the outlook from the exterior, revealing it only once you step inside. Here, only the front door is opaque," says Shearing.

"Indoors, the glass and steel design offers spectacular 180º outlooks from the long living area and both wings. In fact, the only room that doesn't take in the mountains and lake is the media room. We deliberately enclosed this space to provide a contrasting retreat from the light-reflecting snowy surroundings."

A sectional sofa creates a relaxing media room ceiling, estate, home, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, room, gray
A sectional sofa creates a relaxing media room in this semi-isolated mountain home. The design is by Fat Hippo Design Group.

Material selection plays an important part in the character of the home and helps draw it even more closely into the landscape.

"The siding is locally sourced stacked schist stone which blends with the surrounding rocky crags. Similarly, the cedar clapboards have weathered to a silver gray tone that matches the nearby forest of silver beech trees. The front door is in copper, which will develop a natural patina over time.

"In addition, the wood ceilings run from indoors out to the soffit overhangs, helping merge indoors and outdoors. Matching tones on the tilework adds to the effect.

"The fact that this house is a vacation home was an influence on the design. It features a minimal energy mode, for when the house is unoccupied, to protect it from extreme variations in temperature. Careful consideration has being given to heating systems to cope with the expansive glazing."

When the overseas-based owners arrive, they often bring their children and grand-children. The house is well set up for several families, with the master suite and guest bedrooms separated by the living areas. An office space between the living area and master suite provides another buffer for privacy.

Story by: Trendsideas

31 Jan, 2014

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