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  • Landscaped Structure: Melbourne Hill House

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    Hill House in Melbourne

    When we study eco-friendly architecture and landscape, it's not often that we come across a landscaped structure. Architect Andrew Maynard designed "Hill House" in Melbourne, Australia to be the exception. This once single structure residence has been turned into, not only a much larger home, but a study on combining architecture and building.

    Melbourne is predominantly flat. This could be why Melbourne’s architecture is ambitious. There's no landscape to confine structure design, therefore buildings are free to become landscape.

    architecture diagrams

    The design goal was for a family of five to have a long-term residence, which could meet the requirements of three small children and their transformation into young adulthood. Above is the evolution of design toward that goal, starting with the just original building (white).

    Fundamental issues offered Maynard a starting point and he noticed that the original structure faced North which relegated the backyard, where the family spent much of their time, to shadow throughout the year. This was not ideal.

    modern window wall

    The proposal was to build a new structure on the rear boundary, which was once the back yard.

    multi-structure home

    The new structure now faces the sun and the pure cantilevered box above acts as the passive solar eave, cutting out summer sun, while letting winter sun flood in.

    Upon entry, you can see (below) how the structure effects the interior, creating a lowered dining area. The change in floor level creates a bench seat for the Maynard designed "Zero Waste Table".

    modern great room

    Despite structural efforts outside, there are ways for any interior to circulate aire and keep cool in the summer. There are some great modern ceiling fans the accomplish this without detracting from the decor. This fan below is our suggestion for achieving Maynard's design aesthetic.

    Turbina Oil-Rubbed Bronze Ceiling Fan

    multi-color dining chairs

    Much of the color in Maynard's design comes from the landscape outside, but he had a little fun with the dining room. Multi-colored modern dining chairs is a great way to add personality to a minimally designed space. We suggest this red Eames-style dining chair.

    Zuo Spire Red Dining Chair

    modern playground

    Wouldn't it be fun to have a well designed attractive home that is also your playground? Apparently, Maynard is the go-to architect for innovative, fun and smart design. "Environmental issues and responsible, intelligent solutions are trademarks of his work, utilising clever concepts for a dynamic output. Clients come to Maynard when they’re seeking a unique and challenging solution..." Alaana Fitzpatrick, DQ magazine.

    Images: Maynard Architects

  • Plan Check: Industrial Restaurant Design

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     handwritten restaurant menu

    Plan Check Kitchen + Bar is a quaint little restaurant located in West LA's Little Osaka. Many of you might be familiar with this area for the sushi, but maybe you've frequented the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety on a regular basis to have your plans reviewed for permitting. The concept behind this restaurant design embodies the creative lifestyle of architects, designers, and developers that flock here on a regular basis.  

     modern restaurant patio

    The minimal industrial warehouse vibe of this gastropub has the laid back feeling of a corner general store or corner bar in any small town.The outside patio is very welcoming with its warm, minimal lighting aesthetic. Modern outdoor lighting paired with industrial awnings makes for a perfect L.A. evening hang out.  

     industrial interior

    The long communal tables are centrally located with an open bar on the left and sculptural wood booths to the right. The natural wood and metal tables do a great job of warming up the space. Poured concrete floors and industrial modern lighting fixtures consistently create a warehouse style interior.

    These gunmetal barstools paired with this bronze wall sconce are perfect for giving your space that feeling of an industrial warehouse.  

    industrial barstool

    Set of 4 Zuo Modern Marius Gunmetal Counter Stools

    industrial wall light

    Robert Abbey Iris Bronze Plug-In Swing Arm Wall Lamp

    menu design

    Even the menus look like a set of plans!  How great is that?  But really, what's so great about this place is the menu.  

     gourmet hamburger

    Umami Burger's, Chef Ernesto Uchimura, has created a menu of comfort food topped with things like bacon candy and ketchup leather and stuffed with things like bone marrow and swiss cheese fondue. You can't go wrong with anything on this menu.  

    Now you've got something to look forward to next time you're visiting the Department of Building and Safety!

    Images: Plan CheckGDX

  • Sailing Style: Modern Yacht Interiors

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    modern yacht designs

    High style on the high seas is not just a fiction one finds in Bond movies. The following rundown of the best in modern yacht interiors suggests that good design sense need not be shore bound.  

    When looking for a custom boat interiors pro, Art collector Dakis Joannou commissioned famed artist Jeff Koons and interior designer Ivana Porfiri to outfit Guilty (pictured above and below), a colorful 35 meter yacht that is a floating homage to contemporary art and design. 

    yacht interior design

    Clear chairs maintain an uncluttered aesthetic - perfect for the limited space of a yacht. Get a similar look with clear outdoor dining chairs. This set by Zuo Modern (below) are perfect for the job. 

    modern transparent chairs

    Set of 4 Zuo Allsorts Transparent Outdoor Dining Chairs

    The Antigone 80 meter yacht (below) is a sleek concept yacht by Pama Design. In looking for a style that would integrate well with the surroundings, the designers turned to an aesthetic perhaps most suited to the flat expanse of the sea: the classic Modernist look.

    Mid century yacht design

    Use floor lamps and modern seating to replicate the signature style.

    arc modernist floor lamp

    Possini Euro White Marble Base Arc Floor Lamp

    Modern white chaise lounge


    A high style sense is not just limited to custom yachts. Houseboats may not be built for the open sea, but they're excellent spaces to get creative within. This houseboat (below) berthed in Oldenberg, Germany, is designed with a minimalist look. Synthetic materials can be used when possible to save weight.  

    European house boat design

    White lounge chair

    There are those, of course, who prefer to never leave shore at all. This boathouse in Ontario, Canada (below) is a stunning reason to forgo time on the water entirely.

    Contemporary boathouse design

    Sustainable vacation home design

    Designed by GH3 Architects, this is an efficient model. The house is sited on a granite slab, an ideal thermal mass for the solar radiation that passively heats the space. Louvers, ventilation and the lake-front location keep things cool in Summer. With a space like this, keeping your land legs beneath you just might be the best idea of all.

    Images: Hok Life, Tuvie, Home Designing, Contemporist

  • New Porcelanosa Showroom and Dwell Architects

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     chrome tile

    Porcelanosa's beautiful West Hollywood showroom opened last week and it was the perfect place to kick-off Dwell on Design and Meet the Architects. I spent the first hour or more wandering around the showroom drooling over the beautiful displays and the latest materials. As a designer I've been working with Porcelanosa for over 5 years and through these years they've never missed a beat. They are always introducing the most beautiful tiles with the most advanced technology, at reasonable prices. And the best part is that they almost always have everything in stock.

    The chrome plated Madison Plata porcelain tile (above)is sure to add drama to any space. It's elegant, sophisticated, and just jaw dropping. Pairing it with a porcelain wood floor is great way to mix the organic and the glitz. The bathtubs and sinks are made of Krion, a matte solid-surface material, and the simplicity is stunning.

     black bathroom

    This natural stone wall tile paired with Urbatek's Max Black Nature floor tile (above) is a great combination of porcelain and natural stone. Layering natural elements with glamorous elements is the perfect way to create depth and interest in any space.  Ornate and modern decorative mirrors will really define the style in your bathroom.

    patterned tile

    The subtle pattern on the mosaic tile behind the vanity gives you the look of wallpaper, but with the durability of porcelain.  

    calacatta gold tile

    Can you believe this Calacata Gold wall and floor tile is not the real thing? This is one of the best Calacata Porcelain tiles on the market! Wood and marble is always a classic comibination and the only thing that's missing here is the modern bathroom lighting.

    porcelain mosaic

    These porcelain mosaic tiles are brilliant! Choose a light or dark grout color and watch these mosaics change faces in an instant!

    meet the architects 

    After wandering around the showroom I did get a chance to listen to a few of the Architects speak about their projects in this year's Dwell Home Tour. Shawn Bleet of OKB Architects spoke about the all the huffing and puffing the city did in regards to the exterior color and finish selections of the Avon Residence addition in Pasadena. While one of my favorite architects, Whitney Sander of Sander Architects spoke about the Green House (below) and light-gauge metal building and it's effect on the environment and your pocket!  

    modern green architecture

    We'll tell you all about Dwell on Design and the Dwell Home Tours next week!  Hope you get a chance to enjoy both of them this weekend!  And if you don't, be sure to stay tuned for our full coverage of the events!


    Images: Annie May, Sander Architects

  • Urban Gatherings: L.A. Art Walk

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    black and white photography

    People often complain that Los Angeles is so spread out and impersonal. Arguably, it might be and there is no denying it. However, there are certain events that occur throughout the city in an effort to distance itself from such an apathetic reputation. Rather than condemning the vastness of our overpopulated city, we should embrace its variety.

    The Downtown Art Walk is a free, self-guided public community event bringing together art lovers and community friends. It takes place on the second Thursday of every month. Activities occur mostly in and around the galleries located on Spring and Main streets between 2nd and 9th streets. However, there are several art related events and openings, activities, and special programming that take place all over downtown.

    The small groups that form and the conversation that occurs outside each gallery, restaurant or bar, discussing a range of art and artists, is enough to make a large city seem small.

    modern art using watercolors

    Road Trip / Watercolor, ink, gouache on paper

    The art depicted above and below are from Ching Ching Cheng, a Taiwanese born, Los Angeles based artist who works mostly in sculptural mixed media and paintings. If you like what you see, you can find her work in the DAC Gallery, located on Main Street.

    modern art using gouache

    Tenement / Gouache, pen on paper

    modern art using ink

    Invisible / Watercolor, ink, pencil on paper

    modern art using acrylic

    Cell / Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper

    As Brent discussed recently in his post Commercial Design - Earmarking Public Art, art makes an impact not only on city urban planning and development, but it also makes a positive impact on the inhabitants of that city. Whether they're arriving at the airport and taking in the beauty of structural art or conversing with friends outside a gallery just before entering a local pub for more conversation over a drink....

    Images: LAist, Ching Ching Cheng

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