Top 20 Architects And Their Rural Retreat Model House Design

in Art + Design


For this year 2011 Architects Directory, 20 of the world’s best emerging architects were gathered together by Wallpaper to design the ultimate rural retreat house into a series of excellently executed models. Let’s view these 20 minimal sculptural structure developed by Wallpaper* and learn from the world’s most promising young practices that conceived them.

Having such a tight schedule on weekdays? Isn’t it time to take your love ones and go out of town, and recharge in the countryside – to laugh, relax, and view amazing vistas? Get some time completely on your own, as a couple, to do whatever you like, prior to a delicious evening meal and lively conversation.

These twenty houses were designed to be flexible and functional, but also formally and technically innovative, sitting on an isolated countryside site. The only sanction was the need for the homes to touch the ground lightly, with minimum disruption to the landscape. To find out more, do check them out on for more interesting insights.

01 Anttinen Oiva Architects



Based in Helskini, Anttinen Oiva Architects was founded in 2006 by Selina Anttinen and Vesa Oiva. ‘Our aim is to create ambitious, memorable and versatile contemporary architecture, which takes its inspiration from the demanding context,’ says Oiva. The retreat is designed for a spectacular rural site ‘to create an atmosphere where everyday life can be forgotten’. All functions are raised above the ground onto a crisp T-shaped pedestal, with separately orientated spaces for sleeping and dining/living divided by a central terrace that stays open to the landscape. The house takes on the form of a freestanding sculptural object, an intriguing home away from home

02 Architecture Republic



Moroccan-born, French-raised Maxim Laroussi studied in Brazil and Ireland before founding Architecture Republic with GA Wheatley in Dublin in 2005. The office has since garnered numerous awards, as well as a nomination for the Mies van der Rohe prize. ‘We believe in an architectural approach that is pragmatic, sensitive and innovative in terms of space, use, material and technology,’ says Laroussi. Architecture Republic’s concept for Wallpaper* draws on the tradition of the English country house and its secret walled gardens. It is arranged as a series of double-height zones divided by brick walls and described by Laroussi as ‘three pockets of privacy’

03 Bourgeois/Lechasseur



Emerging Canadian architect Olivier Bourgeois studied at Laval University in Quebec, where he now teaches part-time. After a stint at Todd Saunders in Norway, and the completion of a number of independent architecture projects, Bourgeois is about to launch his own practice with Régis Lechasseur, also from Laval University. Bourgeois draws inspiration from ‘the poetry of the landscape and the basic rules of construction used in maritime contexts’. The scale model for his Sandhouse, a monolithic block with minimalist openings, was made out of sand by Magdalen Islands’ Artisans du Sable, underlining Bourgeois’ collaborative and craft-orientated approach

04. FourFourSixSix



Launched in 2006, Fourfoursixsix has offices in London and Bangkok. Partners Tim Ridd and Daniel Welham work on a varied range of projects – from a Thai eco-luxe resort to a penthouse refurbishment in Covent Garden – with the aim of creating ‘innovative, unique and pragmatic architecture’. Avoiding a ‘house style’, the firm takes a site-specific approach to its work. Combining our brief with the principles of a Scandinavian summerhouse, Fourfoursixsix created a reinterpretation of the Nordic retreat. ‘The tension between the geometric boundary of the site and the scheme’s rural setting was intriguing,’ they say. ‘We utilised almost the full extent of the site, allowing the house to maximise the space while minimising its visual footprint’

05. GH3



Pat Hanson and Diana Gerrard set up GH3 in 2006, bringing together their respective disciplines of architecture and landscape architecture. ‘Finding the unique identity of a site and translating that into built form is the essence of all our projects,’ they say. Their holiday house was designed for the ‘agricultural expanse of southern Saskatchewan’. Serving as a counterpoint to the area’s relentlessly flat topography, the house was designed as a bold, geometric object, ‘enclosed between soaring crops and the dark earth’. Arranged around a central courtyard, the house is clad in an ‘oxidising skin to record the toll of the often harsh prairie weather’

06. Hurst Song Architekten



Set up in Zurich by Suzanne Song and Alex Hurst in 2008, after the Columbia University alumni had both worked for practices in New York, Hurst Song Architects fuses new-century modernism with a love of material, surface and simplicity. For Wallpaper*, the duo composed the House on the 37th Parallel, a ‘space that functions both as a refuge and a nexus for public events’. Cinematic in scope (they cite Blake Edwards’ 1968 The Party as inspiration), the house is designed as a flowing space surrounded by a ribbon of terrace, with two spaces concealed within, each with a lush ‘secret garden’. The concrete roof stores daytime heat for night-time warmth. ‘The house turns the beautiful surroundings into a kind of animated tapestry,’ say the architects

07. Karawitz Architecture



Based in Paris and founded in 2004, Karawitz Architecture is led by Milena Karanesheva and Mischa Witzmann, whose pragmatic approach is about looking for the potential within the built environment. ‘Our aim is to create architecture free of any ideology or dogma, oriented to the user’s needs and respectful of the site it is built on,’ say the architects. Interpreting Wallpaper’s holiday home as a building with a wide, open-plan interior, Karawitz wanted to create something that would protect the residents’ privacy. The structure was designed as a single form, within which smaller spaces were created. The visitor can look at the interior as one united space or retreat to their preferred sub-area within it

08. KITE Architecture



Eri Ishida and Aki Takagi’s KITE Architecture practice in Tokyo, which opened for business in August 2010, grew out of the partners’ experience at Tezuka Architects. Their AD House for Wallpaper* explores the arrangement of public and private areas, with four double-height private spaces interspersed with a series of small courtyards and public rooms. The house fits three bedrooms, three living spaces, a dining room and a kitchen into a square floorplan. All the bedrooms have access to their own private rooftops, and an open-air hot tub, while public spaces are used freely to cook, eat, read or play. This dual-layer landscape enables the residents to find a place of their own at any time

09. LHVH Architekten



Established in 2003 by Frank Lohner, Jens Voss and Frank Holschbach (the other ‘H’ has since left the practice), this Köln-based studio met at the Universität Siegen. The trio’s work includes temporary pavilions, offices and housing, all demonstrating that architecture is about making places with the most effective means. The house for Wallpaper* is a playful evolution of the container house typology. The focus is the whole house itself more than the inner structure. ‘That is why we built it with portable containers to travel with the house from one location to the next,’ says Holschbach. Effectively six stacked boxes, the house is for the minimally-minded global nomad, preferably with access to their own handy shipping line

10. Martin Gomez Arquitectos



Buenos Aires-born Martin Gomez set up his own office in 1990 in Uruguay. ‘My work turns into a process in which the architect, interior, landscape and graphic designer tasks overlap,’ says Gomez, who now has a second office in Buenos Aires and focuses on quality residential architecture. For his Wallpaper* commission, Gomez envisioned a house ‘in a beautiful village close to the ocean, on a steep slope’. The design is based on a box overlooking the valley. In contrast to the clean geometric exterior, the interior is a free-flowing space. A ramp leads to the concrete and wooden structure’s entrance, while its timber shutters shape the façade and protect the inhabitants from the wind and summer sun

11. Moorhead & Moorhead



Set up by brothers Granger and Robert Moorhead in 2000, Moorhead & Moorhead explores ‘issues of function and materiality’. The Moorheads’ proposal, Bunk House, is a ‘pared-down, off-the-grid cabin designed for a wooded lakeside site in northern Minnesota’. It is designed as a modular system of lightweight polypropylene foam planks assembled over a steel tube framework, mounted to a platform floating above the ground, and it houses under one roof all living spaces, as well as covered outdoor spaces. Facilities such as a freshwater shower, a composting toilet and a wood-burning sauna are housed in outbuildings on the site

12. Olaf Gipser Architects

The Netherlands


Founded in 2005 by Olaf Gipser, this studio is ‘fascinated by projects that contribute to both the construction of the city and to the production of nature’. Its Wallpaper* holiday house is, says Gipser, ‘an outpost of urban domesticity in non-urban territory. We like architecture that unfolds at the intersection of environmental and social programming.’ The house, which sits on a square plot and can be set up as two units, can be slotted into any number of rural scenarios. The gentle curves act as enclosures and incorporate two courtyards as retreats from everyday life

13. Pasel.Künzel Architects

The Netherlands


Dutch architects Ralf Pasel and Frederik Künzel established Pasel.Künzel Architects in Rotterdam in 2002. The firm, which scooped a first prize at the 2008 International Bauhaus Awards, has projects in the Netherlands, Germany and Chile, while both principals are visiting professors at the Academy of Architecture Rotterdam. ‘The central idea behind Floating Home: Kijk! is to develop a prototype house that establishes a strong connection between the building shell and the surrounding landscape,’ say Pasel and Künzel. It features a fully glazed ground floor surrounded by reed plants to provide privacy and to contrast with the introverted, enclosed upper level, which has a central light well and internal patio

14. Sami Arquitectos



Set up in 2005, Sami Arquitectos is a small but energetic firm headed by Inês Vieira da Silva and Miguel Vieira. It took part in the New Architects: Portugal_UK programme at London’s Architecture Foundation in 2010 and is working on residential projects, including a private house in Oporto and an apartments scheme in Setúbal. Sami sees flexibility as the key to this house’s development. The design is created around a ‘tank-house’ concept; water is collected through the roof’s angular design and stored under the floor. Used for the house’s daily needs, water also acts as the house limits’ defining element, overflowing from the tank during rainfall to cover the site’s surface

15. Studio Octopi



James Lowe and Chris Romer-Lee, who met while they were studying at the University of Plymouth and the Bartlett School of Architecture, set up Studio Octopi in 2005. ‘Our practice’s work is rooted in context and craft,’ they say. ‘We place great emphasis on the referencing of a project, drawing from the arts and from a close observation of our surroundings.’ Current projects include kiosks for the 2012 Olympics and a low-energy home in the Wiltshire countryside. For its Wallpaper* holiday home, Studio Octopi has created the Treehouse, a woodland home clad in weathered brass. To compensate for its tiny 4 sq m footprint, the structure soars nine storeys into the canopy of the trees

16. Svendborg Architects



A member of the Danish Academy Council, a government advisor on architecture and art, and assistant professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – School of Architecture, it is hard to believe Johnny Svendborg only set up his practice in 2007. The firm now employs ten architects at its Copenhagen base. Of our brief, he says: ‘A summer house should accentuate a certain dialogue with the landscape and make space for intimacy.’ His retreat is designed off a curved deck and around a core defined by a glass roof, with transparent walls that can be opened, highlighting the house’s interaction with the landscape, framing its views and connecting the interior with the outside terraces

17. TAKA



Alice Casey and Cian Deegan have worked for practices such as dePaor Architects and Niall McLaughlin Architects and set up TAKA in 2006. They received the International Brick Award in 2009, won the Architectural Association of Ireland Award and ‘Best House’ in the 2010 Irish Architecture Awards, and co-curated the 2010 Venice Biennale Irish Pavilion. The Aran Islands are the location of TAKA’s retreat. Meant to sit at the cliff edge, the proposal was intended as ‘an archaic retreat devoid of all but the most basic shelter’. Made from concrete poured onto the island’s stone surface, the building is composed of a circular central space and individual cells, in the form of houses, that occupants can use to enjoy the stunning views

18. VOIS Architects



Athens-born Katerina Vordoni and Fania Sinanioti both worked at practices in the UK, US and Greece before setting up VOIS in 2006. Their work draws inspiration from everyday life, habits, moments and objects. Choosing the idea of travelling as inspiration for the Wallpaper* holiday house brief, VOIS created the Train House concept. ‘For us, the sense of holiday is connected to relaxation, change, escape, nature and having the space and time to enjoy the people and things you love,’ they say. Envisioned in a plot containing water elements and plants, the house is a series of rectangular spaces connected linearly through a central glass corridor, with gardens created in the spaces in-between

19. Warren Techentin Architects



Set up by Warren Techentin in 2010 following the restructuring of Techentin Buckingham Architecture and his spells at Selldorf Architects and Morphosis Architects, WTARCH is a firm that focuses as much on a building’s cultural impact as it does on its environmental performance. The WTARCH Vacation Home evokes Californian holidays spent in ‘convivial A-frames, tents, yurts and modern bungalows’. A new take on the tent, it’s based around a ‘great room’ and the idea that the weather can be regulated through layering. Intended for a site in Sun Valley, Idaho, it blends high-performance ETFE skin with a Marimekkopatterned interior

20. Zon-e Arquitectos



Founded in 2001 by Josean Ruiz Esquíroz and Nacho Ruiz Allén, Zon-e is dedicated to research and experimentation. After stints teaching at Columbia and the Buffalo School of Architecture, Esquíroz now works as an associate teacher at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura in Madrid, while Allén is finishing his PhD. Their RSN House hugs the ground using Vierendeel beams to free up the lowest level. Courtyards bring light into the multifunctional basement, and the fluid arrangement of spaces in and out affords privacy, while giving the prospect of views

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