We have been approached by a client who works in the bio- tech field and were presented by a 2,700 sqm lot situated on a hill side overlooking the Mediterranean.
We were asked to create an innovative modern house that would accommodate both the basic everyday needs of the couple who would live there, and spaciously host their three children with their families over the weekends and holidays.
Analyzing the programmatic requirements, taking into consideration a steep hillside lot, we have decided to divide the program into three main living spaces that would be situated one above the other in a “steps” formation overlapping just enough to create a connecting core, while allowing the upper level to utilize the roof of the lower two. In addition, due to security measures we have physically separated the parking structure from the main house to prevent direct core access between the two.
The upper level program (700 sqm) would consist of a formal and a utility kitchen, a living room, a dining room, and a family room, all planned to occupy one large open space. a large master suite, a guest suite a gym and a spa area.
Needing to provide full sea views and direct access to the main exterior platform while at the same time create a physical barrier to allow privacy, we have decided to use an L shape layout.
The exterior platform was another key element in our considerations of a design, for it would consist of a long infinity swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, an exterior kitchen area, and a wide recreational area where the clients would spend most of their leisure time utilizing each and every feature.
The mid-level program (350 sqm) would consist of three suites, recreational space, open gallery and utility access shaft.
The lower level (700 sqm) would consist of 4 suites, a living room, an open recreational area, a cinema room, a large study, storage and utility space. This level would also have access to a large 300 sqm yard, an exterior kitchen and two external sitting areas.
Once we had the program laid out and the circulation diagrams reflected the position of each function in the program we were then able to address form.
It was clear to us that in this case the mountain and the surroundings should be respected and taken deeply into account while forming the protective skin to house our program.
We envisioned an organic shape that would emerge from the topography, would be able to smoothly interreact with the wind allowing it to visually glide over, and at the same time warmly wrap the structure.
Mimicking a tectonic movement, we extracted surfaces from the ground and shaped them instinctively. The surfaces erect from the ground in a 78-degrees angle to a height of 4 meters, forming the walls, and fold at an inner 50cm radius to form the roofs.
Layer after layer the elements fold and stack one above the other to create an elegant multilayer formation of massive concrete surfaces. In order to achieve lightness, we have allowed 50cm air gaps across the surrounding edges between the layers.
following the same concept, using a unique structural design we were able to completely suspend the entire 250sqm concrete parking structure 2 meters above the main house, creating extreme constant tension between the two huge masses.
Once we had the masses and the skins laid out, we were able to address materiality.
Considering the entire structure is made out of reinforced concrete we carefully picked durable accompanied materials such as Wood, Synthetic wood, Glass, Aluminum, Natural grey stones, and Steel in order to balance the composition, warm up the architectural temperature of the structure and to smartly deal with hard weather conditions.
Due to the shape of the skin and the given topography we needed to smartly address the fifth façade. Wanting to achieve a smooth surface look for the entire skin, without compromising insulation and thermal isolation, we have decided to address both the roofs and the walls as one system. We have created an outer sub skin surface, made out of specially designed ceramic tiles, installed 15 cm distant from, and above the outer layer of insulation, creating a thick air buffer between the concrete roof and the skin to assist us in thermal efficiency and prevent inner condensation.
The tiles were installed with a slight gap between them to allow rain water to drip through the layer, collect and be diverted into specially designed drainage tunnels. Waters that are being collected are stored for irrigation purposes to help conserve energy.
Countless details were custom designed, while other off the shelf products have been modified to accommodate the requirements of the unique shapes of the house and the totality of our design agenda.
Windows and door systems have been modified. Working together with the manufacturer we were able to produce angled sliding window frames and wings to meet a 78 degrees angle. Curtains, rolling stainless steel bars and mosquito nets were adjusted as well. AC shafts, light fixtures, door handles, gates, handrails and indoor and outdoor furniture, all have been custom made to fit the design language and to follow the curves of the main concrete structure.
Water elements are outstanding tools to connect a modern mass to nature and In order to create an even tighter connection, we have wrapped the whole main mass with a bio grade living pool of water, both to soften the erection point of the concrete skin from the ground, and to create an illusion of a huge heavy mass gracefully floating on water.
Using massive concrete skin layers emerging from the slope, lightly levitating one above the other, while the whole upper level is floating on water, completely open to the breath-taking views of nature inviting it to be part of the interior and vice versa, we were able to create both tension and balance, and gracefully co-exist with the mountains, the skies, and the sea.
Ariel Isaac Franco Architecture Studio is a boutique architecture and design firm led and owned by Ariel Isaac Franco, and is a part of A. Franco ltd Group which is offering services such as Project design, Project management, Construction, and a full Design-Build solution. Ariel has got his degree in Architecture at SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) in Los Angeles, CA. The firm currently employs 6 architects, designs projects and operates both in Israel and in the US, and specializes in high-end private residential houses and small-scale boutique high rises. We believe in “Form Follow Function” and we use Tectonic architecture elements to form the skins and encase the programmatic cores of our designs. Each and every project is unique, so are the the core natural elements that react to it. Designing based on that methodology, we are doing a lot of experimental work, testing new materials and applications, while pushing the limits of conventional design.
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