Surrounded by lush vegetation, the volumetric Portola Valley House is one of the most recent projects completed by Mark Brand Architecture. Their work consisted of redesigning an old 1980’s home, with a dull exterior and an inexpressive interior. As the name already explains it, the house is located in Portola Valley, California. Soon after realising that the house needs a serious modern upgrade, the clients contacted a series of experts. The team responsible with the renewal, an award-winning San Francisco-based studio, after talking with the clients, decided to replace some of the old rooms with new living areas.
Here’s how the architects justify the changes: “We opened up the floor plan and completely demolished the sunroom, replacing it with a new dining room open to the remodelled living room and kitchen. We added a new office and deck above the new dining room and replaced all of the exterior windows, mostly with oversized sliding aluminium doors by Fleetwood to open the house up to the wooded hillside setting. Stainless steel railings protect the inhabitants where the sliding doors open more than 50 feet above the ground below.” The interior feels neat, stylish and uncluttered, enhancing the feeling of breeziness and creating a relaxed ambience. The view is one of this house’s greatest assets.
The best architects can create designs which will give clients and the public things they didn’t even realise they wanted, and this is especially important when architects are given the difficult brief of creating structures in much-loved, iconic areas.
An example of a huge success is Heneghan Peng Architects’ Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Using the large difference in level across the site, the architects created two folds in the landscape. Bold, but not conflicting with the rather bleak natural environment, these folds draw all the man-made areas together and create one fitting man-made break in the natural landscape. In the words of the architects themselves, There is no longer a building and a landscape, but building becomes landscape and the landscape itself remains spectacular and iconic