This elegant compact home occupying a historic residential district in Madison, US was especially developed in order to serve the needs of a family of four. Johnsen Schmaling Architects explains their architecture approach: “Successfully contesting the local preservation ordinance whose strict guidelines advocated stylistic mimicry while failing to recognize the neighborhood’s rich architectural diversity, we designed a quiet but unapologetically contemporary building, its formally restrained volume discreetly placed in the back of the trapezoidal site, where it avoids direct visual competition with its two dignified neighbors, a hundred-year old Spanish Colonial home and the Ely House from 1896, a cherished landmark on the National Register of Historic Places”. Composed of two main building blocks, the residence accommodates the private spaces (bedrooms, bathrooms, reading room) in the cedar volume, while the public functions (garage, open living space) are located within the brick base. The modern interiors offer expansive neighborhood views and inspire a healthy lifestyle.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests
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.