The challenge: to reconnect the inhabitant with the nature, in the heart of a typical neighborhood in San Francisco. Fougeron Architecture, the design studio in charge of completing the residential project called The Flip House, took advantage of the benefits of modern architectural aesthetics and came up with an interesting idea: a prism-like house with vertical circulation, capable of “exploiting” the advantages brought by the lush vegetation and the urban skyline. Due to the fact that the Flip House has three levels, the stairs play an important role in creating a connection between the spaces. The circulation is rationalized: basically, the idea of a disconnected staircase was replaced “with one rear stair that smoothly links all three levels and the garden below.”
A custom-built glass wall replaces the regular wall, creating a transparent environment. Each of the three vertical panels are clearly bounded. “The street-level entry now leads to a generous foyer that is open to this staircase and to a guest room/den. The open plan of the second floor allows the kitchen and living room space to look down into this den and outward to the striking city”. Despite the neutral palette of colors used in completing the décor, the interior is dynamic, hip and modern. How do you find this project? Smart or not?
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
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