Coogee House by Chenchow Little

The new home that emerges from the sloping terrains of Sydney’s suburb, Coogee, is a private sanctuary that maximises the panoramic of the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival of the site, it becomes obvious that behind the dark bronze anodized aluminium screen, there are three flights of a finely detailed concrete stairs. Although from the streetscape point of view, the screen seems a bit foreign, it actually acts as a veil to the private home. The “veil”, which is retractable in different places, continues around the perimeter of the building with a combination of external living areas and decks, it constantly intrigues the locals and visitors that pass by.

Interestingly, before this renovation, the owners had lived on site for a number of years. During this time they wanted to develop a deep understanding of the environment, considering the weather patterns and the need for privacy from their neighbours. The owners had then approached Stephanie Little and Tony Chenchow (who are co-directors of the practice), to solve the difficult contradictions that constantly arise between designing for privacy and openness in residential projects. This is dealt directly by the veil but also the arrangement of the interior spaces. Although the home has an “open-plan”, the entire living area is not visible at any one time. There are zones that break down the main volume, and the kitchen had been situated within the public area of the home. It offers views of the Pacific Ocean.

Additionally, the shape of the building was constructed based on the site’s topography. The building is dark bronze, which, according to Chenchow “allows the house to recede and announce itself at the same time. Because there is a lot of this colour [dark bronze] in the natural Australian landscape, it works very well in our environment”. This is a residential project that responds to its landscape instead of merely relying on it. Although the main living area is the portal to the external views, the visual interest within the home itself is strong and obvious. The layered structure is refined but causes curiosity to those who might be curious.

Perth’s new Airport Link Rail Stations

Opening in: 2020
Images: courtesy of ArchitectureAU

A UK-based transport specialist (Weston Williamson and Partners) along with a local architecture company, GHD Woodhead, is in the process of designing three new stations (named Airport Central, Belmont, and Forrestfield) for the rail line that will link Perth’s airport with its city centre.

All three stations are situated at sites with a different contextual background but still have a common thread – the use of commissioned art works at a high level of transparency and will be tailored to each train station depending on its location. As an example, the Forrestfield train station will be designed keeping in mind the potential of growth of the surrounding area.

The principle of design at Weston Williamson and Partners, Gennaro Di Dato, stated that the station will be a catalyst for the future development of the area. “The station will be the first in the area, and then there will be a mixed-use masterplan that fills in the area later on, perhaps 10 to 15 years”. It is a similar model evident in the last century that has been adapted from Europe. The belief is that by building a big infrastructure that will prompt a masterplan to be developed, resulting in the possibility of creating a community.

Di Dato also suggested, as mentioned earlier, that each station design has been heavily influenced by the nearby landscapes. “The site is quite beautiful, it is very close to the Darling Scarp mountain ranges and the landscape is predominantly there”. The way that the design references the surroundings is depicted in the shape of the roof by creating a fragment that mimics the mountain range.

Conversely, the Airport Central station is surrounded by the existing airport infrastructure. “We wanted to create something that is iconic,” said Di Dato. “It is the first station of its kind in Perth and we also wanted to have something that resembles the idea of travel and the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft and the airport”. For this particular design, there are many references to the subject of travelling. As an example, there will be a sculpture that hangs from the roof of the ground-level atrium. It resembles a flock of birds, while the mural at the concourse level “resembles the journey of [Indigenous] people].

The feeling of warmth and a sense of calm is created throughout the space through the gulp of natural light and is possible because of the glazed walls on three sides of the triple height forecourt, and descends 25-metres to the platform level.

Additionally, the Belmont station will fit into the masterplan and make the area more dense. “The idea is to intensify around the station at a medium to high density. We’re talking about some buildings [that can] reach ten-story heights,” said Di Dato. In this case, it is evident that the design is quite subtle and does not have the same presence that the Airport Central or Forrestfield station has. The design for the Belmont station is trying to blend into the masterplan’s “vision for the future”.

Weston Williamson and Partners specifically specialise in transportation projects and has been actively involved in the development of London’s new rail system. GDH Woodhead has worked on a number of transport projects including the masterplanning of the Perth Station as part of the new Metrorail project.

Canada’s National Holocaust Monument designed by Studio Libeskind, opens in Ottawa

It is extremely meaningful to have been able to design and realise this monument with an incredible team,” said architect Daniel Libeskind. Studio Libeskind was selected to design the project in an international competition between top architecture firms from all around the world.

The Canadian National Holocaust Monument was opened to the public in the early days of October this year to honour the “millions of innocent men, women, and children who were murdered under the Nazi regime and to recognise the survivors who were able to make Canada their home”.

The monument, made out of casted concrete, conjures up the form of the 6-pointed star of David. The intention was to deconstruct the star and create an experiential environment that is laced with symbolism throughout. The architects explain that “the star remains the visual symbol of the Holocaust – a symbol that millions of Jews were forced to wear by the Nazi’s to identify them as Jews, exclude them from humanity and mark them for extermination.” It is then evident that the triangular spaces are a representation of the badges that the Nazi’s and their collaborators used to label different prisoners for murder.

There are two distinctive ground planes that establish symbolic and circular paths around and through the structure. The first is an ascending plane that “points to the future” and the second is a descending plane that leads towards more contemplative interior spaces. There are specific program pieces that have been integrated within six concrete triangles. This includes an educational interpretation space that describes the history and relationship between Canada and the Holocaust, three individual spaces for contemplation and reflection, a central congregating space, as well as a cathedral-like void that contains the “Flame of Remembrance”.

Additionally, murals by Edward Burtynsky are featured on the walls of each triangular face. This transports visitors to the emotive landscapes of the Holocaust sites. In the direction of the Parliament Buildings, the “Stair of Hope” takes visitors directly from the central gathering space towards the plaza on the upper levels.

Encircling the structure is a rocky landscape that permeated with coniferous trees (a tree which bears cones and needle-like like leaves) that will gradually mature as the monument ages. This acts as a beautiful reference and representation of the passing of time and the contribution of Canadian survivors in the modern-day society.

Daniel Libeskind also added, “This monument not only creates a very important public space for the remembrance of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, but it also serves as a constant reminder that today’s world is threatened by anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry. Canada has upheld the fundamental democratic values of people regardless of race, class or creed, and this national monument is the expression of those principles and of the future.”


Canada was the only allied nation without a Holocaust monument in its capital – that has now changed. See more information on the National Holocaust Museum here.

Villa Amanzi – more like Villa Amazing! [Phuket, Thailand]

Firm: Original Vision
Type: Residential / Private House
Year: 2008

Nestled at a west-facing ravine with a slab of rock that is used to define the edge with a stunning outlook over the Andaman Sea, Villa Amanzi emerges from 60m above the sea. The structure manifests, almost like an extension from the rocks and dominates attention from every angle. The goal of the design was to make the home harmonise with the surrounding, and was achieved by careful analysis of the topographical information that capitalises the drama of the rock all the way down to the rock pools located at the oceanfront.

When one first approaches the site, there is a noticeable reference to the tropical jungle steps and secluded rock platforms which instils a feeling of solidity that juxtaposes the openness of the house. This creates positive connotations and reinforces the vibrancy that pays homage to the captivating elements of the location. Additionally, the composition for the design allows for an open living and dining space that is an amalgamation of the two garden areas. It is rather intimate but unenclosed and uninterrupted. Furthermore, the swimming pool completes this composition as it is cantilevered over the massage sala. It becomes the focal point that draws awareness to the view and provides balance with the energy of the architecture.

The main points of architectural interest are the natural elements of the project and the views across the Andaman Sea. The dramatic layer of granite that defines the northern boundary of the site coincides with constant of the view apparent in all living spaces. The plan of the bedroom bridge, living spaces and garden areas further emphasises the modern yet quintessential and tropical design.

Although the isolated nature and size of the structure is positioned on a steep terrain made the construction quite challenging, it was smart to socket the foundations for the swimming pool into a bedrock in order to create a stable platform from which the whole house grew. In terms of sustainability, Phuket often enjoys a monsoon climate where the wind predominately flows east-to-west during the dry season, and the opposite during the wet season. The orientation and openness of the house allow the owners to use natural air instead of air-conditioning.


Shipping Container Home or Desert Flower?

In the Californian desert, Whitaker Studio’s Joshua Tree Residence takes the architecture of a shipping container to the next level. 

The structure is laid out in a starburst of containers, each oriented differently in order to maximise natural light, views, or to create privacy.  Situated on a 90-acre plot owned by a Los Angeles-based film producer, the house is a reconfiguration of a concept by Whitaker Studio. It was initially meant for an office building in Germany that was never accomplished.

The concept was transported to the desert site, with rocky outcropping and jutting rocks. The idea was to have the shipping container’s “exoskeleton” on a concrete plinth, allowing the water from a small gully to continue to pass through. Plans for the home (200 sqm!) include a kitchen, living room, dining area and three bedrooms. Each room is angled to have large amounts of natural light. As an extension to the house, two containers merge to meet the natural topography whilst creating a shielded outdoor area with a wooden deck and hot tub.

In terms of colour scheme, the exterior and interior surfaces will be painted white to reflect light from the scorching desert sun. The garage located nearby will be cladded with solar panels, in order to provide power and electricity to the house.

Although construction is set to begin next year, the original office design will be exhibited at the National Maritime Museum of Australia starting October 26th!

The Evolution of Tall Building Design: SOM

SOM [Skidmore, Owings & Merrillexhibits 30 structural skeleton architectural models that show the evolution of tall building design. 

Tall building designs all have an intense, groundbreaking and innovative structural systems. At the Chicago Architecture Biennial, an exhibition titled SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture] uncovers the concepts and forms of the firm’s greatest achievements. These include buildings such as the John Hancock Building, the Willis Tower and the world’s tallest building right now, the Burj Khalifa. The exhibition touches on the levels of research and thought processes evident in each structure through a range of media; sketches, interactive sculptures, immersive videos, and a lineup of models at the scale of 1:500 showing the skeletal structure of 30 significant projects.

SOM’s partner, Bill Baker, stated: An engineer should design a structure that an architect would be ashamed to cover up“.

Furthermore, the exhibition also supports the firm’s tradition of working with visual artists. On display will also be models and drawings developed through collaborations with Pablo Picasso, James Turrell, James Carpenter, Janet Echelman, and Ińigo Manglano-Ovall, to explore the idea that “engineers, architects, and artists alike practice a poetry of inquiry, experimentation and ingenuity.”

The exhibition is on display throughout
the duration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial:
closing on January 7th, 2018.

Jason Wu’s new GREYOUT Pantone at the New York Fashion Week.

This artist/fashion designer now has his own Pantone shades.

Remember when people used to paint the town red? Forget that. The latest collection of GREY by Jason Wu was inspired by his favourite grey tee, something so easy and effortless. Wu partnered with Pantone to paint the Cadillac House on Hudson St. entirely grey during the New York Fashion Week. “I think grey is such a sophisticated colour, and I have always loved its calming quality,” the designer told Architectural Digest.

The installation that opened from September 12th through to September 24th was an amalgamation between the designer and other creatives that he admires. Such relationships allowed Wu to call his friends from brands such as Edie Parker and Jennifer Fisher to design custom pieces in his signature Pantone shades. As a result of this, there will also be unique capsule collections with brands that we all love and use like Moleskine, Sharpie, Moshi and LeSportsac. Items from these collections include limited-edition backpacks, jewellery, headphones, nail polish, cutting boards and more that were exclusively available to be purchased at GREYOUT during the event.

“I love that the entire space feels so warm and inclusive; there is a great energy between the interactive installations to all the special events that we are hosting throughout the week—it’s exciting to see how much people are enjoying it,” said Wu.

#PhotosOfTheDay at Tree Art Museum, China

Firm: Daipu Architects
Type: Cultural / Museum
Built: 2012
Budget: $1M – $5M
Size: 3000 sqft – 5000 sqft

The Tree Art Museum is located in Songzhuang, Beijing China. The intention behind the design was to create and explore a public space that stands out from it surroundings. It needed to be engaging enough so that people would come and spend time there to linger, meet, or chat. Successfully, the space now encourages communal interactions and discussions.

The distinctive entrance of the museum is created by the curved floorslab that seems as though it is emerging from the ground and continues up to the roof; it is only natural then, that eyes would follow the pathways. Since it is a large space, the structure allows for two different entrances; either through the first-floor courtyard and pool or the second floor through a ramp. The water surrounding the area was designed to encapsulate and bring forth calming emotions. Additionally, the choice of having a pool in the center of the structure allows for the reflection of the sky, helping the visitors forget the world outside.

This particular museum explores the boundaries between interior/exterior spaces as well as private and public space. The project and design were structured around the attempt of blurring the lines between the elements of the museum inside with the side of the main road outside. It introduces the idea of spatial continuity and freedom through a diverse variety of visual, material, and experiential potentiality.

Daipu Architects were able to design the museum using natural materials, open space and natural light in such a way that it became a place where locals were able to gather and communicate with trees, water, nature and contemporary art in the background.

Santiago Calatrava on the World Trade Center Transportation Hub

Oculus opened its doors to the public on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 in 2016

Santiago Calatrava has built a reputation for himself by creating dynamic structures at the World Expo in Spain and a twisting tower in Sweden. When he tapped into the design of the World Trade Center transportation Hub, he was able to translate his desires of creating a sense of peace and hope for future generations into an exceptional, realistic structure.

The space encapsulates a large amount of light, it fills the  massive space as a memorial to the attacks on the twin towers. Though the master plan was laid out by Daniel Libeskind, Calatrava’s design revolved around using light as a guiding principle for the orientation of the transportation hub. Precisely at 10:28am each September 11th (the time that the North Tower collapsed), a beam of light would illuminate through the opening in the roof and project all the way across the floor of Oculus.

 “I want for them to suddenly arrive to the station by train and, twice a day, for ten minutes or so, stand before an immaculately fashioned station that was built just for them. I want for them to enjoy it, to feel important and part of something bigger, more grand.”
Calatrava comments when asked about the idea behind the Oculus

Described by Libeskind as a “wedge” of light, the act of placing a gap in the center of the transportation hub not only becomes symbolic but creates a sense of security by differentiating from other, darker, train stations around New York. Additionally, the complexity, emotional components and cultural significance made the project more demanding.