Description byRobson Rak Architects:
Behind an unassuming façade, the Courtyard house opens up to reveal a pared back design response, mixed with luxurious materials, and practical detailing. This existing building has been altered and extended, with the interior design responding to our client’s love of Japanese architecture and rituals.
The site is 7.5m by 46m with minimal street presence wedged amongst two large double storey residences. Our design response was to create two large courtyard spaces that brought light and greenery into all living areas, and created a much larger interior space that continues to surprise as one moves through the house. The brief called for a complete modernisation and re-fit of an 80’s home. The client’s wish was for a restrained material palette and a strong connection with nature.
Modern amenities such as a lift, cellar, and butlers pantry were added to the house along with furniture and fittings that would bring the building up to the desired current standards. Linearity is achieved by methods such as built in seating and joinery, created to avoid interrupting this flow with superfluous furniture. Every room has a strong connection with nature; even the cellar we created with leather banquette seating has a low window looking out to the courtyard whilst also limiting sun exposure to the wine. As an integral aspect of our design response, we collaborated closely with a landscaper (Ed Purcey) on the external spaces to create the desired outcome of reflection and relaxation. The house opens to the outside and embraces the elements, resulting in the feel of a much larger space.
The interior design contains many hidden and built in elements that allow the rituals of life to be carried out with ease and no fuss. For example, at the entrance, a long joinery unit cantilevers into a bench that functions as a seat. When one enters the house, they can sit on this bench seat, remove their shoes, and place them in the drawers in the joinery unit, like a contemporary getabako shelf. The remarkable aspect of this building is that one can exist within it and feel quite removed from the noise and stress of day to day life that is situated on their doorstep. It is a building to experience life, and take refuge from life. The constant connection to nature is prevalent, even in spaces one would least expect it from. For example, one can sit comfortably in a dimly lit cellar and still have a view and relationship to the courtyard.
Design Office: Robson Rak Architects
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photographs: Shannon McGrath
Description by Rubio and Ros:
In the studio we thought about an open space where a light iron folded sheet replace the massive volume of the existing staircase, serving as a basis for redistributing the entire house. The starting point was to make the ladder a special object, a key element that does not interrupt the space, an element that would dialogue with the space and shares with it a discreet role. The ladder becomes thus the leitmotif, dividing into two floors the 177 m2 of this house situated into a building from the early twentieth century, in the neighborhood of La Seu. The house has marvellous views of the historical city center of Valencia from the two terraces.
As far as the realization of the Project is concerned , we have used noble materials such as hardwood, Encaustic tiles (designed by Rubio and Ros especially for the occasion and produced by Enticdesigns), European walnut, brass, glass or wool and silk carpets. The timber cover the space, providing content and density. Its shell and solid presence is balanced with elements of lighter shades. The visual structure of the atmosphere is completed by the brightness of the vertical array of hexagons made in delicate brass; The right expression for a low ambient light space.
The good harmony with the clients allows the studio to evaluate the results: when they come to Valencia, the interior designers Isabel Rubio and Ros Amparo tend to meet them, so they can see how they strengthen its relationship with the housing and the way the house is adjusting itself as a piece of tailor. “You can not always be witness to how the materials and spaces develope and, let’s face it, not always the evolution of the use is positive. In this case, it is undoubtedly. The patina on the brass rail manifests this life: the clients inhabiting.
Design Office: Rubio and Ros
Location: Valencia, Spain
Photographs: Asier Rua