Posts Tagged ‘house’

Ultra Ruin in Taiwan by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


“Ultra-Ruin is a wooden architectural organism that is growing from the ruins of an abandoned red brick farmhouse in the meeting place of terraced farms and jungle. The weak architecture follows the principles of Open Form and is improvised on the site based on instincts reacting to the presence of jungle, ruin and local knowledge.”

For more photos of Ultra Ruin see Marco’s post here. For my other posts on Marco Casagande’s work see Chen House and Apelle House.

I have always liked Marco’s work. His use of materials has an ancient feel – you often can’t tell if it’s modern or very, very old. The locks/door handles on this house are both beautiful and ingenious.

Taiwan is lucky to have a climate that allows free flow between indoor and outdoor area and you can see this realized in all Casagrande’s projects there.

This is a beautiful tree house – or system of houses between tree bridges – sitting fairly lightly on the land.

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande - roofs

Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande Casagrande - bench


Ultra Ruin by Marco Casagrande  bath


Marco Casagrande - Ultra Ruin - door_lock+open

Apelle – boat-like house by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Apelle house by Marco Casagrande

Another pleasing structure by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande. (See other projects here.) Called Apelle, it’s made to resemble a boat, and was in fact assembled by local boat carpenters.

“Apelle is a wooden one family house located in Karjaa, Finland. The building rests in a natural harbor like a boat in a sheltering pocket surrounded by bed rocks and trees. The interior space of Apelle is a continuous tube that grows gradually along the house and through the main opening and terrace into the forest. Along this axis the collective and private actions are tuned according to the times, functions and needs of the day and night.  The same space is used for everything from sleeping to eating and from socializing to work as a studio space or a gym. This kind of multi-functional space of “tupa” or “pirtti” is common in traditional Finnish architecture. A free standing cube serves for water with a sleeping loft on top…

Apelle is well insulated with wood based materials and during the harsh winters it heats up by thermal heating supported by two fire-places. The main building volume is structurally supported by a smaller volume on the side acting as an outrigger.
Apelle is built by two local carpenters used to for building both houses and wooden boats. According to the carpenters, this is a boat.”

Apelle house by Marco Casagrande - fireplace

Apelle house by Marco Casagrande

Apelle_Interior_Marco Casagrande

West Coast cabin – Clayoquot Sound, B.C.

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Clayoquot Sound, BC

The cabin is probably the true vernacular architecture of British Columbia’s West Coast and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver must once have had some of these buildings, thought rampant demolition and ugly development are doing their best to eradicate any trace of this architectural past. All that’s left of the cabin is the practice of attaching big cedar decks onto the imported Victorian and Edwardian and Britishy styles that sadly crowd the housing stock where I live.

Meanwhile there’s little to no building code on islands like this one in Clayoquot Sound, near Tofino. Unlike in Vancouver, with its ridiculously restrictive code and its colonial fixation on transplanted European architecture, when you’re out on the remoter parts of the coast you can do what you want. This is why so many of our best architects prefer building cabins to city houses, and we stay bereft of their influence in the city.

These photos are from a remote West Coast island where my aunt and uncle built a small, simple octagonal cabin on log posts that sit on the granite bedrock without even a concrete footing to alter the landscape. (I can only include a few details out of respect for privacy.)

Over the Labour Day weekend we sat on the deck and watched a pod of orcas hunt and jump offshore, smacking their tails on the water.

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

The smooth round rocks are pretty but they serve a purpose: they’re the “laundry rocks,” keeping handwashed clothes from blowing off the deck while they dry.

Clayoquot Sound, BC - kelp in clear water

Clayoquot Sound cabin skylight

Ceiling and tiny skylight in the small sleeping cabin next to the main cabin – my woodworking uncle’s own design and handiwork. He’s a genius. Below, the tiny island deer are pretty tame and sneaky. No dogs or cats are allowed on the island, to protect wildlife.

Clayoquot Sound, deer

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Clayoquot Sound, BC

Raven on deck. Also saw: kingfishers, kinglets, warblers, sandpipers, little red crossbills, bald eagles, harbour seals, harbour porpoises, orcas and grey whales.

Stump house, Vancouver

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

“This would have been a great heritage rescue! The “3-Room Stump”—from top-left to bottom-right: Bedroom, Living Room, Kitchen—was located at what is now 26th & Prince Edward before 1910.”

Via the Vancouver Heritage Foundation

“Coast Modern” – film screenings in Vancouver this week

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

This film has been very difficult to see, consistently selling out (I saw scalpers at the last showing). The Vancouver International Film Fest is hosting this new set of screenings, based on the popular demand. Tickets are selling quickly so if you want to go, buy now.

This film needs to be seen on the big screen. Its comprehensive footage of beautiful westcoast modernist architecture was shot in HD and is worth seeing large. If you’re in Vancouver, don’t miss this. There is interview footage of the recently departed Julius Shulman – it’s worth seeing for that alone.

The filmmakers are friends of mine. It has been fun to watch the film come together and quickly win so much popularity. It shows that there’s a deep appetite for both a sense of our own architectural history as well for a more smaller, more beautiful style of house, houses with greater architectural integrity than we generally see in the current environment.

Architect Ron Thom’s Boyd House is for sale

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

These photos of Ron Thom’s Boyd House are from the blog Architecture Wanted which provides a good introduction to this house. Also see a great post by Cam McLellan on his Vancouver Lights blog and an article in Western Living by the house’s current owner, Kerry McPhedran. I can’t improve on what these three have already written about this excellent building.

For those who don’t know, Ron Thom was one of Vancouver’s pre-eminent modern architects in what now seems to be the golden era of architecture in this city. He produced many superb modernist post-and-beam houses in Vancouver, particularly in West Vancouver which is locally famous for houses built in that tradition. Writer Douglas Coupland lives in the same area in a Ron Thom house not unlike this one.

The Boyd House, built in 1954, is a great example of  this westcoast modern architecture, and fortunately it hasn’t suffered bad renovations. Noted architect Russell Hollingsworth was hired to do one of the remodels, for example.

The house is currently for sale, and the owner is very concerned that it be sold to someone who actually cares about it. There are far too many small and large developers demolishing modernist houses in Vancouver, and replacing them with unsustainably large houses of poor architectural quality.

Real estate information is here. I’m told there may be the opportunity for infill here if the original house is maintained. The municipality of West Vancouver seems to be running a pilot project to encourage this, which is fortunate. I hope the house goes to someone worthy of it. We don’t have enough of these well-designed houses to see any of them demolished.

See another Thom house here.