This dark-cladded mountain house, designed by Miurashin Architect + Associates, is camouflaged between trees on a sloping terrain in Karuizawa, Japan. A pavilion reached via a metal bridge welcomes family and guests to the warm and contemporary interiors, dressed in wood via a top floor pavilion. Living and entertaining spaces are sheltered by the middle floor, while the lower ground is occupied by the private spaces. Imposing with its mysterious presence and mirroring the surrounding forest in its windows, the mountain residence is anchored to the slope in three places. Its architecture appeals to the owner’s need for connecting to the surroundings in a very personal way – this led to creating a sloping staircase-resembling rooftop used for contemplating the forest views. Vertical windows and cladding strive to imitate the tall trees around, better integrating the architecture with nature. Is this type of dark, modern architecture your cup of tea?
These days, a building doesnt just have to look good, it should ideally be good for the environment too. A great example of sustainability spliced with style from the past few years is the M&S store at Cheshire Oaks Retail Park in Ellesmere Port, designed by Aukett Fitzroy Robinson.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.