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Peter Zumthor completes Devon countryside villa "in the tradition of Andrea Palladio"


Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has completed his Secular Retreat – a Living Architecture holiday home designed to celebrate the landscape like the villas of his hero, Andrea Palladio.

The house, which has been more than 10 years in the making, is Zumthor's first permanent building in the UK. It is located on a hilltop in South Devon, England, where it commands an impressive view of the surrounding countryside.

Zumthor designed the house to be built from concrete rammed by hand – a technique that gives stripes to the walls, both inside and out.

The thickness of this material is revealed by the large, deep window openings, designed to take full advantage of the setting.

"I would like to say I'm building here in the tradition of Andreo Palladio," said Zumthor during a tour of the building.

"I don't want to compare myself with this Renaissance architect, who has always been a favourite of mine, but what he did was build villas for the summertime."

Zumthor said his aim was to emulate "the incredible presence of materials, and the beautiful command of space, light and shadow" of Palladio's designs.

"I think it is beautiful if you can make a strong building that helps you, not which oppresses you," he said.

Secular Retreat is the seventh house built for Living Architecture, a property rental company set up by writer Alain de Botton to offer people the opportunity to rent a house designed by a renowned architect.

One reason for the long delay is the level of detail and craftsmanship that went into the building.

The rammed concrete walls had to be created in layers – each line marks a day's work – while the limestone floors were designed in a bespoke pattern, tailored exactly to suit the dimensions of every slab that came from the quarry. Every broken slab resulted in a rework.

"I have this concept – I produce originals," Zumthor told Dezeen. "My work is always my work, it is not the work of my collaborators. I am not a trademark, I always produce an original."

The layout of the house is very simple, all organised on one storey. There are two wings – one containing two bedrooms, the other containing three – and each bedroom has its own en-suite bathroom.

Where the two wings meet is a generous living space, including a bespoke kitchen, a lounge area surrounding a fireplace, plus a couple of quiet seating areas where occupants can enjoy solitary activities like reading or listening to music.

Almost all of the furniture was designed by Zumthor, including the wooden dining table, seating upholstered in purple fabric and camel-hued leather, and the small pink stools in the bedrooms.

Overhead, the concrete roof sits appears to hover just above the concrete columns, raised by a concealed steel structure within. Its surface is coloured by the wooden formwork that the concrete was cast against – an effect that Zumthor said he hated initially, but has grown to love.

"You have a central communal space under a big roof, and you have five bedrooms each with their own bath," said the architect. "So in the back it is like a hotel, and here it's all together, you cook, you do everything together."

Zumthor famously keeps his studio small and turns down many commissions offered to him. He rarely builds single houses – most of his previous projects are public buildings, such as the Therme Vals spa in Switzerland, the Zinc Mine Museum in Norway and the Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Germany.

He said he couldn't resist this opportunity to build on this site. "It's easy to build a nice house here," he said.

The building sits on the site of a demolished house from the 1940s. A few details from the old property remain – a hexagonal patio beyond the kitchen, and a set of Monterey pine trees that are now 20 metres tall.

But Zumthor claims his house will age much better than its predecessor: "This building frames view and celebrates the place, the old building did not."

The house will be available for short-term lets later this year.

The architect is also hoping to convince Living Architecture to change the name, from Secular Retreat to Chivelstone House. "I would prefer it!" he said.

Photography is by Jack Hobhouse.

Architect: Atelier Peter Zumthor
Project team: Peter Zumthor, Rainer Weitschies, Pascal Berchtold, Tom Tsapkov, Anna Page
Executive architect (phase 1): Mole Architects
Local architectural advisor (concept phase): David Sheppard Architects
Construction management: Simon Cannon
Structural engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
Quantity surveyor: KM Dimensions
Environmental design engineers: Transsolar and Integration UK
Landscape design and consultant: The Rathbone Partnership


Caribbean holiday home by Rick Joy allows coastal breezes to pass through


Concrete forms and outdoor passageways define this waterfront dwelling in the Turks and Caicos islands, which was designed by US studio Rick Joy Architects to embrace the natural landscape.

The project called Le Cabanon is located in the southwest part of Providenciales, an island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago.

Designed to offer privacy and serenity, the family vacation home embraces its natural setting, which features verdant native plants and jagged ironshore rock.

"On approach from the adjacent road, the multipartite complex appears to organically grow out of the site's natural coastline, its subtly textured eggshell concrete contrasting the bright turquoise water in the same way as the white sand that lines the shallow inlet," said Rick Joy Architects, which is based in Tucson, Arizona.

Stretched across the waterfront site, the low-slung home consists of distinct concretevolumes separated by open-air passages, which allow coastal breezes to pass through the complex while also acting as framing devices.

"From the corridors, the concrete walls create shallow view-angles that reveal glimpses of each subsequent space and simultaneously frame the sky above," said the team.

Private functions are found in the front of the home, while the gathering areas are situated in the rear overlooking the water. Sometimes fishermen pull up to property's wooden docks, "offering the day's catch", the team described.

The front portion of the dwelling consists of a long, slender bar with a flat roof. Punctured with only a few tiny windows, the street-facing elevation blocks out movement and noise.

"The strategy works," said the studio. "From the interior, the spaces feel secluded and protected, and the ocean views from the kitchen pavilion seem entirely exclusive."

In the rear, a pavilion-like block houses an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining area. Rectangular in plan, this area is topped with an asymmetric single-hip roof sheathed in wooden shingles. An aperture in the roof assists with ventilation and cooling.

"A single operable triangular window at its leeward tip creates gentle airflow, supplementing the deliberately designed cross-breezes that negate the need for air conditioning," said the team.

The pavilion has retractable glass walls that help eliminate the division between inside and out. On the northwest side, the room connects to a sheltered patio, a generous terrace and a narrow swimming pool.

"Just outside, a shallow pool cuts a line between the sand and the adjoining terrace, bringing the expanse of ocean water ever closer to the living spaces," said the team.

Inside, the home features rooms with concrete walls and flooring, and minimal decor. In one bedroom, dark wood was used for the ceiling and for a built-in storage unit and desk

"Mahogany doors, windows and ceilings capture the warmth of the surroundings," said the team. "Natural linen curtains billow in the ocean breeze and let through just the right amount of sunlight."

Sustainability was a concern for the design team. The home was constructed by local builders and entailed the use of local materials, including sand, which minimised the need for imported labour and materials.

"In a similar resource-conscious spirit, the architects placed a large cistern beneath the main terrace to harvest water and topped the flat sections of the roof with photovoltaic panels," said the team.

Other projects in the Caribbean islands include an off-the-grid guesthouse designed by architect John Hix, which features six apartments stacked in pairs of rectangular concrete blocks.

Photography is by Joe Fletcher.


Pattern Studio creates rose-tinted interior for The Daily Edited boutique in Melbourne


Blush-tone walls and rose-hued marble feature in this Melbourne accessories shop, designed by Pattern Studio to suggest a "new kind of femininity".

Pattern Studio – which is headed up by Australian designers Lily Goodwin and Josh Cain – were given free reign on this branch of The Daily Edited (TDE), which is located in the southeast Merbourne suburb of Malvern East.

The pair immediately decided to employ shades of pink, TDE's signature colour, throughout the 60 square-metre space.

"[It was] an exciting challenge to use this colour to create a sense of a new kind of femininity; one which reflects the qualities of a modern woman," told Dezeen.

"While pink is undoubtedly the hero, the aesthetic leans toward a refined kind of grown up-cool."

A curved, blush-coloured partition wraps the white-painted structural walls of the space, punctuated by an arched opening that leads to a rear storage area.

Display counters are topped with large slabs of Norwegian rose marble in attempt to "suggest a sense of complexity and depth".

Any pre-existing decorative elements were removed to allow a handful of fixtures, such as the globular pendant lamps and gridded shelving unit, to act as focal points. LED strip lighting is installed above display nooks and behind the partition wall, to give the store a slightly futuristic feel.

As well as introducing new poured-terrazzo floors, the designers added a large panel of glass at the front of the store, to make it seem more open and inviting to passersby.

TDE has several stores across Australia, including two other branches in Melbourne, and more in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Pattern Studio previously worked with the brand on its store in Sydney's Westfield shopping centre.

"As a studio we had a solid understanding of this fairly young brand's identity, but we were also mindful that perhaps this was an opportunity for evolution, to present the brand in a new light," added Goodwin.

Pink continues to be a popular colour of choice for retail spaces.

High-end fashion label Acne applied the shade to the ceiling of its Milan outpost, while architect India Mahdavi added bubblegum-coloured panels to a RED Valentino boutique in London.

Photography is by Sean Fennessey.



Neutral tones used to create

tranquil family home in Copenhagen



Kaja Møller, head of Danish furniture brand Fredericia, opted for a Scandi-inspired colour palette of greys, whites and taupes for the interiors of her family home in Copenhagen.

The house is situated 20 minutes outside of central Copenhagen in the coastal region of North Zealand, bordered by orchards, forests, and a nearby beach.

Originally built in 1904, since 2001 the property has undergone an extensive renovation process that has involved a number of structural changes and revival of its historic details.

Kaja Møller – who lives there with her husband and two children – took it upon herself to design its interiors, creating a series of calming, monochromatic spaces that allow the home to serve as the "perfect hideaway".

"Besides Scandinavian, I also adore French and Italian interior design, so I tried to achieve a mix of all three," Møller told Dezeen.

"Our second home is near Nice on the French Riviera, and I get a lot of inspiration from my travels to this particular region."

A cluster of small, cramped rooms have been knocked through on the ground floor to form an open-plan cooking and dining area. The walls have been painted a pale shade of grey, contrasting against black timber ceiling beams and burnished steel cabinetry in the kitchen.

Touches of warmth are provided by a long timber table, which sits in front of a large fireplace, and beige linen curtains that cover a set of doors overlooking the garden.

Colour is briefly introduced in the living room, which has a slate-blue feature wall and murky green painting by artist Anette Wier.

Surfaces have otherwise been kept neutral and paired with a selection of furniture from Denmark and elsewhere. This includes a pair of black leather chairs by Danish designer Børge Mogensen, and sofa by Italian brand Verzelloni.

"Among my favourite pieces is the doctor's chest in the living room. It took me more than two years to acquire this vintage piece from Greensquare [antique furniture store] in Copenhagen," said Møller.

Upstairs, a wall has been moved to form a large bathroom, which now features a black tiled floor and bathtub.

Textural interest has been created in the pitched-roof master bedroom with the addition of a quilted duvet cover and shaggy fur throw.

Norm Architects also opted for natural tones for the revamp of another family home in North Zealand, where they implemented stone-coloured furnishings and sandy-hued walls to echo the surrounding seaside landscape.

Photography is by Line Thit Klein.