Northbridge House by Roth Architecture

Roth Architecture have designed the Northbridge House, located in Sydney, Australia.



Located in an area of Sydney where the vegetation still prevails over the human footprint, Northbridge House balances the use of contemporary industrial materials within the surrounding Australian bush context.

The building’s restrained and solid street presence, opens at the rear and cascades down the sloping site. Timber is used to soften the architecture, providing texture, rhythm, balance and a device that filters light throughout the home.

Key materials: Rendered masonry, zinc cladding, spotted gum trims and details, polished concrete.

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Architect: Alex Roth, Roth Architecture
Photographer: Murray Fredericks

Lessons in Tile

[All photos by BUILD LLC]

This summer, BUILD has been busier than ever in construction and, at the moment, we’re in the home stretch of a mid-century modern remodel on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill. We’ve shared a bunch of progress photos and blog posts on the design behind this remodel over the past several months, and recently took the team up there for a site visit.


Something that became clear as we moved through the process of design and construction was that this project encompassed almost all of the common aspects which make up a BUILD home. As a result, it gave us a good opportunity to fine-tune some of our standards moving forward, further improving our process. It’s been a couple years since we’ve talked bathroom design and finishes, so today’s post covers some design decisions of one of the most important rooms in a home.

Floor Tile
Consistent with projects old and new, we’re still going strong with large tiles staggered in thirds. The field of tile disappears, and maintains a clean, classic look. A bit of texture is always useful with floor tile and we’ve had good experiences with linen and matte finished floor tiles. Favorites at the moment include Feel Colonial and Parc Botticino, both from Pental.



Wall/Shower Tile
A clean tile grid at the walls gives the bathroom a crisp, modern aesthetic, and while large tiles reduce the amount of grout joints, we also like the look of smaller subway tiles. We went with a vertical orientation on the subway tiles in this application, which breaks from the common horizontal use of subway tiles and brings a fresh geometry to this bathroom.



As for the boundaries of the tile, we’ll typically take it up vertically all the way from floor to ceiling. This creates a consistent field of tile without multiple horizontal breaks that would otherwise create visual clutter. Similarly, in the horizontal extent, we’ll wrap the entire shower area (and bath, if they’re adjacent) with tile from one side to the other.

In some cases, a wing wall will separate the shower from the toilet, and the question of where and how the tile and drywall meet comes up. Instead of dealing with a fussy outside corner detail or arbitrarily picking a point for the transition, the tile can just wrap around the entire wall to terminate at an inside corner. Though not necessary from a functional standpoint, it’s a simple solution that creates a good looking accent wall.


Shadow Box
We try to avoid direct sightlines to the shadow box from the entry as much as possible. Placing it opposite of the fixture and against the corner is ideal. A small glass shelf with minimal polished chrome brackets add to the usefulness of this already highly-functional feature. A new addition to the shadow box family is the shadow ledge, a place to rest one foot for leg-shaving and foot scrubbing ease.



Our standard is to match the grout color to tile color for a consistent field. However, there are times, whether client-driven or a desire to emphasize an accent wall, when we want to achieve the aesthetic of contrast with dark grout and light tile (or vice versa).



We map out our grout lines to run along centerlines of bath and shower fixtures, as well as align with shadow box edges. This alleviates the need for intricate cutting of tile. Not to mention, the clean aesthetic.

There you have it — our common-sense-driven standards for bathroom tile. Let us know what you think, and any successes/lessons you’ve learned on this front.

Cheers from Team BUILD

GENETS 3 House by AABE

Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners (AABE) have designed the GENETS 3 House located in Belgium.



This house is limited to a single level, it is weightless on the water area that separates it from the entrance avenue. To the left, the entrance shows its gallery wall. Descend a level, the construction frames the view over the fields, the countryside is yours.

To the left, behind you, a series of levels interrupted by stairs that stretch outside bring the profile of the site together. To the right, beyond the overhanging part that covers the dining room, the kitchen benefits from a lateral patio that bathes in the morning sun.

Go down further, the garden continues right up to the old trees in front of a swimming pool that is so long that it takes the liberty to fold back into the building through the fault-line freed up under the built-up framework. It is all arranged for one to feel good: exercise, relaxation, cinema room, enological living room with a direct view over the beautiful cars. Here, the heart is in the bowels of the earth.

Four bedrooms complemented with an office on the mezzanine are arranged at the +1 level, the apartment of the owners is organized higher up on the roof, in a vast room devoid of partitions to make the bedroom into a covered terrace when the weather is good. Here, the heart is in the stars.

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Architect: Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners (AABE)
Photographer: Jean-Luc LALOUX

BLLTT House by Enrique Barberis

Enrique Barberis has designed the BLLTT House in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


From the designer

When encountering a space that multiplies itself lose sense notions of traditional measures. We are facing a polynomial equation of extreme complexity, however, is resolved before our eyes simply.

There are also internal landscapes permanently altering the daily journey of the sun and the succession of seasons. Lights poligónicas borrowed the shadows.

Harmony of materials and the exact scale ingredient that dominates nature portion touched highlight.

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Design: Enrique Barberis. Arquitecto
Contributors: Barberis . Piaggio – Arquitectos

Conan Play House by Moon Hoon

Moon Hoon has designed the Conan Play House in Daejeon, South Korea.



The site
Bangdong is a famous place for sight seeing and leisure for near by dwellers. It can be quite crowded during the holiday seasons.
The irregular plot of land situated right in front of Bang dong lake boasts a beautiful open view of the lake and a low mountain as a back drop. When visited for the first time, the vacant site seemed to invite some kind of a sculptural object, unhindered by its neighbors, standing rather conspicuously…

The client
He is a producer for a local TV station, with one kid and a lovely wife. His family visited my office oneday and asked for a skip-floored house like lollipop house which they had seen in the magazines. He was an avid collector of miniature robots and figures. A hobby that started from an early age, which has not stopped. His father was also an avid collector of soo suck( natural stones shaped like something recognizable or pocessing some abstract qualities). The collector gene was running in the family…

The architect
I am a playful architect. I have met the right client, who has kept his child_mind intact with him. The design went through two alternatives, one each floor stacked and rotating, the other of a box with small broken floors moving up in a spiral. both had its ups and downs. The client chose the latter. The House has a central core that is used as an exhibition space and a railing for his toys. the spiral and jagged floor levels follow the spiral stair case all the way up to the attic, where you can find a small red slide that traverses the void. The exterior expresses the inner spiral energy in a simplified form.

The space
The spiral stair case is a place for movement, play and exhibition. It plays a central role in the house. the other functioning rooms such as living, kitchen, bedrooms are attached to the system. The windows are placed in the center of each walls, mimicking the concept and inviting ample amount of light. The void in the middle gives much vertical depth in a otherwise a compact house.

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Design: Moon Hoon

Lymm Water Tower by Ellis Williams Architects

Prime Shoot Locations, a company that provides locations for the photography and film industry, have sent us photos of the Lymm Water Tower by Ellis Williams Architects.


From the architect

Lymm Water Tower is the award winning renovation of a once derelict Grade II listed water tower into a luxurious contemporary family home.

The octagonal stone water tower is complemented by a new modernist wrap around double height extension. This highly glazed addition offers carefully selected vistas across the adjacent fields and considers the existing mature trees surrounding the site.

The internal changes in level delineate the roles of the various spaces offering style and function. Each habitable space is carefully orientated to experience the changing quality of natural light as the sun tracks daily from one side of the tower to the other. The vast panels of low-energy structural glass within the façade allow these spaces a sensory contact with nature and the seasons.

The tower roof garden, 110 feet above ground level, is accessed via the original stone staircase and offers spectacular views across the Cheshire countryside and beyond.

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Architect: Ellis Williams Architects
Images provided by Prime Shoot Locations

OUTsideIN House by Fernanda Vuilleumier Studio

Fernanda Vuilleumier Studio have designed the OUTsideIN House in Chile.



The design of Outside IN House consists in bringing the exterior materials to the interior. The materials carry ambivalent meanings of a vernacular form. On one side Outside IN Homes are functional and domestic. A thinking-home has passive solar elements to contain, save, and distribute solar energy for diurnal warmth, cooling, and illumination.

A TROMBE stone wall is placed in front of the sun, made of materials that can act as a thermal mass. The roof functions as a wind sail to make the air flow in one direction and capture the rainwater.

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Architect: Fernanda Vuilleumier Studio
Photography: Daniel Bruhin W.

Rhythm of Architecture, Part II

_Lead Hufft Heavy Metal

Last week, we shared a handful of examples of architecture with rhythm. Today, we continue our exploration modern homes which successfully balance interest, elegance, and function.

Heavy Metal by Hufft Projects
A play off of the various solid materials, this residence emphasizes the horizontal and uses the differences of color and texture as the primary focus. There is a very judicious use of glazing on this façade and we admire the attention to panel breaks and material intersections.

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Postcard House by Hufft Projects
This residence is a nice example of employing a solid wall without it being overly brutal. Several delicate moves provide relief from the monolithic façade, adding texture and warm color to the utilitarian steel siding. The careful shifts between planes provide nice opportunities for entryways and windows.

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Casa Ruetter by Mathias Klotz
A complicated assembly of wood screens, steel framing and walls of glass become a synergistic whole in this project. There is a striking relationship between material planes starting, stopping and sliding past one another.

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Baulinder Haus by Hufft Projects
A complicated but successful composition that uses a heavy base and a seemingly arbitrary geometry of vertical fins above. We’re a bit perplexed as to why the base still appears heavy with the screening, but it works nicely. We also applaud the move up top to randomize the fins.

11 Hufft Baulinder Haus 01

Truckee House by John Maniscalco Architecture
A heavy base is punctured with intentionally located window boxes and topped with a regular pattern of attenuated double columns. The heavy roof plane relates to the material of the base, allowing the upper level to be warm, light, and spacious. The house creates a nice distinction between screened private areas and transparent open areas.

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House L by Dietrich | Untertrifaller
A geometrical band winds its way across and down the envelope of the residence interlocking with an alternating façade of solid wall and floor-to-ceiling glazing. The three primary elements (band, walls, and windows) tie together nicely and develop a harmonious language.

16 Dietrich Untertrifallen House L 01

Paso Robles Residence by Aidlin Darling
Transparency voids are located between solid blocks of wall with a strong horizontal eave and a pronounced vertical chimney. The horizontal and vertical planes delicately sliding past each other really do it for us on this one.

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San Joaquin Valley Residence by Aidlin Darling
A central transparent void is bookended with fins extending into landscape and the entire composition is capped with a strong horizontal eave. We love how the house engages the landscape and develops a low horizontal geometry to the residence.

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East Windsor Residence by Alter Studio
Four horizontal elements give this house a strong geometry; they consist of a solid stone base, a screen wall (that appears solid from far away), a transparent band of windows, and a heavy horizontal roof plane. The character of the façade is greatly enhanced with the use of pronounced and recessed window boxes. We’re big fans of the articulation of the screen wall and the slight angle introduced into the form.

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Wapiti Valley House by Studio.bna
Wrapping up our study, this residence is the “everything composition” and includes just about everything mentioned above. It even comes with a side dish of cor-ten steel box guest suite. It does all this and still looks gorgeous.

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Cheers from Team BUILD

Rhythm of Architecture, Part I


BUILD recently started the schematic design phase for a new project that will reuse the existing foundation of a current (and soon to be demolished) home. It’s an interesting project because the existing home is nearly 109’ feet long and, as a matter of course, the new design will inherit this elongated plan. With such a considerable extent of envelope, the design has our minds spinning with possibilities. Along with putting pen to paper we’re also using this opportunity to study up on similar built solutions in the architecture world. Today’s post is a survey of residences that deal with these same architectural factors in exceptional ways. Each uses its own rational design language to create a harmonious sequence and resolve an extensive envelope. In other words, it’s an analysis of architectural rhythm. We’ve organized the examples from simple to complex. Let us know of any examples that should be included in the study.

Desert House by Jim Jennings
While a bit too austere, this residence is an excellent departure point for the study. It’s plain walls emphasize a careful material grid and places a few significant structural moves in the spotlight. While the simplicity seems a bit impractical, we can’t take our eyes off of this residence.

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Folded Plane House by Claesson Koivisto Rune
Two solid volumes bookend a transparent center area of this house while the roof plane remains flush to the exterior walls. The simple form is a pleasure to look at and we’d like to think that the roof slope is a derivative of the functions inside.

02 CKR Folded Plane House 01

Concrete House by BAK Architecture
A simple concrete box frames a sequence of recessed vertical fins which offer privacy screening and control of daylight (we presume). We admire the pure, rational translation of the form and there’s something about the primitive finished look that we find refreshing.

03 BAK Architects Concrete House

House R by Dietrich | Untertrifaller
A solid base contrasts with the airy, recessed upper level. The heavy roof plane is necessary to emphasize the lightness of the transparent band of the upstairs. It’s a nice simple composition that successfully introduces asymmetry with the sliding doors at the lower level.

04 Dietrich Untertrifallen House R 01

B+W House by Julie Snow
Horizontal bands created through different materials are linked via window alignments on the top and bottom. The concrete garage (we’re guessing) extends the massive base to accentuate the horizontal plane. Very few houses accomplish so much compositionally with so few moves.

05 Julie Snow B+W House

Desert House by Marmol Radziner
A heavy, minimal façade is surgically carved with openings for windows, entry and exterior space. That the box cantilevers over the foundation gives the composition a light, floating feeling. Organizing the windows, doors, and warm woods into a common geometry within the façade is a very pleasing move on this residence.

06 Marmol Radziner Desert House

Bento Golçalves House by Studio Paralelo
A fantastic example of geometrical purity, the pronounced envelope frames a simple geometry of opaque and transparent panels, while the entry void introduces a bit of asymmetry. Design like this requires an immense level of discipline on behalf of the owners and architects alike.

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Ipes House by StudioMK27
A heavy floating concrete box notched with a stretch of warm wood screening adds up to one of the boldest residences we’ve ever seen. Just pure bold.

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House S by Dietrich | Untertrifaller
An exercise in alignment, this house uses strong horizontal lines and simple rectangles to achieve a clear geometry. The symmetry is carefully thrown off with the addition of an extra bay on the left. Our favorite element of this composition is that the operable doors on the main level are differentiated from the windows above with a pronounced frame.

09 Dietrich Untertrifallen House S 01

Magnolia House by Heliotrope
A balanced geometry is set up through the use of heavy base, an articulated middle, and a delicate, horizontal roof plane. There’s a nice play between vertical and horizontal siding elements in this residence (including a very deliberate pair of downspouts). Also of particular note is a clever distinction between opaque, full transparency, and partial transparency as every other vertical board is removed from the rainscreen system.

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Cheers from team BUILD

Glass Box in the Forest

[All photos by BUILD LLC]

There’s something comforting about a home nestled into the forest; when situated just right, it feels like it belongs there. BUILD recently completed a home 10 miles east of Seattle in Beaux Arts Village that creates that feeling of harmony between modern design and nature.


Two intersecting grids form the overall footprint of the home. A re-appropriated foundation from the previous house provides the base for the common areas of the new house which include the kitchen, dining room and living room. More info on the grids here. Because the surrounding forest provides ample privacy, the living room is enclosed with a clear anodized aluminum floor to ceiling glazing package by Marlin Windows.


A strong relationship between the interior and exterior is developed with a spectacular 22 foot wide, eight panel, aluminum accordion door package by La Cantina. A single panel of the accordion composition can be used for day to day passage, but when the weather cooperates, the entire span can be opened up. Free of any columns, it allows the living room to fully open up to the adjacent deck.



Above the lower band of windows and doors is a light shelf which protects the door and window packages from the elements. It also provides an excellent location for lighting at the deck, it lends a sense of scale to the elevation of the home and it provides additional indirect natural daylight to the living room. More technical information about the light shelf can be found here.


The siding around the glazing and accordion doors is finished with rainscreen panels painted to match the adjacent aluminum. This envelope treatment differentiates the punched openings at the siding from the full height glazing at the living room.


Outside, a generous ipe deck sits just a few steps above the yard. The deck is high enough to allow a panorama of the surrounding landscape, but low enough to be exempt from the requirement of guardrails — a feature that would have interrupted the connection with the surrounding forest.


Any successful project of ours can be directly linked to exceptional clients willing to go on the adventure of architecture with us (we’re already missing our travel partners since this project’s completion). We’re looking forward to watching an exceptional little family grow up in this home and continue to invite the neighbor kids over for popsicles on the deck.

More photos of the house can be viewed on our website. And for a look back at construction, the progress photos can be found here.

Cheers from Team BUILD

The Rationale of Feng Shui in Architecture


The principles and practices of Feng Shui continue to play an increasingly important role in our design work and, while we’re no experts in the philosophy, we are enthusiastic students of its value. Even a basic review of Feng Shui reveals an intricate and sometimes contradictory language of design. In fact, for this post, we had a difficult time even finding a common definition of Feng Shui. In the spirit of forward progress, we borrowed from a variety of sources and produced our own definition – one that relates to our use of Feng Shui and (with any luck) keeps relatively true to its fundamental ideals. Here goes:

Feng Shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English and is the Chinese art or practice of positioning objects or structures so as to harmonize with spiritual forces. It is based on a belief in patterns of Yin and Yang and the flow of energies (Chi) that have positive and negative effects. The practice commonly influences orientation, placement, or arrangement.

While we greet some principles of Feng Shui with skepticism, (the placement of a three-legged toad statue in the entry vestibule, for instance,) we admire others for their direct and understandable value to physical design. These beliefs typically relate to what seems healthy and sensible to us as architects. Orienting the bed to face south-east is a good example, as it has a clear relationship with a natural way to awake in harmony with nature.

Academics may take issue with our rudimentary understanding of Feng Shui, our selective use of its principles, or our tailored definition. This post is not intended to cover the philosophy of Feng Shui or address the complexity of the complete Feng Shui design process. For that, there are entire academic programs which deal with Feng Shui’s cryptic language. We don’t intend to find anyone’s Bagua (energy map of a house), determine anyone’s Feng Shui Birth Element or clarify your Kua Number (lucky direction). Today’s post is, rather, 10 simple principles of Feng Shui that we continue to encounter on our projects. These items are usually requested by savvy clients who are versed in the guidelines of Feng Shui. More often than not, we find that these 10 principles of Feng Shui dovetail nicely with Pacific Northwest modernism and the philosophy of Scandinavian design that have so heavily influenced our own thinking.

1. The ideal house proportion is square, followed by rectangular. These geometries make for highly functional relationships between interior spaces, energy efficient plans, and the application of practical building materials.

2. The front entry should be clean, unencumbered and well maintained. The entry area should be free of trash bins, yard tools and other distractions. House numbers should be clearly visible and preferably in a font like Century Gothic, Helvetica or Neutra (okay, we might have made up that last part). The entry area is the face of the house, you pass it several times each day and it is the first thing that greets visitors: it should be an area that evokes positive energy.


3. The quality of the entry door determines the quality of the energy entering the home. Ideally, doors should be solid and should open in.  The front door can become a feature of the home with the use of a bright color (red seems to be preferable).

4. Areas of rest should be kept separate from areas of work. A home office should be distinct from living or sleeping areas. Physical and/or psychological design elements should be strategically located to separate places of rest from places of work.


5. There should be a place for everything to be stored and rooms should be clutter free. Clutter in the home restricts the flow of positive energy and results in cluttered thinking. A tidy, well organized home fosters a calm and relaxed environment.

6. Get rid of unused items. As a simple matter of home maintenance, items that are unused evoke bad energy and should be removed. That old [fill in the blank item in your garage] that you keep thinking that you’re going to fix up (but never do) is messing up your Chi.


7. Promote natural ventilation and an abundance of daylight inside the house. Large floor to ceiling windows maintain a maximum amount of natural daylight while operable windows in the right locations allow for excellent natural ventilation.

8. Beds should face south-east so that the process of sleeping and waking are in harmony with nature. While the fundamentals of Feng Shui link the direction of the bed with your Kua number and what you are trying to achieve in life (wealth, love, happiness,) we find that most people simply enjoy waking up with the sun.


9. Avoid sharp corners or protruding objects pointing toward areas of rest. This includes beds, the dining room table, the sofa, etc. Designing with simple squares and rectangles typically compliments this principle (see #1).

10. The center of a house should be empty to let the energy circulate properly. This works well with the circulation of a house and it allows common areas to share common square footage.

Feel free to add your own thoughts or modifications. And, as always, we’re open to criticism (although we may point a three-legged toad statue in your general direction for doing so).

Cheers from team BUILD