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Open the door and see the difference. Rural Retreats offers English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish holiday accommodation to an exceptional standard.
The following collection explores the power of contrast through minimalist concrete projects in the Architizer database. Created on a rocky outcrop in Maharashtra, this project was designed around basalt rock to recall the local site and region.
Designed as an apartment building in Polanco, Cb71 was formed as two blocks around a central courtyard. With a shape that responds to the curve of the sitea€™s plot, Casa HLM was designed with a program oriented to its surroundings.
Designed as a house to enjoy 360-degree views, the Casa Narigua was made in a mountain-enclosed site.
Concrete is an extraordinarily versatile material that is ubiquitous throughout the contemporary urban landscape. As the most widely used manmade material today, concrete has dramatically shaped the morphology of our built environment.
Australiaa€™s Sunshine Coast is a pristine landscape lined with unbroken beaches and rolling hills.
As one of the most elemental building materials, timber has come a long way from the worlda€™s oldest examples of wooden architecture, early Neolithic water wells.
Located throughout highly vegetated sites and rural areas with minimal development, the designs showcase the tension between rigid, simple structures and their organic surroundings. The housea€™s concrete was mixed with basalt, water, and cement, while the building was conceived as a refuge from the surrounding climatic conditions. Carefully placed upon the landscape, the design opens up to its surroundings while resting atop a stream. Nestled into a rock, the house seemingly disappears into its context depending on which angle ita€™s viewed from.
The design used a large, pre-stressed concrete flagstone to join together the two structures, while the gesture itself helped frame views and organize circulation.
Serving a housing development, the project embraces the nearby eucalyptus forest and the sitea€™s flow channel. Each apartment unit was contained in a box of exposed concrete that explores opacity and transparency. Located in this remote landscape, the house combined a studio and workshop space through a a€?paradise gardena€? scheme. Living quarters face the valley and sunrise, while a continuous veranda joins interior and exterior space. With views to Lake Maggiore and the mountains, the project uses a simple volume thata€™s clearly cut to embrace the water, forests, and sunlight. The project was made in the densely vegetated landscape of northern Mexico, a space that rises above the cedar forest below. Somewhere between building-architecture and landscape-architecture, each project seamlessly combines the two by bringing roofs to ground level and utilizing the ground plane to act as roof structures.
In modern architecture, it is often left in its exposed state in order to create a raw, monolithic statement.

Known for its durability and versatility, concrete is found in every corner of the world, transcending climate conditions and vernacular styles.
Stretching 62 miles from Kinga€™s Beach in Caloundra to Cooloolaa€™s rainbow sands in the north, the region includes incredible rivers and lakes, as well as the Glass House Mountains.
With this year being deemed the a€?beginning of the timber age,a€? wood has taken the place of concrete and steel to become the 21st-century material of choice for many. Architects and designers often use contradiction to emphasize the tension between two materials or forces. While the projects explore individual formal expressions with rectilinear volumes and clean lines, they all share a common material language and relationship to the outdoors.
Walls were made in pigmented concrete that was textured and colored to respond to the surroundings. The house is separated from the wild landscape by walls and materials that require minimal maintenance. Far from a novel visual trick, these building projects all maintain the ground planea€™s square footage as usable space with the addition of that provided by the built intervention. Using concrete to form simple but striking volumes of different shapes and sizes is a common approach, often designed to create architecture that contrasts with nature, yet feels grounded within its context.
Formed into every imaginable shape, color and texture, this powerhouse of a material has become standard in modern construction.
Among Queenslanda€™s highest concentration of national parks, the Sunshine Coast is also home to dynamic residential architecture. An entire cottage industry had grown around waterproofing strategies, materials and applications for both new and old projects. Praising its sustainability, quality and speed of construction, architects have fully embraced new types of engineered timber that are markedly hardy, steadfast and malleable. Simultaneously celebrating and embracing their contexts, they stand as powerful statements and contradictions within the landscape. The two areas reach out into the landscape to capture views and embrace the sitea€™s natural elements. Instead of raising the building and casting a shadow onto the outdoor space left at ground level or creating a difficult-to-access outdoor space on the roof, these projects all use the ground plane as a roof garden: open-space with natural light, above the building.
Some of the most interesting architecture today lies in the architectsa€™ ability to forge a connectivity of buildings to nature not with concrete alone but by combining it with other materials. With an expansive history and countless possibilities, designers are continuously working to reimagine concrete to address questions of local context and spatial experience. Spread across the hinterland and coastal zones, these residences are representative of a sensitive and multicultural design language thata€™s uniquely Australian.
This material fixation is largely due to one particular technology: cross-laminated timber. This holds especially true when projects are designed to contrast or reorganize their surroundings.
Together, they begin to show how minimal formal or spatial moves can begin to subvert, orient, or intensify our understanding of nature and place.
Treated like landscape projects, the materials used vary from grasses to flowers to wooden decking.

One particularly popular pairing is that of concrete and wood, bringing together two of architecturea€™s most elementary building materials. Taking a closer look at contemporary concrete designs through this yeara€™s A+Award Finalists, the following projects demonstrate how architects are utilizing different concrete aggregates, textures and forms to create expressive spaces and break from tradition. Building off the continent-nationa€™s vernacular architecture and building traditions, these modern abodes combine environmentally conscious design strategies with simple and straightforward material assemblies. Counter to the philosophy that water should be accommodated and designed around, the projects in this collection represent emphatic moves against the infiltration of water, maintaining a clear imperative to keep it out at all costs. Usually referred to as CLT, new types of engineered wood consisting of laminated timber sections allow architects to build an amalgam of curved configurations that werena€™t previously possible. Whether creating a building as an expressive icon or a simple, minimalist structure, architects must choose how they respond to context on every project. Check out these exciting designs and look forward to our announcement of the winners on April 12th!
The following collection takes a closer look at timber construction and cladding through various residences along the coast. Some of these projects rely on herculean feats of engineering, others take a more natural approach and some put a contemporary twist on the age-old method of simply raising the building above potential flood lines. The sheer strength and rigidity of laminated timbers make for beams and arches that span vast distances without intermediate columns, which equates to more design flexibility than traditional timber, concrete or iron construction. It is this very seamlessness between the actual ground and the ground manufactured by the building that make these spaces feel accessible and inviting for their inhabitants and the general public alike. But to take it a step further, the architects have created a delicate latticework out of wood, creating a simple yet dramatic contrast between the two material elements. While therea€™s a long history of wooden architecture in the Australian vernacular, from sheds and barns to aboriginal huts, contemporary projects are using timber to form hybrid spaces and envelopes which merge different styles. In any case, they demonstrate a clear stance in their perception of the elements: that overcoming the forces of nature is a contest and, for better or for worse, ita€™s one they intend to win. By and large, the significant advantage is that creative freedom is not sacrificed for structural requisites. The following projects all show a different take on the roof-scape typology, combining the benefits of both roof gardens and public plazas and creating ideal outdoor spaces. The weight of the concrete juxtaposed with perforated skins of timber gives rise to a beautiful balance in each design. Sited atop mountains and overlooking expansive vistas, the houses use clean lines and sharp angles to articulate transition and define interior and exterior space. Featuring concrete urban elements to slow down users, the design frames larger open spaces and gathering areas while reconnecting citizens to the citya€™s river.

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