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Bruma House by Fernanda Canales and Claudia Rodriguez

Photo: Rafael Gamo

Architects Fernanda Canales and Claudia Rodriguez wound a series of concrete cubes around a lush, tree-scattered site to create this holiday home for a young family in the State of Mexico. The 604-square-metre residence combines nine isolated volumes, which connect via glass-walled hallways and wrap an interior courtyard. The blocks are of varying heights to follow the natural topography of the site, and provide views from inside, as well as from the terraces that top two of the structures, while the remaining seven have green roofs.

Photo by Rafael Gamo

The plan, which inspired the nickname “the exploded house,” allows privacy for the family members, as well as guests, and also allowed the getaway to be constructed around the site’s existing trees. The house’s exposed concrete walls are tinted black and left rough to evoke natural stone and blend into the surrounding landscape.


Casa Ecustra by Luciano Kruk

Argentinian architect Luciano Kruk is known for his board-formed concrete residences – entire homes molded from concrete, from exterior to interior and right down to the countertops and staircases. His latest masterpiece is Casa Ecustre, located in Costa Esmeralda, about four hours from Buenos Aires. While the family who commissioned Kruk for the project was attracted to Kruk’s aesthetic, they requested a warmed up version for their own family home, using less concrete than the architect’s work traditionally features.

Though exposed concrete is used for all the interior walls, metal and glass have been added to the exterior’s palette, along with a variety of wood types. The natural boards – which include kiri wood and pink finished with burnt oil – are a subtle complement to the plank-imprinted concrete.


True North House by Alain Carle Architecte

Photos: Adrien Williams

Last winter Montreal architect Alain Carle completed this Cornwall, Ontario, residence which pairs a meandering volume in his signature black with two concrete blocks. For this project Carle has opted for a black aluminum siding, rather than the charred wood we have seen in many of his past projects.

Photo: Adrien Williams

The slats of the black siding are echoed in the striations of the pale grey cement facades. The interior, which Carle describes as “maze-like” is broken up by glazed perforations that cut right through the building, blurring the lines between the interior and the landscape.


Aalto University Building Main Building Dipoli by ALA Architects

Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

The Helsinki University of Technology’s iconic Dipoli building has been given new life thanks to a recent renovation by ALA Architects. Designed by Raili and Reima Pietilä, Dipoli was completed in 1966 and served as the school’s student union building. The structure, which sits on the edge of the Alvar Aalto-designed campus, has now been repurposed as the school’s main office, and the interiors updated.

Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

Red granite and carpets, which had been added to the floors over the years, have been stripped away to reveal concrete surfaces that reinterpret the original design. New concrete finishes, such as glosses, colour, grain and graphic treatments, bring the material into the modern age.


Tarrawarra Abbey by Baldasso Cortese Architects

Photo: Peter Clarke

Built in response to a 2009 fire that came dangerously close to Tarrawarra Abbey in Yarra Glenn, Australia, this fish-shaped fire shelter uses concrete to create a thermal barrier and enhance safety. Baldasso Cortese Architects designed the building to reflect the simple lifestyle of the monks who reside at the Abbey, topping it with a green roof that adds to the fire-resistance of the structure.


Taller Estrella Jafif by Belzberg Architects

This Mexico City venue for kosher cooking classes features a simple material that serves as a complementary backdrop for a variety of activities that ranges from culinary seminars to yoga classes. California firm Belzberg Architects combined weathered wood floors and exposed beams with board-formed concrete walls that feature vertical striations, rather than the more commonly seen horizontal method.

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