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A Story About the Artist's House


Type: Two Story Residential House  

Location: Center of Israel

Size: 140+80 sqm

Date: 2022

Photography by Sivan Askayo


The story of the Art House takes place in a 2-story, 140 meters squared residential house, in the middle of a beautiful yard, in the center of Israel.

The original structure was built in the 1980s, and over the years it has undergone two renovations and expansions so that the Institute’s internal interior space was a connection between different spaces (in terms of ceiling height, flooring and openings).

When we entered the house for our first meeting, we discovered the owner’s refined good taste and the many works of art decorating its walls and corners. These, combined with cultivated home plants (the owner’s hobby), added a touch of magic to the space.

During the renovation process, the couple asked to use the existing space to create a room for each child, as well as an adjacent shower for the teenager, while also arranging a guestroom for occasional overnight stays and finding many more storage solutions than what existed at the time. Our vision also included connecting the house to the yard and uniting the various parts of the house.


At that meeting, we got to know the couple and their three children, learned more about the works of art, learned of the owners’ love of home plants as well as their cleaning and laundry routines (which are done at 5:30 AM), investigated the storage spaces needed for everything to have its designated place in the house, and documented the special items that would be assigned new places.

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The first thing we felt during our visit to the existing house was a U-shaped structure that divided the house in two, with almost no lines of sight.

One part held the kitchen, the other the living room.

Connecting the two was a corridor space where the dinner table was located.

The exit to the yard was also divided in two (either through the kitchen or the living room), and the beautiful yard outside was barely felt inside the house.

The solution to all these issues was expressed in the creation of “the cube”, a central piece of carpentry in the house that unites within it the safe room, guest bathrooms and stairs. The sides of the cube answer the various functions they face.


The Cube:

We believe a good traffic system in the home requires those who use it not to consider every step they take. The space must be both physically and materially intuitive.

This belief is our basis for choosing to create a cube from a single type of material. Thus, every place in the home allows you to feel spatially oriented in relation to the cube, and understand the space.

The combination of clear physical space and uniform material, and the lines of sight, create the sense of flow, ultimate to our approach.

The space created between the cube and the glass doors – serving as the exit to the yard – also serves as a corridor to the son’s room (the added room), but not just that.

The new façade that has opened up brings a lot of daylight into the room, and the new lines of sight from the yard into the living room increase the perceived space of the entire house, and especially the living room.

In terms of functionality, the hall space is used as a dual-purpose space, as it also serves as a work area for the household.

The new façade that has opened up brings a lot of daylight into the room, and the new lines of sight from the yard into the living room increase the perceived space of the entire house, and especially the living room.

In terms of functionality, the hall space is used as a dual-purpose space, as it also serves as a work area for the household.

The southern side of the cube, facing the yard, also incorporates numerous storage spaces, openings that channel pleasant daylight into the guest bathrooms and the stairwell, leaving a special space for the old metal bookshelf, which is near and dear to the owner’s heart, and contains a significant portion of the household’s book collection.

The end of the corridor leads to the son’s bedroom door, but the sense of flow continues within as well. The cube extends into the room and there serves as a closet and work area.

We wanted to design the door to the yard in such a way that wouldn’t damage the sense of continuity. The deliberation was whether to choose a third material, like a Belgian profile door (which was ruled out because it didn’t maintain the necessary level of privacy), or to use a wooden door with pivot hinges, so that as the door opens you can see the cube’s continuity into the room.

On the other side of the southern corridor is the side of the cube facing the living room, accompanying those walking up and down the stairs. This side also constitutes a partition between the common and private spaces in the top floor.

The choice of a double-sided bookshelf allowed for duality: lines of sight between the floors as well as concealment and privacy. The positioning of the books and plants help regulate the dosage.

The edge of the cube is defined by three revolving birch plates, which form a partition between the entrance to the guest bathrooms and the safe room on the one hand, and the common space on the other. The option to rotate the boards offers a solution for concealment and revelation, but also provides a comic relief, drawing inspiration from the world of gaming into the adult space. We’re used to seeing the houses around becoming so serious, and in our work, we’re pleased to add values such as playfulness to our projects.


The Red Column:

During planning, we feel there’s a persistent dialogue between what the clients bring to the project, what the house brings along with it, and what we contribute to the process. In this event, the house colorfully surprised us. While dismantling the original stairwell, we randomly discovered a loam-colored iron column, and it was decided that it would remain where it was, with its original color restored. Just as we express ourselves through the clothes we wear, we believe our houses should also reflect who we are, rather than remain neutral or be based on temporary trends.

At the start of the process, we recognize that clients tend to be very cautious with their use of colors or special materials. In the dialogue between us, we encourage them to rediscover the colors and materials that thrill the household, so that choices can be empowering and emotionally moving over a long period of time.

In this project, the members of the household preferred a very neutral color palette. This was not due to a fear of color but rather the desire to give expression to the art and the colorfulness accompanying it, which they very much value.

And yet we found ourselves challenging the neutral boundaries by using inconclusive shades. The kitchen was given a tall, black wall of cupboards alongside short cupboards with a grey shade tending towards light blue/light green, the wall was given a grey shade leaning towards blue and the sofa moved from dark grey to dark blue.

Grey-shaded molded concrete was chosen for the floor, not too dark and not bright but with a lot of character, while the wood selected for the process was birch, which is bright yellowish with a natural finish.

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The loam-colored column was a complete surprise that pleased us, and we wanted to tell the story of the house by maintaining its color.

After the owners approved it, and were as delighted as us at the prospect of expanding the project’s color palette, we chose to give expression to the new point of color in other places in the house, like the kitchen fan or the shelves at the entrance to the house.

Shelves at the Entrance to the House:

The foyer is defined by iron shelves in a shade of loam, designed to be a place to set the small things we always put aside at the entrance to our homes like keys, sunglasses, spare change and more.

But they also serve as a partition for the more private spaces on that floor.

The concealment is actually formed by a multiplicity of large leaves from the cuttings the owners cultivate. This multiplicity obscures the kitchen space from those entering the house.


The Stairs:

We replaced the original stairwell with a new and different plan.

We felt the need to give more meaningful expression to the space positioned in front of the entrance to the house, which constitutes a connecting space between the kitchen and the living room, and between the bedroom and common floors.

The stairwell was conceptually divided into two maneuvers, the lower part was designed as sitting stairs made from concrete, with blocks of wood placed on them to serve as stairs, while the upper portion was planned as a floating framework that would neither overburden nor impose on the space. The various seating arrangements turned the area into our “being alone together” corner. In this corner we see the important value of interpersonal connection between the members of the household. This is the precise point where you can be a bit alone and a bit together. Areas where the proportions are more intimate, despite not being physically separated, contain a sense of privacy.

These are corners where you can hear the members of the household conversing in the living room, the dining room or the kitchen without being an active part of the conversation.

We plan these poetic points in many of our projects, in the understanding that the need for privacy will otherwise win out and cause parents or children to retire to their bedrooms for privacy. We’ve heard from clients that these spaces actually allow for intimate conversations as well, which deeply moves us.

But are we sure we’ll have enough storage space?

As with practically any project, the subject of storage is always a top priority. We’re always happy to tell new clients that planning a designated space for everything very much helps maintain order and organization in the house. With this project as well, we worked alongside the clients to designate storage spaces in accordance with the household’s needs. The cube in the center of the house helps maximize the storage space and creates special places for work tools, cleaning materials, electrical appliances that require accessibility like Dyson vacuum cleaners, a space to store paperwork and home office folders, and more. When planning, we don’t pass up on any storage space even if accessibility is a bit more problematic. In this project, we took advantage of the space underneath and alongside the stairs to serve as a storage space for suitcases and ski and camping equipment.

Surprise Piano:

A reading corner was designed for the living room that would expand the usability of the living space. A black, metal bookshelf was positioned on the north wall, around a window, alongside a fireplace, and a reading chair was planned to be placed between them.

At the program assembly stage, we always ask about unique objects like musical instruments, but we had started our project with no special demands.

During the project, the owner decided to surprise her husband with a large and special gift for his birthday. As far as we were concerned, the surprise in the middle of the project required finding a creative solution for a piano.

With some mild effort, we found the precise location integrated with a metal bookshelf in the corner of the house, at the expense of the reading chair.

But the challenge was to preserve the surprise until the end of the project, so the bookshelf plans and figures were kept secret from the owner and everything done there was carried out behind his back.

Everyone Does Laundry Differently:

Every family we’ve met over the years has their own story about laundry routines at home, and the variety surprises us every time anew.

Laundry habits in the existing house took root in a way that was less convenient for the members of the household. Over time, he safe room situated on the bottom floor became the laundry and service area, even though all the bedrooms are on the upper floor. This location caused the members of the household to drag laundry between floors too many times a week, and turned the safe room into an inconvenient storage space.

In the new plan, we converted the safe room into a guest room with a large closet that could also store much of the household’s daily equipment (coats, purses and so on). So, when family members arrive from afar and want to stay the night, the existing space can be used without disturbing the household.

We found an alternative location for the laundry area in the parents’ bathroom, on the second floor, as they’re used to exchanging laundry loads very early in the morning.

We set up a cabinet in the broad shower space containing the washing machines side by side. The surface above it will serve as a folding table and storage for laundry materials.

Utilizing Low Spaces:

The bedroom floor is built under a tiled roof.

It’s smaller, but every centimeter is utilized: the wardrobes are positioned in the low areas of the roof’s incline.

Thus, thickening the wall in the bathroom for a toilet tank, storage behind the mirror and a washing machine closet are a better use of low spaces that weren’t utilized before the renovation.

Replacing Colors with Textures:

The owners’ request for a neutral color palette in the house challenged us to consider how we could offer more depth and emphasis without using color.

Both the concrete floor and the use of birch for the cube’s closets are choices of neutral colors, but the textures of the materials offer more layers to the project. The tall, black closet in the kitchen was combined with smooth surfaces, thin striped surfaces that offer the coffee corner a different kind of characterization. In the bathroom, we chose grey tiles but with twists of three-dimensional dots. In the guest bathrooms, we did use loam-colored hinges (reminiscent of our column), but we also used bright, handmade plated hinges, and we connected it all with light-pink grout. For the cabinets in all the bathrooms we chose to plan a combination of frames with more dominant colors. The overall shade we picked for the house was grey (ceiling + wall), rather than the common white, in order to soften the link between the overall colors in the house, while also contrasting with the large windows we expanded, allowing a lot of light and vegetation to come in.

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