Architect Cat Macleod and sculptor Michael Bellemo's home (and HQ for their practice, Bellemo & Cat) in Melbourne is a funky, split-level cube wrapped in an extraordinary printed facade. In the aforementioned link, Macleod describes the making of this eccentric, multifunctional, personal sanctuary. During and average day, Michael Bellemo and Cat Macleod move from the downstairs office to hang with their kids on the bleacher-like steps behind the sofa.
Judged by contemporary design standards, the typical postwar suburban split-level house has little to recommend it. This is a shame, according to Peter Cardew, the England-born, British Columbia–based architect responsible for the recent makeover of this downtown Vancouver home. “It’s a pity,” he says, “because the split-level is an original type that represents a significant time in the history of North American housing, the postwar building boom.” Inside the home Cardew addressed the resident's shopping list of concerns: the need for a more gracious entry, natural light, and an open feeling throughout the public spaces.
Smitten from the start with a 1970s concrete villa in rural Belgium, a resident and her architect embarked on a sensitive renovation that excised the bad and highlighted the good. "It had several different levels with lots of little stairs, which was nice, but the layout was strange and confusing," says resident Nathalie Vandemoortele. The house’s onetime living room was remade into Vandemoortele’s split-level bedroom.
A revamp of this small suburban Massachusetts home doubled its size while keeping its footprint small, thereby giving the yard, the neighbors, and the planet a little breathing room. By building up (to add a second floor and roof deck) and down (to create a split-level kitchen and office space), the Braver house has gone from 1,300 square feet to a more expansive 2,600 without blowing things all out of proportion.
A former ambulance garage may seem like an unusual option for a home, but in the hands of innovative Rotterdam design office Doepel Strijkers it proved to be an inspired choice. The garage’s single level was restricting so Strijkers added a split-level dugout in the middle of the building and created the height needed for a second level and the bedrooms. Both are housed in a polycarbonate "lightbox."
Los Angeles architect Ray Kappe built a multilevel house in 1967 for his family and the results still resonate today. Ray Kappe relaxes in the central living space, which offers views onto other shared family zones. Behind him is a view down into his office. Half a level up, Shelly Kappe stands at the entrance to the upper family room.
Cloud9 architect Enric Ruiz-Geli’s most recently completed project, the Villa Bio, is situated an hour outside of Barcelona in Llers, a green, hilly, sun-bathed sprawl. The home's shape grew directly out of the land, echoing the sloping hillside forest that sits beyond the property line—and honoring the client’s request for a home without stairs to accommodate his two young children and disabled father. The home’s ramplike form required only five steps to link the level platform of the dining room with the living area.
A good dose of Barragán and a trio of creative Angelenos turned a dark and beleaguered mid-century house into a family home for the ages. In place of dark, disconnected spaces, outdoor rooms echo luminous indoor ones, and the residents' eclectic collections of art and personal artifacts share space with interior planes of saffron and pink stucco. Cork stairs connect the split-levels of the living and kitchen areas from the master wing and office.