In the rural Belgian town of Smetlede, polycarbonate—a type of extra-strong plastic—is often used to sheathe porches and verandas. When architect Indra Janda designed what she calls a “garden room” on her parents’ estate, the humble, inexpensive, and easy-to-work-with material was a natural choice. “But I wanted to use it in a different kind of way,” Janda says. She hand-cut sheets of polycarbonate into 15¾-inch square shingles and clad an entire timber structure—a gabled roof and walls—with them.
The 484-square-foot room offers a cool respite from summer sun and a warm place to relax in winter. Because of its semi-opaque envelope, the building takes on a life of its own: It glows in the evenings and its framing casts shadows that dance throughout the interior during the day.
An artist and an architect built their home, studios, and an exhibition space inside an Antwerp warehouse. In the upstairs apartment, glass partitions keep the elongated loft open and spacious, while lighting is placed against brightly colored walls to create a cool, atmospheric glow.
The exterior of this minimalist Phoenix house consists of sandblasted masonry and Ferrari shade sails stretched on a steel frame. The screen shifts between being opaque and semitransparent.
In Saint Ouen, France, a suburb of Paris, architect Nathalie Wolberg plays with lighting and interior design at her house/studio, Maison NW. The three-level building, located in a former printing house from the 1950s, acts as a blank canvas for her to experiment with colorful, dramatic objects that evoke strong emotions.
On a concrete wall near the stairway of this stunning California home hangs an artwork that depicts the family's children. Resident Nick Bancroft conceptualized the piece with painter Bryce Chisholm and artist Jeff Johnson, who did the custom neon work. The floor is also made from concrete.