The Cubes House by Néstor Sandbank
From the architect. Designed by Nestor Sandbank, this modernist mansion is organized on the 3000 square meters site in a unique way. While the house as a whole is centered around a large lawn in the back, its construction actually consists of four separate modules linked by transit areas on the first floor.
Built in Ramot Hashavim, the project features a main wing that contains all the main public rooms with a master suite above it, then extends to its other three bedrooms in an entirely separate wing. The firm Nestor Architecture is one of the busiest offices in Israel, it specializes in apartment complexes and other multi-residential properties, high-level villas, and “Boutique” buildings with very special design.
The family living in “The Cubes House” had a fantasy: to build a house that wasn’t a normal house, in which all functions and rooms are part of a mega volume contained in a rectangular box. Nestor Sandbank offered a very special design in which each child’s bedroom is a two story unit occupying an independent quasi-autonomous structure.
Joined by a single corridor, surrounded by water features, the rooms of the three older children: 17, 15, and 11 years old, are built in a row perpendicular to the main house, with space for individual life in the first floors and the bedrooms upstairs. Each room has its own terrace overlooking the garden, as well as a large balcony off the master bedroom on the main wing. The courtyard is carefully designed with contemporary design furniture that is integrated with the design of the residence, keeping it an essential part of living and comfortable space.
Inside, the white walls in most of the house are accented by great works of art and the “bridge” that connects the parents’ bedroom with the bedroom of the smallest child 6 years old. Each public area is generally aligned with a similar outdoor space on the pool deck, allowing outdoor life in good weather. Each child’s room has its own decor items and unique views, giving them an individualized personality.
The garden of the house is spacious and impeccably treated with large concrete slabs framing rectangular plots and several outdoor areas. Most of the house focuses on this impressive outdoor space, where much of the social activities take place.
Along one edge of the property, a long concrete bar offers a dining and drinking place for more than half a dozen residents and visitors, while further back on the floor consisting of concrete geometric elements is a more formal outdoor dining area that provides an alternative. The house consists of two floors above ground and one below, with individualized services for each occupant.
On the waterfront, the courtyard is dotted with ultramodern chairs and matching tables that display the same color as the house as a whole. Near the children’s bedrooms, a large stainless steel sphere with mirror finish is an additional sculptural feature on the lawn. Every facet of outdoor space of the residence is designed to broaden the stylish and modern building outwards.
The pool, like many features of the contemporary landscape, has been designed so that the water is parallel to the level of the terrace and the garden around it, drawing in small crevices of 2 cm along each edge. On the side near the bedrooms of children, an additional modern sculpture (white and irregularly shaped) functions as a bench.
Towards the end of the pool, the grass falls abruptly, and the concrete structure of water stops, creating an infinite edge and a smaller pool 20cm deep, to sunbathe on loungers in the water, and as an extension of the swimming space. During the day, the vertically operated blinds can be used in all windows of the house to keep the afternoon sun and the eyes of the neighbors out.
Despite its focus on the lawn, the house should function by itself and on the days that outdoor access is not available. Inside, wide circulation areas have been created to connect the main part of the house with its three semi-independent satellite structures.
In addition to every child’s room having its own balcony, the master bedroom has its own spacious terrace on the corner of the main wing, built with a strategic view of all the smaller bedrooms of the house and the living spaces on the lower level.
Under the master bedroom balcony, the more formal outdoor dining area of the house has eight seats on contemporary furniture without being impractical. Further, an elegant outdoor seating area is shaded between two wings of the house and under a retractable canvas awning.
Despite having only one facade on the first floor extending through them to provide interior circulation between each space, the three children’s bedrooms are separate structures, each architecturally identical, but open to the personality of each individual in its decoration. If the circulation was deleted, each could stand as a compact personal tower, holding children’s bedrooms, recreational and storage space.
A number of large window areas of the house include wide sliding glass doors, allowing the main rooms to be opened and combined with the lawn for larger entertainment spaces integrated into the same plane.
The living room of the house is dominated by two elements: a vast arsenal of open shelves 6 feet tall and the main entrance door to the house with spectacular dimensions: 1.50 x 6.00 m that opens completely.
The main living room is distinguished from the rest of the long space it occupies by a large rectangular rug, which gives it a more comfortable environment than the hardwood floors around it. Its furniture combines mid century sculpture with contemporary design, which is very comfortable but undeniably modern.
At the edge of the room, the metallic shades of the balcony extend down as a bold staircase with blank wall space covered by intriguing contemporary art. At the opposite end, a kitchen designed by Giorgio Armani and the dining room starts from the living room due to its location in an area limited to a single height.
This main staircase extends downwards to the basement. It has the same wooden floor as the rest of the house. On the ground floor of one of the children’s independent structures, an area of elegant and energetic life is furnished and decorated with the personality of an individual in mind. An elegant spiral staircase built in metal 2 cm thick and cut by a computer-based laser leads to the upstairs bedroom.
Not all outdoor recreation areas in the house are on the lawn. Between the two wings is a terrace divided by a concrete suspension bridge that is also the entrance bridge to the house. The main entrance on the ground for cars and people is very wide and consists of concrete rectangular floors separated by lawn. The parking is covered by a white metal construction with an opaque glass ceiling to allow natural light. At night, the ceiling lights with LEDs and becomes a giant lamp seen from everywhere.
Architects: Néstor Sandbank
Location: Ramot HaShavim, Israel
Project Area: 3,000 sqm
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Itai Sikolsky