Small-Lot Ingenunity: the Altos House, Buenos Aires, by Vanguarda Architects

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This sleek contemporary home, located in the Altos del Sol gated neighborhood of Ituzaingo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a product of Vanguarda Architects. Planning this home, the architects faced one major challenge: the lot was narrow, necessitating placing the house in such a way that they could maximize the living space without having a “crowded” feeling. The front is exclusively private, closed off by means of aluminum and wood panels (note the unique louvered window). In this front area are the “service” rooms of the home: bedroom, bathroom, changing rooms for the pool, another entrance, and the garage and laundry; colors are white, cream, and gray — except for one bathroom, with its vivid pumpkin-colored wall accents. By contrast, the back of the home is open, allowing for indoor/outdoor living around an external courtyard.

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The crowning jewel of this backyard area is the pool; it can be crossed by a glass bridge which, in turn, connects the gallery — an extension of the sitting room — with the barbecue area and a playroom, set apart by a wood deck. As a two-story foyer, the main entryway helps “tie” all the areas together visually; the concrete stairs seem to float from one level to another, wrapped in glass and steel, to a second-floor landing and “bridge” between the master suite and the children’s bedrooms. In this open plan, sitting room, kitchen, and dining areas are integrated into one smooth flow; the kitchen, with its handy island containing a cooktop and extra seating, can be closed off via a sliding door. An excellent example of how to use a narrow lot to advantage, the Altos house packs a lot of living into its unobtrusive design.

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Written by Janet Butler

Janet W. Butler is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant by day and a “small soprano” by night. An RWA Golden Heart Winner, she is the author of the inspirational romance From the Ashes (“the best little book no one’s ever heard of”), published by SANDS Publishing in 2001; and a romantic suspense, Voice of Innocence, from Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a Chicago native transplanted to northeast Indiana, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and Cassandra “Trouble” Butler, S.R.C. (Spoiled Rotten Cat).