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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