Superhouse is a brand and an ethos – a vision for what is possible in contemporary residential architecture. Superhouse want to create nothing but the 30 most exceptional houses in the world for the super-rich. Superhouse has been created by Magnus Ström, founder of Ström Architects, based on the South coast of England. Inspiration for the Superhouse concept first came when Ström worked next to a world-renowned naval architect. This was when Superyachts were first brought to his attention, and it raised the questions: “Why couldn’t houses also reach the same heights of design quality and workmanship?” and “Why do ‘Superyachts’ exist, but ‘Superhouses’ don’t?”
Superhouse's mission is to design such houses, and focus solely on their creation without the distraction of other industry sectors. They will do so through having a holistic approach; not just to the design of a Superhouse, but also to the individual lifestyle out of which each house will be born. When a Superhouse is commissioned, the investment is not just in a design for a home, it is the design for this lifestyle. Superhouse don’t just provide the architecture, they provide the thought and process behind all the complimentary elements that go into delivering a completely unique Superhouse, anywhere in the World. Superhouses are to be the most beautiful, unique and design-led houses possible, but for them all to be created through a very close working relationship with their owners. Superhouse want to design their dream home. There will only be 30 Superhouses in total - much like a limited edition series of art or watches. To emphasise this, each house will have its own number discretely engraved somewhere into the façade.
This Superhouse - S 00/30 is located in a private bay on an undisclosed Mediterranean island and is accessed down a long winding road through the mountainous landscape, or via helicopter for a quick transfer to the mainland. A walled entrance courtyard in local stone creates a sense of arrival - mirroring one’s presence in the sheltered, rocky bay whilst giving a view of the house against the open backdrop of the Mediterranean sea.
The design concept is very simple: two L-shaped stone walls cradle the house; within these enclosing walls there are two distinct timber volumes containing separate functions. The first contains service elements such as kitchen, stores, and staff accommodation. The kitchen and dining area are separated by sliding screens, which can sink into the floor to completely disappear and open up the two spaces. This enables a more open plan when the house is in “family mode”, but the kitchen can also be completely closed off when entertaining. The second volume contains a spa and gym. Again, sliding screens are used to allow the volume to open up and really connect the internal spa and gym spaces to the external areas. There is a staircase leading up to the master suite and four junior suites above, allowing the clients to descend directly for morning exercise and a swim in the 50m infinity pool.
There is a private beach with a long dock to accommodate a yacht and tender.
The superhouse is located in a quiet, private bay on an undisclosed Mediterranean island.
The brief for this house was to design a large family home with a sense of understated luxury. The clients’ wish list included an open living space that seamlessly blended the outside with the inside, as well as maximised its location by the sea. Acting like a retreat for the clients, they wanted the house to have the feeling of a luxury private resort, without the coldness and impersonal nature that often comes with it. Part of this meant housing their own personal treasures: a large collection of contemporary art and a substantial classic car collection. These luxuries would need to sit alongside comfortable bedrooms and guest suites, and be complemented by a jetty for the clients’ 30m sailing yacht that would often be moored in the bay.
The house is accessed down a long winding road that snakes down the mountainous landscape, or alternatively via the helipad for a quick transfer to the mainland. A walled entrance courtyard in local stone creates a definite sense of arrival - mirroring one’s presence in the sheltered, rocky bay whilst giving a view of the house against the open backdrop of the Mediterranean sea.
The design concept is very simple: two L-shaped stone walls cradle the house; within these enclosing walls there are two distinct timber volumes containing separate functions. The first contains service elements such as kitchen, stores, and staff accommodation. The kitchen and dining area are separated by sliding screens which can sink into the floor to completely disappear and open up the two spaces. This enables a more open plan when the house is in “family mode”, but the kitchen can also be completely closed off when entertaining.
The second volume contains a spa and gym. Again, sliding screens are used to allow the volume to open up and really connect the internal spa and gym spaces to the external areas. There is a staircase leading up to the master suite above, allowing the clients to descend directly for morning exercise and a swim.
The two volumes, clad in hardwood timber, define the more open living space between them. The main facade to the living area uses minimally-framed glazing that can be opened up completely, with the sliding windows being hidden within the adjacent service volumes. The column-free facade allows an unobstructed integration of internal and external environments. A deep overhang above allows for solar shading to minimise overheating and reliance on artificial air-conditioning. In the centre of the main living area is a double-height space with a circular sunken seating area, in which there is a suspended fire place, hung from the ceiling two storeys above. The vertical flue emphasises the double-height connection through this otherwise low and horizontal house.
The upper storey reads as one long volume that spans between the two service elements below. Access is via an elegant floating staircase, leading to the master suite at one end of the house, and four junior suites at the other. Between these two ends there is a large gallery space where one can circulate around the central void. This gallery is home to the clients’ contemporary art collection of large canvases and substantial sculptures. An important client requirement was that the art was part of the house, and that when moving through the house one was allowed to experience it. The owner’s office is also located on the first floor, and this is the only space where we have denied a view of the sea - a deliberate decision so as to separate work from pleasure.
Externally, we have a 50m infinity pool that stretches alongside the house between the beach and the open-plan living space. When viewed from inside it forms a visually seamless transition between the pool surface and the sea. The pool tapers to a thin edge towards the beach, minimising the impact when seen from afar. A large seating and eating area looks out to sea, but sits adjacent to the kitchen zone for ease of serving. Screens along this part of the facade open up to reveal a bar.
Outside the spa area at the other end of the pool, is space for sunbathing and recreation. To differentiate the functions, the floor surface changes from stone to timber here, giving the feeling of a deck around the pool. Akin to the lazurette or flush decked tender store on a yacht, the timber floor lifts up in sections, to reveal storage for sunbeds, cushions and other pool-related equipment. This provides storage where it is needed whilst minimising the need to carry these items from stores further away. A sunken circular seating area sits within the pool, providing a unique vantage point to enjoy the evening sun as it reflects across the sea and pool surface itself.
A walkway across the pool leads down to another seating area on a deck slightly above the beach, designed for evening use to watch the sunset. This walkway continues into a long timber jetty reaching out into the bay, where there is space to moor a number of yachts.
By the entrance area there is a low, single-storey volume providing secure garage space for 8 cars, as well as service zones for plant and stores. Hidden from view is an access door which leads to the beach to allow storage of dinghies and other marine equipment.
A large basement underneath the house contains other functions that do not need an outlook or view. Underneath the kitchen service-element there is large wine cellar, and additional storage. A large home cinema and an indoor driving range sit beneath the main living space.
The house is designed to be completely off-grid. Our first principle is to insulate well, to eliminate any heating need during the winter months and reduce cooling needs in summer. This is achieved through a so-called ‘PassivHaus’ approach. The minimal heat loss, coupled with the heat created by inhabitants and their activities - such as showering and cooking - combines with the passive solar gain from the glazing, to provide all the necessary heating input to keep the house at a comfortable and steady temperature.
During the winter months, heat recovery ventilation ensures a constant supply of tempered fresh air.
Foul drainage is dealt with through an on-site mini-sewage treatment plant.
On the roof is an array of photovoltaic panels, that provide all the electricity needed for the house. During the day, the solar panels charge up Tesla Powerwall Units. Several of these units are connected together to store energy to be used throughout the times when there is no sun. Even through the winter months and overcast days, the Powerwall is designed to provide sufficient energy to the house, and it is readily available on demand.
The house is designed as a concrete framed building, which provides a lot of thermal mass. This allows the internal climate for the house to react slowly to external temperature changes so that a more even temperature is achieved internally.
The off-grid approach will ensure a small carbon footprint and extremely low running costs.
The house is built from in-situ cast concrete. This ensures that it is durable and can withstand its exposed location. For external walls, the concrete is mixed with a ground white marble aggregate, which is then polished to achieve the final finish. This gives an incredibly smooth and hardwearing surface that has a shimmer and sparkle to it; the smooth surface also self-cleans with rain.
The ground floor walls are clad with local stone that will require no maintenance.