J House in Herzliya Pituah, designed by Israeli architect Pitsou Kedem has won international fame, along with several other Israeli homes, by featuring in the third series of Nextflix's "World's Most Extraordinary Homes." The series hosts Caroline Quentin and Piers Taylor, were astonished when they visited the home by its size, dignified appearance and discreteness, as well as its openness and subtle interface with the outside. They both identified with the owners who described the house as an "all embracing home."
Pitsou Kedem is brand with a very distinctive architectural fingerprint. His buildings are bright and light with a sophisticated control of the materials and structure.
The Herzliya Pituah home, which houses British-born businessman Steve, his Israeli wife Ossie and their six children, is well hidden from passersby. The three-floor home rises two floors above the street and appears to be white and opaque. Even the windows, which extend along the complete first floor are covered by a trellis, designed especially for the building. The back of the house on the ground floor with the salon and areas to entertain guests is almost completely open to the garden, with bedrooms on the first floor and games and TV rooms, a bar and more on the lower ground floor.
Pitsou Kedem told "Globes" "I do a lot of residential buildings and even residents but individual houses are different. They are a type of portrait that I sketch with my paintbrush of those who commissioned the work - the family that lives there. What I draw is a way of life and the uses. What is important to the family, where they get together and where they look for privacy. How the machinery of life works for them."
"The second thing is related to design. I try to understand what sort of appearance they are seeking. In the sense of standing out or not standing out, connection with modernity etc. The first thing that the person commissioning the work tells me is that they are looking for something that will be exceptional and unique and not generic."
Kedem recounts that in his initial conversation with Steve, he asked him what work he did. "He answered me that he was a sitter. I didn't really understand what he was talking about, even though I studied in London. He explained to me that he likes to sit. Sometimes by his pool and sometimes by the fireplace. So in practice I made him meditative spaces. Places where the light penetrates and there is a special experience of tranquility within the house."
The house has single, clear line of design. "In most Israeli houses, the gardens have length rather than width, it is rare to find a garden that has more width than length. The façade with the street is long and significant and I understood that there would be a terribly large mass of the building facing the street. So I tried to lighten the house with a diagonal angle to the roof. The roof floats, not touching the mas beneath it. Genuine modernist screen windows mean that at night when they are lit and roof seems like a cloud. The angles protruding outwards give the sense of floating."
We took the diagonal element on the roof and repeated it in other places. We also repeat it on the stairs, in the lighting and in elements of the furnishing. Even the back yard is dug out at the same angle. The line has continuity. When I speak about a tight project, this is what I mean."
Kedem adds that he likes to create 'layers of filtration.' "We begin with a very opaque mass and perforate it with modern openings that allow less direct sunlight but also privacy including air passages. When you open the large glass windows you feel that the yard is inside the house. We Israelis very much like to entertain. To blur the borders between inside and outside.
One of the ways in which Kedem connects the inside to the outside is with 'intermediary spaces' that intercede. "The house focuses on meeting in the middle. The central point is where the salon connects to the kitchen. It's not fully outside and not fully inside. It is a space that is very suited to the Israeli climate. Within the spaces is very minimalist with monochrome colors, I create things by playing with light. When the leaves of the trees move in the wind, the shadow is projected on to the roof."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 3, 2021
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