Sunday June 23rd, 2024
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Stylish, Serene & Breezy: Inside This Ultra White Summerhouse by Aura

Cairo-based design consultancy Aura worked on this borderless Hacienda summer house filled with elements of surprise.

Karim Abdullatif

Summer means hosting, indulging and living outdoors. This Hacienda White summer house was designed and built by Cairo-based award-winning design consultancy Aura to facilitate the seasonal lifestyle, with a house that’s completely white yet dressed with style and surprise.

Entering the house, you’ll find a tree sprouting through a pergola that was designed to add volume and expression to the house. “It’s minimal, completely white and happy, with a touch of green,” Founder Alaa Mahmoud tells SceneHome. “There’s always elements of surprise in our designs.”

Green pops up throughout the house to complement its ultra white aesthetics, from the bar in the lobby to the agile chairs on the main dining table which was placed outdoors to draw the owners out of the house because, well, it’s summer. Why stay inside? “Every design we do has a story and a narrative,” Mahmoud continues. “It’s about more than aesthetics. The experience of the house and how it’s used are as important as how it looks.”

Aura was founded in 2001 as a consultancy that works in architecture, interior design, landscape and master planning, covering everything from residential, education and sporting design to hospitality and commercial. It has worked on a plethora of summer houses but this one has a special place.

“This is one of our favourite houses. We had full reign over the design, which is simple yet full of sophisticated details. We renovated the facade, surrounding the house with a beautiful pergola,” Mahmoud says, pointing to the light structure wrapping around the house. “It adds volume, provides shade and creates outdoor spaces.”

Inside, more of Aura's elements are lit through a skylight with suspended lighting fixtures. “At the heart of the lobby, green marble covers part of the floor and the curved bar for contrast,” Mahmoud says of the compact engineered stone. “Transparent chairs maintain the visuals while an artwork by one of the homeowner’s sons hangs above.”

“When it comes to summer houses, we try to draw people out of the house,” Mahmoud admits, having decreased the indoor reception area and placed the main dining table outside. The indoor living area has a tv unit and seating for the occasional binge watch or video game.

“Indoor and outdoor spaces were linked with greenery, material continuity and large glass windows,” he explains. The exit leading to the dining area has a neighbouring pop of colour. “Edra’s ‘Boa’ sofa is another element of surprise. It’s a beautiful piece which, later on, the owners expressed as their favourite item in the house.”

Outside, everything is sheltered by the pergola. “It’s like a second house. It’s as big as the interior, featuring a bar and main dining area,” Mahmoud says. Streamlined green chairs sit alongside the table and bar, and a white wall hides the showers and washrooms while letting leafy greens through an opening. On the opposite side, yet another tree sprouts through.

Mahmoud started his career as a landscaper, so there’s understandably plenty of emphasis placed on the outdoors. “There isn’t a reason why you’d want to stay indoors in a summer house,” he says. “I treat the pool the way I treat the house. It has to function beyond just swimming, we want to sit in the pool and if we’re hosting we want to sit by the bar.”

“Surprise elements outdoors include a wooden bridge over the pool and a blue state we custom-made to evoke freedom which became a landmark of the house,” he continues, referring to the bridge which is accessed through a set of circular steps and hosts sunbed mattresses.

Palm trees were planted on the border of the house, and to extend its expression, a second set was planted on the public street to add continuity and ensure that the outdoor experience feels borderless. “When things are made in-house, you’ll absorb it all together and develop the project as a whole,” Mahmoud adds, referring to the nature of the project, having designed and built the architecture, interior and landscaping to complement each other.

“At the end, you want the owners to feel like the house is pretty regardless of how it was made,” Mahmoud says. “It took a lot of effort to make sure the house looks calm, not imposing and not over designed. It feels just right.”

Photography Credit: Nour El Refai


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