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Striking Netherlands home has swooping glass curves: The Wow Factor

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The combination of two totally opposite elements drove the fluid design of Casa Kwantes in the city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Wanting both privacy and outdoor access in their 5,100-square-foot home, the owners commissioned city architects MVRDV to fulfill their wish list.

The inner, curving lines of the home embrace spaciousness with a surrounding view of the private courtyard. Exterior, geometric walls in a white, brick facade offer a discreet opening from the street.

Living areas are on the first floor. A long, continuous wall forms the curving spine with a library on one side of the home, and a living room and games area on the other side. In between them is the kitchen — with a long-fitted closet of wood hiding all domestic function, including the kitchen cabinets and bathroom, pantry and guest toilet. The continuous wall also leads to the staircase and the garage. Bedrooms are on the second floor.

And with the wall coursing through the middle of the home, all rooms have glass walls that face into the couryard. Interior flooring extends outside, making the courtyard feel like an integrated part of the house.

As well, Casa Kwantes has the ability to become entirely self-sufficient, with plans for testing next year. The house has a ground-source heat pump, heat-exchange system and a solar-panel roof. The panels compensate for energy lost from the house’s glazing and produce enough energy for the home to operate. Living spaces absorb the most sunlight in the summer months with slightly cantilevered floors offering shade.

Casa Kwantes took two years to design and build and was completed in 2016.

Jacob van Rijs, with MVRDV Architects, answers a few questions about Casa Kwantes:

How involved were the owners in the design?

It was their dream to build their own house, so they were very involved. The design team met them bi-weekly from the beginning until the end. They had many ideas and sketches that we tried to translate and incorporate into the design. They were also involved with choosing the final finishes, colours and materials, since they also have a lot of art pieces displayed in the house. They came by the building site almost every day to check, but also because they were interested.

How did you build the curved spaces into building with right angles?

The biggest challenge was to merge the conventional, more artisan building methods of laying the brick with the more high-tech, zero-tolerance, building methods of curved glass. This could only be done by close collaboration with the contractor and very skilled people on the building site.

The design of the swooping glass curves also gave some challenges. These were how to merge all the different radii of the curves, how to integrate straight doors, how to attach room-dividing walls to the curved surface. In order to enjoy the curves as much as possible we kept the glass façade as free as we could of the utility rooms

There seen to have been a lot of challenges. Any others?

The other challenge was to convince the municipality that this design fit the zoning regulation. It needed to fit in thwe 1930s style of the surrounding area.

Think Willem Dudok, the Dutch modernist architect, who designed many brick homes, cantilevering roof-trims, while our client wanted a house with a lot of glass. We convinced the municipality that the 1930s were not only a time of Dudok and the Amsterdamse School, but also a time of experimentation.

So we convinced them that our scheme — the closed wall with the glass patio — fit their zoning plan perfectly. Their example was the architecture of Willem Dudok: rational, brick, closed facades. But our firm said 1930s architecture was also about curves, openness and light.

Georgie Binks is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Reach her at binksgeorgie@gmail.com

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Victoria real estate agent disciplined for false advertising, encouraging cash deal to avoid taxes

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A Victoria real estate agent is facing $9,000 in fines and a 60-day licence suspension after breaking several professional rules during the sale of her father’s half-million-dollar property, according to a decision by the Real Estate Council of B.C. 

Whitney Garside’s missteps — outlined this week in a disciplinary decision posted on the council’s website — included falsely advertising the property as being almost twice its actual size and advising the buyer they could avoid the property transfer tax if they paid cash directly to the seller.

The property on Burnett Road in Victoria was being sold in 2016 by the real estate agent’s father. That relationship was disclosed and isn’t among the reasons she has been disciplined.

According to the disciplinary consent order, Garside told the buyer — whose name is redacted — that by paying $42,000 cash on the side, the value of the property could be reduced to avoid paying the property transfer tax.

That cash arrangement was not shared with Garside’s brokerage, Re/Max Camosun, a failure that contravened the Real Estate Services Act.

The council also ruled that she “failed to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill” when she advised the buyer the property transfer tax could be avoided by paying cash directly to the seller. 

The council’s discipline committee also found that Garside committed professional misconduct when she failed to recommend the seller and buyer seek independent legal advice, specifically regarding the property transfer tax and the cash agreement.

Another issue the council considered professional misconduct involved the size of the property in question.

The council ruled that Garside published false and misleading advertising and failed to act with reasonable care and skill when the property was advertised as 8,712 square feet, when in fact a portion of the lot belonged to the Ministry of Transportation, and the actual size was just 4,711 square feet.

The discipline committee ordered Garside’s licence be suspended for 60 days, which will be completed Jan. 3, 2021.

She has also been ordered to complete real estate ethics and remedial classes at her own expense.

Garside was also fined $7,500 as a disciplinary penalty and $1,500 in enforcement expenses.

She agreed to waive her right to appeal the council’s discipline committee’s decision in September.

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Frisco apartment community sells to Canadian investor

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A Canada-based investor has purchased a Frisco apartment community as part of a larger Texas deal.

The 330-unit Satori Frisco apartments opened last year on Research Road in Frisco.

BSR Real Estate Investment Trust bought the four-story rental community that was built by Atlanta-based Davis Development.

Satori Frisco was more than 90% leased at the time of sale. The property includes a two-story fitness center, a car care center, a dog park and a resort-style swimming pool.

The Frisco property sold along with Houston’s Vale luxury apartments in a deal valued at $129 million.

“BSR recently exited the smaller Beaumont and Longview, Texas, markets and also sold noncore properties in other markets,” John Bailey, BSR’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are now using our strong liquidity position to invest in Vale and Satori Frisco, modern communities in core growth markets with the amenities our residents desire.”

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House prices on Prince Edward Island continue steady climb

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Residential real estate prices on Prince Edward Island continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average, according to the latest report from a national organization. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association released monthly figures for November 2020 on Tuesday.

They show that the average price for a resale home on P.E.I. is about 21 per cent higher than it was a year earlier. 

Only Quebec had a bigger year-over-year increase, at about 23 per cent. Overall across Canada, prices were up 13.8 per cent year over year in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019,” the report noted.

“Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.”

That lack of houses coming onto the market compared to the demand means that in those provinces, there is “increased competition among buyers for listings and … fertile ground for price gains.”

There have been anecdotal reports for months that Prince Edward Island’s low rate of COVID-19 infection and looser rules around social activities have been encouraging people to buy homes on the Island. 

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