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World Class Architecture

World class, world wide

World class architecture

Modern Villas means: world class architecture – in a more time and cost effective way than prima donna “starchitects”.

A lot of our projects are “cross border”. A Belgian building in Spain, a Dutchman building in the Caribbean, a Chinese building in Sydney: our network of architects makes it safe and easy to build abroad.

We understand the different languages, the different cultures, building methods, climates etc. – i.e. we know what works where.


Design in VR: what you see is what you get

Modern Villas uses the most advanced software, and our architects design in a virtual 3D environment, so they can create the most beautiful home designs better and faster than traditional architects can.

As a client, you see exactly what your house will look like, inside and out, so every detail is perfect before we start building. It makes sure all proportions are just right, from all angles. All this saves the client enormously amounts of time and money – not to mention headaches!

From the first proposal, you get videos and even virtual reality. You can walk through your house even before it’s built; to see ánd feel what it’s like.

Because traditional floor plans, elevations and cross-sections simply aren’t clear enough to really understand if a house is beautiful and enjoyable!

If you’re an investor, this means you can start marketing the property months earlier – with the most advanced tools available. High resolution 3D, virtual reality visits, and 360º panoramas are all available early on.


Design-to-budget

Our advanced BIM software (“building information modelling”) tells us, in real time, how design impacts the budget. Whatever changes we make, we know how they affect the costs. So we get a pretty good estimate of what the design will cost – and we can work towards any given budget.

All too often, architects (and clients) get carried away in the design phase, adding features and ideas without knowing where the budget will end up.

We make sure that doesn’t happen.

Save time and money

Traditionally, architects spend months drafting floor plans, sections and elevations, in generic computer assisted design (CAD) software. Separately, structural engineers, HVAC engineers, electricity installers, home automation and lighting engineers make their separate plans, in separate files – ignorant of what the others are doing.

These designs are so complex it’s hard for anyone to understand them. Let alone see where the air conditioning ducts will conflict with the placement of ceiling lighting, or where a beam will conflict with the ideal placement of the hydraulic lines, or how the top of the windows will align with the height of the doors.

Usually such mistakes are only discovered during construction – when it’s too late – or very expensive – to correct them. Solutions are improvised on site, leading to “little” imperfections.

The Crescendo House – Union Island

But we don’t believe in little imperfections! It’s perfect, or it’s not.

Instead, Modern Villas use the latest high-tech architectural 3D BIM software. We also work in a cloud-based system – so multiple architects and engineers can collaborate on a single design, simultaneously.

As a result, designing a house with Modern Villas takes weeks – not months.

The whole process is also less time consuming from the client, who only needs to be exposed to the “fun” parts.

This way we also get much more creativity – when one designer gets “stuck” the fresh eyes of the next one can take the design to the next level.

How to get started

Contact us, and we’ll give you the tools to brief us in an efficient way – and show you how we work!

Basically, to get started, we need three things:

  • to understand you: your taste, needs, preferences, budget. i.e. “the brief”
  • to understand your site: size, shape, relief, sun and wind orientation, views, surroundings

How to brief the architects

For the brief, we’ve got a simple worksheet that will guide you through all the questions that we need to know. It’ll probably take you less than an hour – but it’s good to think things over for a few weekends!

We also need a few dozen pictures of houses, façades, spaces, details you really like in houses. One way to do this, is to consult the thousands of inspiration images we have stored on our Pinterest account: modernvillas.

If you open an account yourself, it’s easy to “save” images you like on your own collection “boards” and then share them with us.

Our newest creation for the Marbella Club

What we need to know about your site

  • the location (on Google Maps, or similar)
  • a plan of the site, including altitude levels if the plot isn’t flat. We can start initial designs based on approximate plans, often available from public record; but it is preferable to have exact plans made by a surveyor which we can digitally import in our software.
  • any official information you have (title deed, real estate registry / cadaster info…)
  • pictures (or better a little movie) showing us the views in the main direction, but also what’s left, right and behind
  • if there is any doubt about the soil strength (which will determine foundation type, and costs), we’ll also need a geological survey (can be left for later – we can organize these surveys for you

Design phases

1 – The design: the fun part

This is the fun, creative, architectural “design” phase, where together we create the design of your dreams! Within weeks, we’ll come to you with a design proposal, shown in a 3D movie, a few dozen of interior/exterior visualizations (“renderings”), and even a VR walk through.

Based on your comments, we then change, adapt, tweak, try out alternatives, until we’ve found just the perfect design for you. Each of these iterations usually takes just a few days, and we can make dozens of tweaks until everything is just perfect.

At the end, you and us know exactly know what the house will look like. In other words, this is the fun part, where we decide “what” we have to build.

Modern Villas strives to make this phase very easy, fast and affordable. Because we’re pretty confident that you’ll be happy with the result and hire us for the rest of the project!

In fact, the fees we charge for this fees mostly reflect the market value of the 3D images, videos and VR production. Contact us to find out more!

By the way, with this initial design it is possible to obtain pretty good cost estimates from builders. But for absolute precision we’ll have to go through the second phase: the engineering.

The Trilogy House by Modern Villas

2 – The engineering

In this second phase, we’re deciding and designing how the house can best be built. What building techniques will we use? What foundation, structure, insulation do we need? Are there any specific local regulations? What materials are available, which ones are worth importing?

Where and how do we best put heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, electrical, lighting, plumbing, home automation, insulation?

A luxury house is more complicated than a car – and every part has to be custom designed by specialized engineers.

This is the more “serious” phase – utterly important – and here we collaborate with local, technically skilled, thorough engineers or architects. They don’t need to be starchitects, but they do need to be extremely good technicians.

At Modern Villas, we insist on extreme detailing and co-ordination between all the engineering disciplines, so nothing – literally nothing – needs to be sorted out on site! It takes time to do all this properly… often two/three months, and more than the design phase itself.

But it must be done properly… After all, one doesn’t want to leave aesthetic nor technical decisions to be made by the foreman under pressure of time.

Every hour and every cent spent on this phase is well spent and will save lots more time and money during construction. While it is easy to take a shortcut (legally, architects are not required to design and specify into such detail), saving on the quality of engineering usually leads to much bigger loss of quality and money during construction.

Note – part of the work can be done while we’re waiting for the approval of building permits by the local authorities. Permits can usually be applied for with less detailed plans than what we’re producing here.

In this phase, little client input/time is required, but one can slowly start to choose floors and other materials. Also the budget can be fine tuned by tweaking materials and features until the desired number is reached.

The Cascade House – Los Flamingos, Spain

3. Tendering the build

Now that everything is totally detailed, we usually tender the construction to a handful of building companies. Every constructor has his pro’s and con’s. We’ll see through their marketing talk and analyse their real strengths and weaknesses. Some are faster, some are cheaper, some are more perfectionist…

In some markets, it’s safer to use “turnkey” builders – who may have their own engineers taking care of the engineering phase. The advantage is that there’s only one party responsible for the end result and that fixed prices can be absolutely guaranteed.

4. Project management

Modern Villas will follow up progress and communication with the chosen building company, making sure everything goes as planned. Our fees for this are lower than most project managers – because if the engineering and selection of the builder are properly done, there should be relatively little work.

Clients get bi-weekly or monthly reports; including status of work done, certification by third party quanlity surveyors, pictures or videos. In most cases, there’s no real need for clients to travel and visit the site during construction.

Let’s get in touch?

If you’d like to know more, or just have a chat, so we can get to know each other and see if it clicks, get in touch!

[email protected]