substance Studio / substance

© Farshid Assassi

This 5,200 square foot design studio for architects, interior designers, and graphic designers occupies the second floor of an early 20th century loft building in Des Moines, . This industrial volume has a powerful presence with large, steel trusses forming a grand, column-free space and imposing an order upon the final design.

Architect: substance
Location: Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Project Area: 5,200 sqf
Project Year: 2005
Photographs: Farshid Assassi/Assassi Productions

Jirsa Residence / substance

© Farshid Assassi

This 2,700 square foot loft apartment in downtown was designed for a single doctor interested in fine art and urban living. Organizationally, the loft was conceived as a simple, linear volume containing the major public spaces (kitchen, dining, living, media, and bedroom) served by a series of smaller, more private spaces (laundry, master bath, office, powder room, pantry, and guest bath). The public spaces were placed adjacent to the building’s exterior, providing each with sweeping views of the city skyline to the north and west, while the private spaces were placed next to the building’s core and separated from the main volume by a thick gallery wall.

Architect: substance
Location: Des Moines, , USA
Project Area: 2,700 sqf
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Farshid Assassi/Assassi Productions

Jasper Winery / substance

© Farshid Assassi

Jasper wines have been locally made in Newton, since 2004 and their recent growth created the need for much larger facilities. Rather than expanding in Newton they decided to relocate their new winemaking and events facility just south of downtown Des Moines. substance developed an 8,100 square foot building on a four-acre landscaped site which includes a small vineyard, gardens, outdoor event areas, and covered walkways and patios. The winery provides production facilities for 10,000 cases of wine annually, a tasting and café area, a banquet facility for groups of 125 people, and associated service functions.

Architect: substance
Location: Des Moines, Iowa,
Project Area: 8,100 sqf
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Farshid Assassi/Assassi Productions

The University of Northern Iowa’s Multimodal Transportation Center / substance

© Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

This project involved providing parking for 490+ vehicles, an enclosed passenger waiting area, passenger shelters at five new and existing bus stops on campus, a solar panel array that will result in a net-zero electricity use for the building, and the relocation of West 23rd Street and two University rental properties. In total it provides a net gain of approximately 281 parking spaces on the site. In addition, the project provides a central location for off-campus residents and visitors to park and have access to the University transit system/Panther Shuttle and the Metropolitan Transit Authority routes, which serve the cities of Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. The re-design of West 23rd Street complements the City of Cedar Falls’ efforts on its streetscape project for West 23rd Street and the adjacent College Hill area.

Architect: substance
Location: Cedar Falls, ,
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Paul Crosby Architectural Photography

Weigel Residence / substance

© Farshid Assassi

This residence is a vacation home for a couple and their four young children. Located on a quarter-acre site in a residential development in Copper Mountain, , the home is comprised of a single-story, post-and-beam pavilion containing the primary living and entertainment spaces, and a four-story, conventionally framed tower containing the service spaces and bedrooms. These elemental volumes are arranged to create two distinct landscape experiences: a sequestered, private environment of indoor and outdoor living spaces sheltered by lodge pole pines and nestled into the wooded site, and an expansive, open experience of Rocky Mountain vistas afforded by the belvedere quality of the tower. This arrangement allows the homeowners to “be in the woods” and “see the mountains” – the two site qualities which initially drew them to this location.

Architect: substance
Location: Copper Mountain, Colorado, USA
Project Area: 4,000 sqf
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Farshid Assassi/Assassi Productions

Dzintari Forest Park / Substance

© Ansis Starks

Architects: Substance
Location: Jurmala,
Type of Project: Reconstruction of Forest Park
Project Architects: Arnis Dimins, Brigita Barbale
Design Team: Guna Priede, Krisjanis Leitis, Ieva Dimante, Rihards Vietrins
Client: Jurmala City Council
Main contractor: TADERS
Park area: 131,108 sqm (13,1 ha)
Gross internal floor area: 541 sqm
Total cost: 4,1 M €
Project year: 2003-2005
Construction year: 2007-2009
Photographs: Ansis Starks

© Ansis Starks © Ansis Starks © Ansis Starks © Ansis Starks

Sports Hall / Substance


When the City Council asked Substance to build a sports venue for the popular Latvian sea resort, the firm designed a structure that could be open all year long in any weather.  Inspired by the amber – crystallised resin of pine typically washed up on the Baltic coast, the venue’s form incorporates translucent polycarbonate cladding inside a structural framework to accentuate the building’s varying height.

More about the sports venue after the break.