Some of today’s most interesting architects are outside to prove that the discipline may be frustrated.
Here are eight examples of homes that overcome harsh environments to provide an exceptional experience for owners and spectators:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Greg Richardson / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Cliff House on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia is a creative and entertaining intervention to the landscape.
The galvanized steel upper provides solid support and is fixed on the cliff while the wooden elements provide comfort inside and out.
The cube is not divided into levels, so the large living space fills the entire space. Only a small part is converted into sleeping areas.
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Florian Busch Architects
The architects behind this extraordinary holiday home on Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, created an L-shaped structure to connect the house to the hill.
The two cubes stand on top of each other and give the dynamic impression that the entire structure can slide off the slope. The entrance and private areas of the house are located in the lower cube, while a staircase inside leads to the living areas and the kitchen on the upper floors.
The solid structure is made of reinforced concrete material that remains raw inside the house to visually plain side-by-side with large windows and glazed openings.
House on the cliff
Calpe, Alicante, Spain
Diego Opazo / Fran Silvestre Arquitectos
Geometric, linear purity, the feature of this project in the Alicante region of Spain, House on the Cliff.
The house is buried on a very steep slope. This unusual and rather difficult terrain inspired a creative, three-dimensional shape that invited a surprising visual dialogue with its surroundings.
The house, located in the rocks, literally hangs on the contour of the hill. It is made of concrete, insulated from the outside, but also covered with white lime plaster selected by architects for its flexibility and smoothness.
The fully glazed façade offers a magnificent view of the water and the infinity swimming pool on the ground floor and the large terrace seem to extend the house to the sea.
Qiyunshan Tree House
Chen Hao / Bengo Studio
Qiyunshan Tree House Not a house built on a tree, but an 11-meter house in the red cedar forest in eastern Anhui province of China.
A narrow and curved entrance hall reflects the curves of the nearby road. Inside, the individual elements of this complex shape are located at different levels and look in various directions.
A central spiral staircase leads to minimalist rooms with wall-to-wall windows that serve as frames for stunning views. The living space and bedrooms are deliberately small, because architects wanted to create observation points instead of a large family home.
Natural materials are used to finish the building for aesthetic and practical reasons, including red cedar wood.
Luz, Algarve, Portugal
Fernando Guerra / Mario Martins
The dreamy scenery of Portugal’s Algarve region lends to eccentric architecture.
Villa Escarpa is a white geometric giant, balanced on a steep rise overlooking the village of Praia da Luz. Due to the strict rules regarding construction on this coastline, the building could not cover the area occupied by the previous house. But architect Mario Martins has found a great way to make the most of a relatively small plot.
The idea was to create the effect of a house floating on the landscape. This helps to include a lightweight rooftop terrace. The structure is not only attractive but also durable – very important given the prevailing winds in the area.
Slice and Folding House
Los Angeles, California, United States
Eric Staudenmaier / Urban Operations
Slice and Fold House in Los Angeles looks like a neatly folded origami piece. The building offers stunning gameplay between sharp angled lines and openings of various sizes that allow natural light to fill in any size.
The facade of the house consists of different shapes and volumes, the largest of them – the attic with stunning views of the San Gabriel Mountains – inspired by the modernist villas of Le Corbusier.
Large parts of the house are buried deep in the land, where deep digging is required to stick the gigantic structure to the steep slope.
Eastern County Quebec, Canada
Adrien Williams / Naturehumaine
Located on a mountain in Quebec, Canada, the front windows of this house offer panoramic views of the surrounding woodland. The larger of the two structures house the living space, while the smaller one has two bedrooms.
The design of the house is partly determined by the inclusion of overhanging roofs that slope downward and limit the amount of sunlight in the warmer summer months.
The foundations of the building, perched on a hill, are fixed to the ground and the building is covered with burnt wood to further adapt to the environment.
Casa del acantilado
Salobreña, Granada, Spain
Jesus Granada / Gilbartolomé
Built on the Spanish coast of Granada, Casa Del Acantilado or “Cliff House” is a tribute to architect Antoni Gaudí. The challenging angle of the slope (roughly 42 degrees) seems to inspire the creativity of the architectural firm behind the design rather than being limited to Gilbartolomé.
The house is not only buried in the hill, but also hides under an imaginary roof. Viewed from above, its curved shape and textured surface resembles the skin of a dragon or sea waves.
Casa Del Acantilado is located on two floors, one dedicated to an outdoor living space and the other with more intimate spaces.
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