Some of today’s most interesting architects strive to prove that discipline can be sharp – quite literal.
Here are eight examples of homes that overcome challenging environments to provide an exceptional experience for owners and spectators alike:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Greg Richardson / Mackay Lions Sweetable Architects
Cliff House, on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, is an innovative and fun scene.
The galvanized steel structure provides strong and shelf mounting support, while the wooden elements provide comfort both inside and outside.
The cube is not divided into levels, so a large living area fills the entire region. Only a small portion of it is converted into sleeping quarters.
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Florian Bush Architects
The architects behind this magnificent holiday home in Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, created an L-shaped structure to connect the house to the hill.
Two cubes stand on top of each other, which gives the dynamic impression that the entire structure may slide down the slope. The entrance to the house and private spaces are located in the lower cube, while inside, the stairs lead to the living and kitchen areas on the upper floors
The steel structure is made of reinforced concrete, which is left raw inside the house to create a visually stark juxtaposition with large windows and glass openings.
House on the cliff
Calpe, Alicante, Spain
Diego Obazo / Fran Silvestre Arquitkos
Geometric, linear purity is a hallmark of this project, House on the Cliff, in the Alicante region of Spain.
The house is embedded in a steep slope. This extremely unusual and challenging land has inspired a fictional 3D look, which calls for a stunning visual dialogue with its surroundings.
Located in the rocks, the house is literally suspended over the circumference of the hill. Made of concrete, it is insulated from the outside but is also covered with plaster of white lime, chosen by architects for its flexibility and smoothness.
The entire glass façade offers great views of the water, and the infinity pool and spacious terrace on the ground level seem to extend the house to the sea.
Qiyunshan Tree House
Chen Hao / Bingo Studio
Qiyunshan Tree House is not a tree-based house, but a 11-meter-high house in a red cedar forest in east China’s Anhui Province.
A narrow, curved entrance hall echoes the nearby road curves. Inside, the individual elements of this complex shape lie at different levels and face different directions.
The central spiral staircase leads to simple rooms with wall-to-wall windows, which act as scenic frames. The living area and bedrooms are intentionally small, because the architects wanted to create checkpoints, rather than an extended family home.
Natural materials are used to finish the building, including red cedar wood, for aesthetic and practical reasons.
Luz, Algarve, Portugal
Fernando Guerra / Mario Martins
The dreamy landscapes of the Portuguese Algarve give themselves exotic architecture.
Villa Escarpa is a white engineering giant balancing on a steep cliff overlooking Praia da Luz village. Because of the strict rules regarding construction on this coast, the structure cannot go beyond the footprint that the previous house took. But architect Mario Martins found a great way to make the best use of a relatively small piece of land.
The idea was to create a floating house effect above the landscape. This helped include a roof terrace, which adds lightness. The structure is not only attractive, but durable – crucial given the prevailing winds in the area.
Slide and fold the house
Los Angeles, California, United States
Erik Studenmeier / Urban Operations
In Los Angeles, Slice and Fold House is like a carefully folded origami piece. The building features stunning views between sharp-edged lines and openings of various sizes, which allow natural light to fill every room.
The façade of the house consists of different shapes and sizes, the largest of which – the rooftop deck with stunning panoramic views of the San Gabriel Mountains – is inspired by modern Le Corbusier villas.
Large portions of the house were sunk deep into the terrain, which had to be dug deep to attach the massive structure to the steep slope.
Eastern Townships Quebec, Canada
Adrien Williams / naturehumaine
Set on a mountain top in Quebec, Canada, the giant front windows of this house offer panoramic views of the surrounding wooded area. The two larger structures host the living area, while the smaller one has two bedrooms.
The house’s design is partly dictated by the inclusion of sloping ceilings sloping downwards, reducing the amount of sunlight during the warmer summer months.
The foundations of the building are laid on the ground, built of burned wood, to blend in more closely with its surroundings.
Casa del Acantilado
Salobrena, Granada, Spain
Jesus of Granada / Gilbertolome
Casa Del Acantilado or “Cliff House” was built on the Spanish coast of Granada, and is a tribute to architect Anthony Gaudi. The difficult angle of inclination (about 42 degrees) seems to have inspired rather than limit the creativity of the architectural firm behind the design, Gilbartolomé.
The house is not only buried in the hill, but also hidden under an imaginary roof. Seen from above, its graceful shape and textured surface resemble the skin of dragons or sea waves.
Casa Del Acantilado is set on 2 floors – one dedicated to an open living area and the other with more intimate spaces.