Some of today’s most interesting architects are ready to prove that they are disciplined sharp – quite literally.
Here are eight examples of homes that cope with difficult environments to provide an exceptional experience for owners and onlookers:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Greg Richardson / Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
The Cliff House, located on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, is an inventive and playful intervention in the landscape.
The galvanized steel superstructure provides solid support and is stable to the hill, while the wood elements introduce beauty inside and out.
The cube is not divided into levels, so a large living space fills the entire area. Only a small part of it is transformed into sleeping quarters.
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Florian Bush Architects
The architects behind this great holiday house in Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, created an L-shaped structure to connect the house with the hill.
Two cubes stand on top of each other, giving a dynamic impression that the entire structure slips down the slope. Home access and private spaces are in the lower cube, inside, leading to a staircase and kitchen
Visual Structure Structure is made of reinforced concrete, with large windows and glazed openings that are visually enclosed within the home to create the scene.
House on the Cliff
Calpe, Alicante, Spain
Diego Opazo / Fran Silvestre Architects
The geometric, linear purity characteristic of this project is the House on the Cliff in the Alicante region of Spain.
The house is embedded on a very steep slope. This unusual and very difficult land evokes a gin haptic, three-dimensional texture that invites astonishing visual dialogue with its surroundings.
Situated in the rocks, the house literally stopped on the hilltop. Made of concrete, which is insulated from the outside, but covered with white lime stucco, the architects choose for its flexibility and smoothness.
The fully glazed front porch provides a spectacular view of the water, and the infinity swimming pool and the expansive terrace at ground level feels like an expanse of sea.
Kiunshan Tree House
Chen Hao / Bengo Studio
The Kyunshan Tree House is not a tree-lined house, standing 11 meters high in a red cedar forest in China’s eastern Anhui Province.
The narrow, curved entrance hall echoes the curves of the nearby road. Inside, the individual elements of this complex shape are at different levels and face different directions.
The central spiral staircase leads to minimalist rooms with wall-to-wall windows that serve as frames for spectacular views. The living area and the bedrooms are deliberately small because the architects wanted to create observation areas rather than an extended family home.
Natural materials are used to complete the building, including red cedar wood for aesthetic and practical reasons.
Luz, Algarve, Portugal
Fernando Gera / Mario Martins
The dreamy landscape of Portugal’s Algarve region leads to extraordinary architecture.
Villa Escarpa is a white geometric giant, balancing on the steep escarpment opposite the village of Priya da Luz. Due to stringent regulations regarding construction on the coast, the structure does not exceed the footprint taken by the previous home. But architect Mario Martins has found a wonderful way to make the best of a relatively small plot.
The idea was to create a floating home effect on the landscape. This helps with the inclusion of the roof terrace, which adds lightness. The structure is not only attractive but also durable – a key because of the prevailing winds in the area.
Slice and fold house
Los Angeles, California, United States
Eric Staudenmaier / Urban Operations
The Slice and Fold House in Los Angeles resembles a carefully folded origami. The building features an excellent game between sharp angled lines and openings of various sizes, allowing natural light to fill in each room.
The facade of the house is made up of different shapes and volumes, the largest of which – the rooftop deck with the magnificent panoramas of the San Gabriel Mountains – is inspired by the modern villas of Le Corbusier.
Large portions of the home are sunk deep into the landscape, which must be dug deep to connect the massive structure to the steep slope.
Eastern Townships Quebec, Canada
Adrian Williams / NatureHuman
Situated on a mountain in Quebec, Canada, the front windows of the house provide panoramic views of the surrounding trees. The largest of the two structures hosts the living area, while the smaller one has two bedrooms.
The design of the home is partially covered by sloping ceilings, limiting sunlight during the warm summer months.
Located on a hill, the foundations of the structure are anchored to the ground and covered with burnt wood to add more to the building’s surroundings.
Casa del Acantilado
Salobrena, Grenada, Spain
Jesus is Granada / Gilbertoloma
Built on the shores of the Spanish Granada, Casa del Acantilado or “Cliff House” is a tribute to architect Antoni Gaudౌ. The architecture behind the design, Gilbertolom, was inspired by the challenging angle of the arch (about 42 degrees), without limiting the creativity of the company.
The house is not only buried in the hill, but also hidden under the roof of the attendant c. When viewed from above, its curved shape and textured surface resemble the skin of a dragon or the waves of the sea.
Casa del Acantilado is set on two floors – one dedicated to the open-space living area and the other featuring more intimate spaces.