Fine craftsmanship underlies this collaboration between Zecc Architects and designer Roel van Norel in the quiet forest north of Utrecht. Bert Oostenbruggen planned the home's basic structure, including its unusual shutters, while van Norel handmade its bespoke wooden interior. The result is a thoughtful, versatile cabin that Oostenbruggen says lets the owners "flee daily life" while taking in as much or as little of nature as they like.
Jim Murren’s prefab house in Sin City, designed by Marmol Radziner, is as artful as it is art-filled, thanks to an asymmetrical arrangement of solids and voids. The modular two-story steel-and-glass structure sits atop a windy ridge on the city’s western edge, near Red Rock Canyon.
Located in a hidden valley on the picturesque Izu Peninsula, a few hours west of Tokyo, the Watanabe Residence looks more like an imposing black box propped amidst the wooded landscape than a model of environmental friendliness. Architect Tadashi Murai designed this remote retreat for a Tokyo transplant who abandoned his corporate existence.
The Casa Cuatro sits above a 180-foot cliff in Chile that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The locally quarried stone makes the house blend in with the landscape and acts as a thermal-mass wall, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it through the evening. The house was built on piers so that little of the natural landscape would be disturbed.
Architect Reinhold Andris has lived in his house in southwestern Germany since 1998. Fifteen years on, the structure remains emblematic of his modernist perspective. “It’s a very open architecture,” he says, noting the near-invisible steel frame and pervasive use of glass. Unlike the traditional stone houses in the neighborhood, Andris’s home feels lightweight, thanks in part to the split-level plan and spatial fluidity.
A compact recreational home on a sliver of an island in the Dutch countryside, the one-room Island House leaves a small footprint at only 225 square feet. A slide-out side wall and parallel glass walls, which support a gabled roof and provide a lengthwise view of the island, open up the home to the countryside, while the clever interior arrangement makes sure nothing gets in the way of the view.
After visiting too many overpriced, impossibly steep sites in the Los Angeles area, the Lais finally found a buildable lot in Culver City. Harboring a dilapidated 1950s home, the property was listed as a place to “build your own dream house,” and that’s just what the couple did. The new home's glass sliding doors facilitate indoor-outdoor living by connecting the living room and engawa deck, further emphasized by the room's floor-to-ceiling windows looking to the front yard.
Mechanical engineer Jan Moolsintong and industrial designer Peter Russell-Clarke get epic views of San Francisco from their 1,800-square-foot house overlooking the Mission District. At night, opening the entire top floor is a breeze.
The the Lookout House, designed by Room 11 Architects, commands jaw-dropping views of rugged Tasman Island and the peaceful Southern Ocean beyond. “The clients were interested in consolidating the considerable potential of the site, specifically its spectacular scenery,” architect Nathan Crump says. The firm achieved this by installing floor-to-ceiling windows across the entire eastern length of the dwelling, offering a dreamy panorama of the Australian coast.
This retreat in Sonoma County, completed by architects Leslie and Julie Dowling, is comprised of two linked 1,000-square-foot wings. The volumes echo architect Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, though it avoids the 1949 structure's iconic exhibitionism. “Creating efficient space is valuable, but for us, rooms that offer visual and spatial continuity with nature are also important,” architect Julie Dowling explains.
In central Spain, a pair of architects craft a modern vacation home attuned to its pastoral setting. The top floor of the two-story, 1,614-square-foot abode barely pokes above the rocky hillside it’s built into. Sliding glass walls on two sides of the main living space open to expansive cantilevered decks showcasing the bucolic landscape.
In 1999, native Seattleite Denise Draper fell in love with the location of a prime end slip in a marina on Seattle’s Portage Bay. It took her ten years before she could renovate, but with the help of architect Ryan Mankoski of Ninebark Design Build, interior designer Kim Mankoski, and local builder Dyna Contracting, Draper ended up with a 1,000-square-foot seaside home that’s tuned in to its surroundings and wears its strong sustainable ethos on its walls.