8 houses built in ‘impossible,’ steep places

Written by Agata Toromanoff

Agata Toromanoff is definitely an art and design historian and mcdougal of a few books on interior design and architecture. The following is definitely an edited excerpt of her new book “Edgy Architecture: Living in the Most Impossible Places,” published by Lannoo.
Architecture can flirt with nature in expressive yet subtle ways. The idea in architecture is frequently to harmonize, not take control, the landscapes. This can prove challenging, however, when faced with steep slopes, cliff faces and mountainsides.

Some of today’s most interesting architects are out to prove the discipline can be edgy — quite literally.

Here are eight examples of houses that over come difficult surroundings to offer extraordinary an experience for owners and onlookers alike:

Cliff House
Nova Scotia, Canada

Greg Richardson / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Cliff House, on the Atlantic coast in Nova Scotia, is an inventive and playful intervention in the landscape.

From hill height, the home looks definitely normal. But from the coast, you can observe it’s actually perched on a cliff, that your architects say is supposed “to heighten one’s experience of the landscape through a sense of vertigo and a sense of floating on the sea.”

The galvanized steel superstructure provides solid support and is fixed to the cliff, while wooden elements introduce cosiness inside and out.

The cube isn’t divided into levels, so the large living space fills the entire area. Only a little part of it really is transformed in to sleeping quarters.

Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

Florian Busch Architects

The architects behind this remarkable holiday house in Japan’s 2nd largest island, Hokkaido, created an L-shaped structure to get in touch the house with the hill.

Two cubes stand together with each other, giving the dynamic impression that the whole structure might slip down the slope. The entrance to the house and the private spaces are situated in the reduced cube while, inside, a staircase results in the living areas and kitchen on the upper levels

The solid structure is made from reinforced concrete, which can be left raw inside the house to produce a visually stark juxtaposition with the large windows and glazed openings.

House on the Cliff
Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Diego Opazo / Fran Silvestre Arquitectos

Geometric, linear purity is characteristic of the project, House on the Cliff, in the Alicante region of Spain.

The house is embedded in a very steep slope. This unusual and highly difficult plot of land inspired an imaginative, three-dimensional shape, which invites a startling visual dialogue with its environments.

Nestled in the rocks, the house generally is suspended within the contour of the hill. Made of concrete, it really is insulated from the outside but in addition covered by white lime stucco, selected by the architects for its flexibility and smoothness.

The fully glazed front provides a fantastic view of the water, and the infinity children’s pool and expansive terrace on a lawn level appear to extend the home into the sea.

Qiyunshan Tree House
Xiuning, China

Chen Hao / Bengo Studio

Qiyunshan Tree House it is not a home built on a tree, but one standing 11 meters tall in a red cedar forest in China’s eastern Anhui province.

A narrow, curving entrance hall echoes the curves of the street nearby. Inside, the individual components of this complex shape are situated on different levels and face various directions.

A central spiral staircase results in minimalistic rooms with wall-to-wall windows, which serve as frames for the striking views. The living area and bedrooms are intentionally small, since the architects desired to create observation spots, instead of an expansive family home.

Natural materials are acclimatized to finish the building, including red cedar wood, for aesthetic along with practical reasons.

Villa Escarpa
Luz, Algarve, Portugal

Fernando Guerra / Mario Martins

The dreamy landscape of Portugal’s Algarve region lends it self to eccentric architecture.

Villa Escarpa is just a white geometric giant balancing over a steep escarpment overlooking the village of Praia da Luz. Due to strict rules regarding construction with this coastline, the structure couldn’t exceed the footprint adopted by the last house. But architect Mario Martins found a spectacular solution to make the most effective of a comparatively small plot.

The idea was to produce the effect of a house floating above the landscape. This is contributed to the inclusion of a roof terrace, which adds lightness. The structure isn’t only attractive, but durable — crucial given the prevailing winds in the area.

Slice and Fold House
Los Angeles, California, United States

Eric Staudenmaier / Urban Operations

Slice and Fold House, in Los Angeles, resembles a vigilantly folded bit of origami. The building includes a stunning play between sharp-angled lines and openings of varied sizes, which allow day light fill every room.

The house’s facade is made up of different shapes and volumes, the largest of which — the roof deck with stunning panoramas of the San Gabriel Mountains — was inspired by Le Corbusier’s modernist villas.

Large parts of your house are sunk deep in to the terrain, which had to be deeply excavated to affix the colossal structure to the steep slope.

La Binocle
Eastern Townships Quebec, Canada

Adrien Williams / naturehumaine

Located atop a mountain in Quebec, Canada, this home’s gigantic front-facing windows provide panoramic views of the surrounding wooded area. The larger of the two structures hosts the living area, while the smaller has two bedrooms.

The home’s design is partly dictated by the inclusion of overhanging roofs that slope downwards, limiting the total amount of sunlight throughout the warmer summer season.

Perched on a hill, the structure’s foundations are anchored to the ground and the building is clad with burnt wood to help expand blend in to the surroundings.

“While enhancing the landscape, the project above all considers the cabin as a minimal and contemplative space, inviting tranquility,” writes Naturehumaine, the Montreal-based architecture and design firm behind the home.

Casa Del Acantilado
Salobreña, Granada, Spain

Jesus Granada / Gilbartolomé

Built on the coast of Spanish Granada, Casa Del Acantilado, or “Cliff House,” is just a tribute to the architect Antoni Gaudí. The challenging angle of the incline (roughly 42 degrees) seemingly have inspired instead of limited the creativity of the architecture firm behind the design, Gilbartolomé.

The house is not only buried in the hill, but in addition hidden under a fanciful roof. When seen from above, its curvaceous shape and textured surface resemble the skin of a dragon or the waves of the sea.

Casa Del Acantilado is set across two floors — one dedicated to an open-space living area and another featuring more intimate spaces.

Edgy Architecture: Living in the Most Impossible Places,” published by Lannoo, is out now.

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