Transparency meets sustainability at the Glass Villa on the Lake. Although its form is just a simple cube, the home is wrapped in a glazed facade. This material choice creates a strong connection between the interior and the landscape by blurring all the boundaries and providing uninterrupted views. Nestled on a wooded shore, the surrounding trees create a veil of privacy for residents. What little isn’t made of glass is clad in charred timber. Internally, an open floor plan reduces the need for partitions that could potentially obstruct views. A minimalist palette allows the scenery to shine while corner windows give the illusion of floating on the water’s surface. Taking advantage of green technologies like a thermal heat pump and solar panels, the house consumes very little energy.
Outside of Austin, a former chimpanzee farm has undergone an 8-year transformation to become the Happy Trails Ranch. At the heart of the 150-acre compound is the main house. The structure has been updated with a solid teak kitchen with soapstone surfaces. Shiplap walls and wood plank ceilings are held up by steel i-beams complete the internal palette. Just off the kitchen is a wet bar tucked below an alternating step stairway. The room’s wine and whiskey is concealed by an old bank door taken from a Jesse James robbed-building. Overlooking the living area is a library. The cantilevered nook offers a cozy getaway adjacent to a neon cowboy. Also on the property is a 200-year-old reclaimed White Oak barn. The structure originally resided in upstate New York and was carefully disassembled and given new life as a studio on the site. Its rustic presence is contrasted by a sleek, black metal yoga studio. Its sliding doors open out to a serene setting formed by a reflection pool and meditation pond. The rest of the grounds are occupied by a clay tennis court, a sculptural koi fish pond, and a swimming pool.
Perched on a mountainside along the Appalachian Trail, the Lost Whiskey Concrete Cabin turns cantilevering into a fine art. The 160-square-foot off-grid dwelling is made entirely from pre-cast concrete panels. Its minimalist shell marries with reclaimed wood and steel to create an aesthetic that is equal parts rustic and modern. The interior offers just a single room with a murphy bed and sitting area arranged around a wood burning stove as well as a shower and composite toilet. Large glazed panels create the illusion of space by offering extensive views of the landscape while glass doors open to the deck. Extending off the terrain, the outdoor area features a fire pit, a Dutch hot tub, and a hammock overlooking the vast Virginia wilderness.
Overlooking a lake in the Scottish Highlands, the Lochside House was constructed with great respect to its setting. The off-grid dwelling is made from prefabricated panels for minimal impact on the natural environment. The structure also minimizes its energy use with solar panels and its own water supply, sewage treatment, and electrical systems. Made up of three gabled volumes clad in a palette of stone and larch, it pays homage to the peninsula’s vernacular architecture while complementing the pristine setting. Internally, oiled timber and white walls create a soft, airy atmosphere, allowing the surrounding mountains and forest to take the focus.
While we seem to be getting closer and closer to a life on Mars, one studio imagines our future dwellings on the Red Planet. The Open x Xiaomi Mars Case House is a compact, net-zero living pod. Assuming we’ll only be able to take the essentials, all of the service components will be inflatable allowing the entire 2.4-square-meter module to be folded for easy transportation. Resources will likely be minimal making recycling heat, energy, and water crucial. Each module will be fitted with an integrated ecosystem that will self-circulate, reusing everything from exhaust to condensation. The project is a collaboration between Open Architecture and electronics company Xiaomi in an effort to combine design and technology in a way that will accommodate the future lifestyles.
Built into a hillside in Alentejo, Portugal, the Cercal House is a modern addition to the rolling terrain. The dwelling takes the form of a traditional gabled structure while a sleek white facade and clean lines create a contemporary context. Its minimalist aesthetic continues on the interior where the presence of natural light creates a bright, airy atmosphere. The main living area occupies the center of the home. Fitted with a pair of sliding doors, the entire wall opens, removing all boundaries between the interior and the landscape and expanding the room out to a poolside terrace.
Surrounded by the best South African landscapes, the Kloof 119A House’s masterful use of glazing ensures no view goes unseen. The most prominent feature is its inverted pyramid roof. Fitted with a clerestory window, the ceiling displays Table Mountain and Lion’s Head for the main living areas on the uppermost level. Additional panels of floor-to-ceiling glass frame in scenery that includes Signal Hill and the mountains of the Boland. While there’s no shortage of views from the interior, the most dramatic panorama comes from the poolside terrace that looks over the city of Cape Town and to the Winelands beyond.
Situated on a hillside overlooking the Aegean Sea, the Parallel House uses a linear layout to take advantage of its Cycladic setting. The single level home is partially embedded into the terrain while the waterfront end opens to the sweeping vistas. Its rectilinear form houses a series of rooms that run in a lateral chain, linking indoor and outdoor spaces. Internally, the board-formed concrete facade is left exposed on the inside, complemented by polished concrete floors and warm wood cabinetry. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glazing affords coastal views to the entire interior.
For architect Ray Dinh, the First Lessons House is just that. The home is his debut project after going solo and is a practice in mastering the basics. Part of that was creating a design that responds to its landscape along with the owner’s needs which included an abundance of exterior space to take advantage of views of Australias’s Portsea lagoon and wildlife reserve. The result is a charred blackbutt, concrete, and corrugated iron structure with seamless indoor/outdoor living. Large sliding glass doors aid in this transition, allowing for unobstructed views of the garden when closed and direct access to the central terrace when open. Acting as more of an extension of the interior rather than a separate space, the deck features its own dining table and BBQ for summer dinners and a sitting area organized around the double-sided fireplace.
Many structures draw inspiration from the landscape but the True North House takes a unique approach. Due to the fact that the home is surrounded by manmade scenery created by the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in Canada, it instead mimics the horizon by aligning its linear layout with the north cardinal axis. Its sleek shell is constructed from board-form concrete and blackened steel. Internally, white walls and polished concrete floors carry on the exterior’s simplicity. Expansive glazed panels wash the interior with natural light while also opening the interior to views of the surroundings. When the warmer months roll around, a series of courtyards offer an exterior escape from the area’s harsh winds.