Image: Cameron Neilson
Image: Cameron Neilson
Architecture is definitely at its most awesome when it works within Mother Nature’s own grand designs; after all, there are no more stunning backdrops to be found than mountains, hills and lakes. And designers have harnessed this fact in coming up with various incredible dwellings that have been integrated into some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural locations. Here are 20 such astonishing homes, which perfectly demonstrate how we can all live in balance with nature without destroying it.
Image: via Daily Telegraph
20. Steppingstone – Helsby Hill, Cheshire, U.K.
Cave dwellings have certainly come a long way since the days of The Flintstones, and here’s one that even has its own helipad. This luxury home – aptly named Steppingstone – has been constructed in a sandstone cavern in Cheshire, England. The surrounding system of caves also acts as a nifty temperature regulator inside the unusual house.
19. Fallingwater – Bear Run Nature Reserve, Mill Run, Pennsylvania
The astonishing Japanese-inspired Fallingwater sits at the top of a 30-foot waterfall in Mill Run, Pennsylvania’s Bear Run Nature Reserve. It was conceived in 1935 by prolific American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, originally for Pittsburgh businessman Edgar Kaufmann Sr. and his family. The ingenious designer even assimilated a natural spring into the creation, letting it trickle into the interior and running it back outside.
18. Lakeside Retreat – Adirondack Mountains, New York
In a forested enclave among the Adirondack Mountains, this semi-subterranean lake house sits brilliantly disguised under a grassy rooftop at the water’s edge. The undulating layout of the main home and accompanying recreation area is flawlessly woven into the terrain, and that camouflaged roof has the additional benefit of keeping heat in during winter and providing a touch of cool in the summer months. New York’s GLUCK+ was responsible for the design of the home, which was completed in 2010.
Image: Paul Bardagjy
17. Edgeland House – Austin, Texas
A traditional Native American pit-house served as the inspiration for the ingeniously crafted Edgeland House in Austin, Texas. International architecture and construction firm Bercy Chen Studio conceived the sustainable home in 2012 for a science-fiction writer. What’s more, the designers used the surrounding earth as a natural thermostat to keep the dwelling at a comfortable temperature throughout the seasons.
Image: Simon Dale
16. The Hobbit House – Pembrokeshire, U.K.
In what has to be one of the most ambitious DIY projects ever, Simon Dale spent four months burrowing into a Welsh hillside and shelled out more than $4,600 to construct this eco-friendly family home. After creating the timber structure, Dale insulated it with straw, enclosed it in plastic sheeting and camouflaged it under a blanket of earth to make a truly unique dwelling fit for any Hobbit or human.
The striking Fincube is the brainchild of German designer Werner Aisslinger and hotelier Josef Innerhofer. The minimalist, Alpine timber-and-glass structure can be installed anywhere in Europe, where both the design and the construction processes are intended to cause as little disruption to the natural landscape as possible.
Image: Cameron Neilson
14. Wilkinson Residence – Portland, Oregon
Portland architect Robert Oschatz first envisioned this secluded hideaway in 1997, and the residence became a reality in 2004 when it was completed on a leafy incline in the Oregon city. The home’s soft, organic shape and natural timber finish perfectly complement the peaceful woodland setting, while the living area’s huge glass wall allows for an awesome treetop view.
Image: via Home Dsgn
13. Private Residence – Kelowna, Canada
With this design for a private client, Abbotsford-based architect David Tyrell seamlessly created 10,000 square feet of contemporary luxury integrated into a breathtakingly beautiful setting on the edge of Okanagan Lake near Kelowna, Canada. The home was completed in 2011, having taken two years to build – during which time an arborist had to be consulted to ensure that no lasting damage was done to the surrounding woodland.
Image: 45g Photography/Junji Kojima
12. Yatsugatake Mountainside House – Nagano Prefecture, Japan
This daring design by the Japanese Kidosaki Architects Studio is ensconced neatly at the bottom of the Yatsugatake Mountains in the country’s Nagano Prefecture. The uppermost floor of the home hangs precipitously over a pitched ridge, supported solely by two pillars each just under 12 inches thick; and those peering through the transparent walls from within can catch a glimpse of that vertiginous drop below.
11. The Tower House – Catskill Mountains, New York
This residential mini-skyscraper in the Catskill Mountains was created for the principal architect of New York firm GLUCK+, Thomas Gluck, and his loved ones, so it’s probably no surprise that it contains plenty of design quirks. Among these idiosyncrasies are bedrooms that have been carefully positioned in order to allow mountain breezes to circulate and a staircase that also serves as a thermal chimney, while the home’s glass facade acts as a mirror to the magnificent nearby foliage.
Image: P+0 Arquitectura
10. Casa Narigua – El Jonuco, Monterrey, Mexico
A room with a view is guaranteed at Casa Narigua, a house that lies cantilevered over a valley in the neighborhood of El Jonuco near Monterrey, Mexico. Natural light floods into the X-shaped layout inside, while the concrete exterior has been painted in earthy tones to blend in with the natural terrain. It’s all the impressive work of Monterrey-based firm P+0 Arquitectura.
Image: David Bryan
9. Abalone House – Big Sur, California
The bijou Abalone House sits on the Californian coastline at Big Sur and is cleverly camouflaged from above by its vibrant rooftop garden. Carmel-based architect Thomas Cowen even gave the design of the 2008-completed dwelling a neat funneled opening so that those inside can breathe in plenty of fresh seaside air.
Image: Jim Urquhart
8. Rockland Ranch – Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
In the late 1970s a mammoth sandstone rock in Canyonlands National Park was blown apart to create a new home for Utah’s polygamous community. The uniquely conceived living quarters were subsequently equipped with every modern amenity and have since become home to an estimated 100 devout Mormons.
Image: Michael Nicholson
7. Invisible House – Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
Given its clean lines and minimalist form, it’s perhaps no surprise that this sleek home in Australia’s Blue Mountains has been dubbed the “Invisible House.” Emma Neville and John Bohane from Newport’s Peter Stuchbury Architecture designed the outback retreat to be both protected from and open to the surrounding bushland. Meanwhile, the elongated concrete roof on the 2012-completed house at once shades the building from the strong Australian sun and harvests any falling rainwater.
Image: Molos Group
6. Earth House Project – Tirana, Albania
In rural Tirana, Albania, the Pristina, Kosovo-based architectural firm Molos Group designed a contemporary family home that is touched by nature from all quarters. What has appropriately been named the “Earth House Project” is built into a gently sloping hillside, with the visible grassy mound providing the unlikely abode with some very unique walls.
Image: Iwan Baan
5. Villa Vals – Vals, Switzerland
This Swiss vacation home is concealed within an Alpine incline close to the sleepy town of Vals and is intriguingly accessible via a 72-foot-long tunnel. It’s the product of a four-year team-up between the Amsterdam-based SeARCH and Rotterdam and Zürich’s Christian Müller Architects – who had to be careful not to obstruct any panoramas from the close-by Therme Vals spa – and was completed in 2009.
4. Spa House – Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Water featured heavily in Metropolis’ design for the luxurious Spa House in South Africa’s Hout Bay, a suburb of Cape Town. Indeed, the 2010-finished creation that emerged from the local architects’ blueprint is elevated above a large pool of water, and the stunning home also boasts sea-facing bedrooms and a submerged spa that enjoys underwater views of the pool.
Image: TsAo & McKown
3. Sagaponac House – Wainscott, New York
Brooklyn, New York-based architects TsAO & McKown developed the stunning, multi-level Sagaponac House out of what was virtually a flat piece of land. However, following some clever landscaping, the 2007-completed property was imbedded in an artificial hill. As a result, superb rural views can be enjoyed from the Wainscott-located house’s upper story, while privacy is still afforded in the rooms below ground.
Image: Aéro-club Hispano-Suiza
2. Castel Meur – Plougrescant, France
Castel Meur lies between a rock and, well, another rock outside the French village of Plougrescant. Constructed on the weather-beaten coastline in 1861, the family home was deliberately sandwiched between two humungous hunks of granite in order to protect it from the elements.
Image: Prudential Real Estate
1. Dune House – Atlantic Beach, Florida
When Hurricane Dora swept across Florida in 1964, she dumped this sandy hillock on the backyard of architect William Morgan, who saw its creative potential. So it was that in 1975 Morgan cleverly extended his property portfolio by building into the dune to create a stunning seafront duplex – set so that it would not obstruct the view from his neighboring home and intended to be used as a vacation dwelling.