Lots of things can make us reach the conclusion that a house is cool. There are lots of cool houses all over the world and they use all sorts of ingenious strategies to stand out from their neighbors. Things like a suspended pool, a mirrored facade or an unusual layout can add character to a house.
Similarly, a house that’s built underground, on a steep cliff, in a tree or on a boat would also be considered quite cool by today’s standards. Because we enjoy such out-of-the-box designs, we decided to share some of these cool houses with you, each time highlighting the element that makes the design stand out.
A cool geometry
This beautiful house was designed by Magaldi Studio and is part of the exclusive gated community of Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. It has a modern design and it’s built out of concrete and wood, two very different and contrasting materials which bring out the beauty and uniqueness in one another. The design was adapted to the local climate conditions as well as the characteristics of the site.
The building follows the curved shape of the site around one of the corners and also features an expansive array of wood screen panels on the upper cantilevered sections. These panels let the breeze in and filter the light, offering a subtle connection to the outdoors without exposing the interior. It was important for the house to allow natural air current to circulate in order to keep the need for air conditioning to a minimum and this design helps to do so while also looking amazing.
The idea behind this project was to observe and find inspiration in the different cultural aspects from Japan and Mexico and to combine different techniques and materials that are defining for each of them. The end result was this beautiful house located in Atlangatepec, Mexico and designed by Fausto Terán. It was built using a combination of concrete and local pine wood.
What’s special is the Japanese technique known as Shou-Sugi-Ban used for treating the wood and giving it a burnt look. This makes it more resilient and also offers it a beautiful dark color which helps the house to better blend into landscape. This place was also envisioned as a very relaxing and zen retreat in harmony with nature and the space around it.
Sculptural on a large scale
The Boundary Bay Residence is a large and luxuruious family residence located in Delta, Canada. It was recently redesigned by Frits de Vries Architects and it looks outstanding. Originally this was built back in 1990 and has a classic and balanced structure and design with modern influences. The remodel project done in 2018 aimed to respect the past and the beautiful geometry and architecture of the building and to enhance its street presence while at the same time reorganizing the interior in order to strengthen the relationship between the indoor and the outdoor.
The remodel also aimed to change the whole entry sequence which originally had a rather impractical and confusing structure where guests would have to go through the garage to reach the front door. The new entrance opens directly onto the street and features an eye-catching skylight. The whole house as a whole also looks very refreshed and has a clean, airy and breezy feel.
A spectacular backdrop
The first thing one notices when approaching this gorgeous holiday retreat from Cape Town is the absolutely spectacular landscape, in particular the mountains that form a shield behind it. This luxurious place was designed by Renato Graca and has a very clean and contemporary aesthetic with lots of straight lines and a fresh and simple geometry overall. It is at the same time an interesting and intricate building.
This place is situated on a site with a steep slope which posed a series of unique challenged when designing and building the whole structure. The strategy was to partially build the house into the mountain and thus to strengthen its connection to nature and the surrounding landscape. Large windows and full-height glazing reveal magnificent views of the Ocean which truly turns this into a perfect summer retreat.
Isolated and cozy
This lovely pavilion is something that architect Carlos Castanheira designed and built in Portugal. The idea behind the project was to create a structure that’s isolated so the owners can enjoy their passions and love for music without restrictions. It was meant to be a place where they could read, relax, listen to music and enjoy their hobbies without being bothered or bothering anyone.
The design as you can see is simple and modest. This is not meant to be an impressive structure or one that stands out. Instead it aims to be different in a simple and organic way. It enjoys a close ralationship with the surroundings and has a warm and inviting interior with natural wooden floors and ceilings and a friendly and open layout.
Cantilevered swimming pool
The swimming pool is the focal point of this residence’s design and that’s because, unlike traditional swimming pools, this one is suspended on a platform and cantilevers over the garden. The house is located in Madrid, Spain and was designed by Ensamble Studio in 2008.
By raising the pool this way, the architects freed up the ground, ensuring an airy and spacious feel both inside and outside the house. At the same time, this design strategy also gives the residence a dramatic and eye-catching look. It took the architects a whole year to engineer the project but thanks to a prefabricated design, the structure was built in only a week.
This is the Jellyfish House, a beautiful home located on the coast of Spain in Marbella. It was designed by WAA (Wiel Arets Architects) and its most impressive feature is the swimming pool which occupies a portion of the rooftop terrace which cantilevers over the entrance.
The residence offers panoramic views of the ocean and the surroundings which can be enjoyed from the top floor, being especially amazing from the pool. The glass pool floor allows the light to filter through the water and to then create a beautiful play of light and shadow below.
The pool’s glass bottom becomes a unique ceiling for the outdoor space situated directly below, revealing a beautiful blue tone. The house has a total of four floors connected by two staircases. One of the staircases is enclosed in glass and connects the outdoor area to the roof terrace. The second staircases links the ground floor to the roof and also have an open design despite being situated indoors.
Located in Tehran, Iran, this is a residence with a very memorable design. It was named Sharifi-ha House and was designed by Nextoffice – Alireza Taghaboni. It offers 1,400 square meters of living space organized on four levels. The entire project is characterized by great flexibility materialized in a very interesting and unusual configuration.
The top three levels are organized within a series of turning boxes that either allow the spaces to become open or closed, depending on the needs and preferences of those using the volumes. The configuration changes with the seasons and the type of activities and the flexibility of the layout is one of the key elements that define the project.
This design strategy transformed the two dimensional facade into a 3D one, giving it depth all while including clear references to traditional Iranian houses. The residence has Zemestan-Neshin which is a winter living room as well as a Taabestan-Neshin which is a summer living room.
Swings are fun for both children and adults so adding one to the design of a house shouldn’t come as an unexpected and unusual feature. Still, not many houses have swings. This makes the Balancing Barn a special home. Designed by MVRDV, the house is located in Suffolk, UK and offers 210 square meters of living space.
The design and architecture of the residence come as a response to the conditions and the views on the site. Meant to serve as a holiday home, the structure was designed to resemble a traditional barn in order to integrate into the surroundings. In addition to those characteristics, modern elements were also included in the project.
At first sight, the barn looks quite modest. It isn’t until the back of the building and the cantilever are revealed that the structure fully shows its character. The barn is a 30 meter long building with a 15 meter cantilever over the slope. At the end, a swing hangs from the cantilever, filling the empty space beneath.
A cliff-like roof
When the site is difficult and challenging, the best strategy is often to embrace the elements that make it unique and make the most of everything. When faced with the challenge of working with this site in Granada, Spain, Gilbartolome Architects chose to use it to its full potential. As a result, Casa del Acantilado was embedded deep into the cliff.
The residence overlooks the Mediterranean sea and was designed to be perfectly integrated into the landscape. The roof is the most eye-catching portion of its design. it’s made of handmade zinc tiles which are intricately organized to form a wavy design that mimics the surroundings. The roof follows the shape of the cliff and molds to it, giving the house an abstract look.
Hanging on a cliff
Perched above the ocean in Victoria, Australia, this house is truly unique. That’s because it sits suspended on a steep cliff, like a barnacle clinging to the side of a ship. The house was designed in direct relation to the sea, the main goal of the project being to fully expose it to the views and to capture them in a unique and dramatic way.
The house was designed by Modscape and was envisioned as a natural extension of the cliff on which is suspended. It’s a prefab home and the entrance is situated on the uppermost level, accessible via a carport. Because the main goal was to take advantage of the views, the house has three glass facades.
The interior is designed to be minimal as not to overwhelm the rooms and to steal the focus from the views of the ocean. Light colors and simple forms were used throughout and the spaces were kept open and bright, making it an exquisite holiday home unlike any other.
The concept of underground homes is not exactly new and unheard of. It is, however, a bit unusual. This makes this home in Switzerland quite special. It’s called Villa Vals and was designed and built by SeARCH and CMA into the slope. Only one of the facades is open to the exterior. It has an oval shape and there’s a series of step stones that lead up to the entrance.
At the front of the house there’s a sheltered deck perfect for enjoying some time outdoors without being completely exposed to the elements but still managing to admire the views. The interior is welcoming and cozy, designed to look modest and somewhere between modern and traditional. The colors are simple, neutral and inspired by nature and the surroundings.
Transparent swimming pool
The Cool Blue Villa even has the word “cool” in its name. It was designed by 123DV in Marbella, Spain in 2015 and covers an area of 620 square meters. This is a house that has a strong connection with water, being surrounded by it in various forms. Not that far from the house is the ocean that provides some wonderful views. In addition to that, a stream of water runs along the property.
But the most interesting element is the swimming pool which is transparent and has an almost square shape. Even though the design is minimalist, the pool inevitably looks dramatic, luxurious and even extravagant. Transparency actually makes it stand out in this case.
Slides are really fun in a way similar to swings. They are, however, a bit more difficult to integrate into a house or apartment due to the dimensions. This apartment in Sharkov, Ukraine has one and it looks amazing. The apartment was a project by KI Design and has a lot more to offer besides the indoor slide.
The slide connects the main level and the loft space, providing a fun and quick way to navigate between the two levels. A wooden staircase provides a more traditional connection between the spaces. In addition to the slide, there’s also a beautiful green wall that adorns the apartment, becoming a focal point.
The interior design is simple throughout, having a clearly modest vibe offered by the geometric forms and clean lines. The palette of colors and materials is fresh and pleasant. Wood was used for the furniture, giving warmth to the rooms and contrasting with the black and white combo and the turquoise and green accents.
Try for a moment to expand your view on tree houses and to imagine something a bit more select, more complex and more sophisticated, something like this. This is the Suite Blue, a modern tree house located in Arlena di Castro, Italy. It’s a part of La Plantata Hotel and it was designed by La Cabane Perchee, a company that specializes in custom and luxurious tree house designs all over the world.
The tree house was built in the workshop and then assembled on site. A lot of attention was given to small details and elements such as the dimensions and form of the tree, the distribution of the branches, the conditions on the site and so on. This helped the designers adapt the structure to its location and allow it to make the most of everything around it.
Another amazing tree house can be seen at World of Living, an amusement park for sustainable housing company WeberHaus. It was designed by Baumraum and its design is quite unusual because it doesn’t really need a tree to support it. The house resembles a cylindrical capsule perched atop thin legs that make it look like a giant spider.
While the shape and exterior definitely make the house stand out, the interior is not any less interesting either. The walls are made of oak wood and the vaulted ceiling creates a very cozy and comfortable ambiance. Wallpaper decorated with giant oak leaves adds color and highlights the organic theme featured throughout. In addition, two skylights let in natural light and offer views of the sky.
Transparent tubular construction
Living in this tubular glass house is a bit like living in a terrarium. The house was designed by Aibek Almassov of A.Masov Architects and the concept shows it around a mature fir tree. It’s an interesting interpretation of the tree house concept which is why the project was suggestively named Tree in a House.
The house was envisioned as a giant cylindrical structure made of glass. It has a completely glazed exterior and this allows it to offer 360 degree views of its surroundings. Imagine this house in the middle of a forest, surrounded by tall trees that offer it shade and being completely immersed in nature.
The architect is confident in the possibility of actually building the house, believing that the most difficult part of the process would be to find the right investors. The idea behind the concept is to offer people an alternative to their busy city lives and the traditional holiday homes, offering an escape in the middle of nature and a way to embrace it.
It’s easy to see why this was called the Tree Snake House. it’s a structure designed by Luis and Tiago Rebelo de Andrade and it was built in Bornes de Aguiar, Portugal, occupying an area of only 27 square meters. The concept behind the project was finding a way to recreate the fantasy and mystery associated with tree houses.
As a result, the architects came up with an unusual concept. The house resembles a giant tree gliding between the trees, being suspended on columns and as such having minimal impact on the environment. The house establishes a strong connection with the surroundings and with nature in general.
A lot of wood and native raw materials were used in the process, allowing the house to look natural and to integrate into its surroundings in an organic way. The project as a whole was a sustainable and Eco-friendly creation, featuring reinforced insulation, reusable water, solar panels and LED lighting.
Somewhere in the Tyrol region of Northern Italy there’s this amazing set of two vacation houses that have mirrored glass facades. They reflect the stunning views of the mountains and the surroundings, allowing both houses to perfectly blend in and to become a part of the site.
The two houses were designed by Peter Pichler and they can be rented for a wonderful experience. They are clad in black aluminum and are meant to be simple and visually stunning by becoming one with the landscape.
Each of the two houses has its own separate balconies and gardens and operable skylights in the bedrooms and bathrooms. Being designed with recessed foundations, they appear to be floating above the land, especially given the mirrored look. They can be rented separately and they are both autonomous from each other even though they form a matching set.
Usually, a house is designed to respond to the conditions on the site. Architects try to optimize them so they can capture the amazing views or follow the natural slope of the land. In some cases, that means building a terraced home. It’s the case of the A’Tolas House located in Taiwan. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has three terraced levels that allow it to take in all the beauty.
This design was chosen in response to the steep site. The rocks that were excavated in order to obtain the flat levels were saved and reused in the project. The top level contains the driveway while the main living spaces are situated on the second floor and the pool is found on the third floor. The name of the house comes from the language indigenous to the location and roughly translates as “the place with many rocks”.
This set of three tea houses was built in Silicon Valley, California by Swatt | Miers Architects in 2009, after the idea had initially been to occupy the site with a tree house. They are all designed to look like simple pavilions made of steel and glass, anchored with concrete and featuring a minimal footprint as not to disturb the land and the root system of the large oaks present on the site.
They don’t all have the same dimensions. One of the tea houses measures 270 square feet and is a place for meditation and contemplation, being placed under the large canopy of an old oak tree. The sleeping tea house is a bit larger than that, measuring 372 square feet and being designed to accommodate guests that wish to stay here overnight.
The largest of all the visioning tea house which measures 492 square feet. This is where all gatherings and social events take place, being a place where everyone is welcomed. There are no TVs, audio systems or phones in either of the three tea houses, encouraging human interaction and contemplation of nature and the surroundings.
Thailand is home to a wonderful house designed by Agaligo Studio. It’s a 110 square meter home completed in 2015 and it’s one of the many floating houses found in the area. It is, however, the only one with such a complex and sophisticated design. The house is called X-Float and represents an addition to the Project X2 River Kwai Resort.
Because the structure was added later on when the resort was already being visited by lots of guests, the house was built off site and towed to the location to be installed and completed in order to minimize disturbances. The architects were especially concerned with the balance of load, air and water, wishing to offer guests an experience free of motion sickness and everything related.
The house was build with lightweight steel framing and fiber cement and plywood cladding. Another concern was to minimize the impact the house has on the site and the surroundings. After being installed, aquatic plants were replaced around the site.
The idea of repurposing shipping containers into houses is not exactly new, although it has become increasingly popular lately. Containerlove is one such example. The house is located in Eifel, Germany and was designed by LHVH Architekten. It has a rather rough and raw look, with jagged lines and pointed corners, the style being a combination of industrial, rustic and modern.
While container structures are usually only temporary homes, that’s not the case here. This is a permanent home with a surprisingly generous interior space. The house was only assembled on site, most of the work being done off-site. This reduced the building time and the impact on the site considerably.
Water tower conversions
How cool would it be to live in a water tower? Obviously, that depends on a variety of factors so we’ll focus on a very specific example. The Lymm Water House is located North-West England and serves as stylish contemporary home. Originally, it was a 130 years old grade II listed water tower and it was transformed into a welcoming home by Elis Williams Architects.
A double-height glass extension was built in order to maximize interior space and to offer a suitable space for a modern lifestyle. The contrast between the newly-added extension and the original tower is dramatic and is also part of the unique charm of this unusual and very cool house. Part of the transformation was also the rearrangement of certain spaces in order to make the interior more functional.
A lot of homes used to be something else. Some were warehouses, water towers and even churches before they were converted. If you think living in a former church is a bit creepy and awkward, it’s time to leave behind this false beliefs and to have a look at this exquisite home found in London, England.
It used to be a church but it became a cozy and inviting home with a contemporary interior and a traditional exterior. The two styles are blended really well. Some of the original design and architectural elements were preserved as a testimony of the building’s past. The painted windows, for example, are definitely interesting and full of charm.