Everyone has secrets and that doesn’t even apply to people only. Have you ever seen or heard of a house with a secret room or a hidden passage beneath it? How about an entire house that’s so well hidden you could pass by and never even notice it or a house that’s disguised as something completely different? These may sound like stories or cute mysteries to you but they actually exist and burglars hate them. To find out why, have a closer look at the following designs.
A house that sticks to a cliff like a barnacle sticks to a boat
This house is pretty famous around the world and it’s all because of its unusual location. While the vast majority of homes sit on land and have trees and gardens growing around them, this house is attached to the side of a steep cliff and has only the ocean and those gorgeous panoramas around it. This is definitely not a house anyone would pick as a target when planning a robbery. Although it may hold some stylish treasures inside, getting to them is a real challenge.
The house was designed by modscape and, as you can imagine, building it wasn’t easy. The whole structure clings to the side of the cliff like a barnacle clings to a ship and since there’s no solid ground beneath it we don’t recommend this design to anyone with a fear of heights or open space. For those that enjoy adventure and unique sensations as much as the owners of this property do, such a house could be the very definition of a dream home. The access point is above, through a carport at the uppermost level of the house. An elevator connects all the floors from there.
Casa Brutale – a house inside a cliff
Hanging above the ocean from the side of a cliff is probably the most terrifying thing we can think of for a house although being inside the cliff itself is not that different either. This started out as a bold and daring concept design, as fantastic as it was impressive. It quickly became popular and famous on the internet and thanks to all the exposure it became possible to develop a plan to actually build this amazing structure. From there on, OPA took the lead.
The project was named Casa Brutale, a tribute to brutalist architecture. The initial concept didn’t place the house in a specific location although it made it clear that a steep cliff was required to make this design come true. Initially, a site in Greece was considered but then OPA and their client decided on an area on the edge of a mountain in Lebanon at an altitude of over 1600 meters.
The project is impressive for several reasons. Obviously, the fact that the house is embedded into the cliff is extraordinary but so is the amazing view it offers. Only the top and a side are exposed to the landscape and the views, everything else being closely framed by the cliff. This provides natural insulation and protection. Since there’s only one access point into the house, security is not exactly an issue.
A house precariously cantilevered over the edge of a mountain
The mountains offer some of the most amazing views and architects are constantly searching for ways to let their clients enjoy them in the best way possible. LAAV Architects chose a rather intriguing strategy when they designed the Maralah Cliff House. They looked for inspiration in the works of Frank Lloyd-Wright and John Lautner and envisioned this house as a tribute to their names.
The structure is a unique retreat in Calgary. It cantilevers over the edge of the mountain and this allows it to offer extraordinary views and a pretty special living experience based on unique sensations. The house is built of concrete and steel and is sunken into the land. A grass roof makes it blend with the landscape even more. In fact, you can barely see it from up on the mountain. The cantilevered section houses the master bedroom and has dramatic views of the river below.
A stealth cabin that becomes one with the mountain
If you don’t look closely or from the right angle, you could easily miss this cabin. It’s a perfect example of a structure which blends with the landscape in a seamless and natural way. This illusion is the result of a combination of design strategies used by the architects. The roof and walls become one and form a gentle curve which mimics the natural surroundings. This form is created by connecting two curved steel beams covered with a layer of wood logs. The roof is covered with grass and the side wall and platform are made of local stone which further helps to make the cabin a part of the landscape. The rest of the exterior is made of wood and glass.
Although this quirky mountain cabin looks small (and is, measuring only 35 square meters on the inside) there’s actually room for 21 people in there. Pulling this off was a real challenge and the architects looks back on traditional design elements for inspiration. They gave the lodge a central fireplace and a cozy gathering space around it, bunk beds and a small but practical kitchen area. So there you have it, a beautiful week-end cabin which uses remoteness and nature’s beauty to its advantage. Be careful though, without directions you might miss it entirely.
The flower-shaped house of the future
Hiding the house into the land wasn’t necessarily a design priority in this case but that doesn’t make the design any less impressive. It’s all planned by Make architects. The house is to be built in Bolton, UK on a site measuring 920 square meters. The clients wanted more than anything that this house have as little impact as possible on its surroundings, both visually and environmentally. This request inspired the architects to think outside the box and to push the boundaries of current architecture and design strategies from a sustainable point of view.
The design proposed by the team makes the house almost flush with the land, giving it a series of openings shaped like flower petals. These connect the interior spaces to the outdoors and let natural light enter the house. The whole structure is partially buried into the ground and has a grass roof which basically lets it disappear into the landscape. When you look at it from above, it resembles a flower.
This unusual design is not the only interesting element about this project. The detail which makes the clients most happy but can’t be seen is the fact that the house is meant to generate more energy than it consumes. The energy is produced by a ground source heat pump, a series of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. Now the whole “house of the future” concept starts to make a lot of sense.
The oldest turf house in Iceland
Turf houses are Icelandic homes with designs and structures shaped by the harsh climate. They’re embedded into the land which offers them insulation and they have large foundations made of stone and frames made of wood. Commonly, the frame was wrapped in one or two layers of turf, hence the name. Only a few turf houses remain in Iceland and some of the oldest can be found at Keldur which used to be one of the manors of the Oddi clan back in the 12th and 13th century. This particular turf house may be the oldest one of its kind.
The house managed to survive for so long because it’s been restored several times over the years. Some of the other structures here have also been rebuilt several times after they’ve been damaged by earthquakes and some have been left in ruins which can be seen at Keldur. You can also visit the house and have a look at the interior design. Although the house is no longer inhabited, we can definitely find inspiration in its design and the way in which it seamlessly connects to its immediately surroundings.
A vacation rental built into the hillside
If you’re curious to know how it’s like to live in a house that’s embedded into the land and is literally a part of the landscape you can experience that in Switzerland. There’s a vacation here which can be rented and which is embedded into a hillside. All the internal spaces are underground and the only open volume is the terrace. The design was a collaborative effort from architects Bjarne Mastenbroek of SeARCH and Christian Müller of CMA. Their main goal for this project was to create a design that has minimal impact on the site and landscape.
The architects managed to integrate the building into the slope and while doing that they preserved the landscape and maximized the views of the valley. The terrace, the only section which expends outside of the slope, is built out of stone and forms a continuous curve, an arc which blurs the distinction between the building and its natural surroundings. The most unusual part about this entire design is that the entrance is through a hidden underground tunnel that starts in a nearby wooden barn so, you see, the adventure starts before even entering the house.
The modern day jungle house
Remote sites are tricky. On one hand they offer all the privacy, peace and quiet you want but on the other hand there’s no easy access to other areas. That being said, the design has to be a harmonious blend of increased security and features designed to take advantage of the location, views and remoteness. A great project to exemplify that with is the Jungle House. This is a structure located in the coastal rainforest of Sao Paulo in Brazil. It was designed and built by Studio MK27 and it has a lot of cool features like a swimming pool on the roof.
This house is positioned in a clearing and chances to find it by mistake are pretty slim. It’s the perfect hideaway, a place surrounded by peace and tranquility, away from the city, the noise, the pollution and all the stress that comes with it. The views from here are amazing and can be enjoyed not just from up on the roof where the partially submerged pool is situated but also from inside the living spaces which are positioned on the uppermost level.
A beach house that welcomed the ocean on its roof
To successfully hide a house in plain sight, an architect has to look for inspiration in nature and in the elements that surround the house. For example, a house surrounded by lush vegetation can use a green roof to establish a close relationship with the landscape. Similarly, this house on the beach of the island of Tinos in Greece blends in by featuring an infinity edge pool ad big as its roof. In addition to that, the house is partially sunken into the ground, being built into the slope.
The Mirage House as it was called was designed by Kois Associated Architects who wanted to let their clients enjoy the full beauty of the views toward the Aegean Sea without giving up their privacy. As a result, the house was semi-buried into the landscape except for a large open-air living area at the front which is sheltered beneath the extended rooftop pool. The pool acts like a giant mirror, helping to camouflage the house and to establish a visual connection between it and the sea while also keeping the interior spaces cool.
An abandoned factory overtaken by nature
Some houses stay hidden by becoming one with the landscape and by communicating with their immediate surroundings. Others are disguised as something else. We’re talking mostly about conversions like that of this old factory. This is La Fabrica, a former cement factory near Barcelona, Spain built after World War I. After being abandoned for several years, architect Ricardo Bofill transformed it into his new home and studio. It was a long and complex process. First some of the elements had to be demolished, then hidden structures were uncovered and new relationships were created between the volumes.
It took a while but the architect’s new design slowly started to take shape. Just like a sculptor removes several pieces and layers of material in order to create a specific shape, the architect demolished certain elements and uncovered others. Once that was done, the planting process began. The preserved factory volumes became engulfed in vegetation as a series of gardens were added. The idea was to make the barriers between building and nature as seamless and as blurred as possible. What was once a concrete factory is now a modern and stylish home and studio which looks like a fortress on the outside but is warm and welcoming on the inside.