In general we think of buildings as being very stable structures that take over the area surrounding them becoming the defining feature in their particular context. However, they’re more dynamic than we give them credit, both literally and figuratively.
The houses that we’re about to look at feature unique designs with all sorts of unexpected elements in their designs. Things like huge windows and doors, dynamic facades and kinetic systems that change their appearance and composition in real time make these projects truly special.
Ingenious Kinetic Systems
A modern house with a 40 foot folding glass wall
This is a house located in Toronto, Canada. Most of the time it looks like a regular modern home with full-height windows and glass walls that connect it to the beautiful scenery and big open interior spaces. What sets it apart from this type of houses is a 40 foot glass wall that folds open and brings the interior and exterior living spaces together in a matter of seconds.
This extraordinary design was created by the wonderful team of architects and designers at Ancerl Studio who managed to make this house come to life in an unexpected and very creative way. The folding glass wall delineates the living and dining room from the outdoor lounge area.
When closed it still lets in an abundance of natural light and when open it completely removes the physical barrier between the indoor and the outdoor areas allowing them to become one.
A modern farm house with a large, fully glazed conservatory at its center
Although it’s common for most houses to want to connect with their surroundings through large windows, glass doors and other types of openings, having an entire section that’s clad in glass from top to bottom is unusual to say the least. This home is built on a farm just outside Pretoria in South Africa and it has a double-height conservatory at its center.
The one responsible for this imaginative and unusual design is architect Nadine Englebrecht who managed this way to create a strong bond between the building and its immediate surroundings while also giving it this sort of barn-inspired coziness and charm. The conservatory section is a double-height volume with a gabled roof and glazed facades. The roof was built with a combination of solid and translucent panels which help to further enhance the openness and transparency of this volume.
Small historic house with record-breaking glass pivot doors
Nobody would expect the world’s largest pivot doors to be found on a small and also pretty old house in a cozy neighborhood and yet that’s exactly the case. This historic house from Antwerp, Belgium was renovated in 2015 by studio Sculp [IT] and part of the project was the addition of a small rear extension meant to let more light inside the house and to connect it to the garden in a seamless manner. This is where there huge glass pivot doors come in. They do all that while also looking absolutely incredible.
Desert house with pivot walls and glazed facades
When studio Olson Kundig started working on this project they became very inspired by the location, a desert area in Ketchum, US. The beautiful rugged scenery gave them the idea for a house that emerges from the landscape and that also takes in these amazing views. With that in mind, the East side of the house was buried into the ground while the two West-facing wings project out of the building and offer 270 degree views through their glazed facades.
As part of the design the architects also included a large glass wall that pivots open and connects the central part of the house to the main courtyard. This allows the indoor space to seamlessly extend outside and the transition feels organic and smooth thanks to the uniformity of the materials, in particular the matching wooden flooring.
Floating house with a glass bridge
The Whistler Ski House is a cozy family retreat found in the Coast Mountains of Canada. It was designed and built by studio Olson Kundig and it’s in fact two separate buildings connected by a bridge framed by glass walls on both sides. This divides the structure into two wings with distinct functions.
Apart from this cool-looking glass bridge that connects the two wings, the house also has massive windows that frame the gorgeous mountainous views and make them a part of the interior design.
A house with exterior walls that slide open
In order to allow the residents of this house to take full advantage of the magnificent views that surround them, studio Olson Kundig designed this structure 10 feet above the ground and gave it big glass walls that can slide completely open. This basically moves an entire section of the facade and leaves the house totally open to the outside world.
The mechanism that opens and closes these window walls are operated manually using a pulley system. You can see one on the wall of this bedroom. When the walls slides open the entire room is exposed to the extraordinary scenery and all the fresh air and natural light rush in uninterrupted.