Architecture

2017's best sustainable, innovative and interesting houses

New Atlas highlights the best houses of 2017
New Atlas highlights the best houses of 2017
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Inside the 3D-printed house
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Inside the 3D-printed house
Apis Cor's 3D printer is a mobile unit and can be delivered to a site on the back of a truck
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Apis Cor's 3D printer is a mobile unit and can be delivered to a site on the back of a truck
The printing process itself is similar to the other 3D-printed architecture we've reported on and involves extruding cement in layers
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The printing process itself is similar to the other 3D-printed architecture we've reported on and involves extruding cement in layers
Once the project was complete, the printer was taken out of the house by crane before putting the roof in place
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Once the project was complete, the printer was taken out of the house by crane before putting the roof in place
The 3D-printed home's roof was added later 
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The 3D-printed home's roof was added later 
Finishing the 3D-printed house
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Finishing the 3D-printed house
Finishing the 3D-printed house
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Finishing the 3D-printed house
The completed 3D-printed house
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The completed 3D-printed house
Inside the 3D-printed house
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Inside the 3D-printed house
Inside the 3D-printed house
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Inside the 3D-printed house
Arkup liveable yacht concept: twin electric azimuth thrusters give it a top speed of 7 knots and 360-degree maneuverability
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: twin electric azimuth thrusters give it a top speed of 7 knots and 360-degree maneuverability
Arkup liveable yacht concept: luxury interior for entertaining
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: luxury interior for entertaining
Arkup liveable yacht concept: can be specced up with restaurant grade cooking facilities
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: can be specced up with restaurant grade cooking facilities
Arkup liveable yacht concept: mobile luxury lifestyle
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: mobile luxury lifestyle
Arkup liveable yacht concept: park it at a pier or marina
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: park it at a pier or marina
Arkup liveable yacht concept: master bathroom design
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: master bathroom design
Arkup liveable yacht concept: hyper modern design
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: hyper modern design
Arkup liveable yacht concept: hydraulic "spuds" stabilize the entire home and can lift it up above 20 feet of water
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: hydraulic "spuds" stabilize the entire home and can lift it up above 20 feet of water
Arkup liveable yacht concept: take it somewhere beautiful as the ultimate home base
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Arkup liveable yacht concept: take it somewhere beautiful as the ultimate home base
Kiss House's exterior can be finished in four different cladding options, including timber
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Kiss House's exterior can be finished in four different cladding options, including timber
Each Kiss House is a certifiable Passivhaus, a building standard which focuses on reducing a home's heating demand and primary energy consumption
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Each Kiss House is a certifiable Passivhaus, a building standard which focuses on reducing a home's heating demand and primary energy consumption
The Kiss House features open-plan living on the ground floor, with a large modern kitchen, wooden flooring and floor-to-ceiling glass window
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The Kiss House features open-plan living on the ground floor, with a large modern kitchen, wooden flooring and floor-to-ceiling glass window
Offering two, three and four bedroom versions, the Kiss House is built using cross-laminated timber (CLT)
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Offering two, three and four bedroom versions, the Kiss House is built using cross-laminated timber (CLT)
The Kiss House model meets Passivhaus standards, which focuses on reducing a home's heating demand and primary energy consumption
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The Kiss House model meets Passivhaus standards, which focuses on reducing a home's heating demand and primary energy consumption
Each Kiss House is designed so it can be reconfigured over time and grow with a family or individual as their living needs change and evolve
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Each Kiss House is designed so it can be reconfigured over time and grow with a family or individual as their living needs change and evolve
Individual bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs on the first floor
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Individual bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs on the first floor
Italian architect Renato Vidal has created a prefabricated foldable house that takes less than a day to install called M.A.Di
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Italian architect Renato Vidal has created a prefabricated foldable house that takes less than a day to install called M.A.Di
The M.A.Di home is anchored down using an innovative screw pile system, which has no impact on the soil and can leave the land without a footprint
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The M.A.Di home is anchored down using an innovative screw pile system, which has no impact on the soil and can leave the land without a footprint
The M.A.Di shown being closed and folded for transportation 
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The M.A.Di shown being closed and folded for transportation 
Thanks to its steel profile and steel hinges, the M.A.Di can open and close with ease
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Thanks to its steel profile and steel hinges, the M.A.Di can open and close with ease
The M.A.Di home is prefabricated in a factory
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The M.A.Di home is prefabricated in a factory
The M.A.Di's A-frame structure and unique folding ability, allows the home to be prefabricated off site, flat-packed and transported via truck or container to its designated site
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The M.A.Di's A-frame structure and unique folding ability, allows the home to be prefabricated off site, flat-packed and transported via truck or container to its designated site
Inside the M.A.Di
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Inside the M.A.Di
The M.A.Di home is an economic flat-packed housing solution that is not only sustainable but designed to last and withstand earthquakes
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The M.A.Di home is an economic flat-packed housing solution that is not only sustainable but designed to last and withstand earthquakes
The Tikku can be erected on a site overnight
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The Tikku can be erected on a site overnight
Architect Marco Casagrande has designed an interesting little solar-powered micro-house that can fit into a parking space
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Architect Marco Casagrande has designed an interesting little solar-powered micro-house that can fit into a parking space
The micro house is called Tikku (which translates from Finnish to English as Stick)
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The micro house is called Tikku (which translates from Finnish to English as Stick)
The Tikku has a total floorspace of 37.5 sq m (403 sq ft)
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The Tikku has a total floorspace of 37.5 sq m (403 sq ft)
The Tikku has a footprint of just 2.5 x 5 m (8.2 x 16.4 ft)
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The Tikku has a footprint of just 2.5 x 5 m (8.2 x 16.4 ft)
The Tikku's interior is split between an office area, sleeping area and a small winter garden/on the top floor
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The Tikku's interior is split between an office area, sleeping area and a small winter garden/on the top floor
The Tikku has a total floorspace of 37.5 sq m (403 sq ft)
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The Tikku has a total floorspace of 37.5 sq m (403 sq ft)
Casa Kwantes was designed by top-tier firm MVRDV
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Casa Kwantes was designed by top-tier firm MVRDV
Stairs lead to Casa Kwantes' bedrooms
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Stairs lead to Casa Kwantes' bedrooms
Casa Kwantes' expansive glazed facade curves around an olive tree
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Casa Kwantes' expansive glazed facade curves around an olive tree
Casa Kwantes features solar panels atop its roof
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Casa Kwantes features solar panels atop its roof
Casa Kwantes' curved form offers a visual link to all areas of the house
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Casa Kwantes' curved form offers a visual link to all areas of the house
Casa Kwantes' large fitted wooden unit
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Casa Kwantes' large fitted wooden unit
Casa Kwantes is located in Rotterdam
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Casa Kwantes is located in Rotterdam
The Gapahuk's interior is laid out on a single floor and there's a total floorspace of 90 sq m (968 sq ft) available
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The Gapahuk's interior is laid out on a single floor and there's a total floorspace of 90 sq m (968 sq ft) available
The Gapahuk cabin is named after an improvised Norwegian shelter
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The Gapahuk cabin is named after an improvised Norwegian shelter
The Gapahuk is available now in kit form, starting from NOK 1,350,000 (roughly US$156,600)
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The Gapahuk is available now in kit form, starting from NOK 1,350,000 (roughly US$156,600)
The Gapahuk's interior includes a bathroom with toilet and shower, a second small toilet, and three bedrooms
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The Gapahuk's interior includes a bathroom with toilet and shower, a second small toilet, and three bedrooms
The Gapahuk can be configured to operate fully off-the-grid and Snøhetta says that its sloping roof is ideal for attaching solar panels
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The Gapahuk can be configured to operate fully off-the-grid and Snøhetta says that its sloping roof is ideal for attaching solar panels
Villa Ypsilon measures 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft)
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Villa Ypsilon measures 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft)
Villa Ypsilon's intricate ceiling
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Villa Ypsilon's intricate ceiling
Villa Ypsilon under construction
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Villa Ypsilon under construction
The remote location of the project and a limited budget (it was built for a relative so many fees were wavered) meant that Villa Ypsilon's construction posed a bit of a challenge for LASSA
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The remote location of the project and a limited budget (it was built for a relative so many fees were wavered) meant that Villa Ypsilon's construction posed a bit of a challenge for LASSA
Villa Ypsilon's swimming pool
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Villa Ypsilon's swimming pool
Villa Ypsilon's green roof can be walked upon to take in the view
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Villa Ypsilon's green roof can be walked upon to take in the view
Villa Ypsilon has a total floorspace of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft)
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Villa Ypsilon has a total floorspace of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft)
Binh House was designed by Vietnam's Vo Trong Nghia Architects
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Binh House was designed by Vietnam's Vo Trong Nghia Architects
Binh House is located in Ho Chi Minh City
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Binh House is located in Ho Chi Minh City
Binh House has a total floorspace of 233 sq m (2,507 sq ft)
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Binh House has a total floorspace of 233 sq m (2,507 sq ft)
Binh House has lots of greenery on the inside and outside
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Binh House has lots of greenery on the inside and outside
Binh House has a jacuzzi 
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Binh House has a jacuzzi 
New Atlas highlights the best houses of 2017
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New Atlas highlights the best houses of 2017
Binh House serves as home to three generations of the same family
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Binh House serves as home to three generations of the same family
Binh House has lots of greenery on the inside and outside
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Binh House has lots of greenery on the inside and outside
The SkinnyScar measures just 3.7 m (12 ft) wide 
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The SkinnyScar measures just 3.7 m (12 ft) wide 
The SkinnyScar comprises a total floorspace of 140 sq m (1,506 sq ft) spread over three floors
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The SkinnyScar comprises a total floorspace of 140 sq m (1,506 sq ft) spread over three floors
The SkinnyScar's second floor contains a small library facing the street and a lounge with a net hammock that overlooks the garden
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The SkinnyScar's second floor contains a small library facing the street and a lounge with a net hammock that overlooks the garden
The SkinnyScar's snug bathroom
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The SkinnyScar's snug bathroom
The SkinnyScar's patterned brick facade
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The SkinnyScar's patterned brick facade
The SkinnyScar's snug bathroom
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The SkinnyScar's snug bathroom
The SkinnyScar's patterned brick facade
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The SkinnyScar's patterned brick facade
A photo showing the plot that the SkinnyScar house was built upon 
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A photo showing the plot that the SkinnyScar house was built upon 
The SkinnyScar's second floor contains a small library facing the street and a lounge with a net hammock that overlooks the garden
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The SkinnyScar's second floor contains a small library facing the street and a lounge with a net hammock that overlooks the garden

The use of green building standards, the proliferation of off-grid technology and advances in 3D-printing all make this an exciting time for residential architecture and this is reflected in the homes we've covered during the past 12 months. A floating off-grid luxury pad, a 3D-printed house, and a sustainable home that can be built in a few days all feature in our pick of the best houses of 2017.

We've tried to be selective with our choice here and not just focus on enviable luxury houses (though to be fair there's at least one of those, too). Each home has something to appreciate – whether particularly affordable, groundbreaking, sustainable or just interesting.

Without further ado, have a look through our selection below before heading to the gallery for more photos and info.

3D-printed house – Apis Cor

The completed 3D-printed house
The completed 3D-printed house

This small and relatively simple home is not the first example of 3D-printed architecture we've reported on by any means, but it does point convincingly toward 3D-printed residential construction being affordable and widespread soon.

Developed by 3D-printing firm Apis Cor, in collaboration with PIK, the unnamed dwelling measures just 38 sq m (409 sq ft) and was made using a portable 3D-printer – to be clear, by portable we mean weighing 2 tons (1,814 kg) and transported on the back of a truck, not pocket-sized.

The actual printing process took place over 24 hours in Russia and involved extruding cement out of a nozzle, layer by layer, to create a structure. Human builders then finished the roof, insulation, windows, and other components. The total cost for the project came in at just US$10,134, not including furniture or appliances.

Kiss House – Adrian James, et al.

Kiss House's exterior can be finished in four different cladding options, including timber
Kiss House's exterior can be finished in four different cladding options, including timber

British Passivhaus expert Mike Jacob and architect Adrian James joined forces to create the Kiss House: a prefabricated home that takes less than a week to install and meets the exacting Passivhaus green building standard.

Each Kiss House has excellent insulation, as well as an almost airtight envelope and a design that takes passive solar heat gain into consideration. This results in a seriously efficient house that its owners will find very inexpensive to heat and cool year-round, whatever the local climate.

The Kiss House is available in multiple sizes but each model consists of an open-plan living area on the ground floor, with a large modern kitchen, wooden flooring and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs and exterior finishes like masonry, metal, and timber are available.

The cost for the Kiss House depends on size and options, but you're looking at around £2,000 (around $2,550) per sq m (10 sq ft).

Binh House – Vo Trong Nghia

New Atlas highlights the best houses of 2017
New Atlas highlights the best houses of 2017

The Binh House, by Vietnam-based Vo Trong Nghia Architects, is an oasis in tropical Ho Chi Minh City that doesn't need air-conditioning to keep its occupants cool. Its carefully-planned interior layout, comprising 233 sq m (2,507 sq ft) spread over three floors, allows three generations of the same family to live together in comfort.

Vo Trong Nghia positioned service areas like the kitchen, bathrooms, and so on in the west of the home. These act as buffer zones to keep more important areas further into the house cool, such as the living room, dining room and bedrooms. Binh House is also shaded by greenery and its layout creates a natural stack effect, causing air to be drawn in and improving ventilation. Multiple sliding glass doors aid ventilation, too.

Vegetation covers most of the exterior and helps soften the look of the textured concrete used. There are multiple gardens, such as a rooftop fruit tree garden, terraced vegetable garden, and another terrace next to the home's library, each of which opens to the outside with voids in the concrete facade. Planters offer privacy for an outdoor jacuzzi spa and there's an internal garden in the living room, plus yet another garden in a small courtyard area.

M.A.Di – Renato Vida

Thanks to its steel profile and steel hinges, the M.A.Di can open and close with ease
Thanks to its steel profile and steel hinges, the M.A.Di can open and close with ease

The M.A.Di, by Italian architect Renato Vida, is a flat-packed dwelling designed to withstand earthquakes that can be constructed in just a few hours. Made from CLT (cross-laminated timber), it comes in several sizes, from 27 sq m (290 sq ft), up to 84 sq m (904 sq ft). Each home is laid out over two levels and equipped with kitchen, dining area and bathroom on the ground floor, while bedrooms are located upstairs.

The home's A-frame structure allows it to be prefabricated off-site, then flat-packed and transported via truck or container to its designated build site. Installation is relatively simple and the entire process should take three workers around seven hours to complete.

The M.A.Di starts at €21,600 ($25,195) for the smallest model and €67,200 ($73,385) for the largest. Rooftop solar panels, LED lighting and a greywater system are all available at additional cost.

Tikku – Marco Casagrande

The Tikku can be erected on a site overnight
The Tikku can be erected on a site overnight

Demand for urban housing is only going to increase as populations continue to grow. Appropriately-named architect Marco Casagrande reckons he has a potential answer to this with the Tikku (which is Finnish for Stick). It has a footprint of just 2.5 x 5 m (8.2 x 16.4 ft), making it roughly the size of a standard car parking space.

The Tikku has a total floorspace of 37.5 sq m (403 sq ft), split over three floors. The prototype model shown is divided into a work area on the first floor, a bedroom upstairs, and a small greenhouse/living space on the top floor, but this is flexible.

Inside, it includes a dry toilet and electricity comes from solar power, but there's no running water or kitchen. The idea is that thanks to its location in a city, the occupant should be able to access water and food, as well as whatever else they need.

In addition to a house, Casagrande envisions the Tikku serving as an office, shop, workshop, hotel, and more, swapping out the interior and amenities to suit. Pricing for a basic model comes in at €35,000 ($41,500), not including transportation costs.

Villa Ypsilon – LASSA Architects

Villa Ypsilon has a total floorspace of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft)
Villa Ypsilon has a total floorspace of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft)

LASSA Architects did a splendid job blending Villa Ypsilon seamlessly into the hilltop it sits upon in a rural plot in Greece's southern Peloponnese.

Named after its green roof being shaped like the Greek letter Ypsilon – a Y-shape when capitalized – Villa Ypsilon comprises a total floorspace of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft) spread over an entrance, master bedroom, two additional bedrooms, kitchen, breakfast area, living room, and a couple of bathrooms.

Inside, private areas, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, face the east, while common areas, like living room and kitchen, face the south and provide excellent views of the undulating landscape. Each of Villa Ypsilon's three courtyards offers shade at different times of the day.

Despite the high summer temperatures in that part of the world, the use of concrete, the green roof, and carefully-placed windows ensure the interior remains sufficiently cool without requiring air conditioning.

Casa Kwantes – MVRDV

Casa Kwantes' curved form offers a visual link to all areas of the house
Casa Kwantes' curved form offers a visual link to all areas of the house

High-profile Dutch firm MVRDV recently unveiled the enviable Casa Kwantes. A contemporary take on 1930s modernist design, the Rotterdam-based home boasts a curved glazed facade and energy-efficient tech.

The 480 sq m (5,166 sq ft) family house is spread over two main floors, plus a small basement. A two-car garage, kitchen, living room, dining room, and library are all on the first floor, while the second floor has two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Naturally, the unusual shape of the glazed facade means the interior of the home is pretty unconventional. The curved shape also offers a visual link between different areas of the house and, in a nice touch, wraps around an olive tree.

Casa Kwantes' roof sports a large solar panel array. A ground-source heat pump transfers heat to and from the ground and, in conjunction with a heat exchanger, provides energy-efficient heating and cooling.

Gapahuk – Snøhetta

The Gapahuk cabin is named after an improvised Norwegian shelter
The Gapahuk cabin is named after an improvised Norwegian shelter

Living in a home designed by a leading architecture firm is usually out of reach for all but the wealthiest, but a recent collaboration between Snøhetta and Norwegian purveyor of leisure homes Rindalshytter means it's more affordable than you might expect.

The Gapahuk takes its name from a basic Norwegian shelter sometimes built by hikers to ride out rough weather. Inside, there's a total floorspace of 90 sq m (968 sq ft) available, all laid out on one floor. It includes three bedrooms, a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower, an additional WC, and a large common area with kitchen, lounge, and dining table. There's also a covered porch and plenty of storage space.

The Gapahuk is both flexible enough to be placed practically anywhere and tough enough to stand up to Norway's brutal weather. Its sloping roof provides protection from high winds and sun, and is also ideal for mounting solar panels for those who wish to go off-the-grid.

The Gapahuk is available to purchase now in kit form, starting at NOK 1,350,000 (roughly $156,600), not including construction.

SkinnyScar – Gwendolyn Huisman and Marijn Boterman

The SkinnyScar's patterned brick facade
The SkinnyScar's patterned brick facade

All towns and cities feature vacant plots usually considered unsuitable to build houses on, but the SkinnyScar house proves that some could be put to better use by squeezing a home in a space of just 3.7 m (12 ft)-wide.

Designed by architects Gwendolyn Huisman and Marijn Boterman, SkinnyScar's interior comprises a total floorspace of 140 sq m (1,506 sq ft) spread over three floors. Visitors are greeted with an entry space with bicycle storage, while the kitchen and dining area are located toward the rear and offer access to a shared garden. Climbing the stairs to the second floor reveals a small library facing the street and a lounge with a net hammock that overlooks the garden.

The third floor includes two small bedrooms and a clever bathroom unit squeezed in between that has a shower, bath and toilet. Access to the rooftop is gained via the third floor and there's a small garden space up there, as well as a solar panel array.

Off-grid floating home concept – Arkup

Arkup liveable yacht concept: take it somewhere beautiful as the ultimate home base
Arkup liveable yacht concept: take it somewhere beautiful as the ultimate home base

Imagine waking up to a different view every day. That's the dream Florida-based company Arkup promises with its off-grid luxury floating house. The cutting-edge home, which is still just a concept, would get all its electricity from solar power and have hydraulic legs capable of stabilizing it and lifting it out of the water.

A built-in communications suite would include 4G, Satellite TV, Wi-Fi and VHF radio, while a twin 136-horsepower electric azimuth thrusters could rotate 360 degrees to maneuver the house/vessel at a sedate 7 knots. Arkup reports that it could withstand a category 4 hurricane, too.

We've no word on expected price but it's a safe bet that only the ultra-rich will be able to afford it. It'll be interesting to see if this one makes it to market.

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