2018 has been an interesting year for residential architecture, with advances in technology and the popularity of sustainable building practices resulting in many outstanding homes. After much deliberation, we've narrowed them down to our 10 favorites, including a starchitect-designed luxury house, a 3D-printed mud hut, and a sustainable hobbit hole.
In no particular order, here are our pick of the best homes of the year. More information and photos on each one can also be found in the gallery.
Brazil's Planar House is designed by Studio MK27's Marcio Kogan, with Lair Reis. The luxury home is topped by a massive concrete roof that's covered in greenery to help it blend in with its landscaped garden. The roof also sports integrated skylights and solar panels.
The interior of the home is split into two main parts: staff quarters and an expansive family area. The decor is a stylish mixture of wood, concrete, and glass, and almost the entire thing opens up to the outside with very large sliding glass doors when the weather allows.
Italian firm WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project) has been developing its 3D printing construction technology for some time now and one of its most recent creations is a 3D-printed hut called Gaia that was built in Italy using a mud mixture.
Gaia is topped by a timber roof and rests on 3D-printed concrete foundations. The construction process involved extruding the mud mixture out of a 3D printer nozzle in layers, much like any other 3D-printed project. The hut is basic and its 20 sq m (215 sq ft) interior is taken up by one large room, though it's well insulated and performs well in the heat and cold. We're not there yet but with this project, inexpensive 3D-printed homes seem a step closer to market.
Utah's Treehaus, by Park City Design+Build, consists of a series of stacked cubes that rotate as they rise toward the forest canopy.
The home is built to the exacting Passivhaus green building standard, meaning it makes careful use of insulation, high-performance glazing, and an extremely tight building envelope to keep its internal temperature stable. The 3,600 sq ft (334 sq m) of floorspace is spread over four floors, with patios and living areas placed in the middle, and private areas, such as the bathrooms and bedrooms, situated on the lower and upper levels.
McCall Design & Planning's Cliff House is a spectacular luxury home that is sunk into Idaho's rocky terrain. Its structural concrete columns, teak cladding, and glazing blend tastefully with the abundant granite.
Cliff House includes discrete rocky walkways that wind down to the lakeshore and it has bedrock poking up through the floor in prominent parts of the interior, which is a really nice touch. Another highlight is the kid's bathroom, which is windowless but decorated with a mosaic made to mimic a nature scene.
Building engineer Jim Costigan has spent decades constructing high-rises in Manhattan and put this expertise to use realizing his passion project: a green-roofed energy-efficient hobbit home in New York State called Hobbit Hollow.
Hobbit Hollow was primarily built by Costigan himself during weekends. Its interior has a total floorspace of 1,500 sq ft (139 sq m), spread over two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room dining room, and more. Like the Treehaus, the home has been built to the exacting Passive House green building standard and is very efficient to run.
Glass Villa on the lake
Mecanoo's Glass Villa on the lake in Gloucestershire, UK, is largely glazed in an attempt to give residents the impression they're floating on the lake below.
The two-story house is also finished in Shou Sugi Ban-treated wood, which is a Japanese technique of charring wood to preserve it, and is topped by a rooftop terrace. Inside, the layout is arranged around a central atrium and staircase and is designed to ensure that each room offers a strong visual connection with the surrounding landscape. Energy use is minimized with a heat pump, solar panels, heat recovery systems, and triple glazed glass.
Drivelines Studios, by Lot-ek, is a shipping container-based housing project located on an awkward triangular site in Johannesburg, South Africa. It consists of two distinct parts arranged in a roughly V-shape, and comprises 140 shipping containers.
The containers were selected by color and left unpainted, then stacked securely and modified, with insulation installed to mitigate their poor thermal performance. The apartments look comfortable and are arranged in an open plan, with a kitchen and dining area, living area, bedroom, and a bathroom inside each.
Old Shed New House
Tonkin Liu has received lots of well-deserved praise for its Old Shed New House, including RIBA's Stephen Lawrence Prize. It involved turning an old agricultural shed in Yorkshire, northern England, into a plush home for the architect's own parents to spend their retirement in.
Old Shed New House retains its agricultural styling, though is enlivened with glazing and a wooden slatted facade. Inside, the home boasts a private library and art gallery, and is very well insulated, making it cheap to heat and cool, year-round.
Casa de la Roca
Casa de la Roca is nestled into a wooded hillside near Mexico's Valle de Bravo. Designed by Cadaval & Solà-Morales, it blends into its environment with timber that's reclaimed from the forest floor that surrounds it.
Casa de la Roca's Y-shaped design comes from an effort to make the most of its picturesque setting. Each section leads to a room at its end with large floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the scenery. The sections meet in the middle at a central node outdoors that's protected from the elements by a roof and walls. As well as the recycled timber beams, Casa de la Roca also features the use of concrete and ceramic.
Capital Hill Residence
It's located in a ultra-wealthy forested area near Moscow and defined by its master bedroom suites, which are raised on a skinny pillar and peek out over the 20 m (65 ft)-high trees that surround it. Much of the rest of the home is carved into the hillside and it boasts a living room, dining area, kitchen, entertainment spaces, and an indoor swimming pool. Elsewhere is a library, guest room, and children's rooms.
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