Where money's no object, cliff-hangers and aircraft-wing homes can be yours
It may not be able to buy you love, but money can certainly pay for an architect to design you a one-of-a-kind home. From a fun Manhattan pad with a slide running through it, to a clifftop retreat perfect for a real-life Bond villain, the following luxury homes stand out for their uniqueness and desirability.
Casa Brutale – OPA
Casa Brutale was originally an exercise in conceptual architecture with no plans to build it, until a wealthy CEO saw OPA's design, fell in love with it, and duly commissioned the firm to build it. The high-end concrete and glass home is expected to be completed in 2018 and will perch on the edge of a mountainside near Beirut, Lebanon.
Inside, the home looks like the perfect budding Bond villain's secret lair, and will feature thick concrete slabs topped by a reinforced glass pool/roof, with a huge glazed facade offering views of the nearby countryside.
Shelter – Vipp
The word shelter generally brings to mind something simple and modest – however, with a price tag of US$585,000, Vipp's Shelter is anything but. The sleek black steel and glazed prefabricated dwelling measures 55 sq m (592 sq ft) and comprises a dining area, kitchen, and living space, a bathroom, and a loft bedroom, the latter of which boasts a glazed ceiling for star-gazing.
"The shelter is a finished product inspired by large volume objects such as planes, ferries and submarines, where every single screw serves a purpose," says the firm.
SkyHouse – David Hotson
The David Hotson-designed SkyHouse occupies the top four floors of a skyscraper in Lower Manhattan. Boasting amazing views of landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building, the home was already pretty unique, however it became a whole lot more unique with the installation of a climbing column and 80 ft (24 m) slide.
The mirror-polished stainless steel tubular slide is entered at the south end of the home's attic. From here, it runs through the attic, coils around the climbing column, passing a guest bedroom, before slipping through a seamless glass window and over the stairs. You can then either leave the slide or continue the journey down to the bottom, ending up in the home's entrance gallery.
747 Wing House – David Hertz Architects
Malibu's 747 Wing House, by David Hertz Architects, is a one-of-a-kind home and features the wings from a Boeing 747-200 as its roof. The idea came from the owner's desire for a floating curved roof and the architecture firm's penchant for using recycled materials in its projects.
The architects actually purchased an entire plane to construct the house, so lots of other 747 parts were left over once the roof was constructed. Little went to waste though: the cockpit windows were repurposed as a skylight, the engine cowling became a fire pit, and the first class cabin became the guest house roof.
Villa Gug – BIG
The Bjarke Ingels Group-designed Villa Gug is a high-end home for a car enthusiast with an enviable collection. Currently under construction in a rural area near Ålborg, Denmark, its looping form starts as a driveway, becomes a private showroom and garage, then finally opens up into the house proper.
Villa Gug sports plenty of glazing that looks onto the private garden space and cars, but the exterior consists of an unbroken concrete facade at ground level to lend additional privacy.
Fall House – Fougeron Architects
Fall House, by San-Francisco's Fougeron Architects, is located on California's famous Big Sur coastline. The home boasts green technology but is also literally green, as its roof and south-facing facade is made from copper, which is designed to weather as it comes into contact with the sea air. The north-facing facade is all glass and offers amazing views.
Efficient windows were installed throughout the house, as was underfloor radiant hydronic heating. Fall House's largely open design encourages natural ventilation, and the on-grid water supply is complemented by a local stream.
Newberg Residence – Cutler Anderson Architects
Newberg Residence, which recently featured in the AIA's 2016 Housing Awards, takes the form of a bridge over a large pond in Newberg, Oregon. The home was carefully landscaped to make it blend in with its surroundings, and visitors must make their approach to it on foot, walking through a nearby forest.
The interior of the home includes a kitchen, dining room and master bedroom, in addition to a guest house. The most interesting room is the lounge though, as this leads right onto the pond and enables occupants to dive right in.
Ancient Party Barn – Liddicoat & Goldhill
The UK's strangely-named Ancient Party Barn comprises a group of 18th Century agricultural buildings. Purchased in a dilapidated state, their renovation was very intensive. For example, the existing oak framing was painstakingly disassembled, removed and then repaired, before finally being put back into place again. It's rare indeed that so much works goes into making a home look untouched.
Liddicoat & Goldhill also fitted large insulated shutters to the home, which open to reveal a huge and very impressive glazed area. This is lifted with an industrial mechanism adapted from a chain lift, opening up the interior of the home to the outside. Elsewhere, Ancient Party Barn also sports an aircraft hangar door imported from the US, which serves as shading.
Flexhouse – Evolution Design
Swiss firm Evolution Design recently completed Flexhouse on the shores of Lake Zurich, Switzerland. Obviously intended as a place both to see and be seen, the glass house has a stunning design and features a focus on energy-efficiency.
Despite being located in a relatively cramped plot, the home boats three stories (plus basement) and is almost fully glazed, except for a bright white ribbon-like facade running through it. The upper levels include a pair of bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a studio with 180 degree views of Lake Zurich.
Thermally-activated concrete floors are paired to a geothermal heat pump for heating and cooling. In addition, the glass facade is triple-glazed and sports external blinds to reduce heat gain.
House on the Cliff – Gil Bartolomé Architects
Located in the hills of Granada, Spain, the House on the Cliff is not far from where scenes from TV series Game of Thrones is filmed – which is fitting, because its scale-like undulating roof and facade is designed to resemble a dragon looking out to sea.
Inspired by the work of Spanish architectural giant Antoni Gaudí, the home is built into the cliff to cut down on cooling requirements. The firm says that being part-buried into the hillside enables the home to maintain a constant interior temperature of 19.5º C (67.1º F) all year round without any air-conditioning or heating, including during the scorching Spanish summer.
That rounds out our look at unique luxury homes, be sure to head to the gallery to see more photos of each.