Architectural Drawings: 10 Plans for Granny Flats and Guesthouses

Explore the best of the backyard.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Housing and shelter are at the core of architecture. Shaping the way we live, homes are a reflection of our daily lives and how we make space for ourselves. This is true for granny flats and guesthouses as well, residential spaces that relate to larger living quarters. Usually meant for temporary stays, they are typically designed at smaller scales to create more intimate experiences.

Though guesthouses are often reserved for wealthy clients and the upper class, they reveal unique relationships between space, landscape and privacy. Drawing together 10 guesthouses and granny flat plans, the following projects exemplify this niche form of residence around the world. Made with diverse materials and programs, they illustrate how people can inhabit weekend getaways and long-term living quarters in plan. Together, the projects showcase housing that’s specifically catered to a smaller scale of domestic life.

Guesthouses GuesthousesGuest House by SMNG A Ltd., Lakeside, MI, United States

The guest house on property was completed in 2012 and provides a private space for guests and a remote study for the owner. The form of the guest house was inspired by an Anselm Kiefer painting. On a lead sheet at the center of the artist’s work, a chalk outline of a cube was drawn with diagonally opposite corners chamfered. Transferred to a small structure the cleaving of the corners offered a unique way of both entering and lighting the interior.

Guesthouses GuesthousesIthaca Guest House by Ikon.5 Architects, Ithaca, NY, United States

Set in a residential neighborhood in Ithaca, this spare guest house rests on an existing pool house foundation. Organized across from the brick main house and complemented by a steel and wood pergola, the guest house creates the setting for an outdoor stone-terraced swimming pool court. With black-honed granite floors and minimalist design elements, the house is a contemporary counterpoint to its natural surroundings.

Guesthouses GuesthousesOff-Grid Guest House by Anacapa, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Sited on one of the last remaining undeveloped coastal areas in California, this modern guest house resides on a wildlife preserve. Nestled into a steep hillside, the residence was designed with low visual and environmental impact on the surrounding landscape. Disguised by a low profile and green roof, the home itself invites views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding rolling hills, through a generous amount of sliding glass and expansive decks, which cantilever over the foundation’s steep rock face.

Guesthouses GuesthousesCapel Manor House Guest Pavilion by Ewan Cameron Architects, Horsmonden, United Kingdom

The new Guest Pavilion in the Kentish Weald near the village of Horsmonden comprises 2 bedroom suites. The pavilion is located on the grounds of Capel Manor House, an iconic modernist pavilion completed by Michael Manser in 1971. Both the main house and the new pavilion are sited upon the raised, arcaded podium of a ruined Italianate mansion on a leafy estate that was the once the home of Jane Austen’s fore-bears.

Guesthouses GuesthousesFish Creek Guest House by Carney Logan Burke Architects, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Fish Creek project is a 950 square foot guesthouse as part of the first phase of a master plan for a 5-acre sloping wooded property owned by the architect and his wife in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   The design was intended to immerse the owners in the experience of the forest both visually and aurally. The house is a simple rectangle oriented on an east-west axis that mediates between the forest on three sides and the stream and a clearing to the north.

Guesthouses GuesthousesHudson Guesthouse by Janson Goldstein, Hudson, NY, United States

This four-acre hillside site outside of the Upstate New York town of Hudson includes a new guesthouse and pool adjacent to an existing contemporary house. The 20-foot-by-45-foot pool takes advantage of the property’s Hudson Valley views, while the 950-square-foot guesthouse forms an entry court with the main structure. A covered breezeway divides the guesthouse into two sides, one a gym for the homeowners and guests, the other a living-and-sleeping area for guests. The opening acts as a bridge between the sides, allowing for privacy as well as a connection to the surrounding landscape.

Guesthouses GuesthousesGuest houses in Relax Park Verholy by YOD design lab, Poltava, Ukraine

YOD’s guest houses are a variation of the hotel rooms in the spa-complex “Relax Park Verholy,” located in a pine forest in the Poltava region. Houses are built from lightweight metal frame structures made by BF Zavod company (Kiev). The space of the house is 32 sq. meters, and the total weight of the frame with the sandwich panels, covering construction and floors, is 2200 kg. The designers managed to complete the concept and construction within only two months.

Guesthouses GuesthousesDalefield Guest House by Team Green Architects, Queenstown, New Zealand

The Dalefield Guest House was made as a private space for visitors on a rural site. Providing quarters for the owner’s family and friends, the structure is a simple, tranquil retreat for relaxation and contemplation.  Designed as guest accommodation in the grounds of an existing property in Dalefield, the Brief was to provide a place to retreat that offers a guest experience for visitors to his corner of New Zealand.

Guesthouses GuesthousesThe Guest House by PARATELIER, Tanzania

Located near a small artificial lake, this project was made as a backdrop against the colors of sand, pines and the blue sky. The guest house’s main function is to be a temporary living space for the guest(s) of the property owner. Additionally, a parking area and storage space for agricultural activities complete the simple program set by the client. One volume, located parallel with the lake, is divided into three parts for three different functions – living, storage and parking.

Guesthouses GuesthousesOverlook Guest House by Schwartz and Architecture | S^A, Los Gatos, CA, United States

The Overlook House creates a new accessible indoor/outdoor second dwelling that allows an aging family member to remain close by the main residence and independently at home. To maintain ease of access, the new 775 sq ft home incorporates the driveway approach and garage into a formalized entry sequence, transitioning fluidly to a cantilevered breezeway at the front door framing views across Silicon Valley.

Feast your eyes on the world's most outstanding architectural photographs, videos, visualizations, drawing and models with the winners of Architizer's inaugural Vision Awards. Sign up to receive future program updates >  

Eric Baldwin Author: Eric Baldwin
Based in New York City, Eric was trained in both architecture and communications. As Director of Communications at Sasaki, he has a background spanning media, academia, and practice. He's deeply committed to trying as many restaurants as possible in NYC.
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