How to Break the (Architectural) Internet: 18 Viral Visualizations

These extraordinary residences were specifically designed to go viral.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

Conceptual renderings can act as vehicles to explore radical architectural ideas, freed from the constraints of real-world sites. They are often outlandish or otherworldly, specifically designed to go viral and provoke debate among a wide audience online. With the proliferation of social media, it’s now possible for architecture to “break the internet” and get a huge number of design enthusiasts excited about what could be.

In celebration of radical renderings, Architizer’s One Rendering Challenge poses a simple question: Can you tell a powerful story about architecture with a single visualization? Pre-register for the competition (launches January 2022) for a chance to win $2,500, a range of rendering software and global recognition:

One Rendering Challenge

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The inaugural One Rendering Challenge is brought to you in partnership with Fiverr, where you can find the services you need for your architecture projects and more. As you consider which rendering to enter for this year’s competition, explore the following viral designs for inspiration…

Via Modscape

Cliff House by Modscape

Cliff House is not one for those scared of heights, or afraid of water, for that matter. Prefabrication specialists conceived this precarious five-story abode for a client that was looking into development possibilities for parcels of coastal land in Australia. The audacious design is fitting of its extreme context, but has been questioned by commenters on forums around the web who doubt its structural integrity.

Modscape responds: “As the design itself would make conventional construction prohibitive, the concept utilises Modscape’s modular design and prefabrication technologies to deliver a series of stacked modules that are anchored into the cliff face using engineered steel pins.” This house did not just break the internet — it also made the evening news!

Via Architects’ Journal

The Shell and the Rock by Zaha Hadid Architects

The late Zaha Hadid designed these prototype villas for an exclusive golf and spa resort in Croatia. Dubbed the Shell and the Rock, the forms are signature Hadid: Crisp white angles and curves wrap around exterior terraces complete with private decks, swimming pools and stunning views toward the Adriatic Sea.

Each seven-bedroom abode is inspired by natural elements found in the nearby landscape; karst topography and shell structures line this part of Croatia’s coastline.

Da-house by Igor Sirotov Architects

Expert architectural visualizer Igor Sirotov is known for his hyperrealistic renderings portraying striking modernist residences defined by concrete. Da-house is one of his most dramatic examples, possessing a dark, moody atmosphere that would make any Bond villain feel at home.

Behind the mysterious aura lie some intriguing architectural concepts, such as structural glass floors and micro gardens within courtyards that evoke the elegant details of Japanese minimalism.

Via Konrad Wójcik

Pole House by Konrad Wójcik

Wójcik’s concept for a sustainable forest retreat was designed with a small footprint — both environmentally and physically. Pole House is a compact, four-story structure supported by a central column, and comprises living spaces for two people within an angular metal skin.

Inspired by the shape of the surrounding trees, south-facing facades are clad with photovoltaics, while a slender triangular window grants picturesque views across the surrounding wilderness.

© Roman

© Roman

© Roman

© Roman

Via Roman Vlasov

Concept/77 by Roman Vlasov

Sited on a rocky outcrop overlooking the ocean, Roman Vlasov’s gleaming white residence is packed full of daring architectural moves. The towering walls of the house are composed of a single ribbon of material that folds and pleats to form two living compartments and one for boat storage, each illuminated by skylights that span the entirety of each roof.

Vlasov’s concept is notable for its stark, minimalist quality, reminiscent of the angular black-and-white artists’ retreats of Fogo Island, masterfully crafted by Saunders Architecture.

Via blog

Butterfly House by Thiago Lima

This extraordinarily detailed visualization — the making of which is outlined in full over on Ronen Bekerman’s site — is master-class in texture and light by Brazilian artist Thiago Lima. The underlying concept for the house is revealed when one views it from the other side of a calm pool of water: The appearance of butterfly wings quite literally reflects the project’s connection with its natural surroundings.

The internal spaces of the house are encased by polished concrete, but despite its robust material makeup, the house appears as a soft, serene intervention within this rural setting.

Chair-house by Igor Sirotov Architects

Seemingly carved from a single block of concrete, chair-house combines the bold solidity of Brutalism with an entirely open, light-filled interior. As with all of Sirotov’s concepts, materiality plays a key role here: Exposed concrete is paired with the warm tones of timber for floors, cabinetry and furniture, while a steel stair and balustrade provides access to the private residence.

This contemporary abode will appeal to anyone looking to get back to nature, as it is located in a remote forest, embedded in a rocky mountainside and overlooks the ocean.

Via forum

Time Travelers House by Tolgahan Gungor

Submitted as part of Ronen Bekerman’s Hover Challenge, Gungor’s mysterious house appears to employ one of architecture’s most dramatic features — the cantilever — in an extraordinary manner. However, on closer inspection, the building actually appears to be held in place with chains in tension, as if it might float away at any moment.

The angular, obsidian-colored abode looks like something from a sci-fi movie, which makes the function of its main internal space all the more fitting: If one were to time-travel into the future, perhaps this is the kind of architecture we would find in forests across the globe …

cliff retreat concept alex hogrefe

Cliff Retreat by Alex Hogrefe

Embedded within the dramatic shoreline cliffs of Iceland, Hogrefe’s fictional dwelling celebrates the contrast between classic contemporary materials such as concrete and glass and the ancient, rocky shards of this volcanic landscape.

The visualizer thoroughly considered the material qualities of the residence inside and out, producing a series of breathtaking images full of bold volumes, textured surfaces and epic spaces defined by light and shade.

stavanger house concept Alexander Nerovnya

Stavanger House by Alex Nerovnya

Alex Nerovnya’s conceptual masterpiece, located within a remote Norwegian landscape, was the subject of great debate during the “No More Words” talk at the AIANY Center for Architecture in New York.

The Viral Voices 2018 event discussed how the sharing of design ideas has been transformed by social media — especially Instagram, where this image has now been viewed millions of times. The stunning proposal has all the characteristics of a viral architectural sensation: Mies van der Rohe-inspired aesthetics, a striking silhouette, a dramatic natural backdrop and a perfect reflection.

Now it’s your turn — start preparing your most powerful architectural renderings for a chance of winning $2,500 and receiving global recognition for your work:

Pre-register for the One Rendering Challenge

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Paul Keskeys Author: Paul Keskeys
Paul Keskeys is Editor in Chief at Architizer. An architect-trained editor, writer and content creator, Paul graduated from UCL and the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MArch in Architectural Design with distinction. Paul has spoken about the art of architecture and storytelling at many national industry events, including AIANY, NeoCon, KBIS, the Future NOW Symposium, the Young Architect Conference and NYCxDesign. As well as hundreds of editorial publications on Architizer, Paul has also had features published in Architectural Digest, PIN—UP Magazine, Archinect, Aesthetica Magazine and PUBLIC Journal.
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