“A house is a machine for living in.”
When Corbusier wrote these famous words in his 1927 manifesto Vers une architecture (Toward an Architecture), he made the case for a home as an efficient tool that should elegantly provide the necessary tools for domestic life, and nothing more. Contemporary designs for private residences often embody this sentiment — but what if a house could go beyond the essentials that Corbusier demanded? What if it could transcend pure functionality and stir emotions within us beyond comfort and well-being? What if a home could form a catalyst for the daily inspiration of its inhabitants?
Concept houses — envisioned proposals that are not yet constructed in the real world — can act as vehicles to explore such hypotheses, often revealing highly innovative architectural solutions in the process. 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.
To celebrate this fact, Architizer’s A+Awards — the world’s largest awards program for architecture and products — has a whole series of submission categories specifically for works of unbuilt residential architecture. As you consider which compelling project you will enter for the upcoming competition, explore the following concept houses for inspiration…
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.