Architectural renderings depicting real proposals can often be highly misleading, with rose-tinted filters deliberately designed to convince skeptical clients or city councils of a project’s worth. However, with the right person in charge of modeling and compositing, even the most fictitious of concepts can appear highly plausible and incredibly compelling. Digital visualizer Alex Hogrefe is just such a person, and his latest project — the Cliff Retreat — takes architectural visualization to the next level.
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.
The Cliffside Retreat evokes the monolithic sensibilities of Tadao Ando, its thick concrete planes slicing through the earth to lend this precarious abode a sense of stability. Huge, multi-paned windows bring to mind the raw industrial aesthetic of Tom Kundig, reminiscent of real-life projects such as The Pierre and the Berkshire Residence. Meanwhile, the distinctive ceiling of the open-plan living space echoes the tetrahedral coffers of Louis Kahn’s Yale University Art Gallery.
While the renderings might have drawn inspiration from these renowned architects, Hogrefe’s composition is undeniably unique — primarily due to its heart-stopping location on a windswept cliff edge, thunderous waves crashing far below. Hogrefe has provided an insightful guide showing how the final image was created, blending photographs and adding postproduction effects in Photoshop to conjure an atmosphere fitting of such a dramatic design.
For more striking imagery by Hogrefe and more top talents from the world of digital artistry, peruse our 12-step guide to creating atmospheric architectural visualizations and look twice at the most photorealistic renderings of them all.
All renderings © Alex Hogrefe