2013 was a momentous year for home design. Passive house (or “passivhaus”) was a major trend this year, with numerous projects showcasing their commitment to sustainability. Below is a list of the top ten homes we looked at this year. Most of the projects we picked demonstrated thoughtful design in some capacity or another.
After three generations of living in the same home, a couple transformed their home into an airy minimalist gem. To maximize privacy while still maintaining openness and natural light, translucent doors were installed. A central light well draws sunlight into the home, illuminating custom plywood furniture and pale hardwood floors. Yellow and turquoise accents liven up this otherwise monochromatic space.
While not exactly a cliff, this home juts out precariously over a rock face and features unrestricted views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Cliff House was built on a low budget and utilizes features and building techniques that allow it to withstand a harsh maritime climate. The interior is sparse and characterized by exposed steel beams.
It doesn’t embody thoughtful design in its purest definition, but the Light Walls House earned a top spot on our list for its creativity and beauty. While the home features few connections to the outdoors, skylights ringing the ceiling illuminate the interior all day long. The design of the walls and ceiling directs sunlight in a uniform manner.
A former vineyard in a river valley prone to flooding and infested with snakes was the site for this thoughtfully designed home. Concrete piers raise the structure and keep the home safe from high water and any pesky wildlife. Three compartments, or wings, make up the house and were completed with their own heating and cooling systems. The entire structure was bolted together, so if the need arose, the home could be taken apart and moved to another site.
When you think of winter, you probably think of snow before anything else. Enter a home ready-made for the snowy season, both aesthetically and functionally. White cedar that will transition over time to gray covers the house. The interior’s white walls disperse natural light throughout an open-plan space.
Our next pick comes to us from warmer climes and was built on a slope amidst a lush tropical forest. The main living area connects directly with an expansive timber deck that provides unobstructed views of the jungle. Tall windows illuminate almost every corner of this home. Stack ventilation is thoughtfully designed to naturally cool the space.
An open-air staircase mixes functionality and utility in this Sao Paulo home. The architects mixed a variety of different materials such as salvaged wood and brick, gravel and iron. Ventilation and natural light are maximized in this airy design.
Another entry from mA-style, this design surrounds the home with glass only to obstruct views with a floating wall. This levitating perimeter acts as a light well, illuminating the home’s interior from every angle. A rock garden provides foliage and natural elements.
Aside from its sweeping vistas and eclectic style, we chose this home for its commitment to passive strategies. A thermal mass wall provides insulation, while solar panels generate sustainable electricity. Cross ventilation cools an interior featuring exposed wooden beams and dark hardwood floors.
DIY projects don’t get any bigger than this. Architect Ken Meffan and his family built their custom home with second-hand components and creative experimentation. The walls were made of clay sourced directly from the site and were given structure using straw bales; salvaged wood is also used throughout. We chose this home for primarily for its integration with its surroundings; even squirrels and lizards have taken up residence in this home!