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January 15, 2014
Many architects say that the roof is the fifth facade. Here, we prove how true that sentiment is with 7 projects from our archives that allow the roof to be the star attraction.
renovated modernist home in Austin exterior

A 1960s home with an unusual awning gets upgraded with 21st-century conveniences while maintaining its Austin street cred. The roofline, set on top of glass clerestories on a transparent central volume, begat the building’s local nickname: Butterfly House. Photo by Brent Humphreys.

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Originally appeared in A Renovated Midcentury Gem in Austin
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Gesner’s house for John Scantlin,1965, highlighting the structure of the single ridge beam, and its lateral rib-like beams, rising up and out toward the view.<br /><br /> Photo by Juergen Nogai

Way back in our Dec/Jan issue that kicked off 2008, we told the story of the super groovy, surf bum-cum-architectural genius Harry Gesner. A new book, due out next month from Abrams called Houses of the Sundown Sea: The Architectural Vision of Harry Gesner goes further into Gesner's life and work. Here's a preview of the lovely tome authored by Lisa Germany and illustrated with a raft of inspiring photos. Gesner’s house for John Scantlin, 1965, rises above Malibu like a ship's prow. Photo by Juergen Nogai. 

Originally appeared in Houses of the Sundown Sea
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White paint now covers the exterior walls of the Cooper Wave house, and the beach has shrunk over the decades since the house was built (1957–59), which has forced the current owners to construct new supports in the form of massive concrete caissons now v

Gesner made the roof front and center in the Cooper Wave house, and the beach has shrunk over the decades since the house was built (1957–59), which has forced the current owners to construct new supports in the form of massive concrete caissons now visible below the deck. Despite the changes, the original concept of the three dynamic vaults, or “waves,” of the roofline still resonates. Photo by Juergen Nogai. 

Originally appeared in Houses of the Sundown Sea
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The physical structure is integrated into the natural landscape, and is oriented toward a view of a permaculture vineyard. All wine and produce served to visitors is grown on the estate.

Designed by Spanish architects RCR Arquitectes, La Bodega is a winery situated on a private vineyard near the coastal town of Palamos. The architecture strikes a balance between the artificial and the natural, existing within a man-made valley cut into the Catalan landscape. The physical structure is integrated into the natural landscape, and is oriented toward a view of a permaculture vineyard. All wine and produce served to visitors is grown on the estate. Photo by Roman Poleco. 

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Originally appeared in La Bodega Winery in Palamos, Spain
4 / 7
Two housing models perch lightly in a field, both featuring gently curved, rainwater-catching butterfly roofloines.

An architectural idealist, Kristofer Nonn answered an online job posting for an ecological builder in Venezuela. The result of his short tenure in the country is two elegantly simple housing shelters. Two housing models perch lightly in a field, both featuring gently curved, rainwater-catching butterfly rooflines.

Originally appeared in Venezuela's Eco Cabanas
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The house reaches above the neighboring homes but remains architecturally united; its windows reference those of the house immediately next door. “The neighbors’ houses on either side vary in their setbacks, so we found a compromise that would work with b

Squeezed into a 14-foot-wide lot along a Toronto street originally developed for worker housing in the 1880s is fingerprint technician and musician Patrick Flynn’s 566-square-foot house by Linebox Studio. Flynn’s home—considered large by its surrounding standards—was conceptualized by Andrew Reeves, principal at Linebox, in close concert with the owner, a true minimalist who owns only a handful of T-shirts and sleeps on a yoga mat on an upstairs perch in the home. The resulting double-height structure, clad in concrete and Galvalume, “is totally green by scale,” says Reeves, who has dedicated a blog to the project.

The house reaches above the neighboring homes but remains architecturally united; its windows reference those of the house immediately next door. “The neighbors’ houses on either side vary in their setbacks, so we found a compromise that would work with both,” notes the architect. Photo courtesy Linebox Studio. 

Originally appeared in Toronto's Mini House
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Modern cabin with geometric roof

Katja and Adam Thom’s cabin, on an exposed postglacial archipelago in Canada’s windswept Georgian Bay, is more than eight miles from the nearest road. The winglike dips in the roofline situate and hold the house against the region’s brutal winds. As the outdoor chairs attest, lifestyles here pass easily between inside and out; a long hike and a good swim are always just steps away Photo by Mark Giglio. 

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Originally appeared in On the Rock
7 / 7
renovated modernist home in Austin exterior

A 1960s home with an unusual awning gets upgraded with 21st-century conveniences while maintaining its Austin street cred. The roofline, set on top of glass clerestories on a transparent central volume, begat the building’s local nickname: Butterfly House. Photo by Brent Humphreys.

Photo by Brent Humphreys.

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