25 Modern Homes That Kill it With Concrete

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By Dwell and Byron Loker
Extremely durable, versatile, and sustainable to boot, concrete is a smart building material, as these homes show.

A robust building material, concrete can withstand extreme weather conditions and requires little maintenance as a non-porous substance. It boasts excellent thermal mass, which reduces energy spent on heating and cooling, takes less energy to produce compared to other materials, and boasts low CO2 emissions. Which is all to say that we're a fan of concrete homes—check out some of our favorite projects using this raw, versatile material.

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The rear of the house looks onto a lush backyard. The rough, industrial prefabricated concrete panels by the German manufacturer Syspro are the building blocks of the home.

The rear of the house looks onto a lush backyard. The rough, industrial prefabricated concrete panels by the German manufacturer Syspro are the building blocks of the home.

The defining gesture of a house on the Big Island of Hawaii by architect Craig Steely is a 139-foot-long, four-foot-tall concrete beam spanning the roof. Owners Craig Mayer and Rick Penland relax on the lanai, or porch.

The defining gesture of a house on the Big Island of Hawaii by architect Craig Steely is a 139-foot-long, four-foot-tall concrete beam spanning the roof. Owners Craig Mayer and Rick Penland relax on the lanai, or porch.

Designers Christopher Robertson and Vivi Nguyen-Robertson conceived their house as an unfolding sequence of simple geometric forms: a low concrete wall, a concrete cube, and a box clad in Siberian larch.

Designers Christopher Robertson and Vivi Nguyen-Robertson conceived their house as an unfolding sequence of simple geometric forms: a low concrete wall, a concrete cube, and a box clad in Siberian larch.

At the family home of Israeli architect Pitsou Kedem, modern and light-filled interiors enliven a brutalist concrete structure in the city of Ramat HaSharon near Tel Aviv.

At the family home of Israeli architect Pitsou Kedem, modern and light-filled interiors enliven a brutalist concrete structure in the city of Ramat HaSharon near Tel Aviv.

Named after the rural Ecuadorean parish in which it's located, the El Quinche House, designed by Felipe Escudero, sits in a valley in the Andes and has stunning views of the mountainside.

Named after the rural Ecuadorean parish in which it's located, the El Quinche House, designed by Felipe Escudero, sits in a valley in the Andes and has stunning views of the mountainside.

The interior consists entirely of exposed concrete that's accented by wood. The ground floor features double-height ceilings that maximize natural light from the light wells above.

The interior consists entirely of exposed concrete that's accented by wood. The ground floor features double-height ceilings that maximize natural light from the light wells above.

Inside Out Architecture renovated an apartment in the Clerkenwell section of central London, removing interior walls to create an open, loft-like living space. 

Inside Out Architecture renovated an apartment in the Clerkenwell section of central London, removing interior walls to create an open, loft-like living space. 

Gregory and Caryn Katz are dwarfed beneath the cantilevered concrete overhang, which houses the bedroom on the upper level. The stackable glass doors that run beneath allow the house to open completely to the yard and swimming pool, soften the severity of the concrete, and blur the boundary between indoors and out.

Gregory and Caryn Katz are dwarfed beneath the cantilevered concrete overhang, which houses the bedroom on the upper level. The stackable glass doors that run beneath allow the house to open completely to the yard and swimming pool, soften the severity of the concrete, and blur the boundary between indoors and out.

In one of the last industrial pockets of West Town, UrbanLab’s Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn created a modern live/work space that speaks to the neighborhood’s history in form and function. The Dukane Precast concrete panels were acid-etched for a more finished look.

In one of the last industrial pockets of West Town, UrbanLab’s Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn created a modern live/work space that speaks to the neighborhood’s history in form and function. The Dukane Precast concrete panels were acid-etched for a more finished look.

Like the other buildings onsite, John Hix designed Casa Solaris to take advantage of the natural forces here in Vieques; wind, sun and rain. By creating open spaces, where basically the fourth wall is missing, John created a space that takes advantage of the trade winds that flow through the Vieques hills. By placing the open wall towards the trade winds (to the East), the room is constantly cooled, leaving no need for air conditioning. 

Like the other buildings onsite, John Hix designed Casa Solaris to take advantage of the natural forces here in Vieques; wind, sun and rain. By creating open spaces, where basically the fourth wall is missing, John created a space that takes advantage of the trade winds that flow through the Vieques hills. By placing the open wall towards the trade winds (to the East), the room is constantly cooled, leaving no need for air conditioning. 

In relation to the materiality requirements of the clients, the architects decided that the ground floor of the house, would be resolved with visible concrete partitions towards the public space. These form a continuous plinth that is drilled according to the needs of the rooms that define and on which rests a lighter structure of metal profiles and panels with minimal openings to the streets and with external termination of wooden boards.

In relation to the materiality requirements of the clients, the architects decided that the ground floor of the house, would be resolved with visible concrete partitions towards the public space. These form a continuous plinth that is drilled according to the needs of the rooms that define and on which rests a lighter structure of metal profiles and panels with minimal openings to the streets and with external termination of wooden boards.

Smitten from the start with a 1970s concrete villa in rural Belgium, a resident and her designer embark on a sensitive renovation that excises the bad (carpeted walls, dark rooms) and highlights the good (idyllic setting, statement architecture).

Smitten from the start with a 1970s concrete villa in rural Belgium, a resident and her designer embark on a sensitive renovation that excises the bad (carpeted walls, dark rooms) and highlights the good (idyllic setting, statement architecture).

Despite being set in concrete, an idyllic modular retreat is built to go with the flow.  When husband and wife Tarek and Cynthia decided that their aging home on Martha’s Vineyard needed to be completely replaced, they began a long search for an architect who not only would deliver a successful collaboration, but also lived on the island. It was not a small order, but serendipity—and some sleuthing—eventually played its role. Large, dramatic openings bring transparency and contrast to the 10-inch-thick concrete facade, framing perspectival views of the landscape.

Despite being set in concrete, an idyllic modular retreat is built to go with the flow.  When husband and wife Tarek and Cynthia decided that their aging home on Martha’s Vineyard needed to be completely replaced, they began a long search for an architect who not only would deliver a successful collaboration, but also lived on the island. It was not a small order, but serendipity—and some sleuthing—eventually played its role. Large, dramatic openings bring transparency and contrast to the 10-inch-thick concrete facade, framing perspectival views of the landscape.

Belgium, North of the West-Flemish village of Westouter one can find a plot in an open and rural landscape, heavily influenced by the typical agricultural activities in the area. The setting has had a great impact on the design of this single family house, which is solemnly surrounded by a few farms and a group of trees here and there. The atypical shape of the parcel, together with the not so ideal orientation of the plot have been transformed into remarkable assets for the project. 

Belgium, North of the West-Flemish village of Westouter one can find a plot in an open and rural landscape, heavily influenced by the typical agricultural activities in the area. The setting has had a great impact on the design of this single family house, which is solemnly surrounded by a few farms and a group of trees here and there. The atypical shape of the parcel, together with the not so ideal orientation of the plot have been transformed into remarkable assets for the project. 

An undulating, S-shaped interior wall guides the programs within this Brutalist-inspired concrete abode.  In the city of Hsinchu in northern Taiwan, Taipei-based firm Yuan Architects designed a four-level dwelling with a Brutalist-style, raw concrete shell. An S-shaped wall weaves through the interiors, carving up public and private spaces shared by three generations of a family. 

An undulating, S-shaped interior wall guides the programs within this Brutalist-inspired concrete abode.  In the city of Hsinchu in northern Taiwan, Taipei-based firm Yuan Architects designed a four-level dwelling with a Brutalist-style, raw concrete shell. An S-shaped wall weaves through the interiors, carving up public and private spaces shared by three generations of a family. 

In Tokyo, Japan, where the houses are crammed cheek by jowl, two old friends from architecture school have created a 793-square-foot home out of canted concrete boxes.  Tamotsu Nakada needn’t do much to reach his neighbors: He can simply extend his arm and touch two of their houses, each of which is a mere foot from his property line, from his small terrace. "Having more light and air was important to me," says Nakada. But when Tokyo houses are packed in like commuters during rush hour, you need a smarter brand of density.

In Tokyo, Japan, where the houses are crammed cheek by jowl, two old friends from architecture school have created a 793-square-foot home out of canted concrete boxes.  Tamotsu Nakada needn’t do much to reach his neighbors: He can simply extend his arm and touch two of their houses, each of which is a mere foot from his property line, from his small terrace. "Having more light and air was important to me," says Nakada. But when Tokyo houses are packed in like commuters during rush hour, you need a smarter brand of density.

Sitting on the edge of Puertos de Beceite national park in Aragon, Spain, is Casa Solo Pezo, the first property in the Solo Office collection of cutting-edge, architect-designed vacation rentals. Designed by the award-winning and MoMA-exhibited Chilean architects at Pezo Von Ellrichshausen, Casa Solo Pezo features a large concrete square structure that's set on top of a smaller concrete square base. 

Sitting on the edge of Puertos de Beceite national park in Aragon, Spain, is Casa Solo Pezo, the first property in the Solo Office collection of cutting-edge, architect-designed vacation rentals. Designed by the award-winning and MoMA-exhibited Chilean architects at Pezo Von Ellrichshausen, Casa Solo Pezo features a large concrete square structure that's set on top of a smaller concrete square base. 

Built with specially-formulated concrete made of volcanic ash, this micro-house in Tokyo maximizes space through vertical construction.  When Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier TEKUTO received a brief from their clients to build a distinctive, environmentally-conscious concrete home, they embarked on a two-and-a-half year journey of spacial and material exploration. Built in 2015, the result—the R Torso C project—recently won the Overall Excellence Award and first place in the low-rise buildings category at the 2017 American Concrete Institute Awards.

Built with specially-formulated concrete made of volcanic ash, this micro-house in Tokyo maximizes space through vertical construction.  When Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier TEKUTO received a brief from their clients to build a distinctive, environmentally-conscious concrete home, they embarked on a two-and-a-half year journey of spacial and material exploration. Built in 2015, the result—the R Torso C project—recently won the Overall Excellence Award and first place in the low-rise buildings category at the 2017 American Concrete Institute Awards.

The structure was inspired by "Walden", a book written by Henry David Thoreau about living a simple life in a natural environment. Inside, guests will find a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area. A terrace with a concrete table becomes the ideal outdoor dining space. Guests can relax in the comfortable hammock, cool down in the private pool, walk through the nearby gardens, or take a swim in the ocean, which is just five minutes away from the house. The minimalist structure is made of concrete and features wooden accents that add a rustic warmth to the interior. Surrounded by vegetation and sand, the peaceful, comfortable and simple house is the perfect choice for a relaxing getaway in the middle of nature. 

The structure was inspired by "Walden", a book written by Henry David Thoreau about living a simple life in a natural environment. Inside, guests will find a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area. A terrace with a concrete table becomes the ideal outdoor dining space. Guests can relax in the comfortable hammock, cool down in the private pool, walk through the nearby gardens, or take a swim in the ocean, which is just five minutes away from the house. The minimalist structure is made of concrete and features wooden accents that add a rustic warmth to the interior. Surrounded by vegetation and sand, the peaceful, comfortable and simple house is the perfect choice for a relaxing getaway in the middle of nature. 

The Wall House in Cascais, a coastal town in an area known as the Portuguese Riviera, is an 11,840-square-foot home made with concrete, wood, and glass—and boasts a pair of large swimming pools on two levels.  Designed by José Guedes Cruz, César Marques, and Marco Marinho of the Portugal-based firm Guedes Cruz Architects, The Wall House is laid out in an open-box plan, and is fitted with plenty of glass windows to enhance the synergy between its interior and exterior spaces.

The Wall House in Cascais, a coastal town in an area known as the Portuguese Riviera, is an 11,840-square-foot home made with concrete, wood, and glass—and boasts a pair of large swimming pools on two levels.  Designed by José Guedes Cruz, César Marques, and Marco Marinho of the Portugal-based firm Guedes Cruz Architects, The Wall House is laid out in an open-box plan, and is fitted with plenty of glass windows to enhance the synergy between its interior and exterior spaces.

An Italian architecture studio offers an updated take on the vacation cabin.  It's an ideal setting for a getaway: rolling hills dotted with villages and castles in Italy's Oltre Po Pavese region. A young Milanese couple wanted a small vacation home on their 3000-square-meter lot there—and 35a Studio delivered, by way of this 120-square-meter cabin decked out in textural concrete and strategically accented with wood.

An Italian architecture studio offers an updated take on the vacation cabin.  It's an ideal setting for a getaway: rolling hills dotted with villages and castles in Italy's Oltre Po Pavese region. A young Milanese couple wanted a small vacation home on their 3000-square-meter lot there—and 35a Studio delivered, by way of this 120-square-meter cabin decked out in textural concrete and strategically accented with wood.

As the city outgrew its original sandstone fortifications at the turn of the last century, outlying neighborhoods sprang up with suburban homes that turned their backs on the tropical surroundings.<br><br>The couple bought one such house, in the Miramar neighborhood, and lived in its dark warren for seven years before contemplating a change. Built in the 1940s, when Puerto Ricans tended to eat and entertain outdoors, the home had little space for guests. The yard was big enough for entertaining, but it lacked privacy and could be reached only by walking through a roundabout of first-floor rooms.

As the city outgrew its original sandstone fortifications at the turn of the last century, outlying neighborhoods sprang up with suburban homes that turned their backs on the tropical surroundings.

The couple bought one such house, in the Miramar neighborhood, and lived in its dark warren for seven years before contemplating a change. Built in the 1940s, when Puerto Ricans tended to eat and entertain outdoors, the home had little space for guests. The yard was big enough for entertaining, but it lacked privacy and could be reached only by walking through a roundabout of first-floor rooms.

"Simple rectangular  volumes with simple details" is how designer Thomas Egidi describes the house he created for architect Carlos Dell’Acqua in Malibu. "I wanted to stress its horizontality," Dell’Acqua notes. Inside the dwelling, which is entered via a bridge that pierces the 25-foot-high main facade, the view  opens up to a panorama of mountains and sea. Ipe flooring is used for the walkway and throughout the interior.

"Simple rectangular volumes with simple details" is how designer Thomas Egidi describes the house he created for architect Carlos Dell’Acqua in Malibu. "I wanted to stress its horizontality," Dell’Acqua notes. Inside the dwelling, which is entered via a bridge that pierces the 25-foot-high main facade, the view opens up to a panorama of mountains and sea. Ipe flooring is used for the walkway and throughout the interior.

A cross-hatch covering adds a playful note to a home in Ljubljana, Slovenia.&nbsp; Architect Rok Oman expects the tic-tac-toe comparisons anytime he shows visitors Villa Criss-Cross, a renovated home in Mirje, a historic district in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. The cross-hatch pattern showcased in the building's steel-paneled facade references a pyramid built into the city's stone wall by Jože Plečnik, a famed architect whose Baroque work has become an urban signature. Oman wanted to create similar sense of silent beauty out of rough material with this renovation, which juxtaposes wood, concrete, and steel to create lightness and space. "The panels are perforated, so you get a sense of transparency and can still see the sun," he says. "In this way, we wanted to make the envelope seem light, while recreating the roughness of the former plaster facade." Oman expounded on the textures and motifs of Villa Criss-Cross, which looks down the street at Plečnik's famous pyramid.&nbsp;

A cross-hatch covering adds a playful note to a home in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  Architect Rok Oman expects the tic-tac-toe comparisons anytime he shows visitors Villa Criss-Cross, a renovated home in Mirje, a historic district in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. The cross-hatch pattern showcased in the building's steel-paneled facade references a pyramid built into the city's stone wall by Jože Plečnik, a famed architect whose Baroque work has become an urban signature. Oman wanted to create similar sense of silent beauty out of rough material with this renovation, which juxtaposes wood, concrete, and steel to create lightness and space. "The panels are perforated, so you get a sense of transparency and can still see the sun," he says. "In this way, we wanted to make the envelope seem light, while recreating the roughness of the former plaster facade." Oman expounded on the textures and motifs of Villa Criss-Cross, which looks down the street at Plečnik's famous pyramid. 

Nestled in an apple grove in Sebastopol, California, the Orchard House is a rural idyll. And with the voracious design appetites of a family of gastronomically inclined clients, this concrete prefab construction is quite literally a moveable feast of a home.

Nestled in an apple grove in Sebastopol, California, the Orchard House is a rural idyll. And with the voracious design appetites of a family of gastronomically inclined clients, this concrete prefab construction is quite literally a moveable feast of a home.