9 Cor-Ten Steel Homes That Have Aged to Perfection
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9 Cor-Ten Steel Homes That Have Aged to Perfection

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By Duncan Nielsen
Over time, these homes have taken on beautiful, earthen tones, settling into their natural surroundings.

Building with Cor-Ten steel—weathering steel's nom de plume—is a bit like watching a painting slowly come to life over time. Exposure to the elements adds textured hues of red and orange to the material until it steps into a character completely its own. From the Dwell archive, we bring you nine Cor-Ten steel homes with facades that will continue to shift through shades of ochre, amber, rust, and sienna.

1. A Steel-Clad Prefab in Northern California

The weeHouse exteriors are clad in corrugated Cor-Ten, but with a custom pattern of folds to create an organic randomness. The foundations were designed with a shallow recess around the top to make the modules look like they’re hovering. After they bought the property in early 2014, the Siegels camped there for two summers while they saved up money and planned a permanent structure. In his research, BJ came across this design, a customizable prefab house by Alchemy Architects. "Of all the things that I found, I was drawn to that one because it was absolutely the simplest and cleanest," he says.

A modern interpretation of the traditional dogtrot home, Camp Baird comprises two cabins placed along an L-shaped orientation. An elongated, solar-heated lap pool runs the length of the south-facing side, alongside an expansive ipe deck that measures nearly 1,600 square feet. 

Twelve-year-old Hannah Cutler worked mightily to design and build a tiny cabin on an island in Puget Sound with her father, architect Jim Cutler. Along the way, she learned a valuable life lesson: If you can see it in your mind, you can make it.

When the Casali family gave Michael Krus and Prishram Jain of TACT Architecture free rein to work with unconventional materials, the architects responded by creating a geometric 4,300-square-foot smart home encased in aluminum panels by Agway Metals. The front facade features Cor-Ten steel fabricated by Praxy Cladding.

Owners Rachel and Nolan Ploegman's sons, Alex and Logan, run along the perimeter of their Parallelogram House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Its raw shell and stretched geometry were conceived by 5468796 Architecture and executed by Concord Projects. Brunswick Steel assisted with the bent-plate Cor-Ten columns.

Surprisingly, this cozy and partially earth-sheltered family home—which is, according to Gavin, "one step away from Passive House standards"—started life as a series of derelict and semi- derelict farmstead buildings in raw and rural Aberdeenshire, in the hinterland of Scotland’s northeast coast. For the new structure, Grace & Webb fabricated a laser-cut steel balcony.

Alex Gil and Claudia DeSimio created a duplex in an apartment building where they’d been renting for years in Brooklyn, New York, and set to work gutting the interior and adding a new rooftop addition clad in panels of Cor-Ten steel.

For Gabriel Ramirez and his partner Sarah Mason Williams, following the Sea Ranch rules—local covenants guide new designs—didn’t mean slipping into Sea Ranch clichés. The architects love Cor-Ten steel, with its ruddy and almost organic surface, and they made it the main exterior material, along with board-formed concrete and ipe wood. The Cor-Ten, which quickly turned an autumnal rust in the sea air, and the concrete, with its grain and crannies, mean the house isn’t a pristine box, Ramirez says. His Neutra house "was very crisp and clean," he says. "This house is more distressed, more wabi-sabi."

If ever there was a design for a home that was informed almost exclusively by its setting, it’s the one architect Greg Faulkner devised for a wooded site in Northern California. The construction is a rigorously pared-down display of architectural elements that facilitate engagement with the natural environment. "This was a watershed project for the firm," Faulkner says. "We were intensely focused on producing a quiet presence. The existing use patterns of the site and the path of the sun and the wind drove the design." The property is on an ex-urban infill site located on almost eight acres of a Bay Area suburb. Technically a remodel, the house utilized the footprint of the existing house as a basis for a new floor plan.

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