The field of neuroaesthetics teaches us about our biological responses to beautiful design. The thoughtful homes below showcase how lighting, colors, textures, and shapes can coalesce to become bona fide sanctuaries. Whether it be a focus on outdoor connection, aging-in-place, or accessibility, these projects are designed to promote wellness in mind and body.
Set within the East Asian community of Richmond, BC, Curio House allows two Chinese scholars—the architect’s grandparents—to age in place. "I have a very close relationship with them," says Haeccity Studio Architecture cofounder Shirley Shen, "and it was kind of a family endeavor." The resulting design integrates principles from feng shui, a set of spatial laws meant to direct energy, and siheyuan, a historical courtyard house.
Located on the rural outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, Serenbe is a picturesque community comprising four hamlets that focus on arts, agriculture, health, and education. Designed to be a center for quiet living for creatives and their families, the newest development, Mado, wants to focus on bringing the outdoors in, but in a modern setting. This is exactly the vibe that Iowa– and Serenbe–based designer Rebecca Cartwright achieved with The Naturally House, a tree house-inspired haven.
Designed as a cascading form along the sloping landscape, this glass home in a Brazilian forest has no interior partitions or walls. Traveling downward from the entrance reveals progressively larger spaces, ending in a 17-foot-high living and dining area.
The health-conscious design is replete with spacious outdoor porches and large windows that invite in the California sunshine. Recently, the home was put on the market for the first time in nearly 60 years.
This Sydney home was designed to be an emblem for climate-conscious design. Aspiring to create a self-sustaining mini ecosystem, the architect-owner embraced clean and renewable energy with a facade of photovoltaic panels, a garden rooftop, and myriad green details.
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When envisioning the perfect home for their family, Kiley and Jim agreed that accessibility was paramount—access to the outdoors, and access for their daughters, Langley and Boelyn, who have special needs and rely on their wheelchairs to get around. After purchasing a narrow lot in Downers Grove, Illinois, the couple reached out to Chicago-based firm Kuklinski + Rappe Architects to design a residence that would serve their daughters, their son Huck, and their own various needs. Crafted to adapt to the family's lifestyle over the years, the home will provide lifelong health and happiness.
Blending an intimate connection with nature and the surrounding landscape, the 1961 Wolff Residence sits on an almost vertical plot above Sunset Plaza and is arguably one of Lautner’s best midcentury designs.
Architects Melissa and Jacob Brillhart wanted a home that took advantage of a lush lot and minimized any impact on the landscape. Drawing on principles of tropical modernism and the dogtrot model, the couple designed and built a simple, practical structure that is rich in cultural meaning. "There is something to be said for living in a glass house totally surrounded by nature," says Melissa. "I can't put my finger on it, but it has an impact on how I feel. It just isn’t the same experience as living in a house with traditional punched openings."
Just a short walk away from two of Norway’s largest hospitals in Oslo resides a tranquil forest featuring the trickling Sognsvann Creek. It’s in this lush oasis that Norwegian architectural and design firm Snøhetta has built the Outdoor Care Retreat, associated with the Friluftssykehuset Foundation. The project allows nature to provide a healing respite for patients who’ve been kept in isolation. For that purpose, the interiors have been left relatively bare, in stark contrast to the crowded, tall hospital buildings they’re associated with.
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