Do, in fact, pass "Go" and collect $200—the gable-roof buildings we’ve rounded up are truly winning. The cabins, sheds, and other peaked projects below remind us of the famous Monopoly game pieces shaped like the archetypal house. Playing with form and tradition, these homes, you could say, are game-changers.
Neighborliness can seem like a thing of the past in many suburbs today, a trend that architects Andrew Maynard and Mark Austin were hoping to counter when they approached the renovation and extension of a weatherboard home outside Melbourne for a couple and their eight-year-old twins. Instead of designing another closed-off contemporary work of architecture, the architects created a village, wherein a series of friendly, gabled structures lead out from the original house and border an open garden. The front yard has a communal vegetable patch that neighbors are invited to use; the back fence, though tall, is see-through; and the gates are also designed to be left open wide.
As one of the most sought-after architectural photographers in Texas, Austin native Casey Dunn has developed a keen eye for design. So, when it came time to tackle his dream home from the ground up, he turned to his longtime friend Arthur Furman to help realize his thoughtfully crafted East Austin abode. At the time, Arthur was still working for his father’s firm at Furman & Keil Architects and had yet to start his own practice. Yet Casey’s belief in Arthur’s talent helped spur the young architect to leave his job and—with his wife, Annie-Laurie Grabiel—launch Side Angle Side, an Austin–based architectural practice that remembers Casa Casey as their first project.
When Per Franson was tasked with building a minimalist family home for Fatima Olivero-Reinius, a web designer, and her husband, Johan, an advertising executive, he wasn’t expecting to sidestep the usual challenges of construction. But builder Michael Johansson offered a novel solution: he and his team of carpenters would build the structure in a hangar-like space in Johansson’s hometown of Kalmar, some 260 miles from the building site. The small city is located in southeastern Sweden in the region of Småland, where both Franson and Wreland—who has since shifted his primary focus to furniture-making—were raised. It’s an area steeped in craftsmanship, with a wealth of small factories, carpenters, and builders, and its influence extends to the heart of the architects’ practice.
For their home in Byron Bay, Australia, architect and builder Tim Sharpe of Sharpe Design Construct and his wife Rani Blancpain combined the Australian wool shed, European mansard, and steep-pitched gabled roofs to create a home that would become better with age. "So we can focus on living in it and enjoying it, rather than maintaining it," explains Sharpe. Sharpe and Blancpain designed Twin Barns to be not only low-maintenance and durable, but also comfortable and thermally efficient. They used hardy materials, as in the galvanized-steel flat pan roof and Australian spotted gum VJ board, which would both age well and develop a gray patina over time.
Located 120 miles east of Albuquerque, it's not hard to see why this building—titled the Element House—needed to be self-sufficient. Designed by MOS Architects, the residence was commissioned by the Museum of Outdoor Arts to host guests visiting a nearby installation: artist Charles Ross' Star Axis, a massive outdoor stellar observatory. The aluminum-clad structure consists of several prefabricated units joined to make a three-bedroom residence, complete with a living room, dining room, and kitchen. The 1,543-square-foot project was built to Passive House standards, meaning it's hyper-efficient in insulating from energy loss (or in this case, energy gain from the desert heat).
A contemporary take on traditional Austrian farmhouses, the Höller House evokes simplistic beauty at its finest. Designed by Innauer-Matt Architekten, this newly built home is nestled into a steep hill just outside a village in the idyllic Bregenzerwald valley in Western Austria. To help blend the building into the landscape, the sections of the home visible above the slope are cladded in natural and unfinished spruce sourced from the owner's own forest.
In the rural Belgian town of Smetlede, polycarbonate—a type of extra-strong plastic—is often used to sheathe porches and verandas. When architect Indra Janda designed what she calls a "garden room" on her parents’ estate, the humble, inexpensive, and easy-to-work-with material was a natural choice. "But I wanted to use it in a different kind of way," Janda says. The 484-square-foot room offers a cool respite from summer sun and a warm place to relax in winter.
In 2017, Stockholm-based medical university Karolinska Institutet posed a question: "Is it possible to reduce stress during 72 hours in Swedish nature?" As an experiment, they invited five people with stressful jobs—including an American events coordinator, a French cab driver, and a German police officer—to go off the grid for three days in custom-made glass cabins on Henriksholm Island in Western Sweden. The findings were as they hoped: researchers saw a 70 percent decrease of stress in the participants. And now, the 72 Hour Cabins have opened up as holiday retreats to the general public.
Acclaimed for his organic Eco and Snake Houses in Portugal’s Pedras Salgadas Park, Lisbon–based architect Luis Rebelo de Andrade has added another recent project to his remarkable portfolio. Known as House 3000, this striking, fire-engine red home is unmissable amidst the dark green trees in its woodland site in Herdade da Considerad. The 4,356-square-foot residence was conceived as a simple child’s drawing of a gable-roofed house with clean, sharp outlines, and simple doors and windows. Rebelo de Andrade compares the dwelling's form to the homes of the first settlers in the American West.
When a creative couple—a ceramic artist and a music aficionado— wanted extra space in their small two-bedroom home for their growing family and professional pursuits, they reached out to local firm Upstairs Studio Architecture to craft a solution. Not only did the team give the dated home a modern revamp, they also added an extension to fit a new master bedroom suite and study. Now, nestled among live oaks and tropical flora, the recently renovated bungalow stands out from the lush landscape with minimalist and monochromatic architecture.
Some people’s search for a new home begins with a list of needs and wants that stretches around the block. Daniel Freeman and Karen James of Vancouver, British Columbia, were not so fussy. "Don’t worry about the house. Just find a spot," was their mantra as they combed the city’s white-hot real estate market for a place to nest. Under such conditions, the couple were glad to secure a timeworn, one-bedroom bungalow located not far from their previous residence, even if it wasn’t really suited to their needs. After interviewing a few local firms, the couple were won over by Measured Architecture for its "warm but modern" style, as they describe it. Together with Powers Construction, Measured oversaw the complete demolition of the existing house—with upwards of 95 percent being recycled—and its replacement with a double-volume, pitched-roof structure that relates to the neighborhood’s 1940s bungalows in massing and scale. Initially, the architects had presented monochromatic, neutral options for the exterior, but Karen and Daniel pushed for something more unorthodox. Cuddington came back with a pixelated 30-tone solution, which, for cost reasons, was eventually edited down to seven shades of soft greens and mauve-ish reds.
On a sloping site near a defunct rock quarry on the remote lobster-fishing island of Vinalhaven, Maine, a three-part summer home overlooks a framed view of Penobscot Bay. Working around the site’s unique topography, design-build firm GO Logic created each structure at varying elevations.
Teeming with owls, moose, and black bears, the snowy forests of Eastern Quebec make an ideal site for a winter fortress. It was perfect for Canadian architecture firm _naturehumaine’s latest client, a behind-the-scenes movie guy who wanted a secluded place to recuperate from intensive, exhausting projects. Architects Stéphane Rasselet and David Dworkind delivered with a strikingly simple concept. They anchored two stacked, rectangular volumes into a steep mountainside surrounded by awe-inspiring vistas. "We love the sensation of floating amongst the trees that you feel as you look out from the cantilevered second floor," Dworkind says.
Powered by petrodollars and famously devoid of zoning laws, Houston, Texas, hasn’t always been a friend to historical—or affordable—architecture. Now this humid Gulf Coast metropolis is getting an injection of updated mid-century cool with Row on 25th. The nine-home development is located in a former no-man’s-land on the northern edge of Houston Heights, a hip neighborhood of tree-lined streets, restaurants, and independent businesses, just a 10-minute drive from downtown. The Row brings together investor and developer Holden Shannon, and husband-and-wife development, design, and construction team Matthew and Tina Ford. The Fords, who own Shade House Development and construction firm, Esplanade Homes, are veteran Houston builders specializing in green building.
It seems impossible to be a minimalist and maximalist at the same time, but that's what Sven Matt achieved last year, when he designed a 1,600-square-foot home in the hilly west Austrian town of Bregenzerwald for his brother Björn and sister-in-law Julia. The house's basic pared-down shape contrasts with its intricate, latticework shell—both inspired by regional design. "The use of wood, formal reduction and still a rich, ornamented facade is a traditional motif," he explains.
Many young parents must choose, agonizingly, between the convenience of the city or the spaciousness of the country. In Fitzroy North, an inner suburb of Melbourne, designer Dan Gayfer took on the seemingly impossible task of delivering both for a couple with a toddler and a dog. The location, a traditional terrace house on a narrow lot, posed serious physical limitations. But by carefully apportioning each square foot and prioritizing access to daylight, Gayfer realized an addition as vivacious as his clients.
Working on a job site 40 hours a week, a construction company’s project manager naturally needs a home away from home, and a place to protect them from the elements—especially in a chilly locale like Vancouver, British Columbia.To solve this dilemma, custom home builder Powers Construction started designing and fabricating mobile workspaces that they could easily transport and drop on their job sites for long periods of time. "It was a fun design process and branding exercise," says Patrick Powers, owner of the Vancouver-based company that builds contemporary residences ranging from smaller economical homes to 12,000-square-foot dwellings. "When clients visit, this is where we hang out. It’s where we review and talk about the schedule of the project."
In a city known for its progressive politics, it’s no surprise that a Seattleite would build a hyper-efficient Passive House–certified structure with a prototype operating system to connect all its home automation features. Homeowner Dave Bowie spent his career as a chemical engineer for energy companies. So when it came time to settle down for retirement, Dave and his daughter, Tiffany Bowie of Malboeuf Bowie Architecture, agreed he should build a house that pushed the boundaries of energy conservation. The potential of the project electrified Dave. He describes with excitement how the house "substantially exceeds the standard energy code" and notes with pride that the house will use 90 percent less energy than its neighbors consume. This efficiency is managed by a Kirio operating system that connects and controls the ventilation, lighting, heating, and energy metering. Tiffany discovered Kirio when she met its founder, and Dave’s house is one of the few test homes to try it. Using the Kirio app on his phone, Dave can do everything from monitor the home’s heat-recovery ventilation system to track the electricity usage down to a tenth of a volt.
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