Stand out from the cookie cutter crowd with these inventive and unusual home exteriors that put the fun in functional.
Choosing a single color to represent your house is daunting, which is why Ilhan and Kamer Eser went with many. Using a pearlescent paint that appears to change color with the position of the sun, their net-zero home in California gradually transitions from bright green to deep bronze between dawn and dusk.
The paint does more than add visual interest, it contributes to the net-zero home's overall sustainability. On the roof, which features an impressive solar array, Valspar’s Fluropon coating in Surrey Beige heightens solar reflectivity.
Architect Stephen Chung’s modernist take on suburban New England living didn’t exactly align with the prevailing colonial and Cape Cod aesthetic that dotted the block. So when he added a second story to this home, Chung made a clever concession: it would directly reflect their traditional tastes—while simultaneously embodying his own—with mirrored siding and plate-glass windows.
“The first floor was about making something warm and woody that would blend into the natural environment,” architect Stephen Chung says of his Wayland, Massachusetts, home. “The second floor was a chance to experiment.”
The Lighthouse, by British architects Sheppard Robson, seeks to redefine the future of residential energy by plugging into the sky itself. The most unique feature of the home is the windcatcher, or the vertical void that cuts down through the center of the house from the roof.
The most unique feature of the Lighthouse is the windcatcher, or the vertical void that cuts down through the center of the house from the roof.
With these modern-day lodges for Kansas City campers heading to the country, a Missouri architecture firm puts a fresh face on a 100-year-old Girl Scout tradition. The two-tone corrugated metal cladding of the cabins helps the sheds blend into the landscape, along with windows custom-colored by the manufacturer to match.
The two-tone corrugated metal cladding helps the sheds blend into the landscape, along with windows custom-colored by the manufacturer to match. Photo by Mike Sinclair.
Daisuke Tokuyama told Japanese architect Makoto Tanijiri that he wanted a light-filled home for his family of five—a tall order, considering his narrow property in Hiroshima was boxed in on three sides. To creatively solve the problem, Tanijiri skipped conventional walls altogether and wrapped the entire three-story steel structure in polycarbonate plastic.
A glowing home in Japan has milky-white, one-and-a-half-inch plastic sheets wrapped around the exterior to let in light and provide insulation.
Rich, dark concrete panels and colorfully dispersed windows wrap the exterior of the custom furniture–filled Venice, California, home of architect Lorcan O’Herlihy.
Architect Lorcan O’Herlihy created a remarkable residence for himself and his wife, Cornelia, just off Pacific Avenue in Venice, California. Photos by: Misha Gravenor
From an unlikely source comes a clever privacy solution for a pair of modern town houses in Los Angeles. Product developer Eric Chu and architect Whitney Sander found the solution at wall coverings firm Astek Inc., in Van Nuys, California: bus graphics.
With the idea of communal living all too prone to conjure visions of student squalor or hippy homeliness, Villa van Vijven comes as a refreshing surprise. The strikingly sculptural bright orange building, reclining in the flat Dutch landscape, accommodates five families under a single, stylish roof.
Villa Van Vijven cuts a truly remarkable figure, a striking orange figure on the otherwise flat green landscape.
Charles Gwathmey’s residential masterpiece, a modest but pioneering home for his parents in the Hamptons, looks as fresh today as it did in 1965. The wood-frame residence and studio are clad in vertical cedar siding—back then, a daring competitor to clapboard—instead of concrete to save costs.
The wood-frame residence and studio are clad in vertical cedar siding—back then, a daring competitor to clapboard—instead of concrete to save costs. The effect is equally seamless, however: “If you drive by it fast enough,” Charles Gwathmey once said, “you still might mistake it for a concrete house.” Photo by Norman McGrath.
The Rietveld Schröder house, built in 1926 by Bertus Mulder, is often described as the first truly modern building. The Building, as it’s called, is a dreamlike minimalist structure composed of two white, glass-punctuated rectangles, one balancing with seeming weightlessness on top of the other.
The Rietveld Schröder house, built in 1926, is often described as the first truly modern building.
Tuned into its sylvan setting, this affordable green home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is a modern take on the surrounding centuries-old structures. The bright green paint on its facade contrasts with the Cor-Ten steel cladding.
Tuned into its sylvan setting, this affordable green home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is a modern take on the surrounding centuries-old structures. photos by: Richard Leo Johnson, Atlantic Archives
Horizonal window bays form protruding oval-shaped “eyes” that intermittently protrude from the facade of the office complex designed by J. Mayer H. Architects, peering over the public park below. A pure whiteinterior reflects the abundant daylight pouring in from all sides, making the space largely shadowless.
An der Alster 1, Hamburg, Germany
David Sarti's little red house in Seattle's sleepy Central District proves that a bit of land, ambition, and carpentry know-how can go a long way. Sarti used cement board to clad the entire structure. Painted red and buffered from the walls of the house with a complex flashing system, the boards give the house a geometrical depth, as well as shielding it from the seemingly constant rain.
David Sarti's little red house in Seattle's sleepy Central District proves that a bit of land, ambition, and carpentry know-how can go a long way. The rear facade. Photo by Misha Gravenor.
This colorful set of detached homes is an innovative environmental housing feature created by British architects Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners for the wonderfully un-British Oxley Woods development. Designed in response to a government competition to create a £60,000 ($121,000) eco-friendly home, the panelized Oxley Woods houses are manufactured off-site, transported, filled with recycled-paper insulation, and erected in about seven days.
The roof-mounted EcoHat conceals solar panels and gives a unique look to the property.
By creatively manipulating the angles and levels of exterior surfaces on this modest Polish country house, architect Peter Kuczia achieved exceptionally high solar exposure, increasing its capacity to gain energy from the sun.
The sun shines over the meadow on the backside of Kuczia’s carbon-saving creation, whose central atrium contains the living room. In summer, the glass doors open.
Adventurous but subtle. Something different that doesn’t scream for attention. These were the prompts John and Erika Jessen gave to architect Elijah Huge for the addition to their 1920s home in New Haven, Connecticut. With those in mind, Huge set out to find a cladding material that was both eye-catching and cost-effective. “They wanted the skin to be exciting,” he says. “I thought the shingles would be a good choice because they would echo the texture of the existing house without trying to imitate it.”
Adventurous but subtle. Something different that doesn’t scream for attention. These were the prompts John and Erika Jessen gave to architect Elijah Huge for the addition to their 1920s home in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo by Andrew Rowat.