Architecture Built Into Nature Curated by Yellowtrace

 

 

I often feel bad that the place where I live isn’t more awesome (you know, the sort of place you’d see on the pages of Yellowtrace – ummm, no.) And then there’s all the other stuff I ought to be doing in order to become a better person, a better mother, an exemplary citizen of the planet. This list includes many things, such as regular meditation, disconnecting from the world and minimising consumption of technology, eating raw and organic, eliminating sugar, banning disposable cups and plastic bags, volunteering at the local shelter, committing to ongoing pelvic floor exercises, etc. Some of these things I do. Others I don’t. The ones I do make me feel incredibly happy. The rest come with varying degrees of overwhelm and guilt attached to them. But a wise person once said – you can’t be overwhelmed by all the things you cannot do, but rather focus on those things you can.

Except, what has this got to do with the subject of today’s Story, I hear you ask? Actually, nothing. I guess I just felt like venting. Although, I think that looking at the images of these amazing buildings built into nature brought up a bunch of (unresolved) feelings, hence the emotional dump. Sorry.

Anyway.

Today we take a world wide tour of seriously incredible examples of architecture that not only address their context and interact with their surrounds, the sites they occupy form the key ingredient that architects have used in the overall design. These homes are the architectural equivalent of Michelangelo-like creation, with rocks, trees, hills, water and caves becoming the material from which the buildings take shape.

Not only do these stunning examples of contemporary architecture have a special relationship with the natural landscape, they are also built into nature – the very landscape they occupy. Today’s story highlights houses that integrate seamlessly into their surroundings—whether they’re built into rocks, buried under hills, nestled in caves, or perched over the sea.

Try as we must, us humans can never compete with the beauty created by the natural world. Mother nature is the ultimate designer, and a number of visionary and brave architects have embraced her work in their own creations, by embedding ‘Her’ into their projects. Perhaps nobody did this better than Frank Lloyd Wright with his masterpiece Fallingwater – a house well-known for its connection to the site, built on top of an active waterfall which flows beneath the house. Organic Architecture is a term Frank Lloyd Wright used to describe his environmentally integrated approach to architectural design. The philosophy grew from the ideas of his mentor, Louis Sullivan, who believed that “form follows function.” Wright took this theory a step further, arguing that “form and function are one.”

Organic architecture strives to unify space, to blend interiors and exteriors, and create a harmonious built environment not separate from nature but as a unified whole. The idea refers not only to the buildings’ literal relationship to the natural surroundings, but how the buildings’ design is carefully thought about as if it were a unified organism.

I’m sure you will agree that perhaps there’s nothing more organic than a home that blends in flawlessly with its environment – or better still, is actually built into nature. So, if you are like me, and feel you ought to be consuming more organic in your life, perhaps organic architecture is a good place to start. Just kidding. But not really.

 

See More ‘Stories on Design’ Curated by Yellowtrace.

 

 

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design | Yellowtrace

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design | Yellowtrace

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design | Yellowtrace

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design | Yellowtrace

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design | Yellowtrace

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design | Yellowtrace
Photography by WU Yong-Chang.

 

Returning Hut in China FM.X Interior Design // Parts of the mountain landscape extend into this house in South-East China, designed by Xu Fu-Min to offer its residents a peaceful retreat from city life. The client grew up in the countryside, but had spent many years living in the city and had grown tired of it. He asked the FMX Interior Design founder for a residence that would allow him to appreciate nature again.

The designer’s response, called Returning Hut, is a two-storey property that not only makes use of natural materials, but also allows the natural terrain to extend inside. The main example of this is in the first-floor master bedroom, where a large rock extends up from the ground to frame a generous bathing area. The walls of the building are made from stone that has been shaped into brick-like blocks. These are left exposed throughout the interior, echoing the texture of the huge rocks the surround the property.


 

House Cave by UMMO Estudio | Yellowtrace

House Cave by UMMO Estudio | Yellowtrace

House Cave by UMMO Estudio | Yellowtrace

House Cave by UMMO Estudio | Yellowtrace

House Cave by UMMO Estudio | Yellowtrace

House Cave by UMMO Estudio | Yellowtrace
Photography by David Vico.

 

House Cave in Córdoba, Spain by UMMO Estudio // Embedded right into the foothills of Sierra Morena in Spain, ‘Casa Tierra’ is carved right into the sloping strata of limestone that also forms the various geological features known to the Cuevas del Pino estate. Inside the hidden cave retreat, the characteristics and rough texture of the calcarenite stone is apparent and celebrated throughout. The interior spaces are sculpted around this natural formation and the results is a strong sense of enclosure combined with spacious, natural light filled spaces. The scheme developed by Ummo Estudio is created as a fluid and continuous dialogue between pre-existing and the new architecture.


 

Enoteca dai Tosi: Wine Bar Carved Into a Mountain in Matera, Italy, Designed by Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu | Yellowtrace

Enoteca dai Tosi: Wine Bar Carved Into a Mountain in Matera, Italy, Designed by Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu | Yellowtrace

Enoteca dai Tosi: Wine Bar Carved Into a Mountain in Matera, Italy, Designed by Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu | Yellowtrace
All photographs courtesy of Delfino Sisto Legnani.

 

Enoteca dai Tosi: Wine Bar Carved Into a Mountain in Matera, Italy by Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu // It’s always a joyful moment in architecture when something once abandoned or left to fall apart is reinvented, reinvigorated and given a new start in life. It is ever the more joyful when the reinvention is as elegant and respectful as this one is. And its stock only keeps going up seeing as it includes the consumption of fine wine to boot.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Villa Malaparte by Adalberto Libera | Yellowtrace
Photography © akg-images / Andrea Jemolo.

Villa Malaparte by Adalberto Libera | Yellowtrace
Photography © Klaus Frahm.

 

Villa Malaparte by Adalberto Libera // Villa Malaparte, built in 1938 by the Rationalist architect Adalberto Libera in Punta Massullo on the Isle of Capri, is considered to be one of the best examples of Modern Italian architecture. The house, a red structure with inverted pyramid stairs, sits 32 meters over a cliff on the Gulf of Salerno. It is completely isolated from civilisation, only accessible by foot or by boat.


 

Frey House ii by Albert Frey | Yellowtrace

Frey House II by Albert Frey | Yellowtrace

Frey House II by Albert Frey | Yellowtrace
Images by Darren Bradley Photography.

 

Frey House II by Albert Frey in Palm Springs // We’re in Palm Springs, in California, where the hot desert air dessicates the rich and famous oh so nicely. Albert Frey, a Swiss-born architect who became a fixture in Palm Springs, built two houses for himself in the town, of which this is the second. The materials blend seamlessly into the colours of the rocky desert hillside, making the house hard to spot from the town below.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Knapphullet: Home on a Cliff in Norway by Lund Hagem | Yellowtrace

Knapphullet: Home on a Cliff in Norway by Lund Hagem | Yellowtrace
Photography by Kim Muller & Ivar Kvaal.

 

Knapphullet: Home on a Cliff in Norway by Lund Hagem // Designed by Oslo-based practice Lund Hagem, Knapphullet is a small residential annex that replaces two small sheds on the cliff-side property in Norway. With a roof that folds down to touch the ground, the new building appears to be built into the rock, creating a ramp up to a viewing platform connected to the upper cliff.

The project began as an idea on how to best utilise a naturally sheltered area surrounded by large rocks and dense vegetation. The architects further developed this idea by creating a path for climbing from the shelter in order to gain visibility of the panoramic view over the sea. This approach led to the characteristic shape of the roof: a stepped ramp that leads up from the terrain to the top.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

 

The Pierre by Olson Kundig Architects | Yellowtrace
Photo © Dwight Eschliman / Olson Kundig.

The Pierre by Olson Kundig Architects | Yellowtrace
Photo © Dwight Eschliman / Olson Kundig.

The Pierre by Olson Kundig Architects | Yellowtrace
Photo © Benjamin Benschneider / Olson Kundig.

The Pierre by Olson Kundig Architects | Yellowtrace
Photo © Benjamin Benschneider / Olson Kundig.

The Pierre by Olson Kundig Architects | Yellowtrace
Photo © Benjamin Benschneider / Olson Kundig.

 

The Pierre in San Juan Islands, United States by Olson Kundig Architects // The name of this incredible house – The Pierre – is the French word for stone. The owner’s love for natural materials is both evident and abundant in this design. Perched on a rock face in the stunning San Juan Islands in the US, this project by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects is as mesmerising as its surrounding landscape.

Rather than being discarded, the excavated rock was cleverly incorporated into the design and was used as crushed aggregate in the stonework, further ensuring that this build was as closely organic a process as possible. The simple rough materials not only blend with the outside landscape but serve a function on the interior; to showcase an interior consisting of luxury furnishings, artwork and furniture.


 

Notona by Swiss Artist Not Vital in Patagonia Chile | YellowtraceNotona by Swiss Artist Not Vital in Patagonia Chile | Yellowtrace
Photography © Aitor Ortiz.

 

Notona by Swiss artist Not Vital in Patagonia, Chile // In the middle of the Lago General Carrera, a lake that stretches from Chile to Argentina, Swiss artist Not Vital has crafted a minimalist and innovative home for himself.

Approaching the remote body of land from the water, it seems as though NotOna is exactly what you’d expect of an island near Patagonia: an uninhabited rocky terrain dotted with grass, trees, flowers and caves. But closer inspection reveals that it’s actually an island of marble, a material not ideal for erecting structures. So, true to the style of his other projects around the world — like the home in Agadez, Niger, made entirely of local materials, or the small house in a park in Sent, Switzerland, which is topped with grass and disappears into the Earth with the press of a button — Vital respected the habitat first and foremost. He treated the marble the way artists before him have for centuries and carved what he calls the NotOna Tunnel out of it. The 50-meter sculpture, which stretches from one side of the island to the other, serves as his “house” here. And instead of discarding the marble stones he tore out of the belly of the island, he repurposed them to fill Big Stairs, the large, white concrete box that registers like a port or entryway on the water’s edge.


 

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba | Yellowtrace

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba | Yellowtrace

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba | Yellowtrace

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba | Yellowtrace

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba | Yellowtrace

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba | Yellowtrace
Images via Elle Decor.

 

Marlene Milan House by Marcos Acayaba // For Brazilian architect Marcos Acayaba, the Milan House in the suburbs of Sao Paulo remains his favourite and most personal project. With it’s sweeping concrete roof and walls of glass, the serene, low-slung residence is also the one that put him on the map.

“The design was all about enhancing the relationship between the house and the garden, and creating a balance between the two within the site’s generous dimensions,” Acayaba explains. “The solution was the reinforced concrete shell, like a fault, that was conceived as a roof that shelters all the inner spaces and allows them to visually connect to the tropical gardens at either end of the house.”


 

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace
Photography by Alastair Philip Wiper.

 

Tahíche & César Manrique Foundation in Lanzarote, Spain  // The largest visitor attraction in the centre of Lanzarote has to be the César Manrique Foundation, which is located just outside the cosy village of Tahíche in the municipality of Teguise. Nestled in the suburban settlement of Taro de Tahíche, this amazing centre stands as a memorial to Manrique’s fabulous career and the clear visions he had about developing Lanzarote for tourism without compromising the natural beauty of the landscape.

Built on a lava field, where he discovered that a fig tree was growing out of a volcanic bubble, this house became the embodiment of the artist’s dream to live in harmony with nature. It was also the ideal place to combine all his artistic skills as a designer, sculptor, painter and landscaping architect.


 

Jameos Del Agua in Lanzarote, Spain | Yellowtrace

Jameos Del Agua in Lanzarote, Spain | Yellowtrace

Jameos Del Agua in Lanzarote, Spain | Yellowtrace
Photography by Alastair Philip Wiper.

 

Jameos Del Agua by César Manrique in Lanzarote, Spain // The Jameos was conceived by the island born artist and architect Cesar Manrique, during the 1960’s. You enter the Jameos by climbing down a stone-staircase into the first cave known as ‘Jameo Chico’, which has been turned into an unusual bar/ restaurant, with views over a small lake.


 

Mirado del Rio in Lanzarote, Spain | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Cesar Manrique Foundation at Taro de Tahiche. Photo by Alastair Philip Wiper | Yellowtrace

Mirado del Rio in Lanzarote, Spain | YellowtracePhotography by Alastair Philip Wiper.

 

Mirador Del Rio by César Manrique in Lanzarote, Spain // Breathtaking views from Mirador del Río, Lanzarote’s most famous viewpoint, located 1,630 ft (497 metres) above sea level. It overlooks the northern coastline, the straits of El Rio and the Isla Graciosa. Like so many other attractions in Lanzarote, this area was transformed into a belvedere by local artist and architect César Manrique in 1973.

Manrique’s sculpture at the entrance to the Mirador leads you through the façade, which consists of a convex stonewall merging into the hillside. The entrance to the Mirador is a mere ‘hole’ in this wall. Inside, a narrow winding corridor and spiral staircase lead to a white-walled restaurant and a stylish bar. From here you can gaze out through the panoramic windows that stretch the entire length of this room.


 

 

Amangiri Resort and Spa In The High Desert Of Utah. Photo © Joe Fletcher | Yellowtrace

Amangiri Resort and Spa In The High Desert Of Utah. Photo © Joe Fletcher | Yellowtrace

Amangiri Resort and Spa In The High Desert Of Utah. Photo © Joe Fletcher | Yellowtrace

Amangiri Resort and Spa In The High Desert Of Utah. Photo © Joe Fletcher | Yellowtrace
Photography © Joe Fletcher.

 

Amangiri Resort and Spa In The High Desert Of Utah // When it comes to 20th century luxury travel, things don’t get more special than this – an oasis in the middle of the ancient splendour of the Utah desert, where nothing has been left to chance. Amangiri Resort and Spa is a remote hideaway tucked within the luminous canyons of the American Southwest, boasting spectacular premises designed by three well-known architects – Marwan Al-Sayed, Wendell Burnette and Rick Joy. Located in a protected valley with sweeping views across spectacular desert rocks, the resort offers both adrenaline-fuelled adventure and a peaceful retreat.

Opened in 2009, this luxury hotel frames the surrounding dunes, plateaus and mountain ridges, with it’s Suites and the Home embracing the area’s raw aesthetic. Within the interiors, the large desert-view focuses on restoring hózhó – meaning beauty, harmony, balance and health in Navajo. Spacious and with clean lines and natural materials, Amangiri reflects the luminous qualities of the surrounding desert. Design features include white stone floors, concrete walls, natural timbers and fittings in blackened steel. Each Suite has an outdoor lounge and fireplace with expansive desert views, while some feature a private pool or roof terrace.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Pedra Da Ra Lookout Point by Carlos Seone | Yellowtrace

Pedra Da Ra Lookout Point by Carlos Seone | Yellowtrace
Photography by Ana Amado.

 

Pedra Da Ra Lookout Point by Carlos Seoane // The lookout point known as “Pedra da Ra” has been used as such since the 1980s, when a concrete staircase was built to climb on the rock and from there one could observe the Atlantic Ocean’s horizon. Over time the original staircase deteriorated while losing all its meaning. The project is born out of the necessity for the demolition of that aggressive concrete staircase. This aggression is acted on both the environment and the rock itself. Thus, one sees the need to propose an action towards the recovery of the natural state of the site.


 

E.C House by SAMI arquitectos | Yellowtrace

E.C House by SAMI arquitectos | Yellowtrace

E.C House by SAMI arquitectos | Yellowtrace

E.C House by SAMI arquitectos | Yellowtrace
Photography by Paulo Catrica.

 

E.C House by SAMI arquitectos // The ruin was a rural house made of basalt stone dating from the XVIII century. The project came from the will to maintain the ruin and thinking of a house that would value it and take advantage at the same time, offering the most diverse and complex possibilities of living than the former typology.

“Concrete and stone can old with the same quality and serenity absorbing hard climate conditions and transforming it into beautiful textures. We wanted them to became almost the same element so that this house could feel like still belonging to this landscape.”


 

House in Melgaco by Nuno Brandao Costa | Yellowtrace

House in Melgaco by Nuno Brandao Costa | Yellowtrace

House in Melgaco by Nuno Brandao Costa | Yellowtrace

House in Melgaco by Nuno Brandao Costa | Yellowtrace
Photography by André Cepeda.

 

House In Melgaço by Nuno Brandão Costa // The small stone house that used to stand in the large plot of land was once home to a family of eleven. Diminished even more with the passing of time, it now sprawls across 349 m2, thanks to an imaginative extension that is the work of Portuguese architect Nuno Brandão Costa.

By local materials, Brandão Costa alludes to the play on historicity that informs his work on the house, as the ruins of the original house are only part of the ruins given new life through the project. A building nearby which was itself demolished provided the architect with materials for a narrative of reconstruction that extends beyond what once stood alone. Reusing stones from that second building, Brandão Costa furthers his exploration into a conjuring of not just a dimension of time, but also of a community –since the end result is the rebirth of more than one home.


 

Villa in Hanko Finland by Mer Arkkitehdit | Yellowtrace

Villa in Hanko Finland by Mer Arkkitehdit | Yellowtrace

Villa in Hanko Finland by Mer Arkkitehdit | Yellowtrace

Villa in Hanko Finland by Mer Arkkitehdit | Yellowtrace
Photography © Mer Arkkitehdit Oy.

 

Villa in Hanko Finland by Mer Arkkitehdit // Integrated into the surrounding rocky terrain in the historic Finnish seaside town of Hanko, architecture studio Mer Arkkitehdit designed this spruce-clad villa surrounded by pine forests. The Helsinki-based architecture studio submerged the basement level of the house by cutting into the rock, while the main floor sits on top of the cliff, facing towards the Baltic Sea. Rocks appear with a unique style both in the exterior and inside, where the spectacular landscape can be observed through its glass walls.


 

Elrod House by John Lautner | Yellowtrace

Elrod House by John Lautner | Yellowtrace

Elrod House by John Lautner | Yellowtrace

Elrod House by John Lautner | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of John Lautner.

 

Elrod House in Palm Springs by John Lautner // Known as “The Elrod House”, this John Lautner-designed five bedroom, five and a half bathroom residence was commissioned by designer Arthur Elrod in 1968 and has been featured in numerous books, magazines and museum exhibitions. It is the iconic home perched at the very tip of the Southridge enclave, easily viewable throughout Palm Springs, California.

The 60’-wide circular living is surmounted by a conical dome that fans out in nine petals between nine clerestories angled up to bring in light. Retractable curved glass curtain walls open the entire living room and pool terrace to panoramic views of Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio and the full sweep of the valley below and mountain ranges beyond. The very rock of the ridge is incorporated into the design throughout the home. The master suite is a world unto itself.


 

 

Joshua Tree House by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg | Yellowtrace

Joshua Tree House by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg | Yellowtrace

Joshua Tree House by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg | Yellowtrace

Joshua Tree House by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg | Yellowtrace

Joshua Tree House by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg | Yellowtrace
Images via organicmodernestate.com.

 

Joshua Tree House by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg // Designed by the fabulously-named Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, the house is situated in the desert town of Joshua Tree, California. The desert landscape here is one of rubble, scrub, dirty outcrops and stillness. The odd jet stream carves the sky (Los Angeles is a mere two and a half hour’s drive away), but it doesn’t take much imagination to convince oneself that you have come to the world’s end. And then you get to this house.

Crazy concrete forms intersect and interlock over the living spaces, allowing daylight to pour in through roof lights in between. I won’t address the interiors here but shall rather enjoy this house as an object in the landscape, crazily and ingeniously attuned to its situation and environment.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.


 

Garour Landhouse by Studio Granda | Yellowtrace

Garour Landhouse by Studio Granda | Yellowtrace

Garour Landhouse by Studio Granda | Yellowtrace

Garour Landhouse by Studio Granda | Yellowtrace
Photography by Rui Ferreira.

 

Garður Landhouse in Reyjkavik, Iceland by Studio Granda // With a building area of only 68 m2, this house designed by Studio Granda, and located in Reykjavik, Iceland, has the capacity to amaze us. The home is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Icelandic turf house, encrusted between piles of grass-covered earth, perfectly insulated by nature. The home itself feels like a continuation of the two lines created by these tiny hills, so that it becomes a part of the landscape, bridging the two formations.


 

The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli Architects | Yellowtrace

The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli Architects | Yellowtrace

The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli Architects | Yellowtrace
Images courtesy of Luigi Rosselli.

 

The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli Architects // Located up in the Pilbara, Northern WA, Luigi Rosselli Architect’s was asked to create a series of 14 separate residences for a 100+ year-old family cattle station. Tunneling into the sand dune, each residence is boarded by Australia’s longest, continuous rammed earth wall and is designed according to thermal mass principles.

Getting back to this epic wall though! Echoing its immediate landscape, the wall’s raw nature is translated inwards, expressing the dessert landscape and complimenting a series of restrained yet reflective interior strategies. The polished concrete slab was cast using aggregates from the same riverbed, and the internal fixtures and fittings were kept as minimalist features, emphasizing the space’s earthy atmosphere.

Read the full article about this project & see more images here.

 


 

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