The most beautiful houses in the world: 10 buildings from the 1960s to the present day

Minimalism has prepared a series of publications about the most beautiful houses and villas of the great architects of the 20th century.

1. Jorn Utzon, Ahm House, 1961

One of the masterpieces of modernism, Ahm House is located in the town of Harpenden, Hertfordshire. This is the only project by Danish architect Jorn Utzon completed in the UK. The modernist building with panoramic glazing and a concrete frame is complemented by brickwork, stained wood, and ceramic tiles. The floor level of a one-story building is lowered and raised, depending on the landscape. In 2019, the architectural studio Coppin Dockray carried out a reconstruction of the Ahm House, including a partial redevelopment of the entrance, replacing the wooden joints and lighting system, and updating the furniture (all elements were restored according to Utzon’s drawings). Objects from famous designers appeared in the interior space – armchairs by Arne Jacobsen and lamps by Poul Henningsen.

2. Alvaru Siza, Boa Nova tea house, 1963

The Boa Nova tea house in Portugal was one of Alvaro Siza’s first projects. The building was built jointly with teacher Fernando Tavora, not far from the Portuguese architect’s hometown – Matosinhos. The location for the tea house was chosen on a rocky cliff. In the 1960s, architects worked closely with the landscape, studying the climate, tides, surrounding flora, and nearby roads. A system of platforms and stairs leads to an entrance area with a low canopy and boulders flanking the entrance. Panoramic glazing under the low roof slopes provides incredible visibility and sea views. Concrete and African mahogany aphyselia wood were used in the decoration—these materials would subsequently be ubiquitous in the architect’s works.

3. Richard Meier, Smith Family Home, 1967

One of the early projects of the American architect Richard Meier, Smith House in Connecticut, was completed in 1967. Shortly before this, Meyer left Marcel Breuer’s office and opened his own practice. The clients, Fred and Carol Smith, were looking for a young architect who could devote full time to this project. The vertically elongated architecture included strict geometric shapes, panoramic windows, and stark white color – these are the elements that would later become Meyer’s signature recognizable techniques.

4. Frank Gehry House, 1978-1979

Frank Gehry’s own home in Santa Monica, California has become a true symbol of deconstructivism. Rebuilt beyond recognition from a typical California bungalow, the residence gives an impression of incompleteness and instability. As the family grew, the building became overgrown with disharmonious volumes of glass, metal slats, and fiberglass. “If I needed a new window, I would go and cut it,” Gehry said. The house, with irregularly shaped windows, exposed wiring, and unconventional materials for the region, was a real thorn in the eyes of its neighbors – owners of respectable villas. The townspeople were afraid of a decline in real estate prices in the area because of the strange house and even wanted to sue Gehry.

5. Marcel Breuer, villa in Normandy, 1972

Designed by Marcel Breuer in Normandy, the villa is both an architectural monument and a magnificent home. The owners of the site in the province of Calvados, Madame Sayer, and her husband are fans of modernist architecture. The plan of Villa Sayer is very clear, based on a clear rectangle. The building can be seen through since all internal partitions and built-in wardrobes do not reach the ceiling. An architectural achievement – a curved roof resting on three powerful faceted pylons. Among Breuer’s innovations is the concept of a two-core house: it is based on the idea of ​​separating “noisy” and “quiet” rooms, that is, the living rooms, dining room, and kitchen are located in one volume, and the bedrooms in another. In June 2005, the house was included in the list of historical monuments of France.

6. Luis Barragan, Casa Gilardi, 1976

Luis Barragán’s landmark Casa Gilardi is an iconic modernist home in Mexico City designed for Pancho Gilardi and Martin Luque, owners of an advertising agency. The architect positioned Gilardi’s house around an old jacaranda tree that grew in the middle of the property. A courtyard separates the main part from the private area. As with many architectural projects, color plays an important role here. The bold shades are inspired by the lush paintings of Jesus Reis Ferreira and need to be refreshed every few years to keep them from fading.

Luis Barragan

“ Any work of architecture that does not express tranquility is a mistake,”

Luis Barragan

7. Rem Koolhaas, villa in Bordeaux, 1998

The residence was built for Jean-François Lemoine. As a result of a car accident, the owner of the house was paralyzed from the waist down, so Rem Koolhaas and his OMA  bureau re-examined the design of the house. The villa had to suit the lifestyle and be comfortable for the whole family. Its simple form implies complex design solutions and complex interior organization. Three volumes are superimposed on each other, each with unique characteristics. The lower floor is cut into the hill, it feels like a concrete base and opens up a panoramic wall to the courtyard. The middle volume is a fully glazed living room. The third-floor cantilevers over the second-floor terrace. There is a private block here – a master bedroom and children’s bedrooms. The walls are cut through with porthole windows. All three floors are connected by a platform elevator. Currently living in the house are Benjamin Paulin, son of the legendary Pierre Paulin, and his wife Alice Lemoine. A wonderful film, Koolhaas Houselife, was made about the Lemoine house.

8. Tadao Ando, Casa Monterrey, 2011

A secluded residence in Monterrey, Mexico was built in 2011 for one family who wanted to isolate themselves as much as possible from the outside world. Tadao Ando integrated the house into the rocky landscape of the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park. The architect built volumes of different shapes and heights in the form of a zigzag labyrinth. The space of the three-story building revolves around a two-story library, which also serves as a buffer between the two wings of the house – private and public. In the center of the residence, there is a dining room, living room, wine cellar, and gym. One of the wings of the house represents the entrance area, garage, guest bedroom, and technical rooms. The private unit includes bedrooms and bathrooms with a private courtyard opening onto a terrace near the infinity pool. One of its concrete walls has a rectangular cutout – the architecture literally becomes a frame for the picturesque view of Cerro de las Mitras.

9. John Pawson, Casa delle Bottere, 2014

John Pawson’s architecture is meditative, and his aesthetic is often described as a space of simplicity. Casa delle Bottere is an exercise in slow architecture that respects the space, time, and reflection necessary to birth a minimalist masterpiece. Casa delle Bottere combines the architect’s legendary asceticism with a full range of modern technologies. The housing seems to be embedded in the landscape against the backdrop of the Italian Alps. The facade of the house is decorated with marble slabs, a traditional material in the Veneto region. The roof has an asymmetrical shape, such that each room has a different ceiling slope as a result. The bathrooms have skylights, all the front rooms have double light and the artificial lighting is hidden in them. The cruciform plan refers to one of the key principles of Palladian architecture.

10. Tatiana Bilbao, Los Terrenos, 2016

Architect Tatiana Bilbao’s home in the mountains of northeastern Mexico is built from three separate volumes, its parts distributed at the corners of a perfect square plot, surrounding a rounded pool in the center. Like Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy, this house is an illusion. The residence is hidden behind mirrored glass and is almost invisible among the trees: the facade under the asymmetrical gabled roof reflects the forest. The living room and kitchen are hidden behind mirror glass and are almost invisible among the trees. The facade under the asymmetrical gabled roof reflects the forest. Wide glass doors swing open to continue the connection with nature, opening onto the surrounding terracotta terrace…

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