The most beautiful houses in the world: 25 private residences

The most beautiful houses and private villas of the great architects of the 20th century: from the 1920s to the present day.

1 Gerrit Rietveld, Schröder House, 1924

The Schroeder House in Utrecht was built in 1924 by the Dutch architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld. A three-dimensional embodiment of the ideas of neoplasticism, a manifesto house, experimental housing, with a completely new sense of space. Elegant and regular, this beautiful house is considered to be one of the most important buildings of the 20th century. This house was designed by Rietveld for his beloved Truce Schroeder, who was not only interested in advanced ideas but also wanted to raise children in a modernist spirit. (At school, the children carefully concealed the fact that they live in a strange house).

See Also: Gerrit Rietveld: 8 facts about the house of Truus Schröder-Schräder

2 Eileen Gray, Villa E-1027, 1926-1929

Villa E-1027, designed by Eileen Gray on the French Riviera, was a personal, groundbreaking statement, the first architectural work of a furniture designer and a holiday home for two: Eileen and her architect friend Jean Badovici. The name E-1027 is the code for Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici. “E” means Eileen (Eileen), “10” – Jean (Jean, J – the 10th letter of the Latin alphabet ), “2” – Badovichi (Badovici) and “7” – Gray (Gray). The villa, completed in 1929, stands on a steep cliff that slopes down to the sea. The white building forms a bridge between the landscape and the sea with clearly calculated levels, supports, routing and stair settings. Gray designed many pieces of furniture for the home, giving the impression that the house was created from within.

3 House-workshop of Konstantin Melnikov, 1927-1929

The monument of architecture of the Soviet avant-garde house -workshop of Konstantin Melnikov in Moscow, in Krivoarbatsky lane, was built at the architect’s own expense. The building has a figure-eight or “infinity” shape in plan and cannot be attributed to any of the known styles. The structures of walls and ceilings are not only original, but also made at the level of technical inventions. The internal climate control system and special acoustics, lighting and coloring – all components of the project, down to the details, are a unique monument of world architecture, one of the most beautiful houses of the pre-war period.

4 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Villa Tugendhat, 1928-1930

The villa in the Czech city of Brno was built for Fritz Tugendhat and his wife. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created a unique structure with an iron frame, which allowed the installation of a large number of windows – thus creating a feeling of air and volume inside, and the whole space is flooded with light. The complex landscape of the site with a steep slope became the advantage of the project – from the side of the street, the house looks like a one-story building, only the main entrance is located here. All living rooms are facing towards the city center, from this side the building looks like a two-story building. Mies also designed all the furniture especially for the villa, while the Tugendhat and Brno armchairs are still in serial production.

5 Le Corbusier, Villa Savoy, 1929-1930

The Villa Savoye in Poissy is one of Le Corbusier’s favorite projects, he called it a “little miracle”. In 1928, Madame Savoie sent Le Corbusier the task of designing a country residence. Le Corbusier proposed a summer house that would “stand like an object on the grass without disturbing anything.” Le Corbusier builds an “air cube”, torn off the ground and standing on columns. Important principles of modernism are embodied here – a free plan, ribbon windows and a habitable roof. The first floor is designed as a garage for three cars. The living quarters are located on the second floor and are arranged in an “L” shape around a large terrace leading to a living-dining room with large sliding windows. 

6  Robert Mallet-Stevens, Villa Cavrois, 1929-1932

Villa Cavrois is located in the north-east of France, in the vicinity of the town of Roubaix. In the year the villa was completed, its author, French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, formulated the essence of modern luxury: “it is life in a well-heated, well-ventilated, cheerful, light-filled home, requiring a minimum of unnecessary gestures and a minimum number of servants.” The building was built of reinforced concrete, all the rooms in it were radio-equipped, and the elevator coming from the basement was designed by another famous French modernist Jean Prouvé. Composing the appearance of this building, Mallet-Stevens remembered two hobbies: aviation and music. From a distance, the house resembles an airfield with a control tower and a runway. The melomania of the dandy architect was reflected in the decoration: the outside of the building is lined with a special three-layer brick, and the masonry alternates with black stripes of mortar, making the wall surface look like the rulers of a music staff.

 Frank Lloyd Wright, Waterfall House, 1936-1939

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, the founder of “organic architecture” and the principle of free planning. The quintessence of “organic architecture” and the culmination of Wright’s work is the house in Beer Run, Pennsylvania, built for entrepreneur Edgar Kaufmann. Wright put off work on the building for several months, the project was created a couple of hours before the customer arrived. Despite the lack of time, the architect foresaw every detail in the sketch: he did not even forget the bench, sitting on which you can admire the landscape! The house is designed in the form of multi-level terraces hanging over a natural rock with a waterfall. Their horizontally elongated volumes repeat the outlines of a stone block and create the impression that the house is part of a natural landscape. 

“It seems to me that when you look at the image of this house, you can hear the sound of a waterfall”

Frank Lloyd Wright

 Arne Korsmo, Stenersen Villa, 1937

Villa Stenersen was designed by Arne Korsmo  for financier and collector Rolf E. Stenersen. The house is considered one of the foremost examples of Norwegian functionalism and is listed as a cultural heritage of the country. Korsmo designed not just a single-family house, but a home for an extensive art collection. The architect sought inspiration from his international idols and used architectural effects that he would otherwise not have been able to use, since the client initially had complete confidence in the architect. The house’s functionalist features include a flat roof, polished white concrete, accent columns and a transparent facade of glass, glass blocks and steel. Above the stairs, the roof is pierced with 625 round cylindrical glass holes, painted in three different shades of blue. The high wide walls of the flight of stairs are a gallery where works of art line up to the very top floor.

 House of Walter Gropius, 1937-1938

Walter Gropius built a house for himself and his family in Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA at the same time as he began his teaching career at Harvard University. The house absorbed the features of New England architecture and the principles of the modernist teachings of the Bauhaus. Residents of nearby cities and states came to see this unusual and beautiful house. Sheathing, brick and boulders coexist with block glass, acoustic plastic and metal. The entrance is decorated with a colonial-style porch, reinterpreted in the taste of the author of the house and complemented by a characteristic Bauhaus-style spiral staircase. At the same time, the interior has nothing to do with American houses – Bauhaus objects, including Marcel Breuer, dominate the decor.

 Alvar Aalto, Villa Mairea, 1939

It is estimated that during his career Alvar Aalto built about 75 private houses, but the most important private house in the history of architecture was the Villa Mairea in the west of the country, in Normarkku. Many architectural historians consider it the most comfortable private house in the history of the twentieth century.Villa Mairea was commissioned by Aalto’s friends, the construction magnate Harry Gullichsen and his wife Maire. They gave him complete carte blanche: no restrictions either in terms of ideas or in terms of finances. The result was a villa that had nothing to do with the traditional manor and manor house that the Finns were accustomed to – a building with shifted horizontal “levels”, lying nonchalantly among the pine trees in the shape of the letter L, with an outdoor pool, with a wooden “tower”, where the hostess’s workshop was located, with open terraces, a winter garden below and a Japanese rock garden on the roof.

 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Farnsworth House, 1945-1951

The legendary Villa  Farnsworth by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe  is considered a key example of the International style. The house in Plano, Illinois was commissioned by Edith Farnsworth, a Chicago doctor who loved to play the cello . The villa consists of two planes – the roof and the floor, supported by eight H-shaped columns. The walls are completely made of glass. The interior space is open, only the kitchen and two bathrooms are allocated in it. Construction dragged on for six years and was completed in 1951. The customer was unhappy with the result and quarreled with the architect. In 2006, the modernist building received the status of a National Historic Landmark.

 Richard Neutra, Kaufmann’s house in the desert, 1946-1947

The Kaufman House in Palm Springs is one of Richard Neutra ‘s most famous projects , one of the most beautiful houses in the world and an iconic example of the International Style in 20th-century North American private architecture. It was Pittsburgh entrepreneur Edgar Kaufman who commissioned  The Falls House , designed by Frank Lloyd 1936-1939. After 10 years, Kaufman decided to acquire a villa in California. Kaufmann Desert House is designed in such a way as to emphasize the connection with the surrounding natural landscape. Sliding glass doors allow the living space to be connected to adjacent patios. The famous creation of Neutra in 1992 was threatened with demolition – in the western United States, modernism was never in favor. But thanks to the efforts of the Harris spouses, the house was purchased and a thorough restoration was carried out.

13  Philip Johnson, The Glass House, 1949 

The Glass House, located near New Canaan, Connecticut, is inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece Farnsworth House. Architect Philip Johnson built this house for himself. Ideal proportions, simplicity, open layout allow the building to completely dissolve and connect with the surrounding nature. Panoramic glazing of the building is divided by the already familiar H-shaped support beams. At the same time, Johnson’s teacher Mies himself, after visiting the house, was extremely disappointed, considering the “Glass House” the result of a complete lack of any creative intent.

14  Oscar Niemeyer, house in Canoa, 1953

A beautiful house in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Canoa Oscar Niemeyer built for himself and his family. Inspired by the surrounding Brazilian nature and the curves of the female body, the architect created a poetic, sensual building, proving that concrete can be a plastic material. A classic example of organic architecture – a flat roof is supported by thin steel columns, glass walls provide unity with nature, blur visible boundaries. On the ground floor there is a living room and a kitchen, on the second level there are private rooms – bedrooms, bathrooms and an architect’s office.

 Eero Saarinen, Miller’s Residence, 1953

Eero Saarinen designed a house in Columbus, Indiana for architect and entrepreneur Irwin Miller and his wife. The architecture of the house continues the tradition of modernism, laid down by Mies van der Rohe – open floor plan, glass walls, flat roof. The garden around Daniel Keely’s house is one of the rarest surviving examples of mid-20th century American landscape design. The central space of the house is designed as a place for relaxation and meetings with business partners and friends. The heart of the room is a large-scale sofa recessed below the floor level. In 2000, the modernist building became the property of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The Miller House was the first US national monument to receive this status while the author was alive at the time.

 Alvar Aalto,  home of Louis Carré, 1955-1959

In 1955, renowned antiquarian and art dealer Louis Carré invited Alvar Aalto to build him a house forty kilometers southwest of Paris . The Finnish architect  emphasized the hilly landscape and the beauty of the adjoining oak grove by positioning the house on a slope and drawing it into a dialogue with the landscape with the help of details. The building is a composition of several volumes of different heights. All rooms have natural light. In the construction, white brick was used with the addition of natural stone: limestone, travertine and slate. Inside, white surfaces alternate with wood-panelled walls and ceilings.This masterpiece by Alvar Aalto is closely associated with the name of the artist Andrey Lansky. In the late 1950s, commissioned by the owner of a beautiful house, he completed a series of six works for the dining room, and Aalto perfectly planned the lighting and special details for the collection of the Carrés, whom he managed to make friends with.

 Jorn Utzon, Ahm House, 1961

One of the masterpieces of modernism, Ahm House is located in the city of Harpenden, in the county of Hertfordshire. This is the only UK project by Danish architect Jorn Utzon . The modernist building with panoramic windows and a concrete frame is complemented by brickwork, stained wood and ceramic tiles. The level of the floor of a one-story building goes down and up, depending on the landscape. In 2019, the architectural studio Coppin Dockray carried out the reconstruction of Ahm House, during which it made a partial redevelopment, replaced the wooden joints and the lighting system, updated the furniture (all elements were restored according to Utzon’s drawings). Items of famous designers appeared in the interior space – armchairs by Arne Jacobsen and lampsPoul Henningsen .

 Alvaro Siza, Boa Nova Tea House, 1963

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

19  Richard Meyer, Smith family home, 1967

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

20  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 the impression of incompleteness and instability. As the family grew, the structure was overgrown with disharmonious volumes of glass, metal slats and fiberglass. “If I needed to make a new window, I went and cut it through,” Gehry said. The house with irregularly shaped windows, exposed wiring, materials that were unconventional for the region was a real thorn in the eye of neighbors – owners of respectable villas. The townspeople were afraid of lower real estate prices in the area because of the strange house and even wanted to sue Gehry.

21  Marcel Breuer, villa in Normandy, 1972

Designed by Marcel Breuer in Normandy, the villa is both a monument of architecture and magnificent housing. The owners of the site in the province of Calvados, Madame Sayer and her husband are fans of modernist architecture. Villa Sayer is very clear in plan, with a clear rectangle at its base. The building is visible through and through, since all internal partitions and built-in wardrobes do not reach the ceiling. An architectural achievement is 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, living rooms, a dining room, a kitchen are located in one volume, and bedrooms in another. In June 2005, the house was included in the list of historical monuments of France.

22  Luis Barragan, Casa Gilardi, 1976

Luis Barragan’s iconic Casa Gilardi is an iconic modernist home in Mexico City designed for Pancho Gilardi and Martin Luque, owners of an advertising agency. The architect arranged Gilardi’s house around an old jacaranda tree that grew in the middle of the lot. The courtyard separates the main part from the private area. As with many architect projects, color plays an important role here. The bold hues are based on the luscious painting of Jesus Reis Ferreira and need to be renewed every few years to keep them from fading.

“ Any work of architecture that does not express calmness is a mistake.”

Louis Barragan

23  Rem Koolhaas, villa in Bordeaux, 1998

The residence was built for Jean-Francois 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 revisited the design of the house. The villa had to match the lifestyle and be comfortable for the whole family. Its simple form implies complex design solutions and complex interior organization. The three volumes are stacked on top of each other, each with unique characteristics. The lower floor is cut into the hill, it is perceived as a concrete base and opens a panoramic wall to the courtyard. The middle volume is a fully glazed living room. The third floor hangs like a cantilever over the terrace of the second floor. It is equipped with a private block – the master bedroom and children’s. The walls are cut through with porthole windows. All three floors are connected by an elevator platform. The house is currently inhabited by Benjamin Paulin, son of the legendary Pierre Paulin ,and his wife Alice Lemoine. The wonderful film Koolhaas Houselife was shot about the Lemoyans’ house .

24  Tadao Ando, ​​Casa Monterrey, 2011

A secluded residence in the city of Monterrey, Mexico was built in 2011 for one family who wished to isolate themselves from the outside world as much as possible. Tadao Andoinscribed the house in 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 unfolds around a two-height library, which also serves as a buffer between the two wings of the house – private and public. In the center of the residence are the dining room, living room, wine cellar and gym. One of the wings of the house is the entrance area, garage, guest bedroom and technical rooms. The private block includes bedrooms and bathrooms with a private courtyard overlooking the terrace near the “infinity” pool. One of its concrete walls has a rectangular cutout – the architecture literally becomes a frame for a picturesque view of the Cerro de las Mitras.

25  John Pawson, Casa delle Bottere, 2014

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

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