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Any architecture lover has certainly pondered what is possible when it comes to buildings in seemingly unbuildable locations—and Agata Toromanoff’s new book, Living on the Edge: Houses on Cliffs, explores more than 40 gravity-defying houses.
Published by Lannoo Publishers, the €45 (about $48) tome highlights cliffside abodes in the world’s most challenging, and often remote, locations. There are houses hanging hundreds of feet above crashing waves, ultra-modern structures in the center of unspoiled natural surroundings and hard-to-reach mountainside hideaways.
Toromanoff opens his work by discussing that, historically, homes—mostly castles—in remote locations weren’t built for their beauty, but rather to protect from danger and security. There were also many cities constructed along cliffsides, such as Cinque Terre in Italy or Santorini in Greece, which continue to attract visitors today. Many of these ancient castles and metropolises have undoubtedly provided inspiration for today’s architects.
The book features both concept homes that have yet to be built, as well as homes people have lived in for years. It also delves into the physical challenges of building these structures while exploring the minimal environmental impact they have, as the projects featured throughout considered extreme weather and difficult accessibility when crafting these incredibly unique abodes. Above all, Toromanoff showcases how the architectural craft has evolved with innovative solutions, alongside jaw-dropping imagery. Here are just few of the spectacular homes within the book that give a whole new meaning to the term “cliffhanger.”
Patio House in Karpathos, Greece
It feels that this manse—a family summer retreat—is floating above the land, and that was exactly the point. Johan Annerhed, Maria Papafigou and Marie Kojzar of OOAK Architects married nature and architecture in this project, all while being sure to highlight the island’s rugged, unspoiled views of the beach of Afiarti and the Aegean Sea. The minimalist cube-like structure is cantilevered and uses natural materials to blend into the landscape. The trio borrowed from both Karpathian and Scandinavian architecture, resulting in a simple, yet breathtaking home.
Alpine Shelter Skuta in Zgornje Jezersko, Slovenia
Built in 2015, this mountainside refuge in the Slovenian Kamnik Alps was envisioned as shelter from weather at an extremely high altitude. The design was created by students and led by Spela Videcnik and Rok Oman of OFIS Architects, who worked with prefab technology due to the hard-to-reach location, at a design studio at Harvard Graduate School of Design. The home was installed via helicopter and was situated without disturbing the nature below. The complex structure also has greater meaning as a symbol of refuge and reiterates the idea of a basic human necessity: shelter.
PR House in Colico Lake, Cunco, Chile
According to Triangular Arquitectos, the studio who designed the space in 2019, this Chile house seems to dance within the landscape. The lodging overlooks Colico Lake and is located on a steep slope, thus requiring the home to have several different levels. The goal was to highlight the views and disturb nature as little as possible, which they accomplished. Using natural wood, steel and concrete throughout, the resulting manse is a fluid, dynamic structure that looks like a work of art.
Check out more photos of cliffside homes featured in Living on the Edge: Houses on Cliffs below: