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A River Runs through It: Homes Built over Streams and Waterways

From Colorado to Canada, being at home in nature has never been easier.

Exterior 529 Swanwick Road Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

For decades, architects have been searching for new ways to integrate homes with their surroundings, from a free-flowing Northern California estate encircled by redwoods to a cantilevered home that seemingly disappears into the ocean. Waterfront homes have long been a go-to for anyone searching for solitude and stellar views (Fallingwater, anyone?), but architects are starting to forgo the traditional lake house or beach house in favor of homes built over streams and rivers—creating a whole new way to exist in harmony with the setting.

Located in Telluride, Colo., this seven-bedroom mountain home has a backyard pond fed by a cascading stream that runs underneath the master suite bridge. Large walls of glass overlook the mountain peaks (which are snowcapped in winter) and the reflective pond, and multiple balconies and terraces offer sweeping vistas of the scenery. Clean, simple lines frame the views from every angle, from the living room (which is anchored by a floor-to-ceiling fireplace) to the formal dining room.

296 Gray Head Lane in Telluride, Colorado

296 Gray Head Lane in Telluride, Colo.  Photo by Joshua F. Johnson

Set on two Lake Austin waterfront lots in Austin, Texas, this mid-century modern home was built over a babbling creek for a truly immersive experience. Located in a heavily wooded area, the three-bedroom home is outfitted with large glass windows that overlook the lake, the boat dock, and a waterfall, which flows freely from the backyard toward the lake below.

3821 Westlake Drive

3821 Westlake Drive in Austin, Texas  Photo: Courtesy of Christie’s International Real Estate

In Los Angeles, architect Dan Brunn of Dan Brunn Architecture is building a minimalist, modern home in L.A.’s Hancock Park neighborhood. The 4,500-square-foot, net-zero-energy home will be positioned over a stream that starts in Griffith Park. Hovering over the brook like a bridge, the aptly named Bridge House will boast an open-concept layout and alfresco decks.

Bridge House in Griffith Park

The Bridge House in Los Angeles  Photo Credit: Courtesy Dan Brunn Architecture

When there’s no natural river or stream nearby, architects get creative. In Canada, architects envisioned a 10,700-square-foot glass house over a man-made water feature that flows through various wings of the house and facilitates geothermal radiant heating and cooling. It’s a striking—and soothing—new way to immerse yourself in the wonders of waterfront living.

waterway 529 Swanwick Road

A man-made water feature  Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

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