Article Courtesy of forbes.com
There’s a good reason your life coach tells you to “bring down your walls.” It opens your mind, gives more breathing room and helps create a feeling of continuity. The same applies for architecture. Homeowners opting for fewer walls, floor-to-ceiling glass surfaces and wide-open spaces can bring in more light, make small areas look expansive and meld the living room with the backyard.
More home buyers are striving to capture better views and “more of an indoor-outdoor relationship” with their homes and the environment, according to Utah-based architect Clive Bridgwater. Take, for example, the award-winning 9,000 square foot abode Bridgwater designed with dramatic views of the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains. Instead of duplicating all the elements of a two-tier great room outside, Bridgwater employed new technologies that made it possible for a 30-foot stretch of wall to fold into a corner and seemingly disappear, instantly creating an outdoor living room. During the summer, an equivalent room below opens to the pool area and lawn.
Bringing the outside in and the inside out—even fleetingly—can make a house feel like an open-air paradise. Brazilian architect Rafael Palatano says the tropical beach site of his largely wall-free “Leaf House” outside Rio De Janeiro is “a pleasure enhancer of experiencing that specific nature.”
A swimming pool snakes into the house; past the formal dining room it morphs into a fishpond with aquatic plants bordered by a veranda. The home gets its name from the flower-shaped roof which acts as a giant leaf that shields the enclosed spaces from the scorching sun. With the sliding doors open, trade winds from the sea pass through the residence.
Open-air living can do wonders for stretching space in small homes. “A sense of openness creates a sense of spaciousness,” says Hamptons architect Frederick Stelle. Stelle mostly eschewed interior walls for a beach house he designed in Amagansett, New York. The architect relied on only sliding glass panels that span 90 feet and open onto an infinity edge pool. What’s more, the entire center section of the home can be opened to the elements, creating a seamless transition to the surrounding grounds. After all, Stelle adds, “the glass box is more focused on what’s outside than in.”
Mountain View Home, Park City, Utah
Behold an award-winning 9,000-square-foot home with dramatic views of the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains. Instead of duplicating all the elements of a two-tier great room outside, a 30-foot stretch of wall folds like an accordion to one side, instantly creating an outdoor living room. Come summer, an equivalent room below opens onto the pool area and lawn. Mosquitoes and other bugs are not a worry, said architect Clive Bridgwater, but the chipmunks can’t readily distinguish between outdoors and in.
Glass Pavilion, Santa Barbara, California
Like a jewelry case filled with sparkly baubles, the walls of “The Glass Pavilion” are “crystal clear,” from floor to ceiling, says Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty who handles the $ 13.9 million listing. At stake? Only a 14,000-square-foot modern home in exclusive Montecito with walls so clear, it’s hard to distinguish whether they’re open or not. But there’s no need to worry about neighbors taking a peek–the five-bedroom residence is privately set on nearly four acres of oak groves. The open floor plan continues inside and a bookcase between the living and dining spaces provides definition to the great room. Downstairs a walnut-lined gallery can display up to 32 cars.
Bamboo House, Guanacoste, Costa Rica
Benjamin Garcia Axe
It’s like living in a forest within a forest. The moon is visible through a cone-shaped dome under an umbrella roof on this jungle home made of bamboo. The ultra-open floor plan includes an internal garden that links the kitchen and living area with the bedroom space, yet feels secure for the architect’s mother, for whom the home was designed. And the open-air construction and overhanging tin roofs provide natural ventilation and protection from the sun.
House Na, Tokyo, Japan
The potential downside of living in a see-through house on a small lot on a narrow city street surrounded by more traditional buildings may be lack of privacy. The upside is loads of natural light. The architectural photographer Iwan Baan describes the architect Sui Fujimoto’s minimalist all-glass House NA, as “one continuous space of staircases, small platforms and glass.” The platforms become a place to set or can serve as a desk, a step up to the next platform or a place to roll out a bed.
Leaf House, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
In harmony with nature, the inside and outside of the flower-shaped tropical beach house designed by Brazilian architect Rafael Palatano, are almost fused. The eucalyptus wood roof functions as a giant leaf shielding the enclosed spaces from the hot sun. But it’s the open entertaining areas that wow. Sliding glass doors allow trade winds from the sea to pass through the residence, providing natural ventilation and passive cooling to both the enclosed and open spaces. The landscape is everywhere; the curvy swimming pool snakes into the house and, when it passes the formal dining room, turns into a pond with aquatic plants and fish bordering a “Brazilian lounge.”
Box House, Amagansett, New York
Perched one story off the ground to maximize views of the ocean and the bay, the natural light is plentiful at this Hamptons beach house. Sliding glass doors run from one end of the 90-foot long box to the other. The entire center section of the home opens up, overlooking an infinity edge pool. “The glass box is more focused on what is outside than in,” says Frederick Stelle, the architect.
Surfside House, Bridgehampton, New York
For the ultimate open air living experience, the rooftop lounge on this new modern $29.94 million spec mansion has two fireplaces to call its own. Perched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Hamptons’ legendary Sagg Pond, the contemporary home was designed to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out. “It’s very sexy,” says listing agent Matthew Breitenbach of the Corcoran Group, especially on the waterfront where entertaining is king. “It is all about indoor/outdoor living.” Two outdoor kitchens, an infinity edge pool and a spa furnish the 6,000 square foot outdoor deck. Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors and soaring ceilings let ocean breezes flow through the seven bedroom, 10 bath 9,500 square foot home.
Fish House, Singapore
Singapore’s tropical client lends itself to open, breezy spaces and natural ventilation. At this eco-friendly house with a living green roof, views from every room stretch to the ocean as well as the garden with its large swimming pool. The transition between inside and outside is practically seamless.