Homeowners today are increasingly forgoing McMansions in favor of more intimate, innovative living spaces. With economic complications and other outside factors in mind, these house hunters are looking to find or create efficient, inexpensive, and easy to maintain houses that are not only pleasing to the eye but can withstand busy and changing lifestyles. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the resulting real estate feels utilitarian. Some homeowners want their house to appear to be floating in midair, like one summer cabin in Norway that presents such an illusion.
Written by Philip Jodidio, Small Innovative Houses (Rizzoli, $45) features a collection of photographs of over 50 homes from North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, all built within the last five years. Readers get to take a close look at the architectural work of properties ranging from a Switzerland vacation home that was once a mountain barn to a sunken house in Japan that was designed designed with movable partitions to create up to nine different room configurations.
“One could imagine that a modern Thoreau would want not a dark closed cabin but one open on all sides to nature,” says Jodidio in regards to some of the unique residences in Small Innovative Houses. Who knows—maybe Thoreau would have wanted the 825 sq. foot red cedar wood cabin on Vancouver Island with a window just wide enough to for a rainforest view and to admit natural sunlight? Or perhaps his quest to become one with nature would have led him to the rock house in Alberta, Canada, with floor-to-ceiling windows which very nearly brings its eye-catching rocky outside into the living room?
While it’s hard to say for sure to say what would have appealed to a writer who died more than a century and a half ago, it is more than likely safe to say that Thoreau would find much to appreciate in these simple and environmentally-friendly architectural design. Featuring work by noted architects such as Steven Holl, Todd Saunders, Snøhetta, and Tadao Ando — in addition to up-and-coming designers, Small Innovative Houses offers readers a chance to see how residents take the mantra “less is more” to the next level and make the most out of their tiny, inventive spaces, which more often than not seem designed as frames through which to view some pretty spectacular views of nature’s majesty such as soaring mountain ranges and, yes, Thoreau-appropriate forests.
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Last modified: February 14, 2019