When teetering perilously on the edge of a cliff, one experiences the curiously delightful sensation of panic and trepidation. This sublime feeling is probably what inspired these gravity-defying works of incredible architecture, perched on cliffsides, providing breathtaking views all the time.

1. Cliff House, Australia

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Cliff House, Australia_©Modscape

The Cliff House, conceived by the architectural studio Modscape, hangs precariously from the brink of a cliff on Australia’s southwest coast, overlooking the Indian Ocean. The structure of barnacles clinging to the hull of a ship sparked the design of this stunning hanging residence, which extends precipitously off the cliff.

This conceptual design is a vacation home on the coast of Victoria, Australia. At the house’s narrow base, an inclined front of floor-to-ceiling glass slopes downward and inward, finishing in a completely visible patio and grill. An elevator and stair core link all of the floors, which include a garage on the top floor, a living/dining/kitchen space, three bedrooms, a bathroom, and a master bathroom.

The house appears to be structurally rooted in the rock face with horizontal bracing. Psychologically, residents and visitors may need to create their own mental representations of what is stopping them from falling sixty feet below. People sometimes take a strange pleasure in the sense of impending danger that enormous heights elicit.

2. House Holoman, Sydney

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House Holoman, Sydney_©Durback Block Joggers Architects

House Holman, positioned 230 feet above the sea, has living and dining areas that cantilever over the edge, providing breathtaking vistas. The lowest floors form a foundation that links to the stone walls of the cliff.

This huge cantilever is anchored into the jagged rocks of this Mediterranean locale by reinforced concrete. The pool at the house is designed to resemble a beach cove, with white lime stucco coating that pays homage to the region’s vernacular architecture.

This magnificent floating mansion was designed by Durbach Block Jaggers and is based on a Picasso artwork. The modern home has basic furnishings and large glass panels to achieve maximal natural light and outside sights. This allows residents to commune with nature without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

3. Cliff House, Nova Scotia

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Cliff House, Nova Scotia_©Greg Richardson

The inhabitants of this 960-square-foot cottage on the Nova Scotia shore get the most out of their immersion in the rough maritime nature. The building is clad in cedar shiplap and employs galvanized steel to attach itself to the rocks underneath. The majority of the house’s bulk extends over the cliff’s edge towards the waterfront, anchored beneath by a crisscrossing network of steel I-beams.

Cliff House was created by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects as a weekend escape. Its purpose is to “enhance the experience of residing in landscape” by inducing vertigo in its inhabitants.

From the land, the cabin appears to be a peaceful timber box with discreet landscaping, firmly embedded on the ground, in stark contrast to the ensuing intense internal sensation of plummeting off a precipice. The structure is built out of simple, sturdy construction made up of steel trusses and timber portal frames, which are left uncovered throughout the interiors to prevent moisture accumulation.

4. Fall House, California

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Fall House, California_©Fougeron Architecture

This stunning copper-and-glass vacation home by San Francisco-based Fougeron Architecture is set on a rocky ridge in California’s Big Sur region, overlooking the Pacific Ocean 250 feet below. Fall House is made up of two rectangular blocks that are united by a glass corridor that holds a library and a den.

“Our design philosophy integrates the building into the landscape, resulting in a structure that is inextricably linked to its surroundings,” stated architect Anne Fougeron. The site has spectacular views, but it necessitates a more complicated design than a large picture window.

The three-bedroom house is divided into two rectangular boxes, with an all-glass library connecting them in the centre. The entryway, living space, dining area, and kitchen are all housed in the open-plan top box, which is divided into sections by rises and falls in the floor and ceiling.

The home’s glazing has been maximized on the northern side to allow for more light and vistas while being minimized on the southern side to decrease solar heat gain. The copper cladding on the southern facade extends up the wall and over the roof, with awnings to protect it from harsh weather conditions.

Natural ventilation is also encouraged by the building’s tiered layout, with refreshing air entering in at the lower level and stuffy hot air being vented at the top. Automatically regulated glazing on the lower level is coordinated with an emission transfer grille on the upper level to facilitate this mechanism.

5. Casa Brutale, Lebanon

Casa Brutale, Lebanon_©Laertis Vassiliou

Vassiliou, the architect of Casa Brutale, has the ambition to build buried chapels, houses, and museums, or carved into the sides of rock walls. He designed Casa Brutale to be erected on an Aegean island, bathed with light and overlooking an unimpeded view of the sea, in keeping with his Grecian ancestry. It’s underground, but it’s not like being in a sealed box beneath the ground.

Unlike some other suspended building constructions, the cliffside house is built within a steep rock. The vertical glass home, which overlooks breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, reflects the serene beauty of the rooftop swimming pool into the inside. It naturally engages with the surrounding landscape in this way, giving a serene living place for the residents.

While the architect’s plans are groundbreaking in many ways, he pointed out that they are part of a bigger underground construction movement that has witnessed a rebirth in the last ten years.

References

  1. Journal. (2014). Architecture on the Edge: 7 Cliffside Structures Defying Gravity – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/collections/architecture-on-the-edge/ [Accessed 26 Sep. 2021].
  2. Nast, C. (2014). Five Contemporary Cliff-Top Houses. [online] Architectural Digest. Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/five-contemporary-clifftop-houses-slideshow [Accessed 26 Sep. 2021].
  3. ‌Travel + Leisure. (n.d.). This Cliff House Just About Ensures an Unobstructed View. [online] Available at: https://www.travelandleisure.com/culture-design/architecture-design/underground-houses-future-architecture [Accessed 26 Sep. 2021].
  4. ‌HomeCrux. (2015). Nine Terrific Cliff Houses with Breathtaking Views. [online] Available at: https://www.homecrux.com/nine-breathtaking-cliff-house-with-thrilling-views/30773/ [Accessed 26 Sep. 2021].
  5. ‌Dezeen. (2014). Fall House by Fougeron Architecture steps down a cliff side. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2014/06/06/fougeron-architecture-fall-house-big-sur-california/ [Accessed 26 Sep. 2021].
  6. Dezeen. (2013). Cliff House in Nova Scotia by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2013/11/18/cliff-house-mackay-lyons-sweetapple-architects/.
Author

Faria is an architecture student at IGDTUW, Delhi. She feels passionate towards learning and actively looks for new experiences. She believes that the design language should be universally accessible and understood, hence, she strives to uncover hidden dynamics of design by shifting the language from visual to verbal.

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