Airy Architecture: 13 Homes Open to Nature


Imagine being able to temporarily remove an entire wall of your home – or maybe every wall – to let in cool, fresh air in the heat of summer. That’s the idea behind these 13 open-air houses, which utilize either sliding panels, garage doors or permanently perforated screens to take advantage of natural ventilation and cooling. These airy designs not only lower energy bills, but foster a connection to the outdoors.

The Paraty House by Marcio Kogan Architects

(images via: contemporist)

Truly blurring the lines between indoors and out, this incredible beach house in Paraty, Brazil features massive sliding windows that completely open the interior spaces to an infinity pool and the shore beyond it. The home is made up of two cantilevered concrete volumes which jut out of a mountainside; residents arrive by boat.

Kokopo House, Papua New Guinea

(images via: world architecture news)

With a form inspired by the flow of volcanic lava, the Kokopo House in Papua New Guinea is bold, futuristic and luxurious. Totally off-grid and open to the elements, the home contains no windows and has walls designed to encourage air flow. It also features rainwater collection, solar water heaters and low-wattage LED lights, and was made using local materials.

Fish House by Guz Architects

(images via: best of remodeling)

Mimicking the way the gills of a fish allow oxygen into its body, the Fish House by Guz Architects has openings in its layered roof to usher in fresh ocean air. Numerous large opening windows further open up the inside of the home, and the architects extended the living space into the outdoors with covered poolside pavilions and glassed-in cantilevered living spaces.

Minimalist White Home by Iwan Baan

(images via: iwan.com)

Japanese architect Iwan Baan does away with glass altogether in this minimalist white home, at least when it comes to the exterior volume. A white sheath extending all the way to the property line, punctuated with rectilinear openings that let in air and light. This provides a protected garden space between the outer volume and the interior space.

Leaf House, Rio de Janeiro

(images via: world architecture news)

Leaf-like coverings protect a maze of enclosed and open spaces in this luxury Rio de Janeiro home. Mareines + Patalano architects took inspiration from traditional Indian structures in Brazil, leaving much of the house open to trade winds from the sea which provide natural ventilation and passive cooling.

Costa Rican Home Made of Bamboo

(images vía: benjamín garcia saxe)

Made entirely of bamboo, this beautiful home in the jungle of Costa Rica was made by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe for his mother. The angled bamboo lets in fresh air and cooling breezes without allowing water to drip inside.

Residencia RR, Sao Paulo

(images via: andrademorettin.com)

At Residencia RR in Sao Paulo, Brazil, massive windows are paired with sliding screens to allow plentiful ventilation and light without welcoming insects, snakes and other jungle creatures into the interior space. The home is contained within a primary ‘shell’ which shields it from the elements and provides shade.

The Bahia House by Marcio Kogan

(images via: archdaily)

Yet another home inspired by the traditional architecture of Brazil is the Bahia House by Marcio Kogan architects. The floor plan of this tropical home is organized around a central patio and the exterior walls are actually perforated wooden screens, which take advantage of north winds off the sea. This keeps the interior cool despite blazing hot summer temperatures.

Elm & Willow House by Architects EAT

(images via: dezeen)

This U-shaped extension to a home in Canterbury, Australia encloses new rooms in a sliding glass ‘skin’ that can open them up entirely to the outdoors. Built on steel columns, the addition is suspended to avoid damaging the roots of mature elm and willow trees around which the extensions are placed to create a courtyard. Opening both rooms creates two separate outdoor pavilions that keep the addition from crowding the yard.

Chicken Point Cabin in Idaho

(images via: olsonkundingarchitects.com)

“The idea for the cabin is that of a lakeside shelter in the woods―a little box with a big window that opens to the surrounding landscape,” says architecture firm Olson Kundig Architects of Chicken Point Cabin in Northern Idaho. The cabin has a massive wall of windows measuring 30 by 20 feet that opens like a garage door, exposing the living space to the wilderness. The chosen materials, including plywood, concrete and steel, were left unfinished to age naturally “and acquire a patina that fits in with the natural setting.”

The Green Village by Ibuku, Bali

(images via: green village bali)

Like many other jungle climates, Bali is warm and humid with cooling breezes that come in off the water. Local architecture takes advantage of these breezes with open-air designs that let residents luxuriate in the temperate climate. The Green Village, a collection of bamboo homes by Balinese firm Ibuku, is a prime example of the beauty of this approach.

Open-Air Outdoor Kitchen

(image via: kbculture)

Showcasing the ideal compromise between a space that’s open to the wind yet protected from the rain, this outdoor kitchen by McInturff Architects is covered by a slanted roof and walled in on three sides, but large openings retain the connection to its natural surroundings.

Open-Air Library by Karo

(images via: dezeen.com)

The only structure on this list that isn’t a home, this open-air building by KARO deserves a mention just for the stark rarity of the design: it’s a library. It may seem illogical to open a collection of damage-prone paper to the elements, but this ventilated design in Magdeburg, Germany actually keeps the books in protected niches, leaving the open spaces for browsers to sit and relax. The library was made from wood, salvaged materials from a former warehouse and hundreds of beer crates.

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