There is an endless debate about the merits of brutalist architecture. In the meantime, however, small doses of it – in the form of many modern concrete houses – keep appearing all over the world and prove the versatility and attractiveness of the strong material.
Architects are turning to concrete everywhere to create cross-border residential buildings – and not just to lay the foundations. While concrete tends to create a stubborn look by default, there are plenty of ways to make it smooth, airy, and maybe even a little bit homely.
For proof, check out these recently completed projects that use anything from a dozen square windows to a series of courtyards to bring light and life into interiors.
Binh House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
From a company that loves adding a lot of green to urban buildings, this clear concrete residence is built around courtyard gardens, adding natural light and ventilation to every room. The inner courtyards and a roof garden connect the living spaces on each floor and enable interaction between the three generations who live in the house.
Villa Strebelle by Claude Strebelle – Tilff, Belgium
Concrete can also drive curves, as shown by this extraordinary house from 1980, the facades of which were poured and poured on site. There are many charming details such as a stepped ceiling, sculptural voids, vaulted arches, carved handrails, portholes, and notched window and door frames.
Afeka House by Bar Orian Architects – Tel Aviv, Israel
This Bauhaus-inspired accommodation consists of two stacked cubes and a series of aluminum and weathered steel louvers that shade the floor-to-ceiling windows on the facade. The house is beefy on the outside, extremely light and economical on the inside, with white walls, polished concrete floors and many options for indoor and outdoor living.
E20 from Steimle Architects – Tübingen
A statement from the start: The wild nooks and crannies of this three-story house continue inside, where furniture like the stairs and kitchen island mimick the shape of the outside. It’s all about the dynamic, sculptural quality of crystals.
Villa C by Peter Tachelet – Beersel, Belgium
A massive concrete slab in front of this brutalist accommodation, the side and rear facades of which are formed by glass curtains, is a dramatic example of a structure that doubles as a fortress, even when it opens outwards, light as air.
Casa Ma by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architetti – Füllinsdorf, Switzerland
This Swiss cheese made from concrete houses has a series of square windows on the straight facade that bring natural light into the structure. The exterior has a pebbly texture, which makes it feel extra rustic. Inside, cubic cubes carved into the walls can hold books, pottery, and more.
U Retreat by IDMM Architects – Hongcheon, South Korea
This series of country retreats soars into a lush valley and features wild geometries that frame natural vistas. The complex’s four buildings are multi-story with minimal, fluid interiors and outdoor lounges under concrete beam canopies.
Savièse House by Anako Architecture – Savièse, Switzerland
Facing a small, sloping plot of land, the architects created a concrete house that flows over the site as a single structure, with a fortress-like entrance at street level and three descending “half levels”. There are three courtyards along the way. Extensive floor-to-ceiling glazing offers light and lightness in contrast to the heavy partition walls.
Ark House by Robert Konieczny – Southern Poland
This private residence sits on top of a green hill with great views and some clever security features. The skyscraper is designed to withstand landslides and rainwater to drain away. It also has a drawbridge entrance and sliding wall that can completely lock the house.
Mami House by José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira – Matosinhos, Portugal
This house in a Portuguese coastal town shows the cost-effective potential of concrete. The two-story, 1,722-square-foot apartment was completed for just over $ 100,000 and has a simple cubic exterior with a modern interior. Glass walls, built-in wood and exposed concrete make it interesting.