Five glass houses by the water
To share To share
As one of the four essential elements that sustain life on this planet, water is crucial to the survival of all species. Just like wild animals have an affinity for bodies of water, we humans are also attracted to them.
While our ports, lakes, and waterways no longer play the role of international transportation hubs and feeding grounds as they once did, the improved air quality, milder climate, and increased relaxation and mindfulness brought about by the presence of fresh or running water means that spaces such as riverside bars, waterfront hotels and lakefront homes are among the most popular in their categories.
The following homes demonstrate how nearby bodies of water can be better utilized with exceptional architecture and design.
Cabin 72h / JeanArch
Many people long to include more nature in their everyday lives, but some challenges and considerations arise. Time spent “getting away from it all” in the simple tranquility of an environment devoid of electrical outlets, sidewalks, and public transportation may seem idyllic. However, being away from home comforts like cell phone chargers and a comfortable chair for long periods of time can also be challenging. Likewise, a quiet, secluded space by the water is no longer so peaceful or secluded once many people find out about it.
The 72h Cabin, designed by JeanArch Architects, was used as part of a study led by Karolinska Institutet to understand the fine line between stress reduction and boredom resulting from confinement. At just five square meters and just enough room for a double bed, with a few meters on each side for seating, these little cabins are not “places for daytime activities”, explain the architects; they are, instead, “places to curl up at night and start counting the stars.”
Lucia Smart Cabin / Pirinen Salo Oy
At 24 square meters and with a small living and dining room, plus a bed on its most prominent edge, along with toilet facilities in a more private and enclosed section, Cabana Lucia Smart is capable of sustaining visitors for longer periods. Elevated a few meters above the edge of the Juutuanvuono Fjord in northern Finland, the cabin sits alongside a stepped trail that leads to an open-air terrace over the water, allowing visitors to step out and take in the surroundings unobstructed.
However, if more insulation and warmth are needed, the reflective glass facade helps maintain unidirectional vision. With “the surrounding landscape and sky as the most important element of the interior”, explain architects Pirinen Salo Oy, the “structure is oriented according to the optimal viewpoint”, maximizing the view to the outside. By also integrating the cabin’s lighting system into the thin steel structure, even the view from inside suffers only minimal obstruction.
The Bathroom / Handegård Arkitektur
Glass facades are perfect for allowing light, heat and views into interiors, but the other side of the coin is that small spaces have difficulty controlling heat and privacy. While Cabana Lucia uses reflective glass and Cabana 72h is only built in isolated areas and maintains spaces between its eaves boards for ventilation to solve the problem, Badehus in Norway uses an alternative method of climate control and privacy.
Located in the picturesque Vikene area on Norway’s west coast, overlooking Hankøsundet island, Badehus appears at first glance like a traditional Norwegian barn, blending in with many others on the coast with its red siding and tin roof. Upon closer examination, however, the cabin “replaces the traditional structure with a thicker wooden cladding angled at 45 degrees”, explain its architects Handegård Arkitektur, using the brise soleil facade to shield the interior from view from the sides and at the same time control the amount of sunlight that enters and preserve the view.
House on Lake Zurich / Lucia Christen Horgen
While this house that towers above Lake Zurich doesn’t quite extend to the water’s edge, the top floor of the house reaches enough height to provide an excellent view of both the city’s skyline and the edge of the lake that extends to it. By installing tilted sliding windows from specialist air-lux, the architect was able to maintain the house’s access to an L-shaped terrace around its side and front, offering views of the lake from all corners and ensuring that ” the living space appears bright and spacious”, as air-lux explains. Meanwhile, sliding windows that open diagonally help provide the widest and highest possible view of the natural surroundings and sky.
Glass Beach House / Jan Wenzel
This beach house, tucked into the dunes on Denmark’s west coast, takes full advantage of its location, with a bedroom and living room separated into separate wings, allowing each to have three floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The edges of the two rooms facing each other, as well as the front and back walls of the kitchen connected between them, are formed respectively with Cero III sliding windows, or Highline folding doors, both from the specialist manufacturer Solarlux.
While the four sets of windows and doors can close to protect the interior from the cold and wind but maintain the beautiful sea view when conditions permit, their built-in frames mean the entire space can come together as one with the courtyard. in the middle, creating a large kitchen and outdoor living space.