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Architecture 2011: Top 10 Contemporary Homes of the Year

There was nothing cookie-cutter about the year 2011 in terms of contemporary architecture.  From breathtaking beach houses to sculptural city retreats, some of the world’s greatest residential architects made their mark in 2011.  To celebrate their work, here are ten of our favorite homes that we covered in the past year.

Minus K House by Kuu Architecture

This wild brick structure is home to a pair of working families in Nanhui, China.  The Minus K House by Kuu Architecture is built around a common dining table in its center.  It features private bedrooms, common work areas and separate points of relaxation for individuals and groups alike.  Its most remarkable trait is its simplicity, where white-painted brick and sparse windows create a compelling scene from the road.

Minus K House by Kuu Architecture Gallery

Local Rock House New Zealand

The architectural renaissance in New Zealand remains alive with works like this.  The Local Rock House by Pattersons Associates is a remarkable work of residential architecture, easily one of the best we reviewed in 2011.  This stunning beach house is built with reclaimed rocks from the local environment, and designed to mimic the grounds below and the tree-lined canopy above.  Those two top sections on the home’s third floor present sweeping views of the forest around it and the ocean at its front.

Local Rock House New Zealand Gallery

O House by Stuebi and Tröger

The O House by Stuebi and Tröger is clearly one of the year’s most distinctive homes.  Its front-facing facade and rear-side texture repeat a series of “o’s”, living up to this home’s name.  The spectacular view from the open upper deck, the indoor-outdoor pool on its lower level and the well-stocked garage below make this home truly magnificent.

O House by Stuebi and Tröger Gallery

Dune House by JVA Mole Architects

This wild structure rises out of the waterside dunes in Northern England.  The Dune House by JVA Mole Architects rolls like the dunes around it in a sculptural nature.  The upper floor of the Dune House is pitched in an array of faceted sections that are dotted with square windows.  The upper interior is private, while the floor below is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows in every direction.  From afar, this home wouldn’t be mistaken for a dune, but its inspiration is easily recognized.

Dune House by JVA Mole Architects Gallery

Maison L by Christian Pottgiesser

An 18th century citrus orchard is now home to an imaginative modern residence in France.  Maison L by Christian Pottgiesser comprises four raised, rectangular sections and a connected level at their base.  The lower level is designed to merge into the earthy feel of the environment, and the raised private sections feature their own distinct views of the land around them.  Maison L is one of the most visually progressive works of residential architecture of 2011, one of our clear favorites.

Maison L by Christian Pottgiesser Gallery

Nobis House by Susanne Nobis

The Nobis House by Susanne Nobis is located near Lake Starnberg in the Berg state of Germany.  The home is decidedly contemporary, with symmetrical pitched-box sections mirroring eachother with large windows at either end.  It is both a private residence and a workspace, with the sections separated from one another so that work does not spill into home life– and vice versa.  It’s a masterful work, a stunning example of modern architecture and the full depth of the creativity of the home’s architect and occupant, Susanne Nobis.

Nobis House by Susanne Nobis Gallery

Chimney House by Studio MK27

In the bustling city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, this cool and calm retreat provides quite a contrast from the activity around it.  The Chimney House by Marcio Kogan and Studio MK27 has a level of architectural harmony that is akin to a Japanese rock garden, where everything feels to be perfectly in its place.

Chimney House by Studio MK27 Gallery

Batangas House by Cuerva and de Borja

The Batangas House is a bright, airy and open home with a strong, modern street presence and an interior focus on the sea beyond.  Aside from a few natural wood accents, the home is largely white– making the furnishings and the inhabitants themselves the home’s primary colors.  The seas stretch to the horizon, dotted with rising rocks and mountainous islands, providing a picturesque backdrop to life in the Batangas House.

Batangas House Gallery

Kew House 3 by Vibe Design

Vibe Design Group have designed the Kew House 3 with a marvelous slatted-wood facade, inspired by the wooden stereo systems of the 60s and 70s.  That natural, earthy feel envelopes the homes front and sides, broken only by large white accent walls which line the rear patio section.  In the very cosmopolitan and design-conscious city of Melbourne, Australia, this house is right at home.

Kew House 3 by Vibe Design Gallery

Pohutukawa Beach House by Herbst Architects

A breezy, intimate beach escape welcomes the owners of the Pohutukawa Beach House by Herbst Architects.  This modern wooden home is nestled under an old swath of Pohutukawa trees in a beach destination not far from Auckland, New Zealand.  Its two levels are laced with wood and floor-to-ceiling glass, making the coastal environment the central focus of its design.

Pohutukawa Beach House by Herbst Architects Gallery

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What was your favorite work of residential architecture in 2011?  If we missed one that you drooled over, share it in the comments or tweet us  In the mean time, be sure to check out our other list recaps of 2011: