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ArchLust: The 12 Architectural Masterworks of 2012


Lovers of architecture take notice– 2012 was a truly remarkable year for modern design. From Manhattan to New Zealand, Spain to Japan, a collection of instant architectural classics arrived throughout the world in the last calendar year. Join us to explore 12 of the greatest works of architecture in 2012, the current cultural milestones of this art form.

High Fashion Loft – NYC


A new contemporary penthouse sits above the old brick warehouses of the meat-packing district in Manhattan, NYC. As the old industry has been replaced by art galleries and retail and the young and fashionable, Diane Von Furstenburg opened a storefront of her own with this private residence at its peak. This green-roofed, glass-sculptured loft is a visual tribute to design progress in New York City, where the new contrasts with the old while preserving its structure. It is the creation of Work Architecture, and it is one of the most visually-progressive pieces of architectural eye candy to be revealed in 2012.

Diane Von Furstenburg Loft – NYC | Gallery

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Basque Culinary Center – San Sebastian


The Basque Culinary Center of San Sebastián, Spain is a monument to Spanish culinary tradition. Within its walls, groups of students, researchers, private companies and government organizations work collectively on the progress of Spanish cuisine. The building around them is a truly inspiring place, its design reminiscent of stacked plates with a green roof above and modern facilities within.

Basque Culinary Center – San Sebastian | Gallery

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Villa SSK by Takeshi Hirobe – Tokyo


The Villa SSK by Takeshi Hirobe was arguably the year’s most remarkable work of geometric architecture. With few parallel surfaces, Villa SSK appears to take on a different shape from nearly every perspective. It is at once surreal and precise, a strange contrast that plays itself out in every room, window, nook and cranny. The sum of these parts is an astonishing home, a place of peace and inspiration overlooking the ocean just beyond the Tokyo bay.

Villa SSK by Takeshi Hirobe – Japan | Gallery

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Glass Garden Cottage – Finland


This Glass Garden Cottage by Ville Hara and Linda Bergroth is the most idyllic, romantic work of architecture we saw in 2012. It is a simple yet successful concept– just a bed in the woods under a glass shelter. We couldn’t ask for much more than that, just a night with our most loved one under the breezy pines with a serene lake beyond. Hopefully it does not feature wifi…

Glass Garden Cottage – Finland | Gallery

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São Francisco Xavier House – Brazil


Majestic green mountains form the visual walls of the glass-lined São Francisco Xavier House by Nitsche Arquitetos. This stunning, secluded residence uses wood and glass to frame the beautiful nature around it, the dynamic natural environment of São Francisco Xavier, Brazil.

São Francisco Xavier House – Brazil | Gallery

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Southern Burgenland Summer House – Austria


The Southern Burgenland Summer House proves that even a traditional shape can be architecturally progressive. This barn-style summer home features a fascia of slatted wood with ventilated light over the windows and entryways. It is one of the most interesting homes of 2012, a statement of architecture where traditional iconographic inspiration can be employed in the contemporary designs of today.

Southern Burgenland Summer House – Austria | Gallery

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Archipelago House – Stockholm


The Archipelago House by Tham & Videgard is set within the nature of the Baltic isles, where pine trees rise and soft soils sink toward the water’s edge. It is a visually stunning work of architecture, a parallelogram figure divided amongst private rooms that zig-zag throughout its interior. Each room is aimed toward the water and islands in the distance, comprising a sweeping panorama that is this home’s entertainment.

Archipelago House – Stockholm | Gallery

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Sant Fransesc Church Renovation – Spain


After resting in quiet disrepair, the Sant Fransesc Church in Santpedor, Spain was saved by the contemporary design of architect David Closes. Old meets new in this work of architectural contrast, where the ancient stone walls are preserved around the sharp modern additions. Renovations like this were common in 2012, but few achieved the striking visual appeal of the Sant Fransesc Church in Spain.

Sant Fransesc Church Renovation – Spain | Gallery

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Cloud House by Mcbride Charles Ryan


A playful, progressive design has turned a basic old row home into an imaginative playground. The Cloud House by Mcbride Charles Ryan Architecture is another high-contrast renovation, where bright-and-bold-and-new meets a traditional counterpart. The shape of a cloud is expressed in the walls and roof of the Cloud House, resulting in one of the more memorable designs of 2012.

Cloud House by Mcbride Charles Ryan | Gallery

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Hawkesbury Residence by Marmol Radziner – New Zealand


The Hawkesbury Residence features an offset rectangular roof section that mimics the downward slope of Mt. Barker. Inside, that slope creates a cathedral-style ceiling that gives a greater sense of flow to the home. As the ceiling lowers, the focus of this home’s inhabitants moves toward the environment beyond. The beauty around the home provides a floor-to-ceiling form of artful entertainment in its windows, the experience of New Zealand’s very dynamic natural habitat.

Hawkesbury Residence by Marmol Radziner – New Zealand | Gallery

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Under the Moonlight House


The Under the Moonlight House rises out of the Australian soil in a monolithic fashion. Stone, steel, wood and glass come together in a design that is progressive in spirit but traditional in body, embracing the old traditions of stone on mortar. Its wild angles are more suggestive of religious architecture, but they are employed here for a home unlike any other in its vicinity. While it may appear shocking at first, it’s hard not to respect this effort by Giovanni D’Ambrosio Architecture.

Under the Moonlight House | Gallery

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House on the Cliff – Iberian Sea


The House on the Cliff by Fran Silvestre Arquitectos is perhaps our favorite work of architecture revealed in 2012. Its design, its cost, it’s plot and the intimate connection to its surroundings were unparalleled last year. Its shape is sharp, angular and undressed, shown as a series of simple rectangular planes without adornment. In most cases, that would yield a cold or unwelcoming emotion, but in the context of its plot, this execution is a strong success. The home is built upon a cliff over the Iberian Sea, with a lap pool that looks upon the water below and the contours of the mountain above. The interior windows face both the panoramic view beyond and the face of the mountain as well, giving both directions of the plot an equal level of significance. It was built for just over $800,000, a remarkable price even if it doesn’t include the cost of the plot itself. It is hard to find better from 2012, and it’s easy to see why this one is our favorite.

House on the Cliff – Iberian Sea | Gallery

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What is your favorite work of architecture from 2012? Be sure to share with us on twitter and facebook, and continue to stay tuned to our architecture coverage for 2013 and beyond. In the mean time, be sure to check out our past coverage of the greatest architecture from earlier calendar years:

Be sure not to miss our other end of year features on the best of 2012!