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Two Car-Obsessed Hillside Homes Duke it Out For Glory

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Left: Car Park House in Los Angeles, Calif.; right: Case Study House in Nishinomiya, Japan

With the suburban garage going the way of the dodo, and all this talk of "walkable communities," it sometimes feels as if our society is collectively forgetting why we (and Mitt Romney!) build houses in the first place: for a place to park our Pontiac Sunfire. Making the rounds online lately are two houses that haven't forgotten: one a chunky concrete home in L.A. with a combined car park and terrace on the roof, the other blindingly white abode in Nishinomaya, Japan topped with a car elevator. Both are culture warriors in the fight to keep residential design centered around the automobile, but like all warriors, sometimes they must meet on the field of battle for reasons beyond their comprehension. As is often our wont, these two low-profile hillside abodes must be pitted against each other, and only one can emerge victorious. Those with weak constitutions might want to click away: it's time for another edition of Design Deathmatch.

And now, the photos:

Photos via Dezeen

The main appeal of the Car Park House, designed by Anonymous Architects, is that it lives up to its name, with the boxy, nigh-Brutalist appeal of a parking garage. Like its competitor, this home is barely visible from the road, built as it is on a steep hillside, and it reverses the typical home's ground floor–roof dynamic; as architect Simon Storey puts it, making the simple act of arriving home and driving onto the roof of the house a surprise every time." The bridge connecting the roof to the street is only one car wide, which might give rise to inconvenient episodes with more than one ride present, but the abode more than makes up for it in simple, pared-down style. A recessed balcony on the side offers views of the L.A. sprawl and the San Gabriel Mountains, which is another point in its favor. Plus, it sits on stilts, which is fun.

Photos via Design Boom

The Case Study House by Kenji Yanagawa ups the ante by sporting a car elevator instead of a parking terrace, where up to three whips can be stored at once and accessed directly from the living room, while the glass encasing the elevator shaft lets in a good deal of natural light. Staggered down a steep incline, it has the same cozy, tucked-away feel as its competition, but keeps an even lower profile, looking like little more than a driveway from the front. Below ground, an unused septic tank serves as the building's foundation, which is a little weird, but perhaps the worst that can be said for this home is that its south-facing main façade looks pretty unremarkable. Still, how often would you be viewing it from that angle?

Poll results

· Car Park House by Anonymous Architects [Dezeen]
· kenji yanagawa's case study house frames city and luxury cars [Design Boom]