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10 concrete homes we loved in 2017

They’re anything but bunkers

Photo by Nicolas Sedlatchek via World Architecture

There’s a never-ending debate about the merits of Brutalist architecture. But in the meantime, small doses of it—in the form of many a modern concrete home—continue to pop up all over the world, proving the versatility and appeal of the hefty material.

Architects everywhere are turning to concrete for boundary-pushing residential buildings—and not just for laying the foundation. While concrete tends to create a heavy-handed look by default, there are plenty of ways to make it sleek, airy, and maybe even a bit homey.

For proof, take a look at these recently completed projects, which employ everything from a dozen square windows to a series of interior courtyards to bring light and life indoors.

Binh House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Photos by Hiroyuki Oki via Designboom

From a firm that loves to infuse greenery into urban buildings comes this clean-lined concrete residence designed around courtyard gardens, which bring natural light and ventilation to every room. The courtyards, plus a roof garden, link the living spaces on each floor, and accommodate interaction among the three generations that live in the house.

Villa Strebelle by Claude Strebelle — Tilff, Belgium

Concrete can do curves, too, as evidenced by this extraordinary 1980 home whose facades were poured and cast on site. Enchanting details abound, like 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

Photos by Amit Geron via Dezeen

This Bauhaus-inspired abode comprises two stacked cubes and a series of aluminum and weathering steel louvers, which shade the floor-to-ceiling windows on the facade. Brawny on the outside, the home is decidedly bright and spare inside, with white walls, polished concrete floors, and lots of opportunities for indoor-outdoor living.

E20 by Steimle Architekten — Tübingen, Germany

Photos by Brigida González via Dezeen

A statement from the get-go, the wild angles of this three-story house continue inside, where furnishings like the staircase and kitchen island mimic the form of the exterior. It’s all going after the dynamic, sculptural quality of crystals.

Villa C by Peter Tachelet — Beersel, Belgium

A massive slab of concrete fronts this Brutalist abode, whose side and rear facades are formed by curtains of glass, creating quite the dramatic example of a structure that simultaneously acts as a fortress even as it opens up to the outdoors, light as air.

Casa Ma by Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architetti — Füllinsdorf, Switzerland

Photos by Hannes Henz via Designboom

This Swiss cheese of concrete houses has a series of square windows dotting its rectilinear facade, bringing pockets of natural light into the structure. The exterior has a pebbly texture, which makes it feel extra rustic. Inside, cubic cubbies carved into the walls can hold books, ceramics, and more.

U Retreat by IDMM Architects — Hongcheon, South Korea

Photos by Kim Jaeyoun via World Architecture

Rising in a lush valley, this series of countryside retreats feature wild geometries framing natural views. The four buildings in the complex are multi-level with minimal, flowing interiors, and outdoor lounges under concrete-beam “canopies.”

Savièse House by Anako Architecture — Savièse, Switzerland

Faced with a small, sloping lot, the architects created a concrete home that flows down the site as a single structure, with a fortress-like entrance at street level and three descending “half levels.” Along the way, there are three interior courtyards. Expansive floor-to-ceiling glazing offers light and levity in contrast to the heavy boundary walls.

Ark House by Robert Konieczny — Southern Poland

Photos via Dezeen

Perched on a verdant hill, this private residence has gorgeous views and some clever safety and security features. The elevated house, designed to withstand landslides and accommodate rainwater run-off underneath, also has a drawbridge entrance and sliding wall that can close off the home entirely.

Mami House by José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira — Matosinhos, Portugal

Photos by João Morgado via Dezeen

This house in a coastal Portuguese town showcases the cost-efficient potential of concrete. Completed for just over $100,000, the two-story, 1,722-square-foot dwelling offers a simple cubic exterior with a spare, modern interior. Glass walls, wooden built-ins, plus some exposed concrete keep it interesting.