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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.