Tuesday, 15 January 2013


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10 Spectacular Underground Homes Around The World
By Simona Ganea,
Homedit, 12 December 2012.

Even though it’s uncommon, some people prefer to live underground, literary. It’s an interesting alternative to regular homes and, whether it’s a decision based on style, personal preferences and the wish to recreate an image from a movie, living in any of these homes must be unique. You will be surprised to see how similar these homes are to those almost everyone has gotten used with.

1. An underground eco home by Make Architects

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Designed by Make Architects for British football star Gary Neville, this structure manages to combine beauty with functionality in a new and unique way. The residence covers nearly 8,000 square feet but not in the way you would expect it to. It’s a one-story structure that was built underground. One of the main goals when designing the residence was to create something that would keep energy consumption to a minimum and that would be an eco-friendly version of a standard home.

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The house was built with locally-sourced materials and using traditional building methods and a ground source heat pump provides heating while the photovoltaic panels and the on-site wind turbine generates renewable energy. The house is almost entirely built into the hillside and this allows it to seamlessly integrate into the surroundings.

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The layout resembles a flower with rooms instead of petals, all organized around a central kitchen. The comparison is not random as the house also has a glowing floral impression on the landscape when lit at night. It’s both interesting and beautiful to see how nature and artificial work combine in this project and result in a harmonious creation. [More information here and here]

2. Underground home with an elliptical shape and Alpine views

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This house is also built into the hillside yet the design is completely different. This underground home is the result of the collaboration between Netherlands architects from SeARCH and Christian Muller Architects. Located in the Swiss village of Vals, the house is quite difficult to spot out as it’s part of a cluster of mountain houses. However, this isn’t the only reason why it’s easily unnoticeable.

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The house is basically a stone structure and it has been built into the hillside. It has two entryways. One of them, the main entrance, reveals large outdoor entertainment areas while the second one is from a nearby barn and leads you though an underground pathway. The circular opening contains lots and lots of windows and it’s a way of introducing light into the house while also providing views towards the exterior.

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Even though it’s an underground home, it’s very bright and has plenty of natural sunlight. Also, it provides amazing mountain views and maintains a high level of privacy for its inhabitants. It’s an interesting option for a stone house and, even though it’s easy for it to go unnoticed, it’s also a surprising and stunning discovery for anyone who sees it. [Villa Vals website]

3. Woodlyn Park, home to the world’s first hobbit motel

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When you think of underground homes it’s impossible not to imagine the hobbit village. That’s the definition of underground living these days and has been a great inspiration for lots of people. The fans tried to replicate those little homes built into the hillside and some managed to create unique and remarkable structures. One of them is the world’s first hobbit motel, located in Woodlyn Park, on the North island of New Zealand. This place started as the only motel with a U-drive jet course and it later became the first hobbit motel in the world. It was built using polystyrene blocks and this allows each room to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s an interesting and effective insulation method, considering the uniqueness of the project.

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Surprisingly, the rooms are quite spacious. They are also very well furnished and feature high-quality details. Each structure has its own kitchen and shower and each unit can accommodate up to 6 people. The motel also offers a bar and a restaurant and its guests can also enjoy lots of adventures during their stay here. [More information] [Hobbit Motel Website]

4. An eco-village in Preseli mountains of west Wales

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In the Preseli mountains of west Wales there are lots of different areas and all sorts of homes. But this village is by far the most interesting. This is an eco-village and it has huts made of straw and mud that have been built into the hills. The houses look very interesting and very charming. Besides having these eco-friendly homes, the people living here also generate their own power and grow their own food.

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This unique community was set up in 1993 and has remained a secret for several years. The village was discovered in 1998 when sunlight was seen glinting off a solar panel that was placed on the main building. A pilot saw the reflection and reported back but, at that time, the officials couldn’t find any records of anything being built there or any planning permission for the village. The houses were very well camouflaged and surrounded by trees and bushes.

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After that a dark period came for the 22 villagers living there. Bulldozers came to demolish their homes but now they can finally enjoy the lifestyle they love thanks to the planning approval they got for the houses, lavatories, agricultural buildings and workshops. [More information]

5. The houses from the Hobbiton scenes of the Lord of the Rings

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As we’ve mentioned before, it’s impossible to think of any house built into the hillside without comparing it to the ones from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those hobbit houses have become a great symbol and have inspired lots of projects. But if you want to see the real houses from the movies and not replicas, you can go to Matamata in New Zeeland.

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This was the place where the scenes from Hobbiton were filmed and, after the film was finished, the farm asked if some of the hobbit homes could be preserved and used as attractions for the tourists. Everyone agreed it couldn’t hurt anyone so the houses remained there. Of course, you can’t expect these houses to look exactly like in the scenes from the movies. The scenes inside the hobbit houses were never even shot here but in a studio.

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These hobbit houses are not furnished and they look more interesting when seen from far away then from up close. But if you use your imagination you can be transposed into the Hobbiton from the movie. The sheep looks like it has everything figured out. [More information] [Images from flickr].

6. The eco-friendly Bella Vista Hotel in Italy

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Lately there’s been a burst of energy and ideas when it comes to eco-friendly creations. Lots of people have opted for sustainable designs for their private homes and even larger projects have been designed. There are many eco-friendly hotels that have emerged or that have been redesigned. The Bella Vista Hotel is just one of them.

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This is the latest KlimaHotel© and it can be found it Bozen, Italy. It’s a redesign of the Bella Vista Trafoi and it’s the first KlimaHotel© eco-friendly hotel. It was designed by Matteo Thun and focuses on sustainability and ecology. The project included the creation of 11 individual hostels. These were built into the hillside starting with 2009.

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All these structures feature eco-friendly and sustainable heating, cooling and building methods. Local resources were used as well as materials from the nearby areas. As for the architecture and design of these hostels, they were strongly influences by the local culture. The focus was on creating a strong connection with nature, on trying to combine natural and artificial elements and to create a harmonious image. It’s an ambitious project that has attracted lots of admirers. [More information] [Klima Hotel]

7. A home built in a cave in Missouri

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Most underground homes or structures are built into the hillside, following the model offered by the Lord of the Rings movies. But there are also other possibilities to explore. For example, a cave would be a very logical and simple solution. It’s most likely the starting point of all modern homes so now it’s fun to go back and to transform the concept into something unique.

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This wonderful home can be found in Festus, Missouri [USA] and was constructed inside a 15,000 square foot sandstone cave. It was built by Curt and Deborah Sleeper and has become their cosy home. The interior is very modern and features unique textures such as the unfinished sandstone walls that give it a beautiful charm.

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Not only that the location for this home is unusual and unique but there are also other details that make it a great example to follow. This structure is also an energy-efficient house that has geothermal heating and a smart design that eliminates the need for air conditioning. The cave home has three rooms or chambers, all with unfinished walls. This is the type of home that guests would love to visit and that would be similar to a museum in a sense. [More information] [Curt and Deborah Sleeper (Caveland US) website] [Related Post]

8. Organically-shaped earth houses by Peter Vetsch

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Located in Dietikon, Switzerland, these unusual underground structures introduce a new and original concept related to eco-friendly, progressive architecture. This area is called the Earth House Estate Lättenstrasse and it was designed by Peter Vetsch. The development is composed of nine houses, three of which have three bedrooms, one with four bedrooms, one with five bedrooms and three homes with six bedrooms as well as a seven-bedroom structure.

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The houses are larger than they seem and that’s mostly because they are almost entirely covered with earth and grass. They seem to emerge out of nowhere and they are quite similar to the other structures built into the hillside that we’ve presented so far. The houses are grouped around a small artificial lake.

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All the homes use the earth as an insulating blanket that provides protection from heat and cold but also from rain and wind. The organic shapes of these structures allow them to naturally integrate into the surroundings and to become a part of the landscape. However, these houses don’t necessarily have to be built underground. They can also be placed on naturally grown terrain, although the effect wouldn’t be the same.

9. The Malator house on the Welsh coast

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Most underground homes that are built into the hillside have lateral openings that represent the entrance and that make them visible. However, it’s not exactly the case for this home. This is the Malator house and it’s located on the Welsh coast. It’s very difficult to find it when you don’t know exactly its location because the house almost disappears entirely into the ground.

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The house was a project by Future Systems. It was built into its own man-made mound and it situated at the top of the hill. This location allows it to benefit from wonderful and panoramic views of the landscape and the design allows you to look through the house to the coast of Wales. The house is not just an odd structure placed in a strange area. It also has an eco-friendly side that goes perfectly with its design.

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The house is almost entirely underground for passive energy control and the front is wide open. On both sides there are round portholes set into the glass. The Malator house almost disappears into the landscape and integrates beautifully into the surroundings. It establishes a very strong connection with nature and this allows it to integrate in nature even better. [More information here and here]

10. The Aloni House in the Cycladic Islands

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One way of making your home integrate into the landscape like it was part of it is to use the materials found in the area for the construction and to make the house disappear into the scenery. It’s why most hillside houses we’ve presented have been built into the hill and using locally-sourced materials such as stone or wood.

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The Aloni house has a design based on the same principles. However, the location is a little different from what we’ve seen so far. Located in this beautiful area of the Cycladic Islands [Greece], the house had to respond to the landscape that featured earth walls and farming areas. The designers from Deca Architecture decided to opt for a traditional typology for this project.

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They used materials that have a low impact on the environment while also being very efficient as insulating materials. The house is a single-level structure and has a surface of 240 square meters. It has wall made of retained earth that regulate the temperature and a green roof that also provides insulation while also helping the house disappear into the scenery. [More information]

[Source: Homedit. Edited. Some links added.]

1 comment:

  1. Sweet collection, really interesting and inspiring! This is art in it´s best form :)


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