Dope Cliff-Side Homes

From rugged coastlines to rocky cliff-side terrains, these adventurous homes make the most of nature’s varied and dramatic landscape.

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The Casa Cuatro in Tunquen, Chile, sits above a 180-foot cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The locally quarried stone makes the house blend in with the landscape and acts as a thermal-mass wall, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it through the evening.

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The thousand-foot cliffs and precipitous mountains of Big Sur, California, have a long history of attracting contrarian thinkers. “There being nothing to improve on in the surroundings,” writes Henry Miller in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch. “The tendency is to set about improving oneself.” Surrendering to the stunning natural beauty of this sparsely populated region seems to be what people do here, and architect Mickey Muennig is no different. He renovated the Partington Point House, shown here, in 1995.

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Off the coast of British Columbia—on a site accessible only by boat—a family of Vancouver urbanites commissioned a sustainable cabin for weekend getaways that feels a world away. The architects designed every gesture of the home as a complement to the landscape, including the slot windows that frame views of the surrounding foliage and the walkway that follows the bedrock of the cliff.

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Teeming with owls, moose, and black bears, the snowy forests of Eastern Quebec make an ideal site for a winter fortress. It was perfect for Canadian architecture firm _naturehumaine’s latest client, a behind-the-scenes movie guy who wanted a secluded place to recuperate from intensive, exhausting projects. Architects Stéphane Rasselet and David Dworkind delivered with a strikingly simple concept. They anchored two stacked, rectangular volumes into a steep mountainside surrounded by awe-inspiring vistas. “We love the sensation of floating amongst the trees that you feel as you look out from the cantilevered second floor,” Dworkind says.

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Gabriel Ramirez’s home at Sea Ranch, a half-century-old enclave of rugged modernist houses on the Northern California coast, captures the spirit of its surroundings. The view from his property opens to meadow grasses and cypress trees that give way to craggy cliffs and the lapping Pacific Ocean. His house joins those that a cohort of forward-thinking architects built along this stretch of coast in the 1960s.



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