Every building extends beyond its blueprint and interfaces directly with its environment. The best architects see this, opening their eyes to the landscapes that encompass their works. And the best homes are often the ones that blur the boundaries between the internal and external environments.
The five architects featured here truly notice every detail about what they’re building, and where they’re building it. In doing so, they have created homes that are in harmony with their surrounding environments, and enable a lifestyle that embraces nature’s beauty in full.
David Bastos on the Brazilian Coast
There are few natural settings as inspiring as the Brazilian coast—and few architects as inspired as David Bastos. Together with his firm, DB Arquitetos, Bastos is able to integrate innovative contours, traditional styles, and organic materials to create contemporary homes that feel seamless and contiguous with the splendor that surrounds them.
Step outside this luxe property, and feel the sand beneath your feet. It’s practically part of the adjacent beach, with private walkways leading to the seaside over the neighboring mangroves, and three wooden bungalows serving as independent guest houses. With its gourmet kitchen and two swimming pools, this residence has all the appeal of a five-star resort, while incorporating distinctly local touches such as the rustic decks and white burnt cement floors.
Aldo Rossi on Lago Maggiore
When he published L’architettura della città (The Architecture of the City) in 1966, Aldo Rossi positioned himself at the forefront of the neorationalist movement, making the case that buildings should clash neither with their surroundings, nor with the buildings that came before them. As a result, his world-renowned works are characterized by modern pragmatism merged with classic forms, and a keen awareness of locale.
The Milan-based architect designed this stunning villa on the banks of Lago Maggiore, whose vistas overlook the Borromean Islands. His handiwork is immediately apparent; his signature pillars synthesize aesthetics both past and present, while the masonry links the home to the azure lake and sky with its local stones and hints of blue. Rossi’s meticulous vision continues inside the home, where spacious, airy rooms are complemented by scintillating lake views.
Mickey Muennig in Big Sur
The residences of Big Sur are known for their breathtaking synergy with the towering cliffs, billowing mists, and majestic redwood and oak forests that enfold them. This is largely thanks to the work of pioneering architect Mickey Muennig, whose organic, ecocentric buildings have long characterized the region and attracted the wonder of the world.
His unique style can be found up and down the wind- and wave-swept coast, but nowhere is it more pronounced than in the solar-powered home he designed for himself. This tripartite masterpiece consists of the Main House, the Glass House, and the Caretaker’s House—a dynamic feat of engineering that feels like a whimsical hobbit hole one moment and an eagle’s lofty aerie the next.
Juan Grimm’s Estate Grounds
Of course, not all architects create buildings. Landscape architects are tasked with shaping the terrain on which the buildings stand, and are often more attuned to the nuances of the natural environment than even the most detail-oriented builder. No one epitomizes this better than Juan Grimm, who has envisioned private gardens and public parks across South America and is widely considered to be not just a leader in this field, but a founder.
For this gorgeous estate in his native Chile, Grimm has thought of everything—terraced gardens that lead straight to the nearby golf course, a secluded courtyard where water-dwelling flora dapple the sunlight, and a perimeter of vibrant local greenery that creates a sense of endlessness with the mountain and valley views. The primary suite opens onto this grandeur, while the floor above maintains plenty of space for guests.
Sandro Petti on the Island of Ischia
With a lifelong love for his home island of Ischia, acclaimed architect Sandro Petti lends a Mediterranean influence to many of his projects, while remaining acutely sensitive to the natural and cultural contexts he works in. Raised in close proximity to the salons of several noted painters, it comes as no surprise that his buildings are recognized for their artistic virtuosity.
For proof, look no further than this panoramic villa that Petti designed in his beloved hometown. The sun-bleached stones of the local promontories form the dais for this sculptural masterpiece, which mixes a variety of bold shapes in its archways, window frames, winding stairways, and balconies, all of which provide sweeping views of the Gulf of Naples and Castello Aragonese.
A home is so much more than a collection of comfortable interiors. It’s also the exteriors—patios to enjoy and paths to explore—that cultivate a complete luxury experience. These five architects have a powerful understanding of this, and that’s why the homes and environments they design are uniquely desirable today.
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