Terraces Beckon the High Life
Smartly built layers of decks, balconies and rooftops make these unusual homes soar to their maximum potential
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City. I have Bachelor of Architecture and Master in Urban Planning degrees, and over ten years experience in architectural practice, split between Chicago and NYC. Currently I'm focused on writing and online pursuits. My daily blog can be found at http://archidose.blogspot.com
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City.... More »
Terracing is a formal technique often applied to landscapes to deal with steep slopes. But terraces can also be used in architecture, to deal with challenging topography or just to provide additional outdoor space. The examples below illustrate the unique forms and spaces that come from terracing, or stepping up as the building rises. This technique allows outdoor spaces to be placed upon the roof of the room below. These are some of the least common houses found on Houzz, but they can be just the right design solution in certain circumstances.
This house is located on a steep hillside overlooking Yarrow Bay in Washington state. Coop 15 Architecture shaped the house to follow the topography and to provide a series of terraces for taking in views of the water. This is the (private) back of the house, which takes in the water vista.
The approach to the front door on the opposite side of the house hints at the stepping. This narrow space reveals some stepped massing, but the concrete perimeter wall at right allows the stepping at the back of the house to "release" the sky and view.
Step through the front door and you have the option of going up the stairs to a bridge or going down some steps toward the back of the house. Note the door at the top of the stairs, an access to one of the terraces.
One last view of the house looks back at the front door from atop the stairs. The architects took advantage of the topography and stepped profile to create a double-height living space with a bridge.
From the hills of Washington state to the flatness of Long Island, New York: This house by Resolution: 4 Architecture is terraced to provide plenty of outdoor space for soaking in views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Looking toward the southern side of the house, two roof terraces are visible above an inset terrace at the lowest level. Note the stairs from the low level to the first roof terrace.
This is the view from the inset terrace on the lowest level. It provides a sheltered outdoor space for enjoying the ocean vista during inclement weather.
Climbing the stairs from the bottom level brings us to this terrace, a generous roof space with views of the Atlantic (reflected in the sliding glass doors). Wooden louvers helps to shade the interior from the summer sun. But how does one get to the uppermost roof?
This staircase, which ascends toward the Atlantic and the top roof deck, is on the east side of the house. Note a balcony used for grilling below the stairs.
Looking at the approach to the house from the north, it's clear that the terracing is part of a complex form of raised and inset open spaces. The ramp up the two-story cutout entry is particularly nice.
Another area in which terracing is appropriate is multifamily housing. This three-unit building in Australia designed by Rudolfsson Alliker is particularly well done, partly because it resembles a single-family house in execution. This backyard view reveals each level, but only the top two levels (comprising one unit) are visible from the street. Terracing works to deal with the steep topography of the site.
Here is the dining room of the middle apartment, which is afforded a double-height space. A mezzanine overlooking the dining space takes advantage of the height and the views from the glass over the sliding wall.
Here is a view from the kitchen and dining area of the lowest unit, the lucky one that is afforded a lawn right outside the sliding glass wall.
This project designed by Bercy Chen Studio comprises three similar houses, each with an inverted terrace overlooking a nearby lake. Solid wood walls define the sides and reinforce the views from the terraces.
The top of each residence is utilized as a space for entertaining. The green roofs aid in insulating the three-story houses. Note the cutout on the left; each house is oriented around a central light well.
Ideabook published on April 17, 2012.
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