Blog by Beebe Cline

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All the Possibilities: 4 Homes at the Edge of the Earth

When confronted with a design brief and an undeveloped site, architects often look to the edges of that site for inspiration and meaningful architectural solutions. These boundaries, both real and imagined, are exciting places in which to build. The boundary often gives rise to the form of the building, its materials and even how it’s structured.

The following projects explore these boundaries in some thought-provoking and controversial ways. Some might argue they’re unsafe or take unnecessary risks. But the very nature of architecture is that it challenges us to see the world differently. The design process requires that architects filter many different ideas and constraints — safety laws, professional standards of construction, local building codes and environmental regulations. Architects must also satisfy their client’s needs, desires and budget, and of course, the synthesis must be aesthetically pleasing. Where these designs excel is in their ability to prioritize the inhabitants’ safety while still managing to highlight the drama and danger present in these exposed sites.

Here’s a look at how a home can challenge the natural environment and occupy the boundary between architectural convention and stunning natural beauty.
The house itself is a microcosm of the boundary condition of the site, of openness and shelter, where land equates to safety, a refuge from the sea. It exhibits an understanding of the forces that have shaped this environment and acknowledges them in the design.

A daring reminder. It’s a tenuous relationship, though. I think that’s why I appreciate it so much — for its boldness. Would you site a home here? Maybe, maybe not.

Do I question whether it’s safe? Absolutely not. The very fact that it was built is proof that it met the complex challenges the architects faced. Satisfying a client’s needs and wants, aesthetic concerns and budget, along with professional design standards, zoning and environmental laws, and safety regulations — it isn’t easy.

To me this home is a clear example of the possibilities of architecture designed to inhabit the boundary condition and a reminder of why I became an architect.

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