Humans need shelter as much as they need food, sleep, and other essentials. If you”ve ever been disappointed with the installation of a new housing development or the dreaded luxury high rise, you might have asked yourself: do human dwellings have to be so ugly and obtrusive? If you want to live in the blissful solitude of nature, there”s something, well, unnatural about plunking a house down in the middle of untouched land. So what can you do?
Luckily, there are clever designers and architects everywhere who work to reconcile the human need for shelter with respect for natural settings that look better without humans stomping all over it. Using clever and surprisingly simple technology, these buildings blend right in with their surroundings.
The Woodpile Studio, The Netherlands
This is just a particularly square pile of logs, right?
Wrong! This little studio simply has a log facade. The images of logs are even screened onto the windows so it completely blends in when they”re closed. When opened up, the house is more obvious, but it”s still pretty low profile.
Inside, it”s sleek, modern, and full of natural light.
Juniper House, Sweden
Instead of using a facade, this house uses a tailor-made cloth printed with a photo of juniper trees as its covering, making it blend into the forested background.
The Cadyville Sauna
Okay, so it”s a sauna, not a house, but a sauna can be hidden, too. This tiny structure is built against a cliff, which serves as one of the walls. The rest of it is clad in mirrors, which reflect the natural setting in any season.
Except for the off-set window, the house seamlessly blends into the cliff face and surrounding woods.
This floating cube looks alien, but it”s actually part of Sweden”s Treehotel, a collection of bungalows aloft in the trees. They come in many forms, but this one was designed to be nearly invisible.
At night, its lights can be seen hovering in the trees. While it”s barely visible to us, a special film was applied to the glass so that it would be obvious to birds, so you don”t have to worry about them flying into it.
The Pinnacle, Nashville, TN
This 29-story office and retail building looks like it”s made of air itself. Besides being covered in mirrors to reflect the sky, it”s also super energy-efficient and features a one-acre garden on its rooftop.
Utility Building, The Netherlands
Deisgner Roeland Otten came up with this simple concept to make less obtrusive utility buildings, which are necessary to any city but usually ugly. These structures are covered in high-res photos of the surrounding area, so they appear to blend in.
There are some discrepancies, of course, but the result is charmingly startling.
Green Box, Italy
Instead of making a house look like nature, these designers decided to make a house out of nature. The building is a renovated garage in the Italian Alps, and its exterior is completely covered in flowering vines and other plants.
The vines cleverly disguise the house among the natural setting. It”s like a gillie suit for your home.
Lucid Stead, Joshua Tree National Park
An abandoned homesteader shack got a mirrored makeover by an architect so that it appears to float in the desert.
At night, it sheds its receding appearance and lights up!
Aloni House, Greece
This house takes “low-profile” to a whole new level–literally. This subterranean house”s roof is the natural terrain of the Cyclades. The roof is supported by parallel stone walls, and the soil and plants simply continue over it.
The result is spacious and airy, not cave-like at all.
Glass Barn, The Netherlands
New buildings using materials like steel and glass are often the subject of ire because they can look cold and clinical. But you can”t have quaint and modern at the same time, right? Wrong. This office complex looks like an old-fashioned brick building, but its walls are actually glass.
The pattern of bricks and windows is simply printed on the glass, making a bright airy workspace inside without sacrificing the historical charm of the area.
Camouflage House 3, Japan
This house for humans is disguised as a house for plants! It even has trees inside that grow right through the roof.
Inside, though, is a fully-functional home for humans. The glass walls let in lots of light, and, as a greenhouse operates, helps regulate temperature inside.
The Pierre, San Juan Islands, WA
This house is cleverly nestled against a boulder (pierre, besides being a name, means “stone” in French). It features a green, growing roof and rough, natural materials that mirror the surrounding landscape.
Keeping a low profile, it doesn”t encroach on the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Cave Palace Ranch, Utah
Getting back to their prehistoric roots, the designers of this home used a natural cave as their starting point, expanding on it and creating a spacious, beautiful home inside the Earth.
Besides looking amazing, the stone keeps the house cool, even in the desert heat. The house is also completely solar powered, so there”s no electric bill. And the desert has plenty of sun, so the house is completely modern with all kinds of electrical appliances.
If you”re the kind of person who would rather not be an eyesore, consider covering your house in mirrors, photo prints, or growing vines. Blending in sometimes makes you stand out, but in an amazingly creative way.