When you go property hunting, the best advice anyone can ever give you is “aim low”. No matter how gloat-worthy your budget seems to be, the kitchen will be pokier, the view will be bleaker and the neighbours will be much, much noisier than you were hoping for. But never give up! Carry on saving, master interior design trends, learn how to mould concrete or bend steel, befriend an architect – and maybe one day, four walls of an altogether more striking variety of dream home may be yours. Like these…

The Hart House, Australia

Conceived, they say, as a “contemporary interpretation of the quintessential one-room Australian beach shack”, the Hart House on the shores of Great Mackerel Beach in New South Wales is about as swanky a weekend getaway landing pad as you could wish for. It’s all pretty self-contained, with solar power and on-site waste processing, while the rainwater that falls onto its roof is harvested, too. The downside, if there is one, is this: the only access to the Hart House is by boat.
Architects: Casey Brown Architecture
Photographs by Rhys Holland

Planar House, Brazil

Built in 2018, the Planar House in Porto Feliz, Brazil, has that rare ‘must-have’ that many new builds overlook: a lawn on the roof. Once you’re done with the Flymo/putter, head inside to one of the five en-suite bedrooms, the gym or the playroom and enjoy the symphony of concrete, exposed brickwork and luxury woods that make up the lion’s share of this ultra-exotic pad.

Cleverly, the main living areas have been built at the sides of the property, and massive glass doors turn them into semi-outdoor living space when the weather’s nice.
Architects: Studio MK27
Photographs by Fernando Guerra

The House Boz, South Africa

This award-winning property in Pretoria, South Africa has echoes of a simple bush lodge, say its designers, who used a mound of quartzite rock they found when excavating as cladding throughout the house. We especially love the floating staircase, although we’re thinking that the hands and knees approach would be a good idea if rising to bed after a few glasses of the local Chardonnay.
Architects: Nico van der Meulen

The Magnolia House, Mexico

The architects behind this beautiful construction in Mexico City also design yachts – which should be a clue as to the kind of budget you might need before approaching them with big ideas about your suburban semi.

The Magnolia House is actually a reworking of an existing property as opposed to a new build; a riot of travertine, wood and marble that has been thoughtfully enhanced by some well-placed art. No IKEA prints here.
Architects: Ezequiel Farca
Photographs by Jaime Navarro

The Villa In The Palms, India

Nestled in the Goan jungle, The Villa In The Palms is a multi-award-winning project that combines pools, bridges and covered decks with a main structure built between the trees.

It’s a big spread – 1,300sqm – and took two years to complete, the architects behind it saying that their aim was to create something that was reminiscent of an old-time Goan village, while at the same time being entirely modern. Hey – is that an ancient tree, glassed off and left as a focal point of the living room? Yes it is.
Architects: Abraham John
Photographs by Alan Abraham

The King Bill House, Australia

When you’ve got a small footprint for a property in somewhere seriously crowded and expensive like Melbourne, the temptation is to go big: maximise your space and build a monolith. Or, if you’re the owners of the city’s King Bill House, which can be found in Melbourne’s Fitzroy district, you can do something completely different: such as let the plot breathe and create a new “pocket park”.

The design is based around a curvy refurb of a 170-year-old terraced house, and could well be the only home we’ve ever seen with an inbuilt giant hammock.
Architects: Austin Maynard
Photos by Derek Swalwell

House At The Great Wall Of China, China

Tourists only see small parts of the Great Wall: bits that have usually been trowelled up to perfection. But plenty of people get to see the ‘real’ wall, such as the new owners of this amazing home. Fashioned out of an old storage shelter near the wall and an existing property that was opposite, the new house fuses the two and has been designed to celebrate the rough stone brickwork that forms part of the structure – and, may we say, cleverly echoes the historic majesty of the nearby wall.
Architects: MDDM STUDIO

Jungle Frame House, Costa Rica

So you own a bit of slope in the Costa Rican jungle and fancy living there. A tent clearly won’t do (you’d roll down into the creek below), so the only answer – obvs – is this: a steel-frame house on stilts that makes the most of the slope to allow views of the treetops and sky. Here’s the genius bit: they did away with air conditioning not just because it’s environmentally-unfriendly, but because they didn’t really need it thanks to an innovative design that allows cross ventilation throughout the whole house.
Architects: Studio Saxe

Link Farm House, America

New York’s not all skyscrapers and mentalists throwing shapes in Times Square – away from the madness it’s a more bucolic existence, and there can’t be many better places from which to enjoy this incredible state than the Link Farm House, which sits on a 220-acre plot in Dutchess County. The designer in us likes the fact that it makes use of a (sleepy) hollow in the landscape, which conceals half the house until you’re virtually at the front door.
Architects: Slade Architecture
Photography to Tom Sibley

Cabin at Longbranch, America

Puget Sound in Washington State is where you’ll find this chic cabin, which started out as a 200sq ft (ie: tiny) shack in 1959 and has since grown to something twelves time that. Each time it has been extended the owner has added to what was already there, rather than knocking it down and starting again, and today it’s a feast of exposed timber and glass that has been designed to draw the eye to the drop-dead view of yonder inlet.

Quirky fact for people who like to see trees growing through the roof of a deck: there’s a tree growing through the roof of the deck.
Architects: Olson Kundig