Contemporary architecture can be a bit of a sensitive subject what with the demand for more and more housing ever on the rise but environmentalism and the protection of sites also desperately important, it is extremely hard to find a happy to compromise between the two, however, this by no means impossible.
These fine examples of architecture at its best show how buildings can incorporate nature and their surroundings to full effect and we look at some of the very best.
1. Villa Mecklin - Finland
Located on the island of Naantali, this house reaches right out to the coast with its simple wedge shape and open terrace that maximize the views of the stunning seascape. It is also clad in untreated wood that will weather with time at the same rate as its surroundings and so become a passive addition to the landscape rather than a bold, outstanding piece that contrasts with the nature around it.
The beauty of this house is that it takes its own beauty from its surroundings and does not impose upon them.
2. Cabin Knapphullet - Norway
Another Scandinavian house by the sea, this house is backed by the massive boulders that were there long before the building and so incorporates the natural landscape and also includes a sloping roof that becomes a stairway to a viewing platform so you can actually sit on the roof and admire the waves gently lapping at the shore.
Non-intrusive and using the natural features as part of its design, this glorious property makes the most of what it has got.
3. Alpine Shelter - Slovenia
At a vertigo-inducing 2,000 meters above sea level, this lodge sits high in the Alps in order to shelter intrepid explorers with its ultra-light but strong Oko Skin fiberglass-reinforced concrete, the design is made so that it has glass at each end in order to maximize light and the stunning views of the mountains all around you.
The aesthetic also takes from the jagged rocks surrounding it and is made so as to blend in and not impact on the view.
4. Villa Vals - Switzerland
Actually carved from the mountain rock, this villa is barely visible to the casual passerby but its design means that views of the stunning views of the valley that it overlooks are maximized whilst being minimally impacted for others and it certainly succeeds in doing just that with an exposed facade that acts as both entrance and exit.
The included hot tub and other amenities also make this luxury pad the envy of many.
5. Tolo House - Portugal
A holiday home that has been built on a steep and narrow slope, it is constructed in a series of stepped terraces that allow light in at all points of the building with the exposed concrete adapting to the topography at various different levels. Looking as though it has been hewn from the natural slope of the hillside plays to its advantage by not impacting the view.
By having the rooms of the house at different levels without a slope to the building, light floods each room without a slope giving a deficit to some areas and an overabundance to others.
6. Dragspel House - Sweden
Sweden is a country known for its modern, minimalist and chic design and it has even applied its unique aesthetic to 19-th century hunting cabins as this extension on one uses soft curves to create a sort of warren-like den whilst lining the walls with pine lattice and reindeer hides that emphasize the purpose of the construct.
The pine wood and soft shapes allow for a blending effect into the surrounding forest.
7. Croft House - Australia
Designed to look as though it originates from the landscape around it rather than contrast heavily with it, this house gently curves out of the ground like a rise sand dune that draws the eye past it toward the coastline. This idea of embracing the landscape led to it being as unobtrusive as possible.
The seemingly natural placement of the house comes from its gentle curve from the ground rather than appearing to sit on top of it.
8. Pound Ridge House - USA
Built into the rocky terrain of Westchester County in New York, the building snakes along with the jagged landscape but uses the reflective mirror windows to reflect and incorporate into it so that it becomes practically camouflaged and almost invisible.
The fact that it contours with the natural lines of its environment also makes it as unobtrusive as it can be.
9. Hadaway House - Canada
This ski chalet sits atop a wedge-shaped slope that overlooks the Whistler Valley in British Columbia. Due to the harsh winters, it needed to be able to withstand heavy snowfall and so its unique design aids in that as it prevents too much settling on top of it and thus putting pressure on the roof and ceilings.
The sharp angles protect the structure and wards off bad weather conditions.
10. Bejellandsbu Hunting Lodge - Norway
In amongst the rocks and mountains of Western Norway, this hunting lodge slopes up out of the ground and is covered in grass as though it were just another one of the large boulders lying around the lake it sits next to. The gentle slope to it compliments the rolling hills and it can sleep 21 people in its impressive interior.
A beautiful building amongst beautiful surroundings.