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Some of the most exciting design takes place when architects are asked to conceptualize a home. “Our home is our sanctum, and it is a mirror on our private selves,” writer Sam Lubell muses in Phaidon’s new book Houses: Extraordinary Living (2019). “For architects, it’s the place to most freely experiment and, often, to establish a reputation before moving on to larger-scale projects. For historians, residential design in a bellwether—a forerunner of changes in style, philosophy, and technique.”
In Houses, Phaidon’s editors survey 400 homes from the 20th and 21st centuries. While some are still standing, others can only be appreciated today through pictures. From “international icons” to “hidden revelations,” Lubell writes, these residences span modernism,  , the   movement, among many other styles. Here, we’ve selected 13 of the most innovative—and sometimes eccentric—abodes of the past century.
 

Antti Lovag, Bubble Palace (1989)

Théoule-sur-Mer, France

Antti Lovag, Bubble Palace, 1989, Théoule-sur-Mer, France. Photo Yves Gellie for The Maison Bernard Endowment Fund. Courtesy of Phaidon.
 

Antti Lovag, Bubble Palace, 1989, Théoule-sur-Mer, France. Photo Yves Gellie for The Maison Bernard Endowment Fund. Courtesy of Phaidon.

This sprawling, 13,000-square-foot complex looks like an enormous waterpark on the French Riviera. It’s composed of taupe bulbs that open to reveal windows, entryways, or waterfalls. “It is an example of the Hungarian architect’s philosophy of ‘habitology’—a vague concept that included banning right angles and straight lines,” Phaidon’s editors write.  celebrated natural, organic curves in this 10-bedroom residence at the foot of the Massif de l’Esterel mountains.
 

Arthur Erickson, Graham House (1962)

West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Arthur Erickson, Graham House, 1962, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Ezra Stoller/Esto. Courtesy of F2 Architecture and Phaidon.
 

Arthur Erickson, Graham House, 1962, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Ezra Stoller/Esto. Courtesy of F2 Architecture and Phaidon.

Arthur Erickson became an architect after seeing the designs of  . Like his predecessor, he joined man-made structures and their environments together in perfect balance. “Working at a time when Modern architecture was widely accepted, Erickson had the freedom to endow his works with a deep-seated appreciation for nature,” the editors write. “This sensitivity characterized his seminal contribution to the creation of a North American ‘West Coast’ architecture style.” Erickson built the Graham House, which consisted of a series of gradually descending levels, into a steep cliff. He realized the residence in wood and glass over a creek. The home is no longer around—it was torn down in 2007—but it was a milestone for Canadian architecture when it was designed.
 

Matti Suuronen, Futuro House (1968)

Hiekkaharju, Vantaa, Finland

Matti Suuronen, Futuro House, 1968. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
 

Matti Suuronen, Futuro House, 1968. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

No decade but the 1960s could have brought us this prefab spaceship-chic home. Finnish architect Matti Suuronen conceived of the Futuro House as a holiday home, but its UFO-like shape and simplicity earned its reputation as the house of the future. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom abode could be put together by four people in just a few hours. It was considered “portable” because it could be airlifted to a new location. Within a few years, the design was present all over the world. But the oil crisis in 1973 resulted in the cancellation of 15,000 homes, and the style fell out of favor. Today, only around 60 exist, from Rockwall, Texas; to Krasnodar, Russia; to New Taipei City, Taiwan.
 

Jarmund/Vigsnӕs Arkitekter, The Red House (2002)

Oslo, Norway

Jarmund/Vigsnæs Arkitekter, The Red House, 2002, Oslo, Norway. Photo by Nils Petter Dale. Courtesy of Phaidon.
 

Jarmund/Vigsnæs Arkitekter, The Red House, 2002, Oslo, Norway. Photo by Nils Petter Dale. Courtesy of Phaidon.

A slash of red in the snowy Oslo landscape, the Red House both interrupts and fits in with its sloping environment; its bright exterior was made from the same wood as its Nordic neighbors. Its crimson hue may have been “inspired by the client’s temperament,” the editors write, but its interior is practical: Adults mostly interact on the upper level, while children have free reign on the ground floor.
 

Dan Naegle, Bell Beach House (1965)

San Diego, California, United States

Dan Naegle, Bell Beach House, 1965, San Diego, USA. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr.
 

Dan Naegle, Bell Beach House, 1965, San Diego, USA. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr.

Dan Naegle’s Bell Beach House was a quirky solution for the guest house of a clifftop summer home. To reach it, one would have needed to befriend the owner Sam Bell, of Bell’s potato chip fame (now defunct), then take a funicular train down the cliffs to the residence. Today, the railway no longer works and the main home has been torn down—access is granted from the beach through high concrete walls built by the second owners. But before the walls, the high tides surrounding the base of the abode further heightened its disguise as a secretive observatory.
 

Future Systems, Malator House (1994)

St. Brides Bay, Wales, United Kingdom

Future Systems, Malator House, 1994, St. Brides Bay, Wales, UK. Photo by Architecture UK/Alamy Stock Photo. Courtesy of Phaidon.
 

Future Systems, Malator House, 1994, St. Brides Bay, Wales, UK. Photo by Architecture UK/Alamy Stock Photo. Courtesy of Phaidon.

The windowed façade of the Malator House clandestinely peeks out over the Welsh coastline, otherwise blending into the grassy knoll on which it was built. The earth shelter, a style that was heavily revisited in the 1970s, can maintain a steady internal temperature, and is minimally invasive within the landscape. The editors write that the Malator House, conceived by   and   of Future Systems, represents design pushed “to aesthetic and technical limits.”
 

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater (1939)

Bear Run, Pennsylvania, United States

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, 1939, Bear Run, Pennsylvania, USA. Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images.
 

Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater, 1939, Bear Run, Pennsylvania, USA. Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images.

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