Review of 'Edgy Architecture: Living in the Most Impossible Places'
By Agata Toromanoff
“Edgy” can mean a lot of things—“experimental” and “avant-garde” come to mind. The projects in this book, mainly houses, are certainly those. But they are also edgy in the literal sense, as in built on an edge. A deeply sloping site: not a problem. An actual cliff: even better!
Several of the residences featured have been published in the pages of this magazine. Among them, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects’ Cliff House, a simple wood box that teeters off the edge of a bedrock cliff along the Nova Scotian coast. Chilean architecture studio Pezo Von Ellrichshausen’s Loba House, on the other hand, is embedded into its cliffside site midway down that country’s long coastline, its sturdy concrete roof becoming a platform for enjoying stunning ocean views.
Casa Del Acantilado—Spanish for, you guessed it, Cliff House—was a sensation when it was completed five years ago. Without doubt the most bizarre house of the bunch, its wavy form and scale-like cladding (all roof) is perched above the Mediterranean in Salobreña, Spain.
Not all of the 60 case studies are secluded mountainside retreats, though there are quite a number of those, from a boxy summer spot in the Swiss Alps to a sculptural ski getaway in Whistler, British Columbia.
Urban projects are fewer, but several hillside homes in Los Angeles made the cut. Among them, Stack House, by 2017 Record Design Vanguard firm FreelandBuck is a composition of white cubes, well, stacked on top of each other. Eric Rosen Architects carved the Barrington Residence out of its challenging topography so that the grassy surface of the roof becomes part of the site. Taking inspiration from artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1970s work Splitting, the architect sliced the slope beneath it, where a dramatic cantilevered stair has views to the city’s famous Getty Center atop an adjacent hill.
You won’t find detailed explanations of how these seemingly impossible structures were built, and some houses are frankly more edgy than others. But the photos are great, and this is, after all, a picture book.