7 seafront houses around the world

casa del sapo, mexico, casa al mare, salone del mobile

Espacio 18 Arquitectura, Casa del Sapo, Zapotengo, Mexico, 2021. Photo Onnis Luque

Terraces and large windows overlooking the sea, with natural materials and traditional techniques creating a bond with the landscape and nature: a selection of the finest contemporary villas on the coasts of seven countries

“Work, work, work, I prefer the sound of the sea,” wrote Dino Campana in his Canti Orfici (1913). The poet's words  – later taken up by the sculptor Ugo Nespolo in one of his works – were a hymn to summer, idleness and direct contact with the sea. We also wish to celebrate the fine weather and summer holidays, and we’re doing so in our own way, with a selection of exclusive residences: seafront houses where all of us would love  to spend at least a weekend.

 

The forms of houses typical of seaside towns have distinctive features, which absorb traditional techniques, natural materials and eclectic decorations, as well as creating a unique bond with their landscape settings. These projects are capable of rendering warm and tactile atmospheres, inviting us to live slowly. 

 

“What unites and also differentiates them is a commitment to reflecting their owners’ individual personalities and lifestyles. Each is a canvas for creative expression which seeks to avoid seaside decorating clichés and aims instead to reflect and preserve meaningful stories about its local surroundings and the permanent community that lives there,” write Sarah Trounce, Kacie McGeary and Laura Box, authors of the book Life's a Beach. Homes, Retreats and Respite by the Sea, which analyzes the theme of beach houses.  Through seven selected projects we will take a quick tour of the world – from Spain to Chile by way of Australia – to discover architecture, landscapes and unique stories.

La Casa del Sapo, Mexico

Inspired by the writings of David Thoreau, the architects at Espacio 18 Arquitectura created a villa modeled to follow the natural landscape.

Casa del Sapo's two concrete wings are oriented to watch the sunrise and sunset respectively, while the brick corridor between the two parts creates a direct  visual connection with the sparkling waters of the Zapotengo coast in Mexico's Oaxaca. The designers have combined concrete, tiles, brick, wood and local stone to create a restrained and convivial atmosphere.

casa del sapo, mexico, estudio 18 arquitectura, salone del mobile, case al mare

Espacio 18 Arquitectura, Casa del Sapo, Zapotengo, Mexico, 2021. Photo Onnis Luque

Active Materiality, Greece

The design concept by Potiropoulos + Partners draws on the mythology of Ancient Greece, in particular the myth of the Hydra of Lerna, in which the snake-like water monster was slain by Hercules, symbolizing the confrontation between man and nature. 

The project seeks to blend in with the rocky landforms and combines the volumes as if they were part of the setting, looking like huge sculpted boulders.

active materiality, grecia, salone del mobile, case al mare

Potiropoulos + Partners, Active Materiality, Porto Heli, Greece. © Potiropoulos + Partners

St. Andrews Beach Villa, Australia

It took 20 years of incremental modifications, adjustments and additions to complete the St. Andrews Beach Villa, designed by the Australian Woods Bagot practice. So it can hardly be said that it does not respond to the needs and complexities of the site in which it is set, a few kilometers from the center of Melbourne.

The volume of the residence is elementary: a box raised by a metal structure, with a panoramic space facing south-east towards the sea.  Throughout the house we find a deliberate juxtaposition of eroded and weatherproof surfaces, of both banal and precious materials, to respond in complex ways to nature and its enchantments.

st andrews beach villa, australia, salone del mobile, case al mare

Woods Bagot, St. Andrews Beach Villa, Melbourne, Australia, 2019. Photo Trevor Mein

Holiday Home M, Denmark

“It’s bit like picking up a rock on the beach. This is how the cottage should be experienced. As a gentle addition, built on the premises of nature,” says Martin Schack, partner of GinnerupArkitekter, who designed this summer residence on a small Danish island.

Here the mimetic approach is clear. The natural materials of the cladding help to reduce its visual impact on the setting. The large windows are arranged so that nature is always brought into the interiors, from dawn to dusk.

Holiday home, denmark, case al mare, salone del mobile

GinnerupArkitekter, Holiday Home M, Denmark, 2018. Photo Niels Nygaard

Private villa at Porto Cervo, Italy

This private villa at Porto Cervo designed by Stefania Stera, founder and director of the Stera Architectures practice based in Paris, is designed in harmony with the wild landscape of Sardinia, the Mediterranean vegetation and the rocky coves.

The result is an architecture with harmonious, seemingly spontaneous forms, laid out around a large courtyard, shaded and protected from the wind, and with a long front on the sea.

private villa, portocervo, salone del mobile, case al mare

Stera Architecture, Private Villa at Porto Cervo, Italy, 2019. Photo Tiziano Canu

House at Punta Chilen, Chile

Guillermo Acuña Arquitectos Asociados have created a spectacular extension to a house overlooking the sea on the island of Chiloe in Chile. 

A distinctive feature of the new building is its wooden structure, which lifts the house off the ground and defends it from the high tide.  The fully glazed walls create direct sightlines with the sea, the vegetation and the Andes mountain range. All the furnishings in the interiors are fashioned out of raw wood and blend into the architecture, creating a unique experience that overrides the boundaries between interior and exterior.

house at punta chilen, salone del mobile, chile, case al mare

Guillermo Acuña Arquitectos Asociados, Casa a Punta Chilen, Chile, 2018. Photo Cristóbal Palma

Dolunay Villa, Turkey

The London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners designed this private home on the Aegean coast in Turkey's southern province of Mugla.

The villa offers a spectacular view of the sea by its careful placing in the natural, rugged landscape. A characteristic feature is the outsize undulating roof designed to look like an extension of its rocky seafront setting. The outdoor spaces are sheltered by the roof with its overhang of more than 7 meters.

dolunay villa, turkey, case al mare, salone del mobile

Foster + Partners, Dolunay Villa, Muğla, Turkey, 2019. Photo Nigel Young

5 August 2022