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Four Corner Villa

Aptly named for a cross-shaped home, the Four Corner Villa offers different yet purposely defined views seen through full-length windows or doors at every end. It's set on a island in southern Finland, and has neither electricity or running water, with only wood-burning stoves for heating. The exterior is treated all black, which helps contrast not only with the snow outside but also the light-treated wood paneling inside, which can be seen in the living area, kitchen, bedroom, and sauna. A testament to minimalism, not only in architecture, but as a way of life.

Photos: Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy / Avanto Architects

  • Makkinga House

    Set between two villages in the northern Netherlands, the Makkinga House replaces a cramped, closed-off home with an open, airy structure. The east side is home to the entrance, but otherwise closed for privacy, while the western side is used for the open living area and connects the interior with the exterior via floor-to-ceiling windows and a long veranda, separated from the more private outdoor space to the south. The sleeping quarters have integrated wall storage units that help preserve the sleek design, while the study is set such that you can see guests when they arrive.

    Photos: Michel Kievits / DP6 Architectuurstudio

  • Woodland Cabin

    Set beside a lake in rural Belgium, the Woodland Cabin is a small, inexpensive getaway. Self-built on a budget under $40,000, it measures 35 square meters, with a concrete strip foundation, suspended wooden floor, and beams and siding that come from the architect's father, who milled them from trees sourced in the surrounding woods. Heat comes from a wood burning stove, and its waterside setting serves as an ideal backdrop for work, gatherings, or just long, relaxing naps.

    Photos: De Rosee SA