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Grand Designs: Six of the Greatest Homes on the Planet

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Barn or bungalow, cottage or cave, farmhouse or flat… an Englishman’s home is his castle. But what’s the state of affairs elsewhere? We’ve scoured the globe for the most enchanting abodes in existence, judging them not on their financial worth, but on their personality, presence, timelessness and ingenuity.


1. Pretty Beach House (Australia)

Dubbed “Australia’s most intimate and luxurious guesthouse”, the Pretty Beach is an idyllic getaway for you and your loved ones. With no TVs, time stands still. In fact, you’d be wise to check out some gift ideas for her before you go, taking something to read against the backdrop of ancient Bouddi National Park and infinity pools! We’re enticed by the laid-back personality of this home built of mud bricks and hand crafted timber posts.


2. Gary Chang’s Apartment (China)

Gary Chang’s apartment is only 105 square feet, making it the smallest home on our list. Using hydraulics, Gary’s design enables the walls to move to create 24 individual rooms and a great deal of storage. We think this home meets our definition of ‘greatness’ as it acts as an example of innovation at a time when Hong Kong’s population is struggling with an ongoing shortage of space.


3. Jacob’s Ladder, (England)

Jacob’s ladder just so happens to be Kevin McCloud’s favourite house in Britain – and with good reason. It has unparalleled personality, constructed from cedar, glass and steel, and is nestled modestly into surrounding woodland. Its creator, Architect Niall McLaughlin, explains its magical presence by stating that “…it sits in a gap in the trees and we felt like it was a window in the woods”. Sounds dreamy!


4. Bohumil Lhota’s Roundabout House (Czech Republic)

Bohumil Lhota’s home has been referred to a cross between “a Hobbit’s home and a building from Star Wars”. The dwelling moves up and down, and can rotate on its side to follow the sun. Granted, it’s not the most luxurious house on the planet – but it does have adequate living quarters and a swimming pool. By building it underground, Lhota’s home maintains a stable temperature all year round. So why has it made our list? Well, it blends design of the past and future, has tons of personality, and thoughtfully considers energy usage in a way that conventional homes rarely do.


5. Lake Wakatipu House (New Zealand)

This home is an absolute knock out. Set against majestic mountains, this house doesn’t just sit respectfully within its environment: it becomes it. The use of sharp lines, subdued colour and natural textures give this home a presence and timelessness that rivals even its highest snow-capped neighbours. It’s our favourite.


6. Tower Studio (Canada)

Tower Studio is a dark, twisting, three story home situated on a stretch of rocky coastline in Newfoundland. From the exterior, the thirty-two-foot structure is perplexing…. it appears to ‘buckle’, leaning forward and backwards as it reaches up towards the sky. Inside, however, is completely whitewashed, bright and minimal. So why’s it made it to the great list? As well as being ecologically sustainable, it prompts discussion: it’s quizzical, unique and impossible to ignore.

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