Blurring Boundaries: 14 Modern Houses That Open to the Air

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Ceilings retract and glazed walls swing open to connect intimate indoor spaces with courtyards, terraces and gardens in these modern residences blurring the lines between indoors and out. Located everywhere from Colorado to Kuala Lumpur, these open-air homes take advantage of mild climates and spectacular views, with alternatives to conventional walls enabling natural ventilation and a sense of being connected to nature.

Kloof House, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Every room in the sculptural Kloof House by Nico van der Meulen Architects opens directly to the outdoors via gigantic sliding glass walls. The kitchen, living room, dining room and bedrooms can all be fully connected to various outdoor spaces like courtyards, balconies and gardens. The swimming pool becomes part of the living room area, and one bedroom connects to a cantilevered koi pond.

The Fish House, Singapore
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This modern tropical residence in Singapore seamlessly integrates courtyard spaces into the interiors on every level for natural ventilation and nearly uninterrupted views of the ocean. A glass-walled lounge cantilevers out over the swimming pool, and residents can walk up onto the green roof, which is partially shaded with solar panels.

Loft 24-7, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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Decks and terraces connect the various freestanding volumes that make up Loft 24-7 by Fernanda Marques Arquitetos Associados, with the effect continued indoors using glazed walls and ceilings. “Being inside feeling like one is outside. I believe that to be a key issue in understanding the interior design being produced today,” says the architect. “In times when environmental awareness is growing, and, of course, also the desire to be close to nature.”

Casa P, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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The ground floor of Casa P by Studio MK27 is enclosed with a slatted wooden ‘freijó’ wall, which acts as a privacy screen and offers natural ventilation. These oversized shutters can be opened completely to connect the interiors to the courtyard. Two more concrete volumes are stacked on top of the first, with the topmost one boasting all-glass walls for optimal views.

Willow House, Singapore
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Greenery from the planted roof drips down into a living space via an open oculus, living spaces overlook swimming pools and reflecting pools, and trees grow indoors in this boundary-blurring house by Guz Architects. Taking advantage of Singapore’s warm, humid climate, the tropical residence blends traditional Singaporean architectural typologies with modern aesthetics.