Explore five outstanding American home designs awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for 2012. Custom home projects, remodeled or new, completed between Jan. 1, 2005, and August 2011, were eligible for recognition by the 105-plus-year-old institute.

These houses are part of the AIA’s Housing Awards Program, which recognized 10 home projects this year; the following five award winners comprise all the awardees from the program’s category "One- and Two-Family Custom Residences."

Editor’s note: The following item is republished with permission of AOL Real Estate. See the original article: 2012 AIA Housing Awards for Architecture.

Explore five outstanding American home designs awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for 2012. Custom home projects, remodeled or new, completed between Jan. 1, 2005, and August 2011, were eligible for recognition by the 105-plus-year-old institute.

These houses are part of the AIA’s Housing Awards Program, which recognized 10 home projects this year; the following five award winners comprise all the awardees from the program’s category "One- and Two-Family Custom Residences."

The creative elegance; harmony between exterior and interior; the way they reflect the landscape around them; and the great photos make this unique home tour worthwhile.

See all of 2012 Housing Awards Program winners here.

CARMEL RESIDENCE
Carmel by the Sea, Calif.
Dirk Denison Architects

Carmel

A 2,500-square-foot residence located on a steep site in Carmel by the Sea, Calif., required added privacy and protection from strong sea winds while remaining open to dramatic ocean views. A precise refinement of the existing volume maximizes the unused breadth of the home and presents stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Carmel

The central heart of the house is protected from the ocean’s strong seawater winds by a glass roof, designed to allow clear upward views and to maintain a warm center space. Steel columns that anchor the steel cable and strut trusses are integrated into the vertical wood screen, matching the screen’s changing, staccato rhythm and contrasting nicely with their deep charcoal color. When a sweeping breeze is needed, the large sliding windows between the office and the courtyard are easily opened to allow full cross ventilation.

Carmel

The house lives and breathes through the courtyard, and the clients live fully in this "large" room, even soaking in the Japanese ofuro installed beneath the glass roof that allows stunning views of the evening sky. The residence maximizes the openness and function of limited square footage, taking advantage of a favorable climate to allow outdoor spaces to become integral to the experience and use of the house. The emphasis on organization, and design quality over quantity of enclosed space, allowed these clients to maximize resources in the home’s construction and offers its inhabitants an energy-efficient lifestyle.

Carmel

…CONTINUED

HAMPDEN LANE HOUSE
Bethesda, Md.
Robert M. Gurney, FAIA

Hampden

Edgemoor is an affluent neighborhood in Bethesda, Md., a suburb bordering northwest Washington, D.C. Mature trees and gardens line the streets of this neighborhood that’s within walking distance of downtown Bethesda.

Designed as a cube, the new house is approximately 2,200 square feet with no unused or underutilized spaces. The flat roof provides an additional 1,100 square feet of outdoor living space with views of treetops and the downtown Bethesda skyline.

Hampden

Fenestration in the ground-faced block walls, composed of varying-sized rectangular and square openings, is arranged to optimize views to green spaces while minimizing views of adjacent houses in close proximity. A series of landscape walls orchestrate the relationship between the street, required parking court, and house. Interior spaces are open and light-filled with crisp detailing. Walnut flooring provides a rich base for white walls and millwork, a nice juxtaposition to the charcoal gray exterior walls.

Hampden

This house represents a deliberate departure in both the thought process and the realization of the current building trends in the neighborhood. Instead of building a large house with pretentious ties to the rural past, this new house is smaller with a stronger relationship to the modern, urban area that Bethesda has become. The house was designed to be site-sensitive, environmentally responsible, and full of comfortable, efficient living spaces.

Hampden

…CONTINUED

NAKAHOUSE
Los Angeles
XTEN Architecture

Nakahouse

This project is an abstract remodel of a 1960s hillside house located on a west-facing ridge in the famed Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif.. Actually, the home is just below the Hollywood sign. To the south and west are canyon views; to the east is a protected natural ravine, with a view of Griffith Park Observatory in the distance.

A series of abstract indoor-outdoor spaces dominate, with framed views to nature rendered in white lacquered cabinetry, white concrete epoxy floors, white plaster and white steel. One room pours into another, eliminating clear divisions between spaces, providing a sensation of weightlessness. The series of interconnected, terraced spaces join the rooms to each other and to the outdoors, furthering the home-wide feel of uncontained space with no rigid beginnings or endings. Air circulates freely through in the new design, so the home doesn’t need or have air conditioning.

Nakahouse

The contrast between the interior and exterior of the house is intentional and total. While the interiors are light and fluid, the exterior walls are finished in a black, monolithic, Meoded venetian plaster. These deep-black plaster walls act as a visual net, securing a definite place for the home in the mind, while still allowing it to roam. The black exteriors anchor the light interior that feels on the verge of escape. Although the footprint is still small, it is enhanced by giant views with the floor-to-ceiling glass sliding panels. Exteriors open up the breathtaking hillside, taking advantage of surroundings once disregarded by the home’s original design.

Nakahouse

…CONTINUED

THE PIERRE
San Juan Islands, Wash.
Olson Kundig Architects

Pierre

Conceived as a bunker nestled into the rock, the Pierre — French for stone — celebrates the materiality of the site and the owner’s affection for the stone outcropping on her property. Wih an organic character, which includes stone, a green roof and surrounding foliage, the house disappears into nature from certain angles.

Pierre

To embed the house deep into the site, portions of the rock outcropping were excavated using machines and by hand. The contractor used large drills to set the outline of the building, then dynamite, hydraulic chippers, a selection of wire saws and other hand tools to prepare the site. The work progressed with finer and finer implements as construction moved along. Excavated rock was reused as crushed aggregate in the concrete flooring. Excavation marks were left exposed on all the stonework, as a reminding echo of the building process.

Pierre

Upstream, the guesthouse and office/exercise units sit in a narrow valley meadow with forested edges. Mirroring the path of the nearby stream, these spaces are detached from the main house. They share simple massing and wood siding, discreetly revealing the composition of the roof structure. Downstream, the main building’s large living space opens to a full view of a deep lake, a broad sky and the sometimes-stunning views weather provides. On their longer spans, the primary spaces are framed robustly in wood and steel. The southern glass wall extends toward the waterfall at one end while focusing on the lake at the other.

Pierre

Throughout the house, rock extrudes into spaces, contrasting with luxurious interior textures and furnishings. Interior and exterior hearths are carved out of the stone and left raw — like the master bathroom sink and the powder room.

…CONTINUED

RELIC ROCK
Scottsdale, Ariz.
DCHGlobal Inc.

Relic

Relic Rock is designed with a simple, flexible, sustainable building system adaptable to a wide range of climates and terrains. This prototype architectural design rests on the land lightly with cantilevered floors that minimize site disruption. The design incorporates nature by dissolving the division of interior and exterior space.

Relic

Relic Rock’s modular, prefabricated architectural system is based on a three-dimensional structural grid. The exposed structure consists of a simple set of standardized components — much like an "erector set" — of beams, columns, connectors and plates. Components modeled to exact dimensions by the architect and contractor ahead of time resulted in a precise fabrication of structural, glazing and architectural components that fit precisely together with zero on-site misfits.

Relic

Relic Rock has been granted the highest level of certification for green building by the nationally recognized City of Scottsdale Green Building Program.

Relic

©2012 AOL Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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