10 Hidden Homes

Unbelievable Hidden Homes

1. Bercy Chen’s East Village is a Bright Orange Mixed Use Development in Austin

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Austin's Edgeland House is a unique, triangular home designed by Bercy Chen Studio that is built into the earth and covered with a thick layer of sod. It is highly efficient, and can stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer from the added thermal mass and insulation—and you certainly can't see it from the street!

The architects excavated 7 feet of soil from the site, and they installed a lush green roof. The home also features a “smart pool,” which provides additional thermal mass that ties into the geothermal heating and cooling system.

2. A Tiny Hidden Home You Can Only Reach on Foot

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If you've ever craved some serious alone time, this just might be the place to do it. The architecture firm Snohetta created this completely remote cabin in Norway with escaping in mind. Built out of natural elements like rocks and grass, the home is not only secluded, but practically disappears into the landscape.

But if you're worried about being too lonely, your hiking buddies can join you on your retreat. The 376-square-foot cabin can actually hold 21 people (or so the architects claim — we're skeptical). A hero to small homes everywhere, it also squeezes in an eye-catching fireplace for guests to gather around. The beds along the walls double as seats, and there's even room near the entrance for cooking and storage.

Of course, you'll need some stamina to get there — vehicles can't quite navigate Åkrafjorden mountainside, so you can only go by foot or by horse. But the you'll love the breathtaking view — and the coziness — when you get there.

3. London brick house built atop an old prison is a hidden jewel

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It may be a little hard to find this brick home, so much so that the architects named it the “Hidden House.” Nestled among historic buildings in London’s Clerkenwell neighborhood, this dwelling sits atop a former 19th-century Victorian prison vault.

Designed by local practice Coffey Architects for Selim Bayer, an architect at Istanbul firm Flat C/ Architecture, the 775 square-foot residence was specifically designed to not draw attention to itself on the exterior while maximizing space and light.

Inside, everything is streamlined, but not without some show-stopping moments thanks to angular light wells laid out in a checkerboard pattern. "From anywhere in the house, you are able to gaze at the skies; which evokes a very pleasant feeling of presence, where the intimate scale expands beyond the confinements of the space," Bayer told Dezeen.

Storage is integrated into the walls. Bespoke oak furniture matches the oak paneling. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a shared garden and a private patio.

Sustainability measures were also put in place. Concrete slabs are used for flooring to retain heat, while full-height sliding glazing and operable roof lights allow passive cooling.

"This special place is hidden, part building, part garden, mostly sky. It's difficult to find, but well worth the effort," said architect Phil Coffey.

4. The bland-looking barns are anything but ordinary inside

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Tractors and farm tools, feed and hay, maybe some horses and a stray cat or two. These are the things you would expect to find in any country barn. Yet, one hi-rib steel building in north Texas is anything but a shelter for livestock.

From the outside, the only thing extraordinary about this barn is its enormous size. But inside, the 6,600 square-foot, two-story structure is an extravagant country man’s lair with wood-paneled walls and floors, leather furnishings and glowing chandeliers. The only animals to be seen in ‘Paul’s Cabin’ are the trophies of deer, bear and mountain cat.

This McKinney abode joins a long line of unassuming, yet eccentric structures custom-built by Morton Buildings. With more than 100 years of history, Morton specializes in the type of post-frame construction used in barns and airplane hangars.

Now, imagine barns custom-built to house a bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, a swank showroom for a troupe of ritzy vintage cars or a Cabela’s style game room with exotic animals. In addition to horse barns and airplane hangars, Morton Buildings also caters to the country's wealthy with spacious workshops and eccentric “hobby buildings” that will put your own craft room to shame.

5. Looking through the (key)hole! Riverside flat hidden within a cave that was built into the town wall goes on the market for £65,000

They call their flat 'the hole in the wall'. And that's because the access really is, quite literally, through a hole in the wall.

Jim Perry and Susie Seui are selling one of the few private properties set into the town walls of Berwick in Northumberland.

The one-bedroom home is reached by a cave-like passage, which has no name, and is located next to a similar passage called Sallyport, both of which are cut into the stone wall of the town.

It was through Sallyport that the dead soldiers killed in the border wars between England and Scotland would have been carried before being thrown into the River Tweed.

The location leads to what Jim and Susie admit is a quirky property full of odd shapes and bursting with history. The couple bought the property in the 1980s but, they say, it is time to move on.

Susie explained she fell in love with the property when she and Jimmy, an editor of computer magazines, were looking for somewhere to stay in Northumberland.

'It was the choice between that and staying in a caravan at a place in Eyemouth,' she said. 'But Jimmy did not want to sit in a howling gale at the top of a cliff.

'The Hole in the Wall was actually found by an archeologist friend of ours who saw it advertised and brought it to our attention.'

6. Luxury villas built on top of shopping mall in China become homes for migrants workers after authorities said they were illegal

Twenty-five luxury villas have been 'illegally' built by developers on the roof of a Chinese shopping mall.

The houses, covering an area about the size of three football pitches, were erected in 2009 on the roof of the multi-storey mall in Hengyang, the China Daily reported today.

But authorities say developers did not have the correct licence to build on such a bizarre location and have banned them from either knocking the villas down or selling them.

They are now home to migrant workers, some of whom helped build them originally.

Hengyang Wings Group ignored repeated warnings to demolish the houses and authorities have now ruled they cannot be sold.

The unusual designs feature bright blue roofs and pastel yellow walls and have wraparound verandas.
The picturesque homes are divided by white picket fences, while trees and bushes grow in their courtyards and along the pathways between them.

The houses were built without a licence, the report said, and although the city government repeatedly demanded their demolition, developer Hengyang Wings Group ignored the order.

Authorities in Hengyang, in the central province of Hunan, have prevented developers from selling the homes.

'The houses are now dormitories for our employees. Some migrant workers who took part in the villas' construction are also living in them,' Wang Jianxin, the developer's general manager, was quoted as telling a local newspaper.
Property investment has been a driver of the Chinese economy for years, although authorities have long sought to control rapid house price rises.

Land grabs have become a volatile social problem as officials and developers seek to cash in on the property boom, sometimes forcing people out of their homes without proper compensation.

With land disputes becoming more frequent, the government has forbidden housing demolitions without the owners' consent.

Police have been banned from intervening to protect developers in such rows, according to previous Chinese media reports.

Last month Zheng Meiju hit the headlines after refusing to leave her flat in Rui'an, Zhejiang Province, in a protest about compensation.

Developers, who have demolished the remainder of the building, want to build a business plaza but she has continued to live in the house despite having no running water or electricity.

In May it emerged that developers in Yangji, Guangdong province, used bulldozers to divert a local river to encircle defiant homeowners holding out for better financial compensation.

Residents said electricity and fresh water had been cut off and local authorities were forced to step in to negotiate between the two sides.

7. Home renovation reveals 'hidden house' in Ocean Springs

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A home renovation project in Ocean Springs has turned into something of a history lesson. Restoration work at a house on Iberville Dr. is revealing some interesting findings.   

Developer Karen Bryant wasn't expecting a "house within a house" when she purchased the historic property. But, that's exactly what she discovered.

“It's listed as a Victorian property, but the walls have revealed a very different story. A little cabin. A little cabin hidden in a larger cabin,” said Bryant. “A couple days ago, they pulled off this wall, and you can see the swoop of the cabin to the peak.”

Her research of the property dates the original structure to the 1850s.

“These white boards were commonly used in frontier cabins, settlement cabins. They are cypress. They are white washed for the interior, because it was thought it was a cleanliness issue,” Bryant said, pointing to the large, white colored lumber.

White washed boards also provided some degree of illumination in an otherwise dark and gloomy cabin.

Revealing the true history of the cabin literally required peeling back the layers.

“Keep in mind, when we purchased this home, we were looking at green shag carpeting with about four layers of flooring. The walls had three to four layers. The trim around the doors and windows had three layers of trim,” said Bryant.

Located near the springs on Iberville Dr., this residence was once home to the mayor of Ocean Springs.

“Frederick Weed was the first official mayor of Ocean Springs. He and his wife, Alice, were from Vermont. Vermont Ave. is named for Mr. Weed,” Bryant explained.

Following a few months of restoration, this historic property will become a four-bedroom, single family residence. It’s an opportunity for new owners to make their own history there.

“Imagine the stories and lives that have passed through these walls,” said Bryant, who admits she’s fallen in love with the old home.

The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Frederick Weed was mayor of Ocean Springs from 1899 until 1910.   

8. A Rustic Rooftop Cabin in Manhattan?

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You will have to forgive me if my words seem a little jumbled today, but writing through such intense jealousy is a difficult task. I have always struggled with the idea of living in a concrete city when I am innately a really outdoorsy kind of guy. On one hand, Manhattan has all the opportunity to do whatever you want to do, at all hours of the night. On the other, there are like 10 trees, and most of them were planted- in place, and on purpose.

David Puchkoff and Eileen Stukane have just blown my tits right off my body however, because they own a rooftop cabin in the West Village. From the street, the building looks like any other, however from the vantage of a helicopter you can see a full porch, complete with a dining table, and a beautiful yard, stories above the busy streets.

Technically the rooftop cabin is just for vanity, as it covers the large rooftop entrance to the couple’s loft, but I am still totally jealous that they get to hear the slam of a screen door and wiggle their toes around in the grass of their front AND back yards.

9. The Knightsbridge 'Hidden House':tucked behind a tiny office-style façade is a huge modern underground home spanning more than 2,100sq ft

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It may look like little more than a tiny office from the street, but behind the unassuming door is an architecturally ambitious, underground home that will have design lovers in raptures.

The 'Hidden House' in Knightsbridge is a redevelopment of two former workshops and a retail space, spanning over 2,100 square feet. It hides three bedrooms and has been designed so that none of its fascinating features can be seen by passers-by.

LTS Architects were behind the project, which took 16 months to complete, at a cost of £1.9 million. Their biggest challenge was introducing natural light and space into the site which had never been used for residential living and could not be extended horizontally or vertically due to its constrained footprint. To tackle this, the architects had to create areas that would allow in light without compromising privacy from neighbours.

The key to their success was a pitched glazed roof, held together with laminated plywood beams, but this posed its own problem because the team had to work within the constraints of the historic and uneven brick walls. The beams were engineered to make the existing building appear balanced and symmetrical, resulting in a modern, reimagined space that eliminated a dark and dingy basement feel, defined the interior living areas and avoided being overlooked.

Oak, on-trend exposed brick and bronze lend the home a warm, natural aesthetic, while roof lights encourage light and air to flow through the L-shaped space.

There is an open-plan kitchen, living and dining space upstairs, a mezzanine-level study tucked within the roof pitch, while in the basement are two double bedrooms, and a master bedroom with en suite bathroom converted from two original arched pavement vaults.

The architects created a lightwell, partially covered with a glass floor, to guide light through the dining room and into the spaces beneath. The rear bedrooms are brightened by a sunken courtyard garden, which offers some outside space.

Greg Shannon, director at LTS Architects, described the project as "once in a lifetime" for everyone involved. "Despite appearances, we have completely rebuilt and restructured the existing building to design the Hidden House and create a truly unique home for the owners," he said. "We hope it sets a standard in design and demonstrates how we can make smaller homes beautiful and liveable by utilising space and light."

10. Hidden home inside Utah cliff is perfect for off-the-grid living

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One of the most eccentric homes in the U.S. is a self-sustaining property that's actually carved into a canyon in Montezuma, UT.

Homeowners of this unique abode can live in total seclusion given the home's solar panels, 12,000-gallon freshwater retention system, as well as a multi-acre vegetable garden, orchard and vineyard with ripe fruits, veggies and wines for every season.

The hidden hideaway, appropriately nicknamed the Cliff House, will be sold at auction on Jan. 21 -- just one day after the 45th president is sworn into office.

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