Cubes, Spheres and Inverted Pyramids: 10 Groundbreaking Residential Projects

AD Classics are ArchDaily's continually updated collection of longer-form building studies of the world's most significant architectural projects. Here we've rounded-up ten groundbreaking residential projects from this collection, ranging from a 15th century Venetian palazzo to a three-dimensional axonometric projection. Although some appear a little strange, all have been realised and have made lasting contributions to the wider architectural discourse. You can study residential cubes, spheres and inverted pyramids—plus projects by the likes of OMA, Álvaro Siza, and Richard and Su Rogers—after the break.

Neuschwanstein Castle / Eduard Riedel (1886)

Looming over the small Bavarian town of Hohenschwangau are the turrets and towers of one of the world’s most well-known fairytale castles. Schloß Neuschwanstein, or “New Swan Stone Castle,” was the fantastical creation of King Ludwig II – a monarch who dreamed of creating for himself an ideal medieval palace, nestled in the Alps. But the structure and engineering prowess of this grand residence for a waning monarch isn't what you might expect.

AD Classics: Neuschwanstein Castle / Eduard Riedel

The Barbican Estate / Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (1976)

On the 29th December, 1940, at the height of the Second World War, an air raid by the Luftwaffe razed a 35-acre site (known as the Barbican) in the heart of the City of London to the ground. Following the war, the City of London Corporation—the municipal governing body for the area—started to explore possibilities to bring this historic site into the twentieth century. This is what they ultimately commissioned.

AD Classics: The Barbican Estate / Chamberlin, Powell and Bon Architects

Villa dall'Ava / OMA (1991)

Much of the spatial composition of the Villa dall'Ava was influenced by its site: in a garden, on a hill. The clients commissioned OMA to design a house with two distinct apartments—one for themselves and another for their daughter—and made one very specific request for a swimming pool on the roof, with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

AD Classics: Villa dall'Ava / OMA

Kubuswoningen / Piet Blom (1984)

A popular tourist attraction and bizarre architectural experiment, the Kubuswoningen is located in the Oude Haven – the most historic section of the port of Rotterdam. Known for his desire to challenge conventions, Piet Blom did not want the Kubuswoningen to resemble typical housing; he strived to dissolve the attitude that “a building has to be recognizable as a house for it to qualify as housing.”

AD Classics: Kubuswoningen / Piet Blom

Kings Road House / Rudolf Schindler (1922)

Secluded behind a screen of tall bamboo shoots in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, the Kings Road House is considered by many to the first home ever built in the Modernist style. It's use of tilt-slab concrete construction and an informal studio layout, set it apart from its contemporaries; the design would set the tone for other Modernist residential design for decades.

AD Classics: Kings Road House / Rudolf Schindler

Rogers House / Richard & Su Rogers (1968)

This house, designed by Richard and Su Rogers in 1968, is one of the lesser known architectural works from the master who went on to design the Centre Pompidou in Paris with Renzo Piano. The house itself represented British Architecture at the 1967 Paris Biennale, was later lived in by Rogers' parents.

AD Classics: Rogers House / Richard & Su Rogers

Wohnhaus Schlesisches Tor / Álvaro Siza Vieira + Peter Brinkert (1984)

Also known as Bonjour Tristesse, this is a social housing project designed located in Berlin. The project was Siza’s first built work outside of his native country of Portugal, and offers a meaningful precedent in urban densification demonstrating a delicate balance between contextual awareness, creative freedom, and progressive vision.

AD Classics: Wohnhaus Schlesisches Tor (Bonjour Tristesse) / Álvaro Siza Vieira + Peter Brinkert

Palazzo Santa Sofia – the Ca d’Oro (1430)

Sitting on the northern bank of Venice's Grand Canal is a great house whose ornately carved marble facade only hints at its original splendor. The Palazzo Santa Sofia—or the Ca D’Oro (House of Gold), as it is also known—is one of the most notable examples of late Venetian Gothic architecture, which combined the existing threads of Gothic, Moorish, and Byzantine architecture into a unique aesthetic that symbolized the Venetian Republic's cosmopolitan mercantile empire.

AD Classics: Palazzo Santa Sofia / The Ca d'Oro

Bolwoning / Dries Kreijkamp (1984)

In the quaint Dutch town of Den Bosch sits the odd community of Bolwoningen: a cluster of globe-shaped stilt houses punctuated with round windows amid a sea of wild vegetation. These oversized “golf balls” are, in fact, homes: an eccentric product of a relatively unknown architectural experiment conducted by a visionary architect. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out.

AD Classics: Bolwoning / Dries Kreijkamp

Villa Malaparte / Adalberto Libera (1938)

Villa Malaparte, built in 1938 by the Rationalist architect Adalberto Libera in Punta Massullo on the Isle of Capri, is widely considered to be one of the best examples of Modern Italian architecture. The house, a red structure with inverted pyramid stairs, sits 32 meters over a cliff on the Gulf of Salerno, completely isolated from civilization.

AD Classics: Villa Malaparte / Adalberto Libera

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Cite: AD Editorial Team. "Cubes, Spheres and Inverted Pyramids: 10 Groundbreaking Residential Projects" 29 Jul 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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