Solid as a Rock: 11 Unbelievable Concrete Homes

The versatility of concrete allows architects and engineers to be innovative in their home designs. While concrete has been around as a building material since the Romans built the Colosseum, technology has improved its durability and applications, making concrete a popular option for building 21st-century homes. Concrete construction provides a number of advantages over wood-frame, including energy efficiency, noise reduction, and fire and wind resistance. Concrete building materials range from traditional blocks and precast panels to concrete that is cast on-site. Although the initial cost of building a concrete house is marginally higher than wood-frame construction, the long-term energy savings can make building with concrete a prudent choice.

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  1. Warm in Winter


    With a nod to traditional, gabled rooflines, this concrete home in Minnesota is anything but old-fashioned. The walls were poured in two wythes (vertical sections) with rigid insulation placed in between. The thermal mass of the well-insulated concrete walls, together with south-facing glass walls and skylights, keep this modern house warm during the brutally cold Minnesota winters.

    Related: Suburban Skyline: Roof Styles of America

    SALA Architects

  2. Down to Earth


    Emerging from a wooded hillside outside of Rochester, New York, the Mushroom House was originally inspired by a handful of Queen Anne’s lace flowers. Each of the five 80-pound pods is made of concrete and polyurethane and sits on a steel-reinforced concrete stem. Two of the five pods are dedicated to sleeping areas. The remaining three pods house the kitchen, the living and dining area, and an open-air terrace.

    Related: Treehouse Envy—12 Lofty Designs


  3. Organic Aesthetics


    To build the walls of this concrete home in Argentina, wooden forms were set in place to shape the wet concrete. After curing, the forms were removed, and an impression from the wood’s grain remained. The markings lend an organic feel to the man-made walls and complement the natural woodland setting.

    BESONIAS ALMEIDA arquitectos

  4. Safety First


    The owners of this concrete home in Arizona wanted a fire-resistant house to replace their previous timber-framed home that was destroyed by fire. The southern exposure features few windows in the concrete walls to maintain privacy and to keep the home cool. Other exposures boast expansive glass walls that flood the house with light and frame its breathtaking canyon views.

    Allen Associates Construction

  5. Point of View


    The structural walls of this modern home in Montecito, California, are 12-inch thick, cast-in-place concrete. Given the home’s secluded location overlooking Toro Canyon, the concrete walls and metal roof provide a reassuring, fire-resistant building envelope. The ceiling features a veneer of eucalyptus plywood; the floors are made of lightweight concrete; and expanses of glass frame the jaw-dropping views.

    Shubin + Donaldson Architects, inc.

  6. Between a Rock and a Hard Place


    This three-story concrete home in Mexico City features a glass-and-steel first floor sandwiched between a subterranean garage and an expansive second floor, both constructed of poured concrete. Transparent walls surround the public areas—a multipurpose living/dining room plus a kitchen—while the concrete walls provide privacy for the bedrooms that are tucked upstairs.


  7. Shades of Gray


    Built on a hillside in Argentina, this multilevel house features concrete indoors and out. The texture of the poured concrete on the walls and ceiling of this kitchen and dining area has a simulated wood-plank effect that visually warms up the cool gray color. The table was cast in place.

    BESONIAS ALMEIDA arquitectos

  8. Colorful Collage


    Concrete walls wrap two sides of this home, creating a thermal mass for cooling and heating. The back wall, made almost entirely of glass with steel framing, provides unencumbered views of the Olympic Mountains. The green siding material is copper paneling installed in a tiling pattern.

    Coates Design

  9. Break It Up


    Industrial concrete blocks were used to create a veneer for the exterior of this family home in Ottawa, Canada. The designers developed the “basket-weave” pattern for the concrete blocks to break down the scale of the looming structure. Because the blocks could not be cut, the dimensions of the house were set based on multiples of the pattern.

    Related: 10 Cool Shipping Container Homes

    Kariouk Associates

  10. Building Blocks


    The first floor of this beach house in Seattle was built of ground-face concrete block, which is polished on one side to enhance the appearance of the aggregates in the concrete. In addition to standard options, ground-face concrete block can be manufactured in custom colors and shapes.

    Rhodes Architecture + Light

  11. Support System


    When building this concrete pool house in Bedford, New York, the contractor created a wooden structure to support the cantilevered roof as the concrete was rebar-poured and cured. An A-grade plywood was used to avoid a wood-grain pattern setting into the concrete and to provide the proper surface for a finish coat of architectural concrete icing. One exterior concrete wall features a veneer of stacked bluestone.

    Joel Sanders Architect

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