Hoisting buildings up on pillars allows them to occupy otherwise uninhabitable sites such as lakes, steep slopes and craggy coastal outcrops, bringing inhabitants closer to nature while treading lightly on the surrounding environment.
With floods becoming ever more frequent and severe due to global warming, and around a billion people set to be impacted by rising sea levels come 2050, stilts are also a key way to make our homes more climate-change resilient, according to a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Here are 10 examples of raised residential architecture, showcasing how it can slot into different contexts from Chile to the Czech Republic:
Architect Lisa Shell finished each of the pillars in a durable red paint in homage to the redshank – a wading bird with vibrantly coloured legs that is native to the area, on the coast of eastern England.
Swimmers can drift underneath this house extension over a lake in Berkshire, England, to get a closer look at the stilts holding up the building and the black metal ribs underneath its white, corrugated floor deck.
The house itself features exaggerated eaves supported by Y-shaped glue-laminated timber (glulam) columns that create space for a large skylight running along the entire length of the space.
This bulbous three-storey home in an orchard on the outskirts of Prague is propped up by a small reinforced-concrete stalk and sprayed in a layer of polyurethane to make it resemble a giant rock formation.
Underneath this textured facade, Czech practice Šépka Architekti built a timber frame clad in birch plywood boards, which are left exposed on the interior.
Accessible only by boat, this summer home is set on a small island off the Norwegian coast and perched on slender stilts to give it an even footing among the craggy boulders.
Architecture studio Lund Hagem painted the exterior black to allow it to blend into its surroundings and finished the interior in raw concrete and rough-sawn pine boards to reflect the rugged natural environment.
Four cylindrical towers are raised up on stilts to form this treehouse-style residence in Cape Town, maximising views of the surrounding forest from the highest part of a sloped site.
The Corten steel legs extend all the way up to the roof of the interior, where they act as structural columns, while decorative red cedar battens wrap the building’s exterior.
The gabled building is topped with a white corrugated metal roof, which transitions into ridged translucent plastic over a generous sheltered terrace.
Split across eight floors, each of the 47 flats has its own private outdoor space in the form of a stepped terrace or balcony, fronted with blue mesh balustrades informed by fishing nets.
Floridian practice Brillhart Architecture set out to reimagine stilts as a “meaningful and deliberate piece of the architecture” at inside Miami residence, which was built to withstand rising sea levels.
This is achieved by propping the structure up with a mixture of skinny galvanised steel pipes and hollow concrete columns containing different utility rooms including a garage.
Metal stilts lift the buildings above a rocky coastal outcrop, well out of the way of projected climate change-induced sea level rises, while aluminium panels protect the CLT frame from saltwater exposure.
Just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean, this pine-clad home designed by Chilean firm SAA Arquitectura + Territorio is elevated above its sloped site to provide views out to sea.
The building is propped up by a structural wooden plinth and diagonal pillars that gradually increase up to a size of 3.75 metres to keep its floor level despite the uneven terrain.
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