10 Architectural Masterworks You Can Rent on Airbnb
Airbnb has changed the way that people look for accommodations when they travel.
Architecture nerds in need of a vacation: thanks to the world wide internet, an increasing number of architecturally significant homes are available to rent. Many facilities give you the ultimate in luxury and scenery, often at surprisingly reasonable prices. Located all over the world, you can find unique architecture and historic getaways that make for perfect vacation homes for design enthusiasts.
Most of the listings are available for longer stays if you will be visiting for more than one night, and there is something to interest just about everyone. These homeowners are proud to showcase their magnificent homes to the public, and they look forward to hosting your next vacation. If you haven’t explored Airbnb yet, then you are in for a pleasant surprise — Keep reading for some of the most spectacular listings on the site.
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Located just a short walk from the sea, Casa Tiny can be found nestled in an area of dense vegetation near the surf town of Puerto Escondido, on Mexico’s idyllic Oaxacan coast. One of the first built offerings from young architect Aranza de Ariño, the little beach house is a compact, romantic retreat for two.
Happily isolated, the holiday home consists of a kitchen, bathroom and open mezzanine bedroom, reached by simple alternating tread stairs. Its neat plan is imbued with a self-sufficient spirit, designed with Henry David Thoreau’s seminal text Walden and John Burroughs’ New York state cabin, Slabsides, in mind.
The strongly gabled roof, which catches the breeze from the sea, is a playful reference to the Tiny House Movement in America where, in reaction to high rents, people began building their own 100–200 ft homes. But Casa Tiny is far from makeshift — rather, it’s a sturdy construction built to withstand the elements.
Rates start at £71 per night.
La Muralla Roja
Rising up from the rocky cliffs of Calpe, on Spain’s Costa Blanca, La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) probably lays claim to the title of Ricardo Bofill’s most breathtaking work. With clear similarities to Walden 7, La Muralla Roja is an imposing, fortress-like edifice concealing a dazzling tangle of colorful corridors, open stairways, apartments and outdoor spaces. Inspired by Islamic vernacular architecture, Bofill borrowed several elements from the Kasbah, including their tall, imposing walls, and the way in which they synthesize the outdoor and indoor into one space. La Muralla Roja also evokes the clean lines and geometric abstraction of Soviet constructivist architecture. Yet it is prevented from becoming too imposing and austere by the use of color. Walls alternate between red, lilac, blue and pale pink, whilst the deep azure of the ocean backdrop and the invariably blue Spanish skies further broaden the color palette. Built in 1973, the building is still as daring and fantastical as it would have been then.
Rates start at £98 per night.
Villa Vista is a private home built by the Japanese practice Shigeru Ban Architects on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, situated on top of a cliff. The central structure consists of three levels, “lounge”, “dining” and “living”, and is open to the ocean on one side, with the three bedrooms leading off it on a block to the right.
Villa Vista may be simple in structure but Ban took advantage of the opportunity to work with local builders and craftsmen who employed labour-intensive finishing techniques rarely practical in Japan. The cement exterior walls, for example, were polished by hand; the screen on the north side of the house is composed of fully adjustable windows, each formed of a grid of handcut strips of local teak; the 75sq m ceiling is formed by a series of 3mm-thick teak tiles handwoven into larger 2sq m units, with LEDs inserted in the gaps. The client’s bedroom is built on a platform aimed at the cliff, which turns red at sunset, and is framed by the room’s picture window.
The furniture was designed by Ban himself and aims to serve more than one purpose. Benches in the living area, for example, double as handrails, and sun loungers with adjustable triangular heads can be turned into flat beds.
Rates start at £456 per night.
Named Casa L4, the 183-square-metre residence is located in Costa Esmeralda, a picturesque stretch of coastline set 250 miles south of Buenos Aires. Architect. Luciano Kruk and his girlfriend Ekaterina Künzel designed themselves this concrete holiday house, which is set among a grove of maritime pines on the Argentinian coastline.
The front and rear of the rectilinear building are enclosed by glazed walls that frame views of the trees and dune landscape, while its sides are blinkered by flaps of board-marked concrete that overhang the glazing to provide shade and privacy. Inside, four bedrooms with separate bathrooms are set in the four corners of the plan and a large central living space opens onto partially sheltered decks.
A cast concrete staircase divides this space in two, with the kitchen and dining room on one side and the living room on the other. Niches and furniture are built into the living room walls and stairs, which emerge into a glazed box that protrudes from the roof.
Rates start at £296 per night.
Buff & Hensman House
Hidden away on three quarters of an acre up Nichols Canyon you will find a very private rustic retreat estate property originally built in 1960 by the famed post and beam architects Buff & Hensman and more recently restored and updated by the LA architectural design collective Commune.
The property sprawls along the immense hillside view lot with a 3 BR 3 BA main house, a poolside cabana room, 2 outdoor showers, heated outdoor dining room, and a full outdoor bar with retractable television, fire pit lounge area, and sunning area w/ chaises.
The house is thoroughly furnished with mid-century gems by famed designers such as Vladimir Kagan, Sergio Rodrigues, and Carlos Motta alongside modern masters such as Piero Lissoni and California craftsman Alma Allen.
Rates start at £2,377 per night.
One of the most fascinating example of Rotterdam’s modern architecture is the Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses).
The city of Rotterdam asked at Dutch architect Piet Blom to design housing in the most historic section of Rotterdam’s port, so he decided to use the cubic houses idea, applying his earlier cube housing project in Helmond in 1970. The concept behind these houses is that he tries to create a forest by each cube representing an abstract tree; therefore the whole village becomes a forest.
These cool houses are 100 square metres over 3 floors, and it was a bit extraordinary to see these houses fixed on one angle, and see a very different approach to living. The cubic housing development endured various challenges and complications during design and construction. The cubes are tilted and sit on hexagon-shaped pole structures and contain the living areas, which are split into three levels. The triangle-shaped lower level contains the living area. The middle level contains the sleeping area and a bathroom, while the top level, also in a triangular shape, is used as either an extra bedroom or a living space. The top level provides a great view since the apex of the room is a three sided pyramid with windows all around.
Rates start at £134 per night.
Californians often take their gorgeous landscape for granted, but leave it to an architect to remind us of all the glory that stretches out before our very eyes. Located in Pioneertown, the itHouse is a stunning off-grid construction that pulls the outdoor elements in for both aesthetic and energy. Designed by Taalman Koch, the home utilizes a modular, prefabricated system to cut down on waste and labor, as well as a number of passive heating and cooling measures. Conceived as a small house with glass walls and open floor plan, the itHouse beautifully melds the indoors with the surrounding landscape all while maintaining a light footprint on the delicate site.
Energy efficiency is achieved in the itHouse through passive heating and cooling, utilizing site orientation and cross ventilation, radiant floor heating, hi-efficacy appliances & equipment and the use of solar photovoltaic & thermal panels.
To further enhance the experience of living in a glass house, a graphic design is mapped to discreet areas of the glass walls, creating framed views, sun-shading screen patterns and privacy zones. Artists Sarah Morris and Liam Gillick custom designed the graphic outfit for the off-grid itHouse.
Rates start at £301 per night.
Säynätsalo Town Hall
The Säynätsalo Town Hall is a multifunction building complex — town hall, shops, library and flats — designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto for the municipality of Säynätsalo in Central Finland. Aalto received the commission after a design contest in 1949, and the building was completed in December 1951.
The town hall is considered one of the most important buildings Aalto designed in his career. The design of the Town Hall was influenced by both Finnish vernacular architecture and the humanist Italian renaissance. It was the Italian Renaissance from which Aalto drew inspiration for the courtyard arrangement which informed the name of his original competition entry entitled “Curia.” While the main program of the building is housed within a heavy brick envelope, the courtyard is bordered by a glass-enclosed circulation space which can be linked to the model of an arcade-bordered Piazza.
Rates start at £78 per night.
Twin Palms Estate
In 1947, Frank Sinatra commissioned legendary Palm Springs architect, E. Stewart Williams, to build Twin Palms, a sprawling, four-bedroom, mid-century masterpiece. Composing and carousing were both on the menu during Ol’ Blue Eyes’ tenure, and this historical building still retains its classic Hollywood charm, while recent upgrades have introduced luxurious, contemporary amenities.
Spend easy afternoons reclined in a chaise longue around on the terrace. You’ll swear you can still hear some of that old ring-a-ding-ding as you drift along in the piano-shaped pool. Take shelter from the mid-afternoon sun in the the well-equipped pool house, where you’ll find a cozy lounge set, full changing cabanas, kitchenette and wet bar. At dusk, fire up the barbecue and grill fresh fare as the sun sets over the mountains.
An abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows shed light on the spectacular, mid-century interior. Many of Sinatra’s original touches can still be found, like a vintage audio system, while the home’s newer furnishings and accessories were hand-picked with respect to the original style. Rusty hues and warm woods were typical of that era, still adorn the fine St. Charles cabinets, stone floor tiles, and the living room’s wraparound sofa. A piano is found in the great room, and the whole house is wired with the latest electronics. In the gourmet kitchen, you’ll love creating feasts on high-end Viking appliances, which have been giving a retro makeover. The modern dining table enjoys a lovely terrace view.
All four bedrooms are one-of-a-kind. The Master bedroom is wrapped on two sides by sliding doors to the terrace, and a beautiful masonry fireplace sits at the foot of the King bed. The second bedroom also has quick access to the terrace and its own fireplace. The third bedroom is brightly lit, with a Queen bed and memorabilia hanging on the walls. The final room is a tropical oasis that looks out to the garden. All bedrooms are air conditioned and feature TVs, plus well-appointed en-suites.
You may never want to step out of Frank’s dream house, but when you do, there’s so much to discover in Palm Springs. Cruise down Palm Canyon Drive where you’ll find everything from upscale shops to fine dining, art galleries to vibrant nightlife and more. Appreciate your natural surroundings on one of Palm Springs’ many golf courses or head out to Joshua Tree National Park to experience the beauty of the desert.
Rates start at £2,002 per night.
Yoshino Cedar House
The project debuted in 2016 as a collaborative vision between Airbnb’s design studio Samara, which explores new ways to foster sharing and trust within communities, and Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa for Kenya Hara’s House Vision exhibition.
‘The house explores how architecture can promote new relationships between hosts and guests beyond existing notions of domesticity and ownership,’ says the brand of the project.
Part community centre, part Airbnb accommodation, the dwelling is made from locally milled timber. It features a ground floor living and dining space for guests and locals to share, topped by a loft for overnight travellers — with one room facing sunrise and one facing sunset.
Rates start at £71 per night.
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