Living on Water

Living on Water

on Water showcases the finest examples of contemporary
architecture featuring a special relationship with water. Whether
cleverly working water into the structure or thoughtfully designed
to frame the natural landscape, this beautiful compendium invites
the reader to admire a selection of stunning buildings with a
strong connection to lakes, oceans, ponds, streams, pools and

Water provides a sense of calm and serenity, and the houses
featured in Living on Water have, in different ways, brilliantly
established a strong relationship with this enchanting element, a
spectacle that can be transparent or coloured, liquid or solid,
smooth and yet rough at the same time.

Just as roads and streets define cities, water shapes our
landscape. It descends from alpine terrain and transforms into
meandering rivers, streams, and tributaries to become inland lakes,
lochs, fjords, or seas, through deltas and marshlands toward the
coast and, from there, into vast oceanic reserves. As water travels
it moves at various speeds, adopts different characteristics, and
forges a new relationship with each environment it becomes a part
of. It comes as no surprise, then, that it is where water meets
land – from archipelago islands to secluded beaches, riparian banks
to craggy coastlines – that some of the most distinctive natural
settings and contemporary residences can be found.

For a building to converse with its context, it must be capable
of responding to the challenges posed by its particular
environment. Water is an ever-changing visual canvas, absorbing and
reflecting all shades of colour and able to transform from planar
to sculptural in a moment. It is, in other words, mercurial; it can
behave with sudden volatility as swiftly as it can become serene
and still. Whereas quiet islands positioned deep within a forested
archipelago might be suited to muted interventions, rugged
windswept shorelines and their tempestuous atmospheric conditions
might accommodate a more defiant design. These sorts of aesthetic
and climatic considerations are crucial for those that sit in, on,
or next to aqueous terrains.

The “golden troika” of water, landscape, and architecture can –
when approached with conviction and a certain intelligence – lead
to homes of elevated technical prowess and exceptional beauty, a
formula that only a rarified few ultimately achieve. This book
collates projects that accomplish just that. These are private
residences that, through a variety of design concepts and
techniques, and within radically different settings, consummately
prove that water can become a building’s best friend after all.

Living on Water by Phaidon Editors, published by Phaidon is
available to order here.

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