Must read: 400 marvelous houses.

Malator House, 1994, St Brides Bay, Wales, UK, Future Systems. Picture credit: architecture UK/Alamy Stock Photo (page 191)

Wow, Wow, Wow, is the title I would’ve given Houses: Extraordinary Living by Phaidon Editors. To create this visually rich, inspiring book, the editors started with a list of more than 1,000 possible residences, then whittled it down to 400, based mostly on two criteria: diversity and beauty.

House In Itsuura, 2014, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki, Japan, Life Style Koubou. Picture credit: © LIfe Photo Works Osamu Abe (page 385)

Inside you’ll find internationally renowned architects represented alongside lesser known talent; space-age concrete pods sharing a page with spaceship-like sculptural forms; prefabs next to castles; projects built in 1901 next to those from 2018; and properties from the world over.

What they share is innovation and the ability to trigger awe. “In their own way, each house here represents fundamentally human values and aspirations,” wrote Sam Lubell in the book’s introduction. “It’s such aspirations that make the architects featured in this book, and their clients, most noteworthy.”

Bubble Palace, 1989, Théoule-sur-Mer, France, Antti Lovag. Picture credit: © Yves Gellie for The Maison Bernard Endowment Fund (page 214)
Till House, 2014, Navidad, Chile, WMR Arquitectos. Picture credit: © Sergio Pirrone (page 110)

As for why the magic number was 400, the editors wanted the book to be wide in scope, with room for the more unusual houses, but definitely still curated. The result is a visual feast that offers a sense of discovery and interesting stories, while also just being really fun to look at.

Cube House, 2008, Sesto, Italy, Plasma Studio. Picture credit: Photo: Cristóbal Palma, Courtesy Raw Architecture Workshop (page 43)
Edgeland House, 2012, Austin, Texas, USA, Bercy Chen Studio. Picture credit: Photo: Paul Bardagjy (page 101)

Even the book’s cover by Hans Stofregen is a delight for the senses with strips of raised textures that feel like brick, stucco, wood and other materials used to create the wide variety of architectural styles shown on the pages inside.

Houses: Extraordinary Living, Phaidon; Pearlroth House, 1959, Westhampton Beach, New York, USA (left) Simple House, 2017, Jeju-si, Jeju Province, South Korea, Moon Koon (right), pages 230-231

P.S. A favorite of mine, the Pearlroth House by Andrew Geller, appears on page 230. Read more about Geller here.

To purchase Houses: Extraordinary Living, visit Phaidon.com.