The finest minimalist architecture puts life in the foreground. Elevating interiors to places of peace, these buildings created by design pioneers help us to trace a recent history of minimalism in home design. Here, we explore some of the best examples of the genre, which creates serene settings for refined, pared down living. 

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Liminal House by McLeod Bovell

Liminal House vistas towards the sea from terrace

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Liminal House comes by its name honestly. Cascading over the sea wall between the city and the harbour, between dense metropolis and wilderness, land and sand, it occupies a spectacular threshold, and not just physically. The couple who live here were at a juncture in their working and family lives when they hired designers Lisa Bovell and Matt McLeod of Vancouver practice McLeod Bovell (also behind the spectacular Eaves House in West Vancouver). ‘Their lives are like waves on the ebb – they are retreating professionally and personally at a moment when their children are turning into teens,’ says Bovell. ‘This house is a threshold moment for them as well.’ As a result, every element of their collaboration responds to that in-between state. To understand the pivoted arrangement of concrete volumes, and their relationship to the contrasting oak interior, it helps to understand the untamed landscape of West Vancouver, where violent waves drag 10m logs onto the shore and a black bear might wander into your garden. ‘That shoreline changes on a daily basis,’ says Bovell. ‘To some degree, we’re simulating that motion within the house. It becomes a moment at the shoreline between the water and land.’ The environment, she says, has a way of seeping into the final product – not unlike the Dungeness crabs that creep along the beach. ‘It’s the shell and the belly,’ says McLeod. ‘The tough shell conceals a soft liner.’ 

Castle High by Hyde + Hyde Architects outside looking into the living room through large window

(Image credit: Martin Gardner)

Castle High by Hyde + Hyde Architects

Castle High brings together minimalist architecture and the needs of a contemporary working farmhouse. The project, a home designed in the Pembrokeshire National Park by Hyde + Hyde Architects, was a commission by a local family of farmers who were after an upgrade of their existing rural complex. The idea for Castle High was born in 2010, and the scheme has been some ten years in the making. The client approached Hyde + Hyde for a masterplan to update their farming estate. It was soon determined that a new farmhouse was required. The architects obliged and worked collaboratively with their clients to create a new home that is rooted in robustness and resilience, but at the same time remains open and thoroughly contemporary in its function and aesthetics. 

pringiers family concrete retreat in the belgian countryside interior of gallery

(Image credit: Jean-Pierre Gabriel)

The Pringiers family seems to have an affinity for minimalist concrete. The Belgian clan of entrepreneurs and art collectors is spread across several countries in two continents (Europe and Asia), with the parents, industrialist Pierre Pringiers and artist Saskia Pintelon, based in Sri Lanka since 1981. Pintelon’s studio is famously located within a specially commissioned Tadao Ando-designed house, nestled on a cliff edge in the southern part of the country. Between them, the couple and their three grown children – two sons, Jacob and Koenraad, and one daughter, Isolde – own a collection of design-led homes across the world, by architects such as Ando and Shigeru Ban. One thing that three of these have in common is their elegant contemporary minimalism. Another element they share is their architect, Belgian Glenn Sestig, who, hailing from the same part of the country as the Pringiers family, has known them for years.  

views from cornwall house by of Architecture

(Image credit: Lorenzo Zandri)

Esplanade House by of Architecture

Esplanade House by of Architecture is situated atop a cliff in picturesque Cornwall, elegantly placed among the plot’s terraced gardens. The new-build home makes the most of its privileged position’s views, while at the same time, spread across three levels, it serves as the clients’ live-and-work space. In order to accommodate the structure’s different needs and functions, Of Architecture worked with a minimalist architecture palette – in terms of form, colour and material. The house, consisting of simple rectangular volumes, is topped by a zinc roof, appearing ‘monolithic and modest’. Its interiors take a similar approach, as textured lime render and silver-coloured metals dominate. A double-height living space is amply lit by a large opening towards the sea views, while the exposed soffit of long steel beams becomes a key interior feature. Above the living space are a screening room and a library. Bedrooms are nestled next to the living space, and underneath. 

internal double height space at arii irie's Warehouse Villa in Isumi

(Image credit: Kai Nakamura)

Warehouse Villa in Isumi by Arii Irie


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