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Trend Alert: Curve Appeal, Cave Edition

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Trend Alert: Curve Appeal, Cave Edition

June 29, 2023

There’s no denying that curves and blobs have been the dominant silhouettes of the design scene this decade, but lately we’ve seen the trend taken to the extreme—in the form of whole rooms and buildings rendered in undulations. Cases in point: the Gilder Center, the delightfully amorphous new addition to the Museum of Natural History in New York City (see image below); Robert Downey Jr.’s eco-conscious Binishell house in Malibu (go here for a peek); and the otherworldly Italian vacation home of Francesca Amfitheatrof, the artistic director of jewelery and watches at Louis Vuitton (you can see it here).

Besides bulbous contours and sinuous lines, what these projects have in common is their resemblance to cave dwellings. This type of architecture is most commonly found in the Mediterranean countries, but more and more the cave aesthetic—plastered or concrete walls, soft curves, built-in nooks and crannies—is being replicated in other parts of the world, even in cities.

Below, we’ve rounded up some standout examples, followed by practical iterations of the trend for the homeowner who wants to just dip a toe.

Big Curves

the design of the gilder center (by studio gang) at the the museum of natural h 17
Above: The design of the Gilder Center (by Studio Gang) at the the Museum of Natural History in New York was inspired by the caves and canyons of the Southwest. The walls were made using a concrete technique called shotcrete, in which concrete is sprayed onto rebar. Photograph by Iwann Baan.
the majority of cave like dwellings feature stone or concrete walls, but this l 18
Above: The majority of cave-like dwellings feature stone or concrete walls, but this lakeside cabin in Norway, by Atelier Oslo, uses wood to create the curvy contours. Plywood was used to shape the ceiling and walls; the floors and built-in bench are covered with birch hexagon tiles. Photograph by Lars Petter Pettersen.
a modern take on the cave trend, this santorini summer house, by kapsimalis arc 19
Above: A modern take on the cave trend, this Santorini summer house, by Kapsimalis Architects, has vaulted ceilings that have been plastered over. Photograph by Yiorgos Kordakis.
self taught architect jacques couëlle specialized in what he called ȁ 20
Above: Self-taught architect Jacques Couëlle specialized in what he called “natural structures” (a haughty critic once called his work “improved caves”), creating structures, like this villa, out of carved concrete. Photograph by Sarah Button, courtesy of Lauren Olivia Design, from Organic Architecture on the Côte d’Azur: A Jacques Couëlle Villa with a New Kitchen Extension.
vaulted ceilings, plastered walls, an inset refrigerator, and a sink installed  21
Above: Vaulted ceilings, plastered walls, an inset refrigerator, and a sink installed in an arched nook in the wall lend the kitchen in this Mallorcan home a cave vibe. Photograph by Luis Díaz Díaz, courtesy of Isla Architects, from Before & After: A Bright 17th-Century House Overlooking the Sea on Mallorca, for Two Young Architects.

Small Curves

a great space in your home to add curves to is your bathroom. this shower was d 22
Above: A great space in your home to add curves to is your bathroom. This shower was designed by Greg Haji Joannides at the Sterna Residence on the Greek island of Nisyros. He worked with a local architect and a Greek cement company to sculpt it from white cement mixed with gray paint. See Trend Alert: 13 Sculptural Baths and Showers.
a curvilinear guest room, complete with a wraparound built in banquette seating 23
Above: A curvilinear guest room, complete with a wraparound built-in banquette seating at Hotel Le Moulin in Provence. Photograph by Gaëlle Tronquit via Le Moulin, from Architect-Designed Lodgings in Provence
Trend Alert Curve Appeal Cave Edition portrait 6
Above: This rounded architectural platform for a bed includes shallow storage troughs and a built-in end table. See A Rustic Idyll for Four in Mykonos, Greece.
a stove inset into a mini cave. photograph by yiorgos kordakis, styling by ioli 25
Above: A stove inset into a mini cave. Photograph by Yiorgos Kordakis, styling by Ioli Chiotini, courtesy of Kapsimalis Architects, from ‘A New Perception of Space and Identity’: A Villa Remodel on the Isle of Sikinos.
a wavy window seat and perfect perch for reflection in this space designed by l 26
Above: A wavy window seat and perfect perch for reflection in this space designed by Lorna de Santos. Photograph by Nacho Uribe Salazar.

For other trends we’ve been noting, see:

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Frequently asked questions

What is the trend of curve appeal cave houses?

The trend of curve appeal cave houses refers to the increasing popularity of homes and structures that are built or designed with curved or rounded elements, mimicking the natural shapes found in caves.

Why are curve appeal cave houses becoming popular?

Curve appeal cave houses are becoming popular for several reasons. Firstly, the organic and unique aesthetic they offer provides a refreshing departure from traditional angular architecture. Additionally, these structures often blend harmoniously with their natural surroundings, creating an immersive and serene living environment.

Are curve appeal cave houses only suitable for certain locations or climates?

While curve appeal cave houses are often associated with regions that have existing cave dwellings, they can be adapted to various locations and climates. With proper design and construction techniques, they can be made suitable for both warm and cold climates.

What are the advantages of living in a curve appeal cave house?

Living in a curve appeal cave house can provide numerous advantages. These structures have excellent thermal insulation properties, ensuring energy efficiency and reducing heating and cooling costs. Additionally, the curved shapes help create a natural flow of air and light, contributing to a comfortable and healthy living environment.

Can curve appeal cave houses be customized and personalized?

Absolutely! Curve appeal cave houses offer great flexibility for customization and personalization. From interior layouts and finishes to landscaping and exterior features, homeowners can tailor these spaces to suit their preferences and lifestyle.

Are curve appeal cave houses more expensive to build compared to traditional houses?

The cost of building a curve appeal cave house can vary depending on factors such as location, size, and desired materials and finishes. While some aspects, such as excavation costs, may be higher, curve appeal cave houses can also present opportunities for cost savings in energy efficiency and maintenance.

Can curve appeal cave houses be earthquake-resistant?

Yes, curve appeal cave houses can be designed and built to be earthquake-resistant. By utilizing appropriate structural engineering techniques and materials, these homes can withstand seismic activities and provide a safe living environment.

Are there any limitations or challenges associated with curve appeal cave houses?

Yes, there can be some limitations and challenges with curve appeal cave houses. Excavation and construction may require specialized expertise, especially in rocky or challenging terrains. Ventilation, moisture control, and natural light optimization are also crucial considerations to ensure a comfortable and healthy living space.

Where can I find examples and inspiration for curve appeal cave houses?

A great place to find examples and inspiration for curve appeal cave houses is the Remodelista website. They provide various articles and posts showcasing unique and stunning cave house designs and ideas.

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