4 beautiful, isolated self-build homes from around the world

These 4 inspiring homes all have one thing in common – they exist in beautifully tranquil natural spaces cut off from the outside world.

By Hugh Metcalf | 10 April 2020

In need of a little escapism? These homes, featured in new book Living on Vacation, take the idea of isolation from the outside world to a whole other level.  

Vega Norge writers house in norway, by Erik Kolman Janush - self builds - grand designs

Image: Kolman Boye

You may be stuck indoors, holidays for the year cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little bit of armchair travelling. Living on Vacation: Contemporary Houses for Tranquil Living is a brand new title, published by Phaidon on 17th April, £29.95, which offers you the chance to see some incredible homes from the most beautiful places around the world.

The Grand Designs magazine team had a sneak peek ahead of the launch of the book, and picked some of their favourite homes, each set in splendid isolation of a unique natural landscape.

Writer’s House, Norway, Kolman Boye

Located on an archipelago of around 6,500 islands, islets, and reefs just south of the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, this project borrows stylistic cues from Norwegian coastal huts known as Naust.

The building crouches on low stilts above the rocky ground, with one of the two hut-like buildings higher up the slope than the other. The path leading to the home sits inside a small trench, giving the appearance that the structure is completely cut off from the outside world on his rocky outcrop.

Island Retreat, New Zealand, Fearon Hay

Island Retreat home in new zealand by fearon hay - self builds - grand designs

Image: Fearon Hay 

Waiheke is an island paradise just 45 minutes by ferry away from Auckland, New Zealand. This Island Retreat by Fearon Hay architects is formed of 3 separate dwellings around a courtyard – two for sleeping and living, and the third functioning as a studio.

The choice of concrete and steel as materials keep the aesthetic comfortably utilitarian rather than luxurious. Inside, concrete walls and floors continue the spare, unadorned feel. Totally off-grid, the house powers itself with solar energy, harvests rainwater, and recycles wastewater.