Here’s an inspiring lake house design by Cyprus-based Architect Elena Pilavaki and Israeli Architect Oliver Shalabi. It was their entry into the “Beautiful House Competition” which held last year. Though not the winning design, their Lake House is an interesting study and approach to sustainable residential design that seeks to integrate the environment and depart from normalcy.

Enjoy (as seen on arch20)

Lake House Design for a beautiful house competition

The starting point of our process was the attempt to answer the challenging question of what makes a home beautiful, whether there is one answer or many, and if possible, to break down the term “beautiful home” into its basic building blocks & make use of it later on with our design.

There are many parameters, that when combined, can create an overall experience which  can be referred to as – beautiful, whether it’s a beautiful space in general or a beautiful home in particular.

Although these parameters can change according to different users, with different lifestyles, cultures, backgrounds etc. there are still basic elements which are universal to all of us.

Influenced by the studies and practices of Martin Heidegger , Christian Norberg-Schulz  , PETER Zumthor & Judith Butler-which talk about the ideas of space- place-belonging- connecting to nature-genius loci – materiality –  dwelling etc.-, We strongly believe that a beautiful home in this case or any beautiful space, will be considered as beautiful when this space turns into a place where users can identify themselves in it.

Lake House 1

The house as an integral part of the environment (Natural context) 

The strongest element we relied on throughout the design process was the environmental/ natural aspect – in all scales, whether it’s in the general context of how the house is situated according to the lake and its surrounding, or in the smaller scale of the spaces we designed;

Since the early stage of our design we identified the main points – Lake : which is sort of the center point of the site, Boat house close to the lake and the tree house area. The idea was to create a sequence where the house is a part of this connection.

The typology and shape of our design, which runs along the existing topographic lines, growing gradually from the ground, helps connect the project with its context in a natural spontaneous way.

Lake House 2

Inside out 

The typology of the skin makes it easier to blur the line between inside and outside, having total control of creating interior spaces while providing maximum natural light and nature inside – the pool patio and the courtyard which themselves can be considered as the lungs of the house.

The entrance axis, which is perpendicular to the lake (It cuts the house into 2 masses) gives infinite vistas towards the lake, with the openness of the facades, and so strengthens the connections between nature and the living space.

The green roof which ascends from the ground floor to the first floor and connects to   nature, provides continuous elevated views towards the surrounding.

Lake House 3


A key role in bringing nature inside the project is the use of materials which are part of the surroundings & create spaces that feel connected to the place.

Spaces that are built out of the existing realm rather than on top of the existing realm. We wanted to preserve this warmth with the use of materials like wood on the façades, a green natural roof, transparent materials (Glass -to strengthen the connections via views), and Local natural stone.

Lake House 4

Flexibility & Open plan 

Part of what makes a home beautiful is the flexibility of the plan and the functionality of the           spaces created. We aimed to create an open plan, with accessible and easy circulation system. This can maximize the use of each space and ensure a better experience while not harming the privacy of each function by situating functions in a suitable way in relation to one another and in relation to the surroundings.  (Connecting private and public functions in a gradual smooth way)

The use of dynamic convertible walls and components helps in changing spaces according to the different needs, such as the pool patio which can have a closed roof in the winter and opening the pool directly to the interior space of the gym and thus make it usable in winter.

Lake House 5

Sustainable design

Throughout our design process, we tried to find the balance between aesthetics, functionality and the planning of an environmentally responsible house. The depth of the windows on the southern façade can block direct sunlight during summer days and maximize sunlight during winter days.

The patios inside the house which act as lungs, providing the house with natural light and fresh air, helping to circulate the cool and hot wind flowing through the interior space.  Or the green roof which can be used to have photovoltaic panels to save, and even produce energy.

Lake House 6

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