Floating Architecture: 16 Dramatic Cantilevered Structures

Jutting out over cliffs or hovering over impossibly small foundations, these 16 dramatically cantilevered structures seem like they’re about to take off into the sky. With designs that appear to defy the laws of physics, these balancing homes, museums and mountain overlooks extend beyond the usual boundaries to take in majestic views.

Balancing Barn by MVRDV

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has made a name for itself with wholly unexpected, often gravity-defying structures, and Balancing Barn is a prime example. The glittering metal-clad building looks like someone started to push it off a cliff and gave up, seeming to balance precariously on the edge of the hillside. The structure is 98 feet long (30 meters) and is actually no barn at all, but a home designed to take in the views of the surrounding forest.

Hemeroscopium House by Ensamble Studio & Anton Garcia-Abril

A swimming pool juts out over the grass at the highly unusual Hemeroscopium House by Ensamble Studios. Made of prefabricated concrete built from three massive I-beams, two segments of an irrigation canal and two steel girders, the house took just a week to assemble.

Top of Tyrol Viewing Platform, Austria

The sculptural Top of Tyrol overlook by Aste Architecture is a platform that juts 27 feet over a ridge at the pinnacle of Austria’s Mount Isidor. The oxidized metal structure was designed to blend into the environment as much as possible, seeming to disappear into the rocks during warm weather and meld with the snow in winter.

View Hill House by Denton Corker Marshall

Rather than placing the second story parallel to the first, as is most common, Australian architects Denton Corker Marshall chose a perpendicular approach for the aptly named View Hill House. The architects envision the isolated building as ‘land art,’ a shape that can be reduced to two sticks placed on top of each other and ‘dropped’ onto the landscape.

Five Fingers Viewing Platform, Austria

Five individual platforms stick out of this overlook in the Salzkammergut area of the Austrian Alps, each with a different way to experience the view. One has a picture frame at the end, another has a glass floor, the third has a trampoline, the fourth features a round hole in the floor and the fifth offers a telescope.

House in Yatsugatake by Kidosaki Architects Studio

The owners of the House in Yatsugatake spent years looking for just the right building site, and when they found this beautiful sloping ridge at the foot of the Yatsugatakae Mountains in Japan, they knew they’d need a very special house to take full advantage. Kidosaki Architects employed two diagonal braces to support the half of the house that extends beyond the ridge.

Two Hull House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

Twin rectangles telescope out from the coast just above a rocky beach in Nova Scotia for a closer look at the ocean. Two Hull House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple features steel-framed wings covered in a wooden skin envisioned as a pair of binoculars cantilevered 32 feet from the concrete foundation. This setup allows seawater to flow freely beneath the home without causing any damage.

Utriai Residence by Natkevicius & Partners

The space beneath this jaw-dropping cantilever in Lithuania hides a shady carport. Utriai Residence by Natkevicius & Partners is made primarily of concrete and glass, with a timber skin, and measures 4500 square feet.

Il Binocolo, Italy

Visitors to the Trauttsmandorff Castle in northern Italy can feel like they’re walking on air, right out over the tree canopy. Il Binocolo is a steel platform shaped like an opera glass, with a transparent floor.


No, this isn’t concept artwork from the movie Inception – it’s real, built architecture in The Netherlands. WoZoCo by MVRDV is an apartment complex for the elderly, and its unusual look is actually a creative solution to a practical problem. The firm calculated that only 87 of the proposed 100 units could fit the restricted footprint of the site due to regulations about daylighting – so to get around it, they cantilevered the remaining units on the north side, to connect to the transparent gallery of the main block below.

Cantilever House by Anderson Anderson Architecture

Challenging topography and geotechnical conditions at a site near Granite Falls, Washington required a creative solution from architecture firm Anderson Anderson. “The small ground floor building footprint/foundation reduces the cost of this expensive area of the house, and allows the points of attachment to adapt to varying slope and soil conditions with minimal disruption of the natural topography,” they explain.

House on the Edge

A cute little suburban house seems to be close to falling off the edge of an urban building in San Diego. Fallen Star is an installation by Korean artist Do Ho Suh, whose work explores the concepts of home and cultural displacement.

Timmelsjoch Museum

‘The Timmelsjoch Experience’ by Werner Tscholl Architects is a sculptural structure located within the deepest, non-glaciated indentation in the main Alpine ridge between Reschen Pass and the Brenner Pass in the Italian Alps, focusing views over the adjacent road to the nearby Swiss border.

House R by Bembé Dellinger, Germany

The dramatic yet minimalist House R has a dynamic feel thanks to the geometric cantilevered volume with three glassed sides to provide elevated views of the surrounding land.

Busan Cinema Center by Coop Himmelb(l)au

“Once we build architecture like aircraft wings we will no longer need columns,” says Coop Himmelb(l)au of their design for the Busan Cinema Center, which serves as the site of the Busan International Film Festival as well as a variety of other functions. “The cantilevered part of the roof with its 85 meters is twice as long as the wing of an Airbus 380.”

Cantilevered Bunker, Ukraine

Is this crazy-looking building an actual existing cantilevered structure, or a particular skillful Photoshop job? Since it’s supposedly located in a remote area of Ukraine, it’s hard to say. Supposedly, it’s a bunker for excess mineral fertilizers.

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