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Steep Site Home Terraced onto Three Levels

Terraced onto three levels, A’tolan House is located on the eastern seaboard of Taiwan, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The site is steep and to create the necessary flat sections, land was excavated, exposing a large amount of rocks from small to big. The rocks where saved and used to terrace the land with the driveway on the top level, the main living structure on the second level and the pool on the third.

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Designed by Create + Think Design Studio, the home was named A’tolan House as a reference to the indigenous language of the natives with A’tolan meaning “a place with many rocks”, “piling of rocks”, “building wall with rocks” or “house made out of rocks”.

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Because the home is stepped down the slope the only thing visible from the parking is the roof of the main living structure but since the roof has been outfitted with a herb garden and wood decking it appears more like a garden terrace then a home.

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The roof terrace is not accessed from the parking above but rather from the level the living structure is on. One must first travel down the stairs from the parking and walk around the side of the home to arrive at stairs that then lead up to the roof.

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The stairs start on the waterside of the home and are positioned next to a concrete privacy wall.

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The home is positioned half on dirt and half on a pebble reflective pool with the pool located at the rear between the home and the rock wall that leads up to the parking.

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Once up on the roof deck the expansive views of the Pacific Ocean blend harmoniously with the rocks, wood and landscaping.

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It’s a beautiful spot to relax and contemplate life.

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It’s also the perfect spot to stargaze in the evenings.

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Aside from the roof deck, A’tolan House also has terraces off of the main structure and next to the pool on the third level down.

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Unusually shaped swimming pool design and a water feature.

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The terrace on the 2nd level is as much a part of the main living area as it is a part of the outdoor zone.

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The dining area is positioned on the far side of the home in a courtyard with its walls completely open to the outdoors.

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Walls of rock clad around a steel frame are used to support the roof and to physically connect the building to the terracing.

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By using the rocks from the site as support walls that merge into the terraced landscape, the home’s aesthetic is completely connected to its natural habitat.

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The supporting rock wall centrally divides the home into two sections, one with the open courtyard that includes the dining area and the other with the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

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In front of the kitchen is the outdoor living room.

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The kitchen includes windows that offers views of the rock terrace.

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The kitchen is designed with a central island used only for food prep and for a quick meal via the bar stools set in front of it.

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The island is a unique custom design that includes a mirrored pedestal and a sloped portion that slowly extends down to the floor.

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The mirrored pedestal confuses the onlooker into thinking the island is floating in mid air.

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Glass doors slide and stack out of the way for an outdoor kitchen vibe or close to keep the kitchen contained.

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Just past the kitchen is the bedroom. The bedroom has a large window enclave that one of the windows pivots within.

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The bedroom is both separate and connected to the rest of the home.

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The bedroom is wrapped on two sides by the terrace.

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A hot tub is set into the terrace on the private side of the bedroom.

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On the other side of the bedroom is the bathroom.

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The bathroom opens up to the reflective pebble pond backed by the rock terrace completely open and completely private at the same time.

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Photography courtesy of Create + Think Design Studio.
When presented with sloped sites, architects need to be creative to make the most out of the terrain and while A’tolan House is unique in its design it is not the first time architects have designed a home with stepped architecture to take advantage of the slope.

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