Architect's Toolbox: Connecting Home and Ground

Homes connect into the ground in different ways. Some dunked and anchor themselves into the ground. Others gently touch down in the most minimal way. Some seem to glide along the surface, appearing like they can slide to and fro.

What do these connections say about the way we live? Does your home appear to be anchored to its place or does it seem as if it’s willing to move on? Or does it appear to fall into the two groups, creating tension between the two?

Placing the way a home is linked to the floor goes well beyond technical, structural issues and speaks to the way we understand our relationship to the ground. Let us look at a few of the possibilities.

Floating on the surface. A houseboat in Vancouver, B.C., floats along the surface of the water, able to move simply by weighing anchor and letting go of the lines.

Mell Lawrence Architects

Gliding on the surface. A home does not need to be on water to project a feeling that it sits gently on the floor. Bringing the yard straight to the border and eliminating the ubiquitous foundation plantings generates the belief that this home can slip around.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

Anchored into the floor. Some houses appear to be solidly anchored into the ground, climbing up as an extension of their floor. Certainly, a sloped site along with a rock foundation reinforce this approach.

Cushman Design Group

A stage created with a stone base also seems firmly anchored to the floor.


Both anchored and floating. Frank Lloyd Wright has been a master in creating homes that floated above the ground while being anchored solidly in place. This duality was never more superbly accomplished than at Fallingwater.

Hufft Projects

Using the ground for a mirror. The principal volume of the house sits above a plinth that negates the sloping website while being reflected in the nearby water. The brightly coloured plinth recedes and nearly disappears, creating the illusion that the home hovers above it all.

Robert Young Architects

Gradually touching down. The global style of architecture exemplified designs which merely touched down on little columns, or piloti, rather than with the whole bulk of the house anchored to the website. The illusion is that the structure is simply temporarily with us.

Paul McKean design llc

Ready to increase the gangway and take flight, the house, such as most modernist designs, seems poised to embark on its voyage. Are passengers to board.


Stepping down. A sloping or apartment website can be terraced to make an easy and gradual transition from the house to the ground. This is particularly useful once you need multiple outdoor spaces and the property is large enough to accommodate the terracing.

Watch more ways designers have addressed sloped lots

Thomas Roszak Architecture, LLC

Foundation plants. Say you do not want to find the home’s connection to the floor. Simply install low plantings that conceal the juncture of house and ground.

Frederick + Frederick Architects

Transition between trees and area. This linear home, which picks up on the colors of this area while including an emphasis on vertical components that respond to the trees, generates a transitional component that connects to the two.


Contrast between ground and sky. Neither a component of the earth nor the skies, a white box sits in the rise of a mountain to make a centre ground and comparison between humanity and nature.

Roofs Join Earth and Sky

High Style for Real Life

Wood Home Exteriors Branch Outside

See related