Bethany Lyttle, Contributor - Forbes
Taking up residence in the middle of an ocean, lake or river isn’t for everybody. But for anyone who yearns for a property line that laps to shore, options abound. Architecturally expressive abodes for the aesthetically-inclined, secluded dwellings for the nature-loving set, spacious compounds for the party-minded, and unforgettable retreats for families are just the beginning.
Take the Utopia Project. It’s not just a home. It’s a man-made island. With glass canopy panels that cover its interior or open out to create decks, it’s suitable for any climate. And its spaceship-style design allow for observatories with 360-degree views.
Views of what, exactly? Well, that’s for the owner of this private island to decide. After all, the island home’s naval design, created by Yacht Island Designs in conjunction with BMT Nigel Gee, means it can be floated slowly to any desired location. Once there, the structure can withstand even the roughest seas thanks its four legged design. And for those who like the idea of a man-made island but prefer the look of a tropical paradise to that of a floating UFO, the firm offers just that—a 295-foot island complete with a waterfall and faux volcano.
Of course, most islands are not made out of steel. And certainly, the sky-reaching conifers, rocky points, rugged underbrush and verdant ferns are what would have attracted Frank Lloyd Wright to the tiny island in Lake Mahopac, New York, on which stands a summer house inspired by his drawings. Distinguished by its 28-foot cantilevered great room which juts into the lake, the modern masterpiece is visible from the mainland.
The house features an expansive deck that’s contiguous with the rocky ledges that define the perimeter of the island. And to enter the home, guests must pass through a surprisingly narrow passage, built to accommodate a huge boulder. Indigenous to the tiny island and named the Whale Rock, it makes a a dramatic statement in interior’s entry hall where it basks in natural sunlight thanks to an expansive skylight. Other natural elements in the home include a craggy sloped rock wall in the guest room bathroom shower.
Of course, nothing says private island living like luxury. And Miami‘s La Gorge Estate is a pristine example. Originally built as a Mediterranean style for American entrepreneur Carl Graham Fisher, the villa, made up of three buildings, has since been remodeled to create a sleek and gracious contemporary modern home. Glass walls and large windows allow for unobstructed views of glittering Biscayne Bay from almost any room in the 16,000-square-foot main house. A spectacular bathroom (one of eleven in the house) offers couples the opportunity to sink into twin rectangular tubs positioned side by side to overlook the watery reflections of the sun as it sets. A heated outdoor lap pool runs alongside the bay.
To make the most of its island location, the home was designed with several viewing areas and balconies—no two alike. From almost every room on the lower level, sliding doors lead to pool-side decks. Across the pool and along the waters of Biscayne Bay, additional seating is provided. Garden walkways and outdoor rooms provide even more opportunities to take in the island setting. And from the upper level, one can always step onto one of several beach-view balconies with see-through walls— perfect for taking in a sunset-hour cocktails or enjoying a cup of coffee on sleepy weekend morning.