university of arkansas cantilever home prefab
The Cantilever House in Little Rock, Arkansas. Via of Dezeen.

Even if you don’t know what a cantilever actually is, you’ve almost definitely seen one. The floating building down the street has one, as does the city hall with that can’t-miss-overhang.

Cantilevers are used to support ‘free’ structures on buildings, like a deck or wing that protrudes out from the rest of a building. On one end, the cantilever is attached to a vertical element, like an existing structure or natural feature (like a rock face), while on the other end the cantilever seems to float.

Cantilevers have been around for a while– they’ve been used in engineering for things like bridges and radio towers for quite some time.  However, by the time the early twentieth century rolled around, some architects began incorporating them into buildings, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

forth rail bridge cantilever
Scotland’s Forth Rail Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cantilever bridge was built in 1889, and was the longest cantilever bridge in the world at the time of construction. Courtesy of the Scottish Government.

Mid Century Modern design only accelerated this trend, as it made structures look more futuristic, giving them the perfect Space Age twist. Architects like Joseph Eichler and Albert Frey used them in their own designs, and others followed.

Today, cantilevers are still incredibly popular— using them allows architects and engineers to push the limit of what is truly possible. Cantilevers create dynamic and exciting structures, and they don’t show any signs of going anywhere.

Check out six of our favorite cantilevered buildings below. Some are old, some are new, but all of them look pretty astonishing.

  1. A Soaring Canadian Home Nestled in the Woods

    cantilever house in quebec forest
    Via Dwell.

    Built by Bourgeois / Lechasseur Architects, this Quebec home is certainly stunning. The second-story living area, which offers a wall-to-wall panorama of the surrounding forest, is cantilevered above first-story bedrooms and a pool.

  2. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece


    cantilever fallingwater in the fall
    Courtesy of Fallingwater.

    No article on cantilevers would be complete without the quintessential cantilevered structure: Fallingwater. This home is carefully cantilevered over a waterfall and was built in 1937 as a weekend home for the Kaufmann family in Bear Run, PA. Wright designed the home so that it was both inspired by and one with the surrounding natural features.

  3. Sunny SoCal Eichler

    eichler cantilever home entryway
    Via Curbed.

    This 1964 Eichler home in California uses cantilevers in a different, more subtle way— instead of having an entire room or wing protrude, only the entry hood does. But the effect is still just as unique.

  4. Dreamy Norwegian Vacation Huts By The Sea

    cantilever vacation cabin in norway above sea
    Via Manshausen.

    These unique cabins are located in a vacation community in a remote part of Norway, and offer a peaceful escape from daily life. The structures use cantilevers to make their back halves look like they’re floating above the sea. Who else wants to head north for the winter?

  5. A Forgotten Frey With Unforgettable Views

    cantilever patio cree house forgotten frey albert
    Via Palm Springs Life.

    The Cree House, built by Frey in 1955, was considered forgotten for many years, as no one had really seen it. Thankfully, years later it was discovered and restored to its original beauty. The strong horizontal lines of the home are further emphasized by the cantilevered balcony that looks out onto the surrounding desert vista.

  6. An Architecture Program’s Amazing House

    university of arkansas cantilever home prefab
    Via Dezeen.

Built by a group of students from the University of Arkansas, the home was designed to be an affordable prefab structure. It was constructed in two different modules and combined onsite. By cantilevering the upper module, additional outdoor space is created, adding to the total living space of the home. Courtesy of Dezeen.

Want to see some more amazing buildings? Check out this Wendell Lovett original. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!