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10 unique homes on stilts

Photo courtesy of Baumraum

Whether they're used to compensate for harsh natural conditions or to see above the neighbors, stilts can take a house to the next level.

Stilts have been used for centuries to protect homes from bad weather. In Vietnam, for example, many people still live in elevated houses similar to those used 4,000 years ago.

Today, however, stilts are more often a design choice than a necessity. These modern homes take advantage of stilts for a variety of reasons. Keeping a house off the ground reduces its impact on the surrounding plants and wildlife, can help eliminate the cost of leveling an uneven building site or can give homeowners unbeatable views.

Click ahead to check out 10 unique homes on stilts.

Toda House in Hiroshima, Japan

Photo by Toshiyuki Yano, courtesy of Kimihiko Okada

This coil-shaped home was built on stilts to give it a view over other homes in the area and provide security, according to architect Kimihiko Okada. The three-story home wraps around a central courtyard.

Toda House in Hiroshima, Japan

Photo by Toshiyuki Yano, courtesy of Kimihiko Okada

The home was completed in 2011 and has two terraces, two bedrooms and one bathroom.

Haus S in Vorderweißenbach, Austria

Photo courtesy of Hammerschmid Pachl Seebacker

This U-shaped home's stilts were a way to compensate for the property's steep slope, allowing the residents to enjoy the view without first flattening the land, according to architecture firm Hammerschmid Pachl Seebacher.

Haus S in Vorderweißenbach, Austria

Photo courtesy of Hammerschmid Pachl Seebacker

The home was completed in 2013 and is built around a central terrace with views of the surrounding landscape.

Baumhaus Solling in Uslar, Germany

Photo courtesy of Baumraum

This treehouse overlooking a pond in northern Germany was built as a playhouse for the client's son, according to architecture firm Baumraum. It is connected to several trees on the edge of the pond by a long terrace, which is attached to stairs leading to the ground.

Baumhaus Solling in Uslar, Germany

Photo courtesy of Baumraum

Its many windows allow visitors to watch wildlife in the surrounding woods, and a curved rooftop window allows for stargazing at night.

Le Grand Plateau in Mirond Lake, Saskatchewan

Photo courtesy of Atelier Pierre Thibault

This home's stilts help it perch on a hill above a lake. Visitors enter the building from a rooftop terrace. The main floor has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open living area and a deck.

Le Grand Plateau in Mirond Lake, Saskatchewan

Photo courtesy of Atelier Pierre Thibault

The home was designed by Atelier Pierre Thibault and was completed in 2014.

Delta Shelter in Mazama, Washington

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

This three-level cabin in the Washington woods is "essentially a steel-clad box on stilts that can be completely shuttered when the owner is away," according to Olson Kundig Architects. The vacation cabin's steel exterior makes it "virtually indestructible."

Delta Shelter in Mazama, Washington

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

The first level has a carport and storage area. The second floor has two bedrooms and bathrooms along with the building's main entry. The third floor is an open space with living, dining and cooking areas.

House NA in Tokyo, Japan

Photo courtesy of Sou Fujimoto Architects

This multilevel house is built from a series of floor plates designed to mimic the different levels of branches on a tree, according to architect Sou Fujimoto. The plates are connected by stairs and ladders, some of which are movable. The bright and open design is intended as a change of pace from the more traditional concrete block homes in the area.

House NA in Tokyo, Japan

Photo courtesy of Sou Fujimoto Architects

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is very open from room to room and to the outside (via large glass walls), so curtains were installed to improve privacy and serve as temporary partitions between rooms.

Hut on Stilts in Dorset, England

Photo by Henrietta Williams

This little hut in the treetops offers a getaway for its owner, a writer. It was designed by Nozomi Nakabayashi and features a writing desk, a wood-burning stove, a bed hidden in the floor and an outdoor balcony.

Hut on Stilts in Dorset, England

Photo by Henrietta Williams

"The site of the Hut on Stilts is in a small patch of woodland looking over a lake in distance, and the client wanted an elevated space with a view, to rest and ponder upon his ideas," the architect told Dezeen.

Villa S in Flatanger, Norway

Photo by Bent René Synnevåg

This three-story home gives the illusion that the second floor is floating in the forest, according to architect Todd Saunders. The overhangs beneath the main horizontal section of the house (which is propped up on stilts) offer space for a carport, swings and storage.

Villa S in Flatanger, Norway

Photo by Bent René Synnevåg

It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a library and a rooftop terrace.

Nannup Holiday House in Nannup, Australia

Photo by Peter Bennetts

This vacation house was built on stilts to improve its view and reduce its impact on the surrounding landscape and wildlife, according to architectural firm Iredale Pedersen Hook.

Nannup Holiday House in Nannup, Australia

Photo by Peter Bennetts

It was built from dark steel, rusted steel and recycled wood to give it the appearance of a shadow, according to Arch Daily, and was completed in 2013.

Casa Flotanta in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Photo by Andrés García Lachner

This home, with a name that literally translates to "floating house," was built to "float" above the steep slope of the land, according to architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe's website. The stilts allowed the builders to save on the cost of building expensive retaining walls, which is a common technique in this hilly area.

Casa Flotanta in Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Photo by Andrés García Lachner

The home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and is composed of several "modules" connected by bridges. It was completed in November 2013 and is available to rent for an average of $680 per night.

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