Normally all of the really nicely designed places that I like seem to be from nice climates in Europe or California or Japan. Here is an excellent example of Canadian architecture built into a base of a hill. Partially buried housing had always been very interesting to me since I read about it in Popular Mechanics in the 1970s. While demanding acreage to build into, using earth as an insulator, especially in our climate, seems to make sense. As does aligning the windows to allow for maximum light penetration.
And here is a link to an online architectural contest with some awesome designs!
Here is my favorite under 1000 square foot home from Australia.