Houses can broadly be divided into two categories, those that are sensitive to their surroundings, and those that aren’t. This statement is free of judgment as sometimes that building neighbors see as an eyesore can actually be a great leap forward in architecture. But when the setting is nature, we like buildings to blend in rather than stick out. New Zealand office Crosson, Clarke, Carnachan Architects has created a home that sits perfectly in its verdant Great Barrier Island setting.
This relatively remote island is gaining popularity as a tourist retreat as it recovers from years of logging and mining. As such, the clients wanted to create a sustainable home with minimum impact on the surrounding forest. While they have indeed achieved a high level of sustainability, they haven’t had to skimp on comfort. The single pitch roof of this long rectangular house rises up towards the hill to the west. This connects the open plan living and dining area with the lush green scenery around. When the weather is good, the huge sliding doors can open this space up completely to the surrounding, allowing for a feeling of being one with nature while at the same time enjoying the comfort of being indoors. The house has been finished in timber and so blends into the surroundings easily. Solar panels provide for hot water and much of the house’s electricity needs, making its footprint even smaller.
Great Barrier House is a model that architects building in natural surroundings should follow and it proves that houses that are simple and sustainable can also be extremely livable.