Going green does not just mean eco-friendly building systems and sustainable construction materials. It can also imply a blending with the landscape – an implied recognition that our structures come second to nature. That, at least, is the idea behind this set of remarkable modern underground home designs commissioned by Michael Hill.
The restrictions on the construction of earth sheltered houses are severe with good reason: to preserve the rolling hillscape of this former golf course, all of the houses will be nearly entirely subterranean and environment-disturbing exterior amenities (such as spas or swimming pools) are forbidden as they would spoil the surrounding landscapes. Seventeen homes in total are planned for this expansive stretch of grassy hills.
“The Americans put a big colonial clubhouse at the back of the 18th and fill the fairways with homes. For me, that spoils everything. We want it to be like a Scottish course, where you see nothing. These homes will be invisible.”
The design concept revolves around privacy but also around maintaining natural beauty and the seclusion that comes with being in a truly natural setting. While small outdoor fireplaces and courtyards will be permitted much of the design of these homes is interior-focused, including libraries and wine cellars.
Local commissioners agreed with Hill’s intentions when they granted him resource consent for the project, saying “Very stringent controls are also proposed on the use of each house site, to the extent that apart from placing outdoor furniture on a limited-sized area around each house, virtually nothing else can occur. Use of the house lots for the normal trappings of domesticity such as trampolines, spa pools and so forth, will be prohibited.”
Hill’s designs offer a modern twist on the age-old earth sheltered home, taking them more in the direction of a luxury contemporary residence than a hobbit house built into a hillside. Would you live in a house like this?