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5 chic homes proving you don’t have to sacrifice style to be sustainable
In the last few years there has been an explosion of designers and architects employing both physical sustainable building practices into their work and incorporating the concept of biophilic design. The later is more philosophic and poetic – incorporating a love of nature and the enhancement of health in design practices. Combined, it means more mindfully constructed homes that lie lighter on the earth, and more peaceful, happier occupants. It’s a win win, right? Whilst the art of 100% sustainable building practice is still being refined, the architects below explore the myriad way new construction materials, the wisdom of ancient building practices and the age old tricks of cleverly incorporating daylight, greenery and water features into design are paving the way forward for an innovative future of sustainable home design.
French-born, Mexico City-based Ludwig Godefroy looked to traditional Mayan building techniques in this oasis of a home, Casa Mérida, in the centre of Mérida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. Pictured here is the swimming pool, inspired by sacred Mayan cenotes, natural limestone sinkholes which can be found in dotted over the region. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
This part of Mexico feels extreme high temperates, which means most homes in the area rely on all day air-conditioning. Godefroy chose to create natural cooling by allowing air to flow throughout the home by cross ventilation under high ceiling volumes, connected by a series of patios. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
It's also miraculously a self-sufficient urban home - the water system is closed-loop, a biodigester treats dirty water for the garden, absorption wells collect rainwater and solar boilers and panels provide all the hot water and electricity. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
The home was constructed almost completely on-site with Mayan cream stone and concrete by local Yucatec stonemasons. In a city that is comprised of much grand colonial architecture, this sombre yet serene Brutalist home is intended to last the test of time and patina elegantly under the harsh Mexican sun. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
London-based Practice Architecture's Flat House, sits peacefully amongst an organic hemp farm in Cambridgeshire. Margent Farm's regenerative farming method philosophy is evident in every crevice of the hemp-clad structure. Photography by Oskar Proctor.
The material is being increasingly used as an eco-friendly alternative because of its ability to store carbon from a renewable biomass throughout the life of a building. It has the added bonuses of creating healthy indoor air quality, providing excellent thermal insulation and being incredibly lightweight, hence less load on foundations. Photography by Oskar Proctor.
The house is off-grid, with heating and power provided by a biomass boiler and solar-energy panels on the roof. The structure of the home comprises large panels made of hempcrete – a mixture of hemp and lime and water, which dries as a strong material. Photography by Oskar Proctor.
Invented in the 1980s, hempcrete is normally plastered, painted or rendered over. This warm, graceful and enveloping home displays the exciting potential of hemp as a new sustainable building material, and an avant-garde aesthetic design feature, minus the hippie-chic connotations. Photography by Oskar Proctor.
Melbourne Architect Photography by Ben Callery crafted this tiny yet impactful 10-metre-squared home in High Camp, Victoria, to be bush-fire resistant, embrace the wild winds of the exposed ridge-line and be of course, sustainable!
It's remote location, a hour from Melbourne, meant that having power installed would be a big undertaking, thus going off-grid with batteries and solar power was the most logical, and economical, solution.
The structure offers respite from the harsh Australian sun, wind, and very real threat of bushfire threat. The exterior is clad with sustainably harvested spotted gum which along with being bush fire-resistant, the native timber species has superior strength, acoustic and thermal properties, and a beautiful natural grain.
The home produces and stores its own power, collects rain water, and treats waste water on site. Also designed to be completely repurposed at the end of its lifecycle - with every piece of cladding and decking able to be unscrewed, unbolted and reused.
This expansive yet surprisingly intimate one storey home is set 43 centimetres off the ground and nestled amongst farmland and forests in The Berkshires, Massachusetts. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
Designed by Vincent Appel of multi-disciplinary practice Of Possible, the firm specialises in architectural design, interiors, urbanism, industrial design, sculpture, and large-scale public art. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
Tasked with creating an elegant, minimalist, uber chic and also a sustainable home, the owners and architect both shared the vision of wanting the structure to be certified as ecologically sustainable. Photography by Rory Gardiner.
The selection of quality, long-lasting furniture from world-class brands, also incidentally sustainable, such as a CH25 Lounge Chair by Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son, ensures the home is timeless and also stylish. Photography by Rory Gardiner.