The strategies architects use to make buildings better interact with its natural surroundings, especially in remote locations surrounded by nature, are diverse and complex. There are two common approaches we can’t get enough of. One is to have the structure buried into the site in which case it would become a sort of underground home. The other is to give the house a green roof.
The Great Wall of WA
Located in northwest Australia and designed by Luigi Rosseli Architects, this structure is a collection of 12 homes sharing a rammed earth facade and being all semi-buried into the site. This building strategy was used as a way to regulate the temperature and to keep the homes cool.
The Great Wall of WA is 230 meters long and follows the line of a sand dune. It is made of iron-rich, sandy clay found on the site which is combined with gravel and pebbles from a nearby river. The interior design was created by Sarah Foletta and uses colors and textures that mimic the surrounding landscape, further emphasizing the connection between the homes and their location.
Casa Jura in France
Designed as a tranquil retreat in the French countryside, Casa Jura was a project by JDS Architects who envisioned it as a sculptural and sinuous structure that becomes one with the site. The building is almost entirely concealed into a slope, this allowing it to embrace its surroundings to the fullest.
This strategy also allows the house to minimize its impact on the site. The architects had to make three cuts into the site. Two had the role to make room for the full-height glazed facades while the third created a leveled green roof. The full height glass walls open up the house to the views while also bringing natural light in.
Villa Topoject in South Korea
The small valley where this intriguing house is located slopes upward and the architects at AND decided to take advantage of that instead of working around the issue. As a result, this home in South Korea slips under the slope where it forms a series of private spaces.
The house was designed for a couple who wanted to enjoy rural life while maintaining their connection to the city. This design allows them to take in the beauty of the surroundings and to stay in contact with the land while also being able to observe nature and to admire the views. A green roof allows the structure to gradually become a part of the site.
Joan Maragall Library in Spain
When faced with the challenge of creating a new library building in this area of Barcelona, in Spain, BCQ Arquitectura decided that the best option was to build this new structure below the old garden which existed there. This way the building and the garden would each have their own unique character but would also share something in common.
The result was a modern library building inserted under the garden of Florida Villa. It has a green roof situated at the same level as the garden. The interior is simple and well-lit thanks to the glass facades facing the street. The walls are covered with clay tiles, a reminder of the semi buried nature of the building.
Biesbosch Museum Island
From up in the air, this is a structure that can barely be noticed. That’s because it’s buried into the site. This is the Biesbosch Museum Island in the Netherlands. It was designed by Studio Marco Vermeulen in 2015 as part of a renovation project which took eight months.
The museum was completely transformed and was also extended. Both the old and the new sections of the museum are covered with a green roof of grass and herbs. This gives the museum a sculptural and organic look which makes it a natural part of the landscape.
Hajdo House in Romania
The Hajdo House dominates the landscape with its simple and innovative design. It’s located in Odorheiu Secuiesc, in Romania and it was a project by BLIPSZ and Atelier F.K.M. The building embraces the slope on which it stands, seamlessly enveloping itself in the land and becoming a part of it.
The House is oriented to the South to take advantage of the views and the conditions on the site. The internal spaces are organized according to criteria such as the topography of the land and optimal orientation. The green roof is angled and forms a usable ramp that reaches ground level at the back.
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
The new Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust or LAMOTH was designed by Belzberg Architects and is located within a public park. The main focus of the design was to integrate the building into the landscape. The chosen strategy was to have it built into the ground and to allow the landscape to continue over the roof.
Park pathways connect the museum to the park and then morph into the building forming smooth patterns. The combination of concrete and vegetation and the contrast resulted from here was continued throughout and used by the architects to create a distinctive facade.
The Edgeland Residence
Designed by Bercy Chen Studio, the Edgeland Residence sits on a small site on the shores of the Colorado River. Its design is modern and sustainable, inspired by pit houses. It was built into the site and was divided into two separate pavilions with angled green roofs. A pathway cuts through the central living space, making the distinction between these areas more visible.
By organizing the house into two pavilions, the architects managed to separate the public spaces from the private sleeping zone. In order to go from one area to the other one must get out, this being a deliberate detail designed to draw attention to nature.
Sustainable home in California
The strategically-placed doors and windows are the only elements that allow this contemporary home to peek out from beneath the ground. Architect Mickey Muennig managed to make it perfectly blend into the surroundings by integrating it into the site and giving it a green roof.
The green roof also has a second role: to insulate the building and to reduce energy consumption. If we add to that the fact that the house uses solar power then it becomes clear that this is indeed one of the most impressive and eco-friendly homes you can dream of.
Prefab modular home
Green Magic Homes has come up with a solution which allows homeowners to have green-roofed homes without having to deal with water-damage. This is a house which can be built in 3 days. That’s because it’s a prefab home made with vaulted panels that can be easily joined together.
Then, when the construction is done, all that’s left to do is to cover the house in a thin layer of soil. This layer has to be thick enough to plant grass, moss or small plants on it. Because the prefab modules the house is made of are reinforced polymer, this allows them to be waterproof as well as durable and lightweight, thus easy to work with.
Casa Magayon in Costa Rica
Completed in 2015, Casa Magayon is a modern 1290 square meter residence in the Papagayo Peninsula, in Costa Rica. It was a project by SARCO Architects and was designed to follow the natural shape of the site and to seamlessly integrated into the surroundings. The exterior of the house features glass surfaces and gray stucco walls. Polished concrete floors connect the interior and exterior spaces.
The green roof is a defining feature for the project. It allows the house to blend in, becoming a natural part of the surroundings. When seen from above, the image is harmonious. Moreover, the expansive full height windows and glass walls bring all this beauty inside the residence as well.
Vacation cottage in Iceland
The beautiful green landscape of Iceland makes this area of the globe a dream location for vacation and holiday homes. This particular house was built as part of a competition in 2012. it was designed by PK Arkitekter who decided to use leftover soil from the excavation on the site to create a shell around the cottage.
This natural shell allows the building to disappear into the site. The second great feature which has a similar role is the green roof. These two elements combined help the cottage blend in. the team also added a series of other green features meant to make the structure as pleasant as possible from all perspectives.
Villa K in Germany
Villa K is located in Thuringia, Germany and was designed by Paul de Ruiter Architects in 2014. The brief was to come up with a design for a sustainable residence that would discreetly integrate into the natural environment. The architects’ creation is a simple and, at the same time, innovative house built only of glass, steel and concrete.
The glass facade demarcates the living areas, opening up these spaces to the views without being interrupted by anything. The social area is surrounded by a U-shaped terrace which intersects with a patio and a swimming pool, both partially indoor. The green roof is the main element that helps the structure connect to the site and the surroundings.
Community Centre in China
A green roof is a suitable design feature for private homes, giving them a unique look. However, it is also applicable to other types of projects as well, such as this community centre in China. The project was developed by Vector Architects who wanted to avoid ruining the site and landscape with this massive structure.
As a result, the entire building was covered with a green roof. In addition, there are green plants and vine-covered walls throughout the building, their role also being to smooth the transition and the coldness of the concrete. The project used locally-sourced materials and includes a rainwater collection system as well as passive ventilation and permeable pavement.
Casa LLP in Spain
Large glazed windows offer this house the possibility to capture the expansive views of the Collserola Mountains while the choice of materials throughout let it connect to its immediate surroundings. This is a timer-clad house located near Barcelona which was designed by Alventosa Morell Arquitectes.
It cantilevers over the slope and two retaining walls were built on the sloping site to support the wooden portion. The deck patio and balcony extend in the continuation of the living spaces. A ramped observation deck was designed with clerestory windows. This space can be found on the green roof and is the perfect spot to admire the surroundings.
Farming Kindergarten in Vietnam
Because of rapid urbanization, Vietnam is facing a continuously decreasing number of green lands and this raises problems in the case of institutions dedicated to children, such kindergartens for example. The ingenious solution found by Vo Trong Nghia Architects for this problem was to give the Farming Kindergarten a continuous green roof to be used as a large playground for the kids and as an agricultural area.
This green roof encircles three courtyards and allows them to be used as individual playgrounds. An experimental vegetable garden was created at the top, measuring 200 square meters and having an educational purpose.
The House for Trees
The same architects also tried to address that problem though the House for Trees project. The project showcases five concrete boxes resembling giant pots or planters. They function as modern homes and have a thick layer of soil at the top able to accommodate a tree.
These structures also function as storm-water basins that reduce the risk of flooding in the city. All five of them are positioned to form a central courtyard with gardens in between and can be found in Tan Binh, a densely populated district in Vietnam. Large glass doors and windows open up to these gardens while the other sides remain closed for increased privacy and security.
Tangga House in Singapore
Guz Architects were asked in 2007 to come up with a design for a contemporary architecture house which would be an interpretation of the classic. The structure is organized around a central courtyard and has a double height staircase and entry area at the core of its design. The L-shaped plan reveals a series of open spaces and views of the green zones.
The house is covered by roof gardens which allow nature to become a part of every portion of the structure. The roof area creates a series of indoor and outdoor spaces which offer access to the gardens and the pool which wraps around the house.
Viborg Town Hall in Denmark
The new town hall in Viborg, Denmark is located on the outskirts of the city, in a previous military area. Its design was created by Henning Larsen Architects and its construction was completed in 2011. The building has a sculptural look and its white facades stand out from the green park surrounding it.
The green roof covers the entire building allowing it to interact with the landscape. Solar panels were installed on the roof in some areas, adding to its sustainable nature. The contrast between the green roof and the white building is symbolic of the connection between the structure and the site.
Houses with green shells
The Wave House in France
The Wave House is one of the 63 experimental homes built near Reims, in France. This one was designed by Architect Patrick Nadeau and features a semi cylindrical shell. This shell’s role is to insulate the house. It ends in a rimmed platform and transforms into a large bench.
The house is made of timber and has a concrete foundation. The exterior walls are polycarbonate. The shell is similar to a green roof and was designed in collaboration with landscape design firm Ecovegetal. It uses special herbs and grasses that can adapt to harsh climates and which require minimal maintenance.
Jewel Box Villa in Switzerland
When designing the Jewel Box Villa, the architects at design paradigms had to comply with the local energy-efficiency standards and requirements. The house is located in Switzerland and meets all the energy and eco-certification standards by using both passive and active energy sources and incorporating a green shell and roof.
This shell absorbs most of the heat during the peak hours. The western facade, on the other hand, is transparent and allows the natural light to activate a heat sink wall. This interesting design approach based on contrasts offers the residents privacy while also offering them sufficient light and beautiful views.
Garden Studio in Amsterdam
The architects at CC-Studio were faced with a big problem when they started this project in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They were asked to add more space to the existing family home without occupying the garden space. The clients wanted to preserve as much of the green space as possible. The solution found by the team was to rebuild the existing garden sheds and to connect them.
They gave the redesigned structure a mirrored facade and they also decided to make it an actual part of the garden by covering it with sedum. This also allowed them to hide the building’s sharp, box-like design and to also filter the light offering protection from direct sunlight.