5 overseas homes that make the most of their environment

Australia is blessed with some beautiful natural landscapes – it doesn’t make sense to work against them when we build.

These homes, all designed by renowned architects and builders, embrace their natural surrounds with sympathetic landscaping, sustainable features and a strong use of natural materials.

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1. Wollombi Road, Bilgola, NSW

This five-bedroom Bilgola house is distinctive in its unpretentious use of natural materials, including glass, concrete and timber.

Builder Matthew Dampney designed the home on the perfect northern aspect, so it is bathed in light all day.

Only 35km from Sydney’s CBD, Bilgola is the exclusive private enclave en route to Whale Beach and Palm Beach. But with panoramic tree views from almost every room in this house, you could be a million miles from anywhere.

2. Yacht Club Villa 18, Hamilton Island, QLD

With a site as breathtaking as the Whitsundays, it would be a crime to build a home that did not complement every aspect of the unique location.

Architect Walter Barda – together with celebrity landscape designer Jamie Durie – have not disappointed with Yacht Club Villas.

Quality timbers, stones and muted colour palettes echo the natural surroundings, while detailed curved timber ceilings make an impressive architectural statement.

Durie has taken inspiration from the topography and natural flora of the island to create his Villa Gardens. The space is an oasis of native plants – from pandanus palm to rainbow cassia – that is sympathetic to the ecosystem of the island.

The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home comes with its own private beach.

3. Alkira, Daintree Rainforest, QLD

When philatelist Rodney Perry decided to channel his profits into a simple weekender, architect Charles Wright had grander plans.

Alkira is a six-bedroom home in a place where two World Heritage Listings converge: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics. The home draws on the natural beauty of its environment, not only in elements of its design, but also to generate heat and cooling.

Rainwater is harvested from the massive roofline of the house, depositing in a 250 kilolitre underground tank and sunken in concrete at the centre of the house.

Energy is converted during the day from the concrete infrastructure of the building, with extensive solar panels in the rooflines, ensuring the entire building is maintained at a comfortable temperature throughout the year.

Inside, each of the six ‘bedroom pods’ – five of which are balconied – are fitted with rare local rainforest timbers offering different framed perspectives of the lake, rainforest and sky.

4. The Nannup Holiday House, Nannup, WA

On this forested, riverfront block 25km from the town of Nannup, a clever use of elevation and glass has brought this award-winning home back down to earth.

Designed by architect Adrian Iredale, the Nannup Holiday House has had minimal environmental footprint, harnessing its energy and water resources from Mother Nature.

A PV solar cell system, grey water recycling and a 149,000 litre rainwater tank keep the property functioning, while views to Blackwood River are captured from every aspect on the sweeping decks and verandahs.

5. The Oyster Bay Eco House, Oyster Bay, NSW

Another award-winning home, Oyster Bay Eco House is 30km south of Sydney in the middle of densely populated southern Sydney. But you wouldn’t know it.

Designed by Hatchway Developments, the property has been strategically designed to embrace its natural surrounds from every angle.

The open plan design includes extensive use of floor-to-ceiling glass, with anodised fixed-louvre blades to capture the most of the light throughout the day and provide privacy at night.

The interior flows effortlessly onto a multi-level yard, which makes the most of its sloping block with gabion retaining walls to tier the land.

Author: Alice Bradley