Solar Hill House Built In Harmony With Nature

We’ve all seen those huge houses perched precariously on the side of a hill or mountain. They look like a stiff wind or steady rain would send them tumbling down the slope, and often, that’s exactly what happens when inclement weather hits.

But this award-winning design for a solar-powered hillside house proves that elevated living can happen in harmony with nature, as long as an appreciation for local weather, site conditions, and sustainable building principles are incorporated from the micro to macro scale.

image via Stefanie Sebald

Designed by Stefanie Sebald, a young architect from Wellington, New Zealand, the house began with a thorough analysis of the weather and sun patterns of the site, so that solar energy and mountain views could be maximized, while minimizing wind resistance. Because the hillside site is so steep, Sebald created a graduated design in which the living level is considerably higher than the level at the road. The result is a home with two separate pavilions that are connected with a partially buried link.

Everything in the design, from the angle of the roofs to the slope of the site, was deliberately planned to facilitate self-sufficient living in the Wellington Hills while disrupting the surrounding ecosystem as little as possible.

image via Stefanie Sebald

“Collection of rain water, incorporation of landscaping and vegetable gardens as well as the deliberate preservation of native bush around the site are further methods used to create a sustainable project,” wrote Sebald on

Thoughtful architectural planning, as demonstrated by this home design, represents the future of green building. Homes that are conservative in size, and designed to work in harmony with the elements, instead of deliberately standing in their way, are ultimately the cheapest to maintain and most pleasant to inhabit. Hopefully, instead of merely building traditional homes with greener materials, we’ll soon see more structures designed to help people appreciate and protect the planet.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

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