Houses that tread lightly on the earth

The nature of architecture means that the relationship to the earth is always paramount to the success of the final result. A definite trend in modern architecture is to minimise the impact of a building on the natural environment by blending the building into its surrounds and perching it on long pillars rather than a traditional concrete slab.

The benefits of treading lightly on the earth are many with issues such as dealing with difficult topography, conserving special features of the site such as significant trees or rock formations and engaging passive solar cooling. Functional benefits include working with a site that is remote where it is difficult to transport large machinery or reduce insect or rot issues by removing any interaction between building and earth.

The most successful buildings I have seen that use this notion, often appear to be floating above the earth, almost ethereal structures that defy gravity. A large reason for this is the use of large cantilevers and minimalist design techniques first pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright in his falling water house.

Today, the use of large open plan spaces and a lack of boundaries between indoors and outdoors is common place, largely thanks to developments in door hardware and the popularity of bifold doors allowing entire walls to become removable. Brio have been instrumental in the development of all forms of sliding and folding door hardware for use in cutting edge architecture and work with many leading architects to provide innovative solutions. Their doors and window range only use the finest quality stainless steel hardware and rolling mechanisms to ensure effortless function for many years.

Pier foundations have the benefit of having a much lower impact on the site than traditional concrete slabs. However they do need a little more planning when it comes to services that are normally buried such as plumbing and water. I good way to overcome these issues is to ensure small parts of the building are in contact with the ground for utilities to access the inside unobtrusively.

For energy efficiency, it is vital that flooring is very well insulated as there is a constant flow of air under the building. Keeping the interior warm in winter and cool in summer needs air tight flooring materials to be used so make sure your designer takes this into account as it quite difficult to address this post construction.