At Home with Nature

A house designed with sustainability in mind can be the perfect blend of creature comforts and environmental responsibility.

As consumers become more aware of their individual influence on the local environment, an increasing number are looking at ways to reduce this impact. One area where this is catching on is architectural design. Sustainability may be the buzz word of the moment, but behind it are solid principles that make it an attractive alternative to established practices.

William S Duff Jr, principal of William Duff Architects, believes architecture should reinforce the character of its surroundings. It achieves this by recognizing context through form and ecology, and such was the case with the featured project.

“The overall concept behind this project was to achieve a seamless blend of sustainability and modern design. Translated to the master suite, the idea was to provide a private, resort-style suite with a warm organic feel.”

“The entire master suite is set up as a sanctuary. There is no door between the bathroom and the bedroom – once in the suite, you’re in the whole suite. This creates a sense of privacy and presence,” says Duff.

Equally important to the design scheme was opening up the indoors to the outside. In keeping with the concept of sustainability, Duff looked at ways in which the interior environment could be regulated. Large, glazed bifold doors allow passive ventilation, but also let in abundant natural light, minimizing the need for artificial illumination.

“These passive measures have been augmented by other sustainable elements such as solar panels, photovoltaic cells for electricity production, and an emphasis on locally sourced, recycled products.”

The glass mosaic tiles that feature on the ensuite walls and tub surround have been recycled, while the teak flooring comes from sustainable forests. The mix of these materials, along with the slate flooring, adds a textural depth to the design.

“As well as reinforcing the link with nature, these materials add visual warmth to the space. Teak boards break up the solid plane of the wall and add another dimension of interest.”

The teak slats also serve a functional role. A drop-out in the slab beneath acts as an overflow catchment, with the slats allowing easy drainage.

“While the master bath employs specialized materials, their treatment is the same as within the rest of the house. The underlying tenet being to create a space that embraces its surroundings in such a way that it provides a nurturing environment for everyone in the home,” says Duff.

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