Architecture has always been both advocate and adversary to nature. As an ally, it directly responds to elements present in the natural environment it inhabits- works around them, mirrors them.
On another hand, it also aims to question these very same elements by introducing aesthetics and technologies that ultimately make built environments truly habitable for their purpose.
True enough, we saw houses in New Zealand’s Lake Tekapo district that each bore similar elements responding to the beautiful terrain all around:
1) Big windows were strategically placed on the houses to maximize the views outside.
Being that Lake Tekapo is mostly a haven of vacation homes and lodges, external spaces like balconies and porches are very important for people who go on holidays to literally “get out” of their typically cooped- up office environments.
2) Steeped roofs were the norm, presumably for the long snowy days of winter each year.
Flat roofs, while excitingly modern- looking, only do well in places that have dry seasons all year round. In slightly wetter areas, nifty drainage systems are designed with them to address issues of flooding.
For places with regular downfall of snow however, it’s still most convenient to construct a slanted house topper that allows the snow to fall directly to the ground.
3) A landscape of chimneys dotted the gable roofs, as if straight out of an old Victorian painting.
With advancements in building technology and whatnot, there are many ways to heat up a house these days.
To alleviate New Zealand’s “wilding pines taking over the forests!” problem though, it isn’t such a bad thing to chop down pine wood and throw them into a spitting fireplace in Tekapo.
Design- wise, the houses that we saw seemed a few years delayed in the global Modern Contemporary movement. Materials and construction details were a far cry from what we have in the thriving Asian construction field.
However (and in a much more meaningful light), in sustainability and a true sense of environmental stewardship, New Zealand is leaps ahead of most places we’ve been to. And these days, decent development like that is more important than the “look” per se.
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