I had the pleasure of spending my holidays this past year in New Zealand soaking in a whole lotta beauty… fjords, glaciers, monster Kaori trees, gorgeous beaches and believe it or not, some pretty rockin’ architecture!  Scattered throughout both the North and South islands were some really sleek minimalist structures with plenty of glass to catch sunshine and impressive vistas.  One project that I unfortunately didn’t get to see was Chris Tate’s Forest Home outside of Auckland… After discovering pictures of this densely forested abode, I’m sensing that I’m not the only one who hasn’t seen it… the thing is buried in the depths of a vegetated valley!

The residence that Tate himself uses on the weekend has very little site impact.  It sits on 16 poles drilled into the ground, allowing trees to grow from under the house.  The structure was also designed to point at the arch of a giant puriri tree, which frames the rear entrance (pictured above).

Further contributing to the experience of natural isolation is a set of 45 steps that lead you from the garage down to the home’s level.  This forces one to fully engage with the site on a daily basis… love it!

Reminiscent of Philip Johnson’s Glass House, Tate’s work also has very minimal interior decor.  High ornamentation and clutter would detract from the amount of visual activity taking place on the other side of the windows… actual birds flying by or a painting of a bird… I’ll take reality!

As a designer, I’m very suspect of trends… to me they’re just ways to make people shop more.  This Forest Home truly defies trends because of its simplicity and because, like I hinted at a moment ago, it’s grounded in reality.  If you think about it, nature has no trends, it only has function.  Green isn’t the color of 2010, it’s the color of life.

photos taken from New Architecture magazine, credits to Patrick Reynolds.

Hat’s off to Chris Tate and everyone else involved in this project… incredibly inspiring to say the least!  It has many similarities to the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway that I profiled a while back.  Take a gander at that link for a little more eye candy!

-j

About Joshua Foss


Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.