If you like homes with elegant clean lines, light-filled open plan living spaces and large expanses of glass, but are left cold by the flat, plain white walls and clinical atmosphere of Modernist houses, then the new more natural style that is currently prevailing in contemporary home design might be exactly the inspiration you are looking for.

A Palette of Natural Materials

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Floor-to-cciling windows bring the outdoors inside and provide lots of natural light

Designed for a family in Christchurch, New Zealand, by formerly London-based architect Chris Wilson, this new contemporary house has been designed to maximise the relationship with its gardens — on a large site bounded by a stream. The building reflects its context through the use of a palette of largely natural materials: stone, timber and copper, together with glass and concrete. The concrete and stone have been used to provide the house with a sense of verticality and solidity. The timber and copper provide a horizontal contrast, linking the solid elements. The flat-roofed form has been planned as a series of four wings creating four distinct outdoor garden spaces, whilst also giving minimum distances between the spaces within the house. Each of these wings has a particular view of a garden, each different orientation allowing for use at different times of the day.

The rear of the New Zealand house

The interior palette of materials is also natural. Oak, travertine, marble and wool carpet provide flooring. A painted plaster finish is used on the walls to reflect the mood of the exterior. Windows have been placed to provide a series of long and short vistas.
Wilson and Hill Architects: wilsonandhill.co.nz.

Modernism Meets Sustainability

A Modernist home designed by Stan Bolt

Designed by award-winning architect Stan Bolt, this beautiful example of contemporary natural architecture (above), built in Devon, is described by its owners, Matthew and Linda Fox, as “having grown from its site and almost designed itself”. The building’s shape and form are simple and informed by function, with two rectangular blocks linked by a rendered drum-shaped stair turret.

The first floor is built using highly insulated lightweight timber framing and clad in cedar, with large sections of virtually frameless glazing. Parts of the first floor project dramatically over the rendered blockwork ground floor, supported by a cantilevered steel frame. The flat roof is covered in Roofkrete (0845 601 5914), a waterproofing membrane which consists of natural minerals that do not decay. Completed in 2003, the 223m² project cost £1,345/m².
Stan Bolt: 01803 852588.

A Home Amongst the Treetops

An award-winning cedar-clad self-build in Somerset

“One of our earliest design decisions was to try and reflect and enhance the character of the site,” say architects Jim and Rebecca Dyer, who have designed and built an award-winning contemporary home for themselves in the Chew Valley, Somerset, on a site that is within both a Conservation Area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (pictured above). The idea of elevating the Western redcedar-clad first floor over the largely glazed and, therefore, transparent ground floor was informed by the idea of continuing the tree canopy of the wooded site. This meant having a largely open plan ground floor, a rectangular form with a strong horizontal emphasis and a shallow mono-pitched roof. The structure is of highly insulated steel and timber frame, and the roof is copper. Sliding screens across the first floor windows are designed to both help keep the sun out but also to let the cedar cladding continue uninterrupted. The 227m² house was completed in 2007 and cost £1,174/m².
RD Architects: rdarchitects.co.uk.

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