Gallery: Living Lightly Among the Trees in Australia


Australia-based architects Steven Isaacs and Lisa Saville have turned a challenging building site into an environmentally sensitive sanctuary among the trees. Located just outside Sydney, the couple’s stunning abode is a lofty duplex built around the existing nature with an ultra-light footprint – an example of how thoughtful design can translate into stylish, sustainable living.

Each of the two side-by-side dwellings have open floor plans that spill out over eight steel piers with high, spacious decks. Kitchen, living, and dining rooms fill the upper, street level of the structures; bedrooms and creative space are tucked in on the lower level against the rock embankment.

The relationship between outdoor and indoor living spaces is one without boundaries – an earned reward for building without any excavation or removal of trees. A 30-meter high eucalyptus grows through the deck of designer’s home as a reminder of their diligent efforts to keep nature undisturbed.

The surrounding vegetation, including “council protected” trees, creates a unique setting and helps shade the structure. A “butterfly” roof allows natural daylighting into the upper levels and diverts rainwater into 9,000-liter cisterns. The harvested water is used for toilets, laundry, landscaping, and the garden.

+ House Among the Trees at Sydney Morning Herald


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  1. Kay.Lammers August 12, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    We have a large slopping block in the Sutherland Shire and would love to rebuild or demolish and start afresh with one of your fantastic designs, do you do small budgets around 2K. Love to know! Kay.

  2. Mike January 22, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    This house is much too big, living in a sustainable manner within an ecosystem should require that we are conscious of the amount of space we are depriving the natural ecosystem of. This involves considering the loss of sunlight and rain to the soil below the house as well as the air space (e.g. bird habitat). We cannot simply move the suburbs into the forest. This is indeed, I admit, is a good looking design, but more thought should be put into how it interacts with the nature it is surrounded by, other tree house designs on this site have done much better jobs in that respect.

  3. Jac December 4, 2007 at 4:57 am

    It’s really beautiful. What a wonderful home it must make :)

  4. Leo Mac Ender December 2, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Incredible and real thinking, keep going on.
    Thank´s for living and new architects.
    Leo Mac Ender

  5. Ferieru December 1, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    its funny…it reminds me Frank Lloyd’s Waterfall house…same harmony between house and nature.

  6. Emperor December 1, 2007 at 8:49 am

    I admit, this must be one of the nicest looking houses I’ve ever seen. I just love how everything is open and surrounded by all those branches.

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