The location is tucked into a protected forested area covered in trees with a creek nearby. It’s an odd-shaped lot with a hillside and boulders, surrounded by nature. It was a huge challenge for architect Doug Pierson and designer Youn Choi, but the end result is absolutely stunning. Their firm, pod architecture + design, is taking a whole new approach to eco-friendly construction.

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Exterior of Hillside House set in a forested area.

Carrboro Hillside House is tucked into the terrain like a slumbering black snake, which is how it got its name. The submerged design helps regulate the home’s interior temperature, as does the triple-pane glazing throughout that prevents energy loss through the windows. There’s also a tankless water heater, a solar-ready roof, Energy Star appliances and low-flow sinks and toilets.

Related: YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside

Interior of house with open windows.

The house is made up of three sections that create a z-shape, and, interestingly, all wrapped in black corrugated metal. The foundation and retaining walls are made of polished concrete. Natural light enters the space through glazed windows. The interior temperature is regulated with thermal mass and radiant flooring.

Inside details of house with pine wood used on the walls.

Every one of the pine trees that were felled to build this home went to a local lumber company and then returned as the pine wood seen throughout the interior of the house. The black walls were made from repurposed liner material for poured concrete forms. Perforated metal or glass railings were used for the stairs and balcony. All of the floors in the living area are polished concrete. The upper-level floors are made from milled pine just like the walls.

Exterior z-shaped black house.

Found in Carrboro, North Carolina, Hillside House’s innovative design and eco-friendly materials used to create it (with extra care and attention given to energy efficiency) make this a stunning example how even a difficult and unsavory lot can be the inspiration for a real dream home. Drawing inspiration from the exterior environment is often the best way to honor nature.

+ Doug Pierson and Youn Choi

Images via Blue Plate PR