The words “development” and “sustainability” don’t always go hand-in-hand. But a growing number of architects and developers are working to change that perception, and are doing so in a way that encourages luxury homeowners to think nature first. “The smart use of natural resources in architecture is the key to a better future and how people interact with their built environment,” says architect Drew Lang, principal at Lang Architecture, who designed Splinter Creek, a forward-thinking lakefront community in Taylor, Mississippi, with this approach in mind. “For buyers, it’s an investment in preserving and protecting their natural landscape, which furthers a sense of ownership.”
At Splinter Creek, the resplendent setting takes center stage: The homes on the 650-acre property “minimize human intervention into nature, while maximizing the effects on habitants,” says Lang. Each home—in addition to being crafted with sustainably harvested materials and with passive solar techniques—is designed to seem as one with the bucolic landscape. Inspired by nearby barns and silos in the rural area, Lang composed the handsome, modern homes with materials such as cypress timbers and galvanized metal. “The cypress wood, which we source locally, will gray out as it weathers,” says Lang. “And when it does, it will blend in nicely with the environment.”
That’s not to say “blending” the dwellings into the rolling shores means nestling them into the ground. On the contrary, many of the homes sit, at least partly, on stilts and piers. Not only does this give them the appearance of hovering over the grassy banks, it minimizes the touch of man on the earth. “It also allows for a great water view,” adds Lang.
Experiencing the water and nature is also by design. Large window walls are oriented to the lakes and the volumes are broken up into separate buildings—sometimes connected by a traditional dogtrot, or open-air passage—allowing residents to experience their surroundings as they move through the day.
The architect calls the luxurious homes meticulously detailed and refined, but that doesn’t mean they are opulent mansions. Most designs clock in at roughly 2,000 square feet. “Although they are generous, especially in the public spaces, they are smaller houses created that way intentionally, so that they don’t overwhelm the landscape,” says Lang. “To us, a strong connection with nature and simplicity are the ultimate luxuries.”
PHOTO: JEAN ALLSOPP
For more on sustainability, including expert perspectives, specification resources, and free webinars, visit the Metropolis Sustainability Lab at www.metropolismag.com/lab.