Check it Out: Sustainable Mountain Home in Emerald Bluffs


Designing a sustainable mountain home within a nature preservation zone requires a deft touch. That’s the challenge architectural firm RTA Studio faced recently when it was asked to create a house that took advantage of a hillside location overlooking Lake Wanaka in New Zealand‘s Central Otago region.

The main entrance to the Emerald Bluffs house is a subterranean doorway leading to a staircase that borders an inglenook fireplace on one side and digs into the mountain rock on the other. Its design immediately conveys a sense of shelter and refuge while, at the top of the staircase, a single rectangular living space offers stunning views in all directions. The owners wanted a home that offered maximum privacy while highlighting its natural setting and respecting the environment through low energy usage. RTA Studio responded with a highly efficient heat pump and home solar PV heating coupled with on-site storm water and sewage management.

Native timber walls and ceilings add warmth to the interior and eliminate the need for sheetrock. The exterior is covered in rock quarried from the schist excavated from the mountain for the foundation, making it blend perfectly with its surroundings.

Founded by Richard Naish in 1999, RTA Studio has won over 60 local and international design awards for buildings that harmonize with their surroundings and promote sustainable living.


RTA Studio’s Emerald Bluffs House

Source | Images:, RTA Studios.

Leave a Reply