In the Blue Mountains region of Australia lays a small house that has an incredible ability to adapt to its environment. This vacation home, designed by Glenn Murcutt for Geelum and Sheila Simpson-Lee, is built on the philosophy of minimalism. The Simpson-Lee House is a highly functional structure that incorporates adaptability with only a few materials and a simple design.
Many aspects of the Simpson-Lee House were designed with a purpose to limit waste. The house was built on a bush area, so no trees were cut for construction. The frame and supports were constructed with thin pieces of steel that was easy to transport into the area. Although the durability of the house looks questionable with the thin steel pieces, the house actually stands firmly because steel is a good bending and tension material. This demonstrates a strong structure built with no materials used in excess. Windows border the entire house, and some of these windows can open completely to the outside, taking advantage of any breezes. The Simpson-Lee House has a slanted roof and large barrels at the lower end of the slant. This layout is a simple way to collect rainwater, which is filtered for domestic use. This home has little to no footprint, and it uses minimalistic technologies to harness natural resources.
The Simpson-Lee House can adapt to extreme conditions without an elaborate protection system. A pond sits next to the house, which collects a larger volume of water than the barrels. Since the area may occasionally have fires, the pond serves as a water supply for the sprinklers on the roof. The sprinklers will turn on during fires to drench the house, protecting it from the flames. Instead of changing or avoiding the landscape, Glenn Murcutt was able to design a house with minimal materials that copes with the environmental obstacles.
Because the environment cannot adjust to our needs, we must accommodate our needs to cooperate with our surroundings. Buildings shouldn’t be destructive forces when they don’t have to be. The Simpson-Lee House is a very livable home created from just the essential building blocks and physical considerations for the environment, adapting without wasting.