Great House on Necker Island

Great House on Necker Island

Chances are you can't afford it..nope, not even for one night. But pictures of this beautiful house in the sunny Caribbean can cheer us all up. And Sir Richard Branson's house has been refurbished to extremely high eco standards you'll be glad to hear

The sun terrace outside the master bedroom. The re-build took 16 months

Sir Richard Branson's Great House on his Necker Island stands proud, several years after it was destroyed in a fire. It was redesigned by Boston green architecture practice Kao Design Group, which ensured it would be a very eco-friendly as well as a super de-luxe property; It's been re-built using materials salvaged from the original house as well as new sustainable materials - predominantly woods and bamboo. It has solar panels and rainwater harvesting. The island, which can accommodate up to 30 people, is available for rent at around, ahem, $60,000 per night through Virgin Limited Edition

Let's not dwell on the rental cost.. we all know there are a few hundred billionaires and thousands of millionaires in the world for whom such a nightly tariff of $60,000 is a mere bagatelle.

And let's not dwell on the thorny issue of getting there in an eco-friendly way if you don't already live in the Caribbean and have a sailing boat at your disposal...

Because the Great House is an interesting study in ecological design, and it's good to know, is it not, that rare trees weren't felled for it, nor precious stones mined in conflict zones and shipped thousands of miles to reach this tiny spot in the British Virgin Islands.

The architects, Kao Design Group, who worked with Sir Richard over a seven-month period to agree the design, wanted to re-use materials salvaged from the original house, including concrete, stone and steel.

They reconfigured the layout so the house would not need to be kept cool by air-conditioning, rather prevailing winds and breezes would travel through it to keep temperatures down inside on hot days; and they wanted to harness the heat of the sun, so the house has photovoltaic panels that generate electricity to heat water and run lighting.

The master bedroom features dark woods
A double bedroom in the Great House. Much of the furniture is made from black bamboo
Enjoy chess overlooking the emerald waters
The Great House has roof has massive overhangs to keep the interior cool

The Branson family live in the Great House for part of the year, and they wanted their rebuilt home to be as environmentally-friendly as possible, so it didn't stick out like a sore thumb in its lush and verdant island setting. They too wanted to know it was making the most of Necker's micro climate resources of sun, wind and rain showers.

The pitched and insulated main roof has massive overhangs to keep the sun out of the house. It's not tiled, rather its covered with alang alang reeds - which grow abundantly in tropical parts of the world.

Pathways and walls have been rebuilt using stone salvaged from the wreckage of the devastating fire two years ago, and some structural elements of the building contain steel, again salvaged from the wreckage.

A lot of the furniture is made from bamboo, particularly black bamboo, while sustainable woods are used throughout - indeed the impression you have when inside the building is that it's a house made from wood. 

Floors are limestone, because stone helps to keep temperatures down.

The main dining room. Lamp fixtures were made using ostrich eggs
The Great House manages not to look obtrusive nor ostentatious
Dine al fresco
The house has Caribbean and Balinese influences

'A green conscience is at the heart of our work...We aim to design with nature.' Kao Design Group

Special light fittings were made for the house, including spectacular pendants in the main living areas which have ostrich eggs for shades, and table lamps that have bases made from antique Balinese rice wine pots.

Bamboo mats are used instead of rugs and Italian linen bedding is used in the eight double bedrooms.

The interior decoration does have a 'plantation house' feel to it and is described as being a fusion of Caribbean and Balinese styles.

So what can we say... start saving.

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