The drawings and images shown here were prepared for the 2017 ‘House in Forest’ competition. The scheme attempted to establish a viable and beautiful method for building a house, or houses, which would capitalise on the special beauty of the forest, while being sensitively designed, and environmentally sustainable.
The central thesis involved a house typology which is flexible and responsive, but also standardised. The central grid creates a structural and spatial skeleton around which components (rooms, stairs, glazing) can be arranged. This gives repetition and efficiency, and opportunities for off-site manufacturing, making the building(s) more economic to produce, as well as minimising the impact of the construction process on the forest.
This principle is adapted specifically for each house – so that the footprint in every iteration of the type is a direct response to the place. The form of the house and the views offered from it are an individual response to that specific position in the forest.
Based on this thesis, the house design illustrated here is basically a detailed ‘case study’ of the generic type adapted for a particular site, where the central focus is on responding to the unique character of the forest – in a way that creates a beautiful object (which makes a positive impact on the nature of the forest), while also creating an exciting and joyous place to live.
The design is formatted around two fundamental dialogues. Firstly, a horizontal component which establishes a dialogue with the ground – with the floor of the forest – and secondly, a vertical exploration, which creates dynamic spaces, and establishes a dialogue with the trees and the sky. Each dwelling comprises a house (which is stacked vertically to interact with the trees, and to reduce the footprint of the building – minimising its impact), and a garden (which forms a threshold, and creates a relationship with the groundscape of the forest). The carbon footprint of the house is minimised by the specification of sustainable materials, and the use of PV solar panels and a ground source heat pump.
Stacking the volume(s) of the house vertically (reducing the impact of construction and creating excellent views from high levels) means that the layout of the house is creatively unconventional. Rather than a typical model locating all of the ‘public’ rooms on the ground floor, these spaces are distributed through the full height of the dwelling. Climbing through these spaces is like climbing through the branches of a tree – it builds a sense of theatre, and provides ever more dynamic views to the outside.
Each space in the house plays a role in articulating the drama of the forest; each space engages with the forest directly; and each space communicates a joyous beauty which is consistent with the natural beauty of the forest.