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The Architectural Trio: Edition #39
Welcome back to the blog for this week’s Architectural Trio, which in this edition features a beautiful selection of buildings. December is one of my favourite months because of the gradual build up to Christmas, with this year being especially exciting since I’ll be returning home from Spain to see my family for the first time in a while. I apologise in advance if my productivity nosedives during the month because of present buying and other commitments, however I will try my best to keep the frequency up whenever possible. During the week just gone one post has been uploaded to Barn21, an interesting photoseries of one of the main pedestrian avenues in Granada. Check it out in the photography section (after reading the Trio first, of course)!
The Birdhut, Canada, Studio North
Initially seeming to be a very simple scheme, it is only when you delve deeper into this design that it becomes apparent how much thought went into it. The Birdhut is a forest retreat created by design-build practice Studio North amongst the trees of a British Columbia valley. As well as providing a camping hut for humans, it also contains twelve nesting boxes for various local birds. What a joy it must be to spend time so close to nature. A lot of consideration has gone into the boxes, with specific sizes and elevations for particular species. The single 9.2m² space is enough for a pair of campers and storage of their kit, and the hut is raised above the ground and accessed by a footbridge. Timber is the primary material, with locally sources pine log stilts, western red cedar shingles, and the structural timber taken from an old deck. Another material which contributes more than the sum of its parts is the polycarbonate sheets, which help the hut to blend into the forest and passively heat the interior. Two openings on each end of the cabin facilitate a cross flow for passive ventilation. This fairytale structure is equally sensitive as it is creative and evocative, as demonstrated beautifully in its night-time photo.
House On A Dune, The Bahamas, Oppenheim Architecture
Acting as a holiday getaway for him and his wife, Chad Oppenheim and his Miami based firm designed this house to make the most of views afforded by its location atop a sand dune. With views as incredible as those seen in the photos above, the simplicity of the house is perfectly appropriate. It is formed by a cuboid and prism, with the overhanging gabled roof protecting the outside seating areas. Internally, the main space is a kitchen dining room that can be tripled in size by opening up the doors to the outside decks. This interior strip is flanked on one side by the master bedroom and a guest suite, and on the other by the kitchen and two further guest suites. Wide impressive steps lead up to these first floor spaces from both the lush greenery of the island at the front of the property and directly from the beach at the back. Whilst it would have been nice to see the gable roof internally, the chosen configuration is much more effective at withstanding tropical storms, hence I understand the decision. As much as this is a wonderful piece of architecture it is also a dream home, giving me hope that one day as an architect I may be able to create something similar for myself.
Swallowfield Barn, Canada, Asher deGroot
Designed by the architect for his parents’ farm, this working barn also contains a community hall for use by the local residents of the village who helped to build it. Using the traditional Northern American technique of barn raising, 60 volunteers helped to construct the building to reduce costs. It is set out on two levels, with the ground floor containing a layout appropriate for the movement of cattle and other animals. In contrast, the first floor is a single space for community events that accentuates the barn’s roof form and structural system. It also contains large windows to bring in ample natural light. The beams and columns are laminated timber, and the cladding reclaimed douglas fir that was previously used as concrete formwork. A very subtle and pleasing touch is the standalone archway that mimics the form of the barn at the beginning of the path to its front entrance. In my opinion it seems appropriate that a celebratory yet humble procession to this building exists, to honour both its design and the community who built it.