Retreat in Nature
“The 19th century American transcendental views of nature were more than simple romanticization. Not only could nature ennoble and nurture humanity, but active human participation enhanced nature in turn. A transcendental retreat to nature is not an escape, but rather a return to a more primal source of humanity. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
This house aspires to facilitate a reciprocal and enriching relationship between people and nature by creating spaces in which the thresholds between interior and exterior are multiplied, extended and obscured. As the lines between inside and out are blurred, nature is simultaneously observed and occupied. The house occupies a broader scenic context, while new landscapes are created as simulacra.
The site design and landscape architecture embrace the interaction of man with nature and land with architecture by utilizing a blend of artificial intelligence and natural instinct. Terrain cut during the construction of the foundation is sculpted around the exterior of the house to provide shelter from northern winter winds, while sliding doors form a diaphanous membrane that opens the south and west facades to summer breezes. The interaction between the sculpted terrain, the wrapper, and the isolated interior volumes generates a multiplicity of interior environments which reinforce the layered and ambiguous threshold between interior and exterior.
The northern interior volume contains the private spaces, which include a bedroom and a bath. The southern volume contains a public space for socializing, entertaining and serving food prepared on site. These two volumes, one deep and cavernous and the other expansive and meadow-like are the only fully interior environments in the house. The interstitial spaces, including the garden, hall, and kitchen are semi-conditioned and their environments vary seasonally along with their use. Instead of fighting against the climate, the house acts in parallel with nature, allowing inhabitants to embrace a variety of environments, circumstances, and experiences.”
-Retreat in Nature competition entry statement