The extension to ‘Moonshine’ is an addition to a 1786 castellated Stone building which has no car access within 400 yards. It is intended as a didactic building in the Smithsonian tradition and is intentionally raw. Fundamental to the design of the extension was a dialogue and engagement with place.
The project was designed for a family with three young children in components that had to be carried by hand along a woodland path, and was a self build
The ‘served’ areas of the ground floor are transparent, allowing the sense of the site to be read through the building. It was designed with a flexible skin, which is achieved through the use of screens which can be slid back and adjusted depending on sun and wind directions, or usage.
The building is made legible through the separation of, and the revealing of, the structure, sinews and skin. This theme that continues throughout the project, with the frame expressed continuously in the envelope, floors and ceilings. This is part of the ongoing narrative in the building of its construction, and a desire for the conception of the building to be plain and comprehensible.
It is in the main living space that the views are revealed, and this space is zoned into cooking, living and dining through the expression of the structural elements. This space spills out into ‘inhabited’ steps and decks to the north east (for morning) and south east (for afternoon).
The horizontal circulation upstairs is a play against, and an expression of, the orthodoxy of the structural grid. There are no doors between spaces, but privacy is instead implied through the plan. Upstairs, the desire was to ‘camp in the tree tops’ which is achieved by the sliding fully glazed partitions, the internal ply partitions that finish at 2 meters in height, the clerestory that wraps around at high level, and a bath next to one of the sliding glass screens.
The intention is that the building avoids the saccharin version of architecture, i.e. slick, clipped, polished, plucked, and waxed. There are no finishes to speak of, and each material is left to read as itself. It could be said that the building is brutal in the anti-aesthetic sense of a truth to materials. Shuttering ply is used for the walls, which also serve to brace the frame. The frame is local green oak, which was the only material available in the section sized required, with stainless steel bolt connections that are expressed externally as a single pin at each structural bay.
The outside of the building is clad in dark grey corrugated sheet – a nod to the local black and grey corrugated Dutch barns in the same valley.
The eave projections which thin down at their extremities like the surrounding trees, are a product of the analysis of local weather patterns – the north east ‘high’ side eaves projection creates a sheltered zone that protects the point of arrival from rain and wind – indeed, this side of the building has never got wet – while the south west eaves are a result of the solar protection needed in summer before the point that the sun disappears behind the big ash tree adjacent.
The extension touches the ground lightly – using small pad footings in only eight positions – allowing the water table to remain unaffected, and minimizing the use of concrete.
The oak louvres create privacy for both the neighbours – who cannot be overlooked, and also the occupants of the first floor accommodation from the nearby woodland path, which is at the same level. In addition to this, they express the public and private sides of the building and reflect the depth and layering of the surrounding woodland.