Located in the rural community of Mercendarbe in Latvia, House Pienenītes consists of a family house, a barn and a small sauna building, the latter of which will be built by the client later on. It was designed by Studio VĪKSNE, an emerging London based architecture and design studio with keen interest in creating ecologically minded and energy efficient buildings with a sensitive approach to context.
Traditional Latvian architecture, especially the single family farmstead typology known in Latvian as ‘viensētas’ was the inspiration both for the arrangement of the buildings and the overall architectural language - House Pienenītes was designed as a family of buildings similar in appearance. The large pitched roofs appear to ‘hug’ and ‘protect’ the life inside the buildings. The roof overhang protects the perimeter of the building from weather, creates threshold spaces and helps to reduce overheating at large openings. Rough sawn waney-edge timber cladding adds texture and depth and complements the clean lines of the window reveals and metal roofing.
Interior spaces offer a variety of spatial conditions in terms of size, height, light and materiality. The social spaces benefit from tall ceilings and a rich material palette while private spaces are relatively modest in size and finishes. A datum line was used to establish a visual continuity and tie together windows, floors and joinery to create a balanced composition.
Ecologically minded and energy efficient design was at the heart of the project therefore a ‘fabric first’ approach was used to reduce the energy consumption. Locally sourced natural materials and products were specified to reduce embodied carbon. It was important to create buildings that, if left unoccupied, could eventually disappear in the ground without harming the environment. The use of plastics was consciously kept to a minimum and were only used where no alternatives were available.