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A House in a Wood

Robert Young Architects

By Francesco Pagliari -
Duravit has participated in the project

Immersed in a leafy forest of tall trees in the State of Virginia not far from Washington D.C., this aptly named Treehouse truly is a refuge from our bustling world. Together with the surrounding vegetation, this sizeable building is the quintessential peaceful, away-from-it-all haven demanded by the client, a widow with two children.

The construction’s close interaction with the luxuriant vegetation all around is, therefore, fundamental to the sense of symbiosis between the human-made and nature. The forest takes on an esthetic but also protective role, making way for and fitting into the architectural space. The different size trees, their colors, the shadows they cast, the light filtering through leaves and clearings, and the different level sightlines across the tree tops or down to the bottom of the valley, all become an integral part of the architecture. On all levels of this tall house, the continuity between the natural vegetation and the built structure is a constant. From every angle of the house, this two-way exchange is present, a three-dimensional connection between the built structure and the “virtual volumes” of its wooded context.

Rising on a slope, the façades of the four above-ground levels vary according to position and requirement. The completely glazed south-facing elevation contrasts with the opaque, dark wood-slat cladding of the two above-ground levels on the north side. Sunken into the hillside, the first level contains the guest bedroom, mechanicals, and rumpus room with access onto the outside. Above, a sort of intermediate level is occupied by a second night zone with two ensuite bedrooms and walk-in wardrobes. The third level is the pivotal area of the house. The main entrance on the north side is reached across a wood-slatted bridge straddling the narrow ravine. A secondary entrance on the east side leads to a mud room where forest hiking gear can be left before entering the house. The...

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