Wednesday, October 12, 2011

barn collectives: contextual invisibility

we ran across a couple intriguing projects that have strikingly similar ideas--exploring the limits of spatial proximity and formal interactions of the modern vernacular: "barn cluster".  one that has travelled its way throughout the blogosphere and was created for Living Architecture by NORD, called the shingle house, has popped up on more than a few of our favorite sites.  the distinguishing factor in the shingle house project is that it was technically a "re-furbishment" of a collection of fish shacks near the coast of Kent, England.  [renderings & plans by NORD; photos from Dezeen]

ground level plan

upper level plan


under construction




violet wood floor stain mimcs the native wildflower bloom in spring

the second is a relatively new project from brian mackay-lyons--a collection of 3 corrugated galvalume-clad barns dubbed "pugwash point".  one volume as main living, another devoted solely to a library, and couple others which could be guest spaces.  an article on the residents can be found here. [all photos courtesy macay-lyons sweetapple]

we can't help notice the design intent of these projects could possibly be to "disappear" into the context.  the single exterior material treatment for all walls & roofs would tend to lend itself to discreetness, if it weren't for the large window openings.  another factor is our familiarity with archetypes [ie-the gabled roof forms, shake shingles or corrugated panels].  Oddly enough it is the details that tell us something is strange...different than the typical, and only then do we sense the modernity of the approach.

but maybe that is what makes them intriguing places to want to be--they are the best of two [or more] of worlds that we desire?  one that is rooted in the past & place, and one that is of the present, and perhaps the future.  a modern interpretation of the vernacular can easily spawn channels of thinking which reach an extreme point of view--would it even be possible [in this era] to make a building so "contextual" that it becomes invisible?  is this approach to design immune to being irrelevant?

incredible to think that the success of this design approach strives for the best balance of two notions, rather than the pursuit of an extreme boundary of a single idea.  keep in mind this shouldn't be confused with mediocrity, since it seems the hardest things to do this profession [and life] is achieving balance in which all things are suspended rather than vacuous--in other words: levitating at the horizon of the ideal and the real.

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