UDAD 2018 House Design

A Whisper In The Forest by iVY Design Associates

When facing the challenging task of intervening on such precious site with the construction of a guest house and spa, immediately the question of identity, of reflecting the memory of the place and its traditional heritage becomes a generator of an idea.   Without falling into very literal, historicist interpretations of the past, our proposal searches for inspiration in the rural constructions of the area in order to search for cultural specificity and avoid generic solutions that could be applied anywhere.

Urban Design & Architecture Design Awards 2018
Third Award | Category: House Design
Architects: Roberto Viola Ochoa
Studio Name: iVY Design Associates
Team Members: Sarah Thompson, Thomas Barker
Country: United States

“ your footsteps follow not what is outside the eyes, but what is within, buried, erased.  If, of two arcades, one continues to seem more joyous, it is because thirty years ago a girl went by there, with broad, embroidered sleeves, or else it is only because the arcade catches the light at a certain hour like that other arcade, you cannot recall where”

                                                                Italo Calvino The Invisible Cities

The project combines all the uses of the building under one singular roof not unlike the inhabitants of Kurzeme used to combine cattle shed, livestock and servants house in one singular structure or multiple families shared a common roof.

The compact disposition of the project not only is more suitable for the climate of the area but also allows the building to gingerly be placed on the site without disturbing its natural condition.  The trees, the lake, the small mount, are all valued equally and choreograph the arrival sequence and the discovery of each of the rooms and its relation with the landscape.

The building is placed in dialog with the site features, away from the main access to the property.  Its ambiguous monumental and silent presence is meant to be discovered slowly, like a sacred space.

After a journey through the forest, the visitor will arrive to a unique courtyard that becomes a moment of self-reflection, isolated from the landscape, framing the sky, capturing the rain and filtering the southern light.  The courtyard allows very measured glimpses of the beautiful surroundings which is re-discovered once the threshold into each of the spaces is crossed.

The guest area and the tub area of the spa, will allow the lake to be found after having been protected by the building placement during the initial approach.  The rest of the spaces are arranged in the perimeter with views of the forest areas to the south and east.

The expressive thatched roofs that provide the old farms its unique identity, are re-interpreted here in a new singular, expressive roof that unifies all the program elements and distorts to align with the different areas of the landscape.

The wall under the roof, built in wood, grey color, quiet, subtle, is interrupted by the large windows which frame the dialog between interior and exterior.  The brightly colored panels around the windows, delineate the scenes of the interior and tie back to the colorful architecture in Latvia.

The roof also conceals the singular design of the spaces in the interior, each with an individual form, providing a variety of spatial conditions.  Abstractions of vaults, coffered ceilings and pyramidal ceilings formalize each room and, in some cases, capture and filter the zenithal light in a clear reference to the bathhouses of the past.