Saucier + Perrotte architectes have shared with us their finalist proposal for the Fallingwater On-Site Cottages Competition in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, USA. You can see more images and architect’s description after the break.
The cottages for the Fallingwater educational project propose an approach whose design synthesizes notions of nature and its relationship with human beings, while simultaneously allowing visitors to become fully immersed in the breathtaking landscape through precise, meaningful architectural intervention.
The lodging design is intended to exemplify a simplicity in our contact with nature. Each cottage is conceived as a mediator between its inhabitants and the environment. A spirit of exchange has been particularly fostered through the design. The pavilions provide a convivial atmosphere for their occupants as they reside in direct contact with the landscape. While ensuring for privacy for inhabitants, they also convey a sense of community.
An undulating path leading to each cottage, the forest extending, not in a straight line, but as a softened, fluid edge toward each pavilion.
Each cottage is composed of a thick, mineral-like object raised a few meters from the ground to frame a space to be inhabited. All living quarters are designed in this space under the sheltered protection of the roof. From some points of view, the roof above appears to float, disengaged from the landscape, but is anchored to the sloping topography on its east side. In this way, the roof volume becomes part of the continuity of the horizon even as it emerges laterally from the sloped topos. The roof ensures maximum privacy for each house, yet preserves the vital openness to the landscape, which we perceive as flowing unencumbered into the living space. From higher ground, the pavilions are perceived as mineral objects in the topography, disappearing and reappearing as one moves through the terrain. In winter months, the cottages become abstract objects inhabiting the horizon, punctuating the landscape against the white and gray tones of earth and sky.
The private rooms are hidden from public view, while the roof configuration allows abundant natural light to enter the public zones, such as the living room, throughout the day. Protecting against the harsh south sun, the roof also admits the warm light from the west at the end of the day.
A large mesh partition toward the landscape allows each cottage to breathe. The operable skylight located near the center of each cottage allows more daylight to penetrate the interior spaces and functions as a natural ventilator with the other openings, permitting the circulation of air throughout the pavilion.
The surface of the ground of each cottage is polished concrete, which extends into the landscape to become the terrace. The exterior cladding is composed of dark wood surfaces, evoking the unique mineral quality of each pavilion. The large glazed exterior surfaces are complemented by the white wood interior. The junction of roof and landscape is primarily concrete in texture. Using this limited palette of materials, the project takes on a textural and formal language that does not reference a particular technology nor any other architecture with which we have grown familiar. The cottages are indeed sculptural objects in the landscape.
Our scheme develops an 800 square foot plan of the cottages. Each contains a mezzanine under the skylight, a more private space that can be made open air when needed. The mezzanine is envisioned as a container of knowledge, a calm place to read, study, and meditate. The bedroom spaces are composed of removable acoustical walls, so that they can take on variable arrangements to allow for multiple uses (two bedrooms, one large space, etc. See diagram, Board 3). The roof is supported by a concrete wall on the side of the sloped landscape, as well as by the fireplace at the center and slender columns at the periphery. Inspired by sustainable principles and LEED criteria, each cottage contains all the necessary technical equipment in its roof structure.
Each cottage is envisioned as personal place to inhabit the continuous, dense horizon, a space between the strata of sky and landscape. The project serves to ground us for a time, to renew our understanding and experience of the land and of natural phenomena. Each is a shelter, a place to live and work, where all the senses are engaged and inhabitants are at harmony with the landscape in which they are immersed. The new cottages are the means by which to bring visitors, students, and researchers into contact with the natural splendor of Bear Run.
When Mr. Wright envisioned the strata of the Kaufmann House, he added to the sublime quality of its site, giving the world a new sense of architecture’s relationship with nature. The design for the cottages stresses this responsibility of architecture to integrate exquisitely into its environment, using art as a link between humankind and nature, adding to the beauty of the land that once inspired Frank Lloyd Wright.