Text description provided by the architects. The extension to ‘Moonshine’ is an addition to a 1786 castellated Stone building, which has no car access within 400 yards. It is intended as a didactic building in the Smithsonian tradition and is intentionally raw. It was a self-build project, and finally completed in October 2008. Fundamental to the design of the extension was a dialogue and engagement with existing place.
The low budget (£140,000) project was designed for a family with four young children with components that had to be carried by hand along a woodland path, was a self build with client acting as main contractor, and was completed in six months.
The ‘served’ areas of the ground floor are transparent, allowing the sense of the site to be read through the building. It was designed with a flexible skin, which is achieved through the use of screens which can be slid back and adjusted depending on sun and wind directions, or usage.
The building is made legible through the separation of, and the revealing of, the structure, sinews and skin. This theme that continues throughout the project, with the frame expressed continuously in the envelope, floors and ceilings. This is part of the ongoing narrative in the building of its construction, and a desire for the conception of the building to be plain and comprehensible.
The intention is that the building avoids the saccharin version of architecture, i.e. slick, clipped, polished, plucked, and waxed. There are no finishes to speak of, and each material is left to read as itself. It could be said that the building is brutal in the anti-aesthetic sense of a truth to materials. Shuttering ply is used for the walls, which also serve to brace the frame. The frame is local green oak, which was the only material available in the section sized required, with stainless steel bolt connections that are expressed externally as a single pin at each structural bay.
The outside of the building is clad in dark grey corrugated sheet – a nod to the local black and grey corrugated Dutch barns in the same valley. The eave projections which thin down at their extremities like the surrounding trees, are a product of the analysis of local weather patterns – the north east ‘high’ side eaves projection creates a sheltered zone that protects the point of arrival from rain and wind – indeed, this side of the building has never got wet – while the south west eaves are a result of the solar protection needed in summer before the point that the sun disappears behind the big ash tree adjacent.
The extension touches the ground lightly – using small pad footings in only eight positions – allowing the water table to remain unaffected, and minimizing the use of concrete.