Text description provided by the architects. Simon Gill Architects completed the fishing lodge at Batak, Bulgaria, in the summer of 2012. The 290 m2 building is divided into two sections with one half of the house built into the hillside and the other rising above ground in an insulated tower-like volume. The secluded house overlooks a large beautiful lake with vast forests lying close behind.
The lake of Batak lies 1400 metres up on the north western slopes of the Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria, surrounded by great forests of pine and spruce. The historic town of Batak was at the centre of world affairs in 1876 when an Ottoman atrocity in Batak caused Russia to declare war on Turkey and British pro-Turkish foreign policy to wobble.
Simon Gill says “Our aim was to create an enchanted place that would resonate with the great natural beauty and rich culture of its location. We felt it essential that the house created a presence that connected both to the landscape and Bulgarian traditions, rather than just creating a mute abstract object standing as something ‘other’ in the landscape. And this included reducing the impact of the house on the surrounding environment as far as possible.”
The end result is a house that celebrates the ordinary activities of Bulgarian life; a fountain in the centre of the principal space offers refreshment after the climb up the hill, a gargoyle drains water from the roof, and a table built into the fabric of the house offers dining with unique views over the lake. A sense of sleeping in a warm burrow is created internally. In the above-ground volume of the house the main fireplace is deliberately oversized to emphasise its importance on evenings when the temperature drops way below zero, and timber lined walls evoke visual warmth. In the underground part of the house the banking of the earth is visible through a large window as the floor gently ramps down beside it.