Other Participants: Eco Modular Living
Text description provided by the architects. Forest Lodge is a new home with a difference. This is a mobile dwelling built to comply with the Caravan Act 1968 which restricted both the construction and size of the dwelling.
The clients, who had been living in a static caravan for 15 years on their stunning five acre property in the New Forest National Park, approached local Award Winning practice PAD studio in 2009. A key requirement of their brief was to create a new, very low energy dwelling, flooded with light and with a strong connection to the surrounding landscape: Importantly, the new dwelling should not resemble or feel like a mobile home. PAD studio spent considerable time researching the mobile home market and familiarising themselves with the nuances of constraining legal requirements.
PAD studio’s approach to design is deeply rooted in place and they spend time visiting the site at different times of the day to experience the light, views and surroundings. This particular site, located at the edge of a clearing in the heart of the New Forest is accessed from a long gravel track that slowly revealed views of the existing property. This journey through the landscape became a generating idea for the new home which continues the route, inviting nature into the home through carefully placed window openings. These large apertures focus and frame the stunning views, displaying them internally as if paintings on large canvases.
Approaching from the East, the house is glimpsed and slowly revealed through mature trees. The trees verticality and the texture of their bark are echoed in a variety of timber treatments used on the homes cladding. Vertical panels of dark stained sweet chestnut provide a rhythm to counterpoint unstained horizontal chestnut cladding that wraps and unifies the whole. By utilizing a gradual level change across the site, the architects have allowed the northern end of the home to float above the landscape, resting and projecting dynamically over a limestone plinth. The western wall of the property is almost completely glazed affording a feeling of light and spaciousness and opens onto a large terrace and lawn beyond.
Internally, the material pallet is restrained and natural with oak, limestone and white panelled walls. This deliberately muted array of materials provides a backdrop which is painted by the forest’s changing light and rendered by the colour of the landscape beyond the building. Architect designed locally crafted bespoke joinery, thoughtful details and connection with the landscape give this home a feeling of solidity, serenity and permanence; far removed from the client’s previous home.
PAD studio has exceeded the client’s aspiration for a low energy house by designing this building to meet the rigorous Passivhaus standard. The home is essentially a self-sufficient dwelling with a 3.8kW Photovoltaic array on the roof to generate electricity and air source heat pump to provide hot water for an under floor heating system. A sewage treatment plant manages waste and rainwater is collected in an underground storage tank and used to water new landscaping surrounding the house that was also designed by PAD studio. It is difficult to imagine that this ‘mobile home’ was prefabricated, built away from site and craned into position in two separate pieces. Forest Lodge is an excellent example of what can be achieved through imagination, innovation and careful consideration.