One of the ways that architecture must be integrated into its natural context is by maintaining the sensory experience of the place itself. This can be achieved by assigning value to a site's spatial qualities, textures, and even by generating contrasts, to enhance and differentiate existing elements from man-made ones.
This month we want to highlight Secondfloor Architects, who turn their focus towards the interior of their project and invite us to experience the natural environment as something that is above architecture. They do this not only by designing a building that is settled in the plot, but also by creating a central element which relates to the verticality of the existing trees, while the building's horizontal elements offer a powerfully contrasting material expression.
About the shades of black: It's quite interesting what you mention about using a color that absorbs light but yet generates textures. What atmosphere or sensations where you after by using these specific materials in black? How did you select the different textures according to the use of the spaces?
We utilize black for two different purposes. (1.) Our intention as designer to the negative attitude people have towards the black because we wanted to prove that black contains this richness. One of the examples is at architecture schools, the use of the black is often criticized while with white, that’s not the case. (2.) Black as an emerging presence of environment. Black tends to absorb but its surface enables the presences of the the materials we chose. The black and uneven surface of the aggregate wall create this beautiful shimmery effect that is visually soothing. The blackness and glossy quality of the tiles around the tree render the reflection that visually expand the space. There’s the fading blackness of the bricks with accumulating traces that becomes more obvious through time.
The project has very interesting features and design elements for being a café. Which decisions did you make for the plan, materials and project philosophy? We believe the final project has very complex elements as response to a "common" program.
We believe that architecture should create ambience that embodies this specific space rather than standing out for its physical presence. This project wouldn’t be as meaningful as it is if it just stood on this piece of land. The proportion of the visually accessible open space is 2 out of 3, even though you feel like you’re inside the building. The 38-meter long floor plan was conceived to accentuate the difference of the steepness of the land. In the meantime, the 6.5-meter width creates the narrowness that allows one to feel the presence of the surrounding landscape. The materials we decided to use comprise of different characteristics of blackness for the environment we were going to create. The steel structure was used to emphasize the solidarity of other materials and it offered shorter construction period in terms of the structure.
Besides being in a very natural context, the project seems to close on itself and letting the user concentrate on the architecture and what is happening inside but at the same time maintaining a connection with the landscape subtly in a vertical way (open spaces), rather than horizontal. How can you deepen more on this as a design premise?
This is a very good question. Thank you for noticing that. The answer to this question is very simple and I would like to answer it with this question ‘How long has it been since you looked up at a tree you stood underneath? The beauty of forest isn’t as far as you think. Like I said earlier, sometimes, enclosure offers you the chance to see more than you would ever think.