The brief was for a four bedroom house, to be used in particular as a base for fishing trips on and around Lake Batak. The house addresses the challenging physical and climactic geography of the site. The ground slopes away down to the lake at a 1:5 gradient but also up behind, being forested with very tall trees. Except in high summer, very little sun falls on the site through most of the day. Being at an altitude of 1400 metres, the temperature can fall to minus 20 degrees on a winter night, with a metre of snow quite typical. In summer it can reach 40 degrees.
The bedrooms are therefore underground to stabilise the internal environment whilst the living accommodation is above in a tall, massively-insulated volume, atop of which are solar panels, above the shadows of the trees. The house thus also has a reduced visual impact in the landscape, with charred spruce cladding allowing the house to blend into the forest behind.
The Lodge eschews minimalism, celebrating the “stuff” of buildings: gargoyles, solar panels, eaves, light switches – in particular those things which are to do with the weather which add poetic resonance to the inhabiting of a house. From the outset the design was influenced by Bulgarian vernacular architecture and it’s relation to the Bulgarian way of life. The aim has been to create a building that does not stand mute, abstract and “other” in the landscape, but instead connects to it thematically – something resonant and yet belonging to its site through metaphor and narrative.
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