Extraordinary design concept veiled within a seemingly ordinary exterior
The form itself is reminiscent of an augmented shed, albeit an attractive shed, but a shed nonetheless. Clad in timber, the undoubtedly Scandinavian-influenced structure seems to dominate harmlessly in its green landscape, but within this wooden skin lies an altogether more dramatic flesh, and the secret to revealing this lies in the push of a button.
Upon engaging this button, four motors generate the energy to peel back the timber sleeve revealing at first the living atrium, followed by a series of closed and open air zones depending on how far you dare to push. Essentially the building represents a small holding with the main abode, a guest house, and a garage. But the composition is adventurous, and the sleeve concept ingenious.
The 20 ton mobile roof and wall enclosure, composed of steel, timber, insulation and unstained larch runs on a hidden ‘railway’ guttering along the side of the dwelling, recessed into a concrete raft on piles.
Far from being a gimmicky power-drain, the sleeve not only functions as a transitional masterpiece but is also powered by nature - the four DC battery-powered motors claiming their energy from PV solar panels, or, if it’s necessary to find fault, from mains power when the UK climate doesn’t allow for eco-paraphernalia to function.
The sleeve’s benefits are three-fold: insulation, composition and dramaturgy. In the colder months, exposed elements within the structure would benefit from the shelter provided by the sleeve – common sense relays that the more of the building shrouded, the warmer it will be. But come the warmer months, the unveiling of the interior structure provides framing from both an external and internal perspective, revealing new compositions in relation to the building’s surroundings. The process of the unveiling is an awe-inducing spectacle, turning a relatively basic structure into an entirely different being.
Niki May Young