Going out on a limb

29 Nov 2011

Adventurous, sculptural 'tree house' inspired by Afro-European heritage

This project, located on the banks of Lake Geneva was designed as a family home and private office. The dramatic site, with very restrictive design and building parameters required SAOTA to come up with a reductive design that developed as a result of carving and sculpting away forms from a prescribed triangular development envelope.

Inspired by the client's heritage, the building is an expression of an emerging African aesthetic in the way that it plays with sculptural form, texture and relationship to the exterior.

The covered exterior is reminiscent of sitting under a deep overhanging African tree. The main house and the annex are placed on either side of a 20m wide view corridor with a lower ground level incorporating a cinema, spa, office and garages, linking the two buildings.

The main house is a combination of round-edged cubes and a sculpted triangular mass that forms the L-shape wing of the living spaces. The double volume living area opens onto the dining area and kitchen on the ground floor, and a family room on the upper level.

The top bedroom level is accessed by a curved stair wrapping around a glass cylinder encasing the lift. The annex houses the guest suite. Their common materiality and the spatial relationship to each other unify the complex into a whole.

The main entrance is the void between a sloped façade and a stone clad holding wall. The lake-facing façade reflects the triangular aspect of the site, with its sculpted grey metal form giving the house a dynamic, organic quality.

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