Bishopsgate House

The Bishopsgate house was conceived and developed in harmony with its unique site, a rare heritage site in the heart of town surrounded by mature trees amidst untouched swathes of secondary forest. The architecture, materials and articulation were derived from the site. The concept of the house evolved in celebration of the land, its curves and undulations, its birds, breezes, views, trees, soil and bedrock. The design honors the landscape of rolling hills and giant trees and was based on stringent principles of sustainability defined for the client, the place, long term goals and economic objectives. Elements of the house were positioned near the perimeter of the site and oriented toward the garden and the distant views. The main criterion in laying out the building in section was to respect the existing ground levels and contours, minimize excavation and maximize potential views from the higher elevations of the site. Several mature trees and palms were protected and a garden was nurtured to grow from seeds dropped by resident birds. As the neighbouring plots were deforested, cleared, and excavated, our hope was that local birds would collect seeds from the Majestic Trees and drop them at random so as to create an organic progression to the next generation of native trees. From the main building, a dining pavilion protrudes into the garden with a large roof deck above overlooking the garden, pool and Majestic Green view in the distance. An Annex with a guest suite and study loft positioned at the lower end of the sloping site overlooks the long garden, and gives the feeling of a small presence in a big landscape as it is reflected on the dark swimming pool in the late afternoon. A third building, used as a Yoga pavilion, was later added atop the highest point overlooking the entire ensemble. The fence circling the perimeter of the original 70,000 sq ft estate, which was later subdivided into sixteen plots, was preserved and used as a sunscreen configured around the façade as vertical louvers cutting out the direct early morning sun. The beauty of the soft, rustic timber gives a glow of color to the rooms in the early morning, recalling the fence that once protected the entire site. A mono-pitch standing seam roof with a slim profile is a dominant visual element scaled in proportion to the forest, a massive curved ceiling below cantilevers four meters beyond the rooms shading the house and poolside terrace throughout the mid-day and afternoon hours. The Annex roof is a simplified version of the monopitch with a timber ceiling, blending into the surrounding landscape. The complex characters of each space, the light, ventilation, views from and into the spaces were developed in response to the owner’s lifestyle. Whereas one avoided direct sunlight at all times, the other relished the warm morning and evening sun. Thus the patterns of their movement throughout the day and night were choreographed onto the site considering sun, wind, time together and time apart.

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