Conservatory House

The Conservatory House (a.k.a. Home Tree House) is designed for enjoyment of nature and music. Client asked for a residence with a space for hosting small music events and a large conservatory for growing flowers. These requirements were in line with local building code for rural areas which required a collateral agricultural use for granting a building permit.

Steep and picturesque but compromised site used to be a local sand quarry for the neighboring village and turned into an eroded waste dump later. Serenity of surrounding nature inspired us to work for restoring the initial equilibrium on site. Resulting design solution fit the house into the existing quarry pit and made the new structure as compact as possible. House filled the void and became a retaining wall itself which allowed restoration of the terrain around it. Conservatory and music room naturally merged together and were placed on top of the residence for catching sunlight and views and minimizing building footprint. The carbon footprint in turn is reduced by the insulating effect of the conservatory over the residence and by utilizing a complex geothermal system that covers all heating and cooling needs. It cleanly and quietly exchanges thermal energy with earth via six closed-loop probes requiring minimal electricity for circulation only. All domestic hot water is supplied by solar vacuum tubes integrated into the glazed roof.

Reinforced concrete structure is chosen because of its affordability and local popularity. It is designed with a central core and load-bearing facade frames without internal columns and shear walls. Diagonal, vertical and horizontal structural elements on the southern and eastern facades follow the structural stress lines and reveal the building’s tectonics. Lack of cultivated landscaping promotes re-growth of local plant species and preserves local microclimate. Bio-active wastewater treatment unit turns waste into bio-compost and irrigation water. Clean agricultural produce grown on-site adds to the green experience of the Conservatory House.

Organized in this way, the house functionally resembles a tree with a green crown (conservatory), trunk and branches (structure) and roots (geothermal probes) with the residence accommodated in symbiosis within it. The performance bottom line for the past seasons shows that the Conservatory House provides great comfort and uses very little external power without being an encapsulated passive house. In contrary: it's concept actively promotes human interaction with seasons and elements.

Ignatov Architects


26 photos and 4 drawings