The focus of the project was to design a pair of buildings which embrace the surrounding landscape and facilitate the children from Sistema residing there in placemaking in order to create memorable experiences which last their lifetime.
The concept behind these two ‘Gentle Monuments’ entails a soft skin of straw-bale construction enveloping the weighty looking volumes, celebrating the thickness and deep reveals which it affords, whilst also taking advantage of the strongly insulating performance of this locally sourced sustainable construction material.
The two buildings act as a yin/yang pair, one focusing outwards on the beautiful rural landscape and the other focusing inwards on the musical performance and close convivial community experience which it enables. Both buildings have the majority of fenestration orientated south in order to capture most of the light and free-solar gain from the south facade, whilst also prioritising specific views to the beautiful surrounding landscape.
The residential building takes a focus on framing the surrounding views with the deep windows becoming themselves a space for solitude or connection to the environment and ever-changing Scottish weather. The scheme created a long axis of hierarchical views and soft thresholds between moving inside and out of the building, in order to enable a full immersion of experiencing a close connection with the environment.
Larger spaces in the open-plan kitchen space offers a convivial gathering place, whilst dividing doors can close off a smaller informal practice room to offer flexibility for intimacy when needed. The change of scale in ceiling height offers a series of sequential moments of change in the user’s experience throughout the building, spurring a sense of playful exploration in the children as they run around exploring the spaces.
The performance hall space takes a focus inwards on the magical experience of coming together with the community and immersing oneself in the classical music produced by the young talented classical performers. This experience is heightened by the careful control of light that enters the cave-like building, dramatising the journey through darker channels, with slits of light guiding the visitor to the main hall space.