The House for an Ecologist was an ideas competition sponsored by the American Institute of Architects to develop a dwelling for an in residence ecologist, living at the US Fish and Wildlife Headquarters in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Our proposal sought to simultaneously establish and challenge man’s connection with his or her surroundings. Throughout our design process we attempted to discover compelling relationships between innovation and environmental performance, between structure and infrastructure, between traditional and biomimetic materials, and between natural ecology and performative architectural forms.
Rather than clear a pristine plot to ground the structure, the building hovers above the ground plane, weaving itself into the site while allowing existing trees to penetrate it. Rather than consider the structure as an element solely responsible for distributing loads, the lattice-like structural mesh also performs as the dwelling’s primary infra-structural distribution (water, power, light) system. Rather than dividing space into programmatic requirements and focusing one’s gaze outwardly toward a distant landscape, spaces flow into each other – fostering a contemplative space that shifts the focus of the occupant’s inward.
Performative on many levels, ultimately, the architecture itself becomes an interface through which the study of the relationships between the environment, its forces, and its inhabitants can take place.