Batak Fishing Lodge, Batak, Bulgaria
Simon Gill Architects

The site of this house lies 1400 meters up, overlooking the lake of Batak, where temperatures vary from 40 degrees centigrade down to minus 20. For much of the year the house is overshadowed by tall trees behind it, further up the 1:5 gradient of the hill. These two factors suggested the building’s form – bedrooms and bathrooms underground to moderate the temperature, with a tall living area (massively insulated) to allow solar panels to be up above the tree shadows. Hot water is supplied by solar panels and by a woodchip boiler, which also supplies heating via underfloor heating and radiators to the bedrooms where a quick response is required. An open fire is also a major heat source deep in the winter.

The project reinterprets aspects of traditional Bulgarian houses – the use of dark timber (charred spruce) and white render externally, the sheltered barbeque area and pergola and, inside, the bench seated dining area, timber paneling and built in sofa. The dark timber also helps the house blend into the forest behind (seen from the other side of the lake it is almost invisible). The house celebrates the functional details of buildings as a source of poetry and responds to its context through narrative and metaphor; it aspires to quickening the enjoyment of the daily activities of life through the creation of resonant places to frame them.

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