PENNSYLVANIA – An exotic and iridescent creature has landed on a secluded hill in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. Hong Kong-based design team Davidclovers, which has an otherwise almost exclusively metropolitan portfolio, applied sleek, subtly-curved forms to an intimate and natural setting for its latest project, Butterfly House.
Despite the change of scenery, the firm considers its work to be ‘in line with our general experimentation with media and how we are “pressurizing” it into architecture’. Indeed, the 93-sq-m guest lodge seems to be a simple rectilinear volume that has been warped pointwise into an abstraction of its spirit animal. The north and south faces have been pinched at the centre to form two ‘wings’ divided symmetrically by a short, narrow thorax of a vestibule. The main entrance defines a second orthogonal axis between the public and private domains, a continuous living-dining area leading back on either wing to a bedroom and either a kitchen or a toilet. The roof bows upward and towards the north, embodying the butterfly’s flapping motion.
However, the house was not designed as a static projection, but as a living organism in constant interaction with its environment. In the manner of prior residential projects by this studio, like the Clearwater Bay estate (#Mark 30, page 60), light is the animating force. The reflective, polychromatic cladding of recycled stainless steel renders the exterior variable to the time of day and the season, at once taking on the colours of its surroundings and producing its own. The variation in artificial colour is, in fact, just as spontaneous as that in reflected natural colour, subject to the purity of the steel in reaction to the anodizing process.
The interior is equally alive. Visitors enter to find themselves immediately at the fulcrum of a curved panorama overlooking a pond, where the pitched roof admits ample natural light and forms a covered patio. Only a sliding, translucent screen separates the living–dining area from the other rooms, allowing different spatial configurations.