“THE BLUFF” VILLA IN THE CHILTERNS
Oxfordshire, United Kingdom [2007-2013]
LPA Collaborators: Eva Christine Schenck, Francesca Wunderle, Jenny Hammer, Serena Bisceglia, Simone Lorenzoni
Photo Credits: Matteo Piazza
For Lazzarini Pickering the act of listening to context marks an approach to design that takes form in direct relation to the particular qualities of a site and its history. This condition is then confronted with an attentive reflection on the needs expressed by the client.
From this point of view, The Bluff, the villa completed by the office in 2012 in the countryside between London and Oxford, is exemplary. The fruit of the demolition and reconstruction of an early twentieth century home, surrounded by lawns, forests and typical English cottages, it establishes an effective dialogue between the traditional and the contemporary.
As with many other works by the office, the project operates at the scale of architecture and that of the landscape: the entrance to the home is influenced by a typical arrangement of classical villas, with a rotunda delimited by hedges. The structure of the house, wrapped in a mantle of grass, is situated at a lower level, almost hidden within its surroundings. It consists of two parallelepipeds facing in different directions, connected by a square central volume that serves as a hinge and an intimate space of gathering.
The entire concept pursues an idea of weightlessness. The two rectangular volumes, clearly inspired by the work of Mies van der Rohe, extend into the surrounding park as a structure of glass and steel. The desired effect is one of osmosis between interior and exterior and a reciprocal play of influences, transparencies and allusions. Important cantilevers make the house appear to hover above the ground.
The façades are defined by operable panels that create three-dimensional effects and perspectival amplifications of the continuous glazed surfaces, introducing a dynamic element. The variable positions of the panels respond to the need of the home’s inhabitants, reiterating a distinctive element in the work of Lazzarini Pickering: transformability.
This quality returns in the enfilade of interior spaces and their long perspectives. Rooms can be connected or separated using sliding laminated panels. The central space, instead, is enclosed by walls covered in books and large works of art. It is the spiritual heart of the home, a space in which to seek refuge to read or converse, immersed in a rich environment of memory and history that responds to the clients’ desire for the classical.
As with all of the office’s work, the design was developed down to the smallest details, including objects and site-specific furnishings that coexist with the clients’ collection of valuable antiques and modern pieces. This is the case with the sofa – an island design to host numerous people that interprets and defines the geometric rhythms of the space in which it is set – the fireplaces, realised by joining contemporary and antique forms, and the tables and lamps. The garden surrounding the villa, deigned in accordance with the English tradition of combining natural and formalised areas, features a pool designed by the office and a number of original presences, such as large vases and pavilions of various forms.
● 2017 – Dedalo Minosse International Prize – Premio ALA Assoarchitetti – Fondazione Inarcassa Prize for commissioning a building – THE BLUFF