Observation House by I/O Architects is located on a hill in Northeast Bulgaria. The site is on the outermost corner of a village surrounded by agricultural land, and the architects took advantage of the vast low laying landscape by designing Observation House as a two tier design, with the social area on the upper, smaller volume, centered within the lower level and its dry rock facade to create a wrap around private upstairs meadow.
The upper level has a 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding agricultural land while the lower level opens up to a private swimming pool.
From the road, Observation House appears to be more of a dry stone wall and only the chimney flue gives away the fact that it is a private residence.
From a slight distance, the gabled roof is barely noticeable with its grey metal cladding.
As the access road turns the corner with the building a large void appears which is the access to the garden level for both people and cars.
The void is open with no garage door closing it off to the public.
In the evening when the lights are on, the void is highlighted, exposing the glazed wall in the distance with a wood stairwell on the other side leading to the social zone, but where do the cars go?
Cars drive into the void and then turn right where there is a 3-car garage.
Aside from the stairwell and garage, this level has the master suite complete with sauna and 2 additional bedrooms each with its own ensuite, and a third staff bedroom with ensuite and security room overlooking the entry courtyard. There is also a massage room.
The master suite and two private bedrooms each overlook the swimming pool.
From the outside, the 3 bedrooms share a wall of glass within a niche in the rock facade.
The bedrooms and their ensuites are all clad in local wood.
Upstairs is where the living, dining and kitchen are located and unlike the lower rock facade, this volume is completely wrapped in glass.
From the upstairs vantage point, the downstairs is but a memory, buried somewhere beneath this man made meadow.
The pitched roof expands out past the exterior walls creating a sheltered terrace that wraps all four sides of this volume.
A gully of pebbles next to the terrace stops rainwater from pooling and whisks it away to a drainage location.
While rainwater is whisked away, a small water feature is contained between the terrace and the living room window.
The living room enjoys a view of the water feature and the 360 degree panorama beyond.
The ceiling of this volume follows the roofline which appears to float above the walls of glass.
The roof is supported by a central wall stained black that holds a washroom and an elevator. In front of the wall is the stairwell and in front of that is the dining room which is next to the living room.
This closed volume does not extend to the windows, allowing the continuous glass facade to continue all the way around.
The stairwell is surrounded by a counter height storage unit that was designed as a dining buffet and bar.
On the other side of the closed volume is the kitchen designed to make the most of the view. Who wouldn’t want to cook here?
Photos courtesy of I/O Architects.
Aside from creating a private upstairs meadow, living roofs can also be used for heat dispersal in the summer and heat retention in the winter.