Amidst the lush trees of Nova Ponente in Italy, innovative designers at bergmeisterwolf architekten has finished building the Fan Forest Houses; a collection of buildings that, as the name suggests, fan across the landscape to provide a unique home.
In total, the collective is made up of three separate house buildings that look and function cohesively to form a residential ensemble. The homes are built and situated very intentionally on the landscape according to, and in order to account for, the crags of rock and crops of plants that exist on a mountainside.
Because the homes are built on a landscape that seems to constantly shift, each one of the buildings is afforded a unique view. Similarly, the lines and appearances of the homes’ exteriors all differ depending on where on the mountain peaks you’re standing and looking up on them from. This is all thanks to quickly differing points of elevation.
For the sake of solidity and endurance against weather, each of the three homes in the collective is built slightly elevated on a concrete slab. The effect of this is to make the homes appear as though they are sort of floating ever so slightly, hovering subtly above the natural topography surrounding them.
Each of the homes has a beautiful wooden gabled structure that suits the landscape well. In fact, the colour palette and materiality are so appropriate that the houses actually seem to blend right into the forest even as they float above it. The houses are pleasantly dark, just like the natural wood and rock surrounding them.
As the houses splay outwards on the land to form their compound, the trees seem to swallow them in a way that’s more comforting than intimidating or dark. There is a natural sense of homeliness, as though one who has come here to escape is really being given space to breathe and absorb all the benefits that nature has to offer.
On their facades, the houses feature black-brown slats that engulf the walls and continue all the way up to cover the roof as well, giving them a monotone and slightly monolithic look. Several spaces, like the large cantilevered terrace, allow the indoor spaces in each building to blend almost seamlessly with the abundant outside space provided by the surrounding forest.
Adding to their almost otherworldly appearance and the interesting way they use space is the fact that the home’s main entrance, which is located in the largest volume of the three, is covered for privacy. Even more interestingly, the front door is actually accessed by a wooden bridge leading from the wooded land into the foyer.
The first thing most people notice upon passing off the wooden bridge and through the door is the way the roof’s shape can be seen from the underside, letting dwellers and guests actually experience its unique shape. The way the common space extends upward to the topmost point and mirrors the fan-like shape visitors saw outside as they approached the house makes the shared and living spaces feel even more generous than they truly already are.
From each balcony and floor to ceiling window, one can see the way the buildings appear to grow right out of the landscape and spread out, allowing the woods and the plants and animals they’re home to spread between the volumes of the house nearly uninterrupted.
To connect the different units of the home, which are not actually entirely separate from each other the way they might look at first glance, designers built more wooden bridges. These are raised from the ground, contributing to the sense that, from a distance, the volumes of the home seem to float.
The effect on the inner spaces of being separated and connect by these bridges is one of cohesiveness and yet privacy. No one feels cut off from any other space or person, but each person there can still seek calm, peaceful solitude and quiet whenever necessary.
Inside, the palette is much lighter in shade even though the materiality remains much the same. From floor to ceiling, almost the entire interior of the home, especially in the private spaces and sleeping rooms, is wooden. A pleasant light wood keeps the rooms bright in partnership with all those lovely, high windows. This creates a stunning contrast with the dark wood of the exterior.
Furnishings have been intentionally chosen to suit and look cohesive with the materiality and style of the rest of the home. Pieces are neutral, interesting to look at but now flashy, and stylish without being showy.
Photographs by Gustav Willeit