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Outbuilding of the Week: A Sardinian Guest House in the Trees

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Outbuilding of the Week: A Sardinian Guest House in the Trees

February 15, 2017

The owners of an extensive estate in Sardinia—a Mediterranean island off of mainland Italy—wanted to add a detached guest suite to their property and eyed a surrounding oak forest as the right spot. But they treasured the oak grove and wanted to limit their impact on it, so they challenged Officina29 Architetti with designing a simple unit that wouldn’t require felling a single tree. The architects delivered, producing a suspended, orthogonal building that required neither eliminating oaks nor covering the sloping forest floor.

Photography by João Morgado, courtesy of Officina29 Architetti.

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Above: An existing stone stairway meanders up to the new outbuilding. According to the firm, the design challenge for this project was to “establish a dialogue between the new volume and its semi-natural forest surrounding.”

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Above: To the side of the guest volume is a new covered dining patio.

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Above: The architects used full-height glazing so occupants can experience the oak forest from inside the building. Looking from the outside during daylight, the windows reflect back the oak trees.

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Above: Inside the building is one large room designed for maximum flexibility; it’s currently configured as a game room (note the pool table), but with its central bathroom, a hidden kitchenette, and a fold-out Murphy bed, the unit quickly converts into a guest suite.

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Above: The guest house is somewhat diminutive in scale, note the architects, in part to amplify the proportions of the surrounding oaks (and in part to fit without damaging them).

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Above: A multi-tiered wooden walkway—also on risers so as not to disturb the forest floor—connects the guest volume with the main house.

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Above: Though the pathway serves a practical purpose, it’s also intended to be a “space” in its own right—to rest and reflect in the forest.

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Above: The design team preserved as much of the natural undergrowth as possible and brought in additional low-maintenance, shade-tolerant plants.

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Above: The guest house stands on reinforced concrete pillars. A border of warm-hued strip lighting magnifies the perceived effect of the building floating above the forest floor.

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Above: The designers used garden stakes throughout the landscape to identify the native vegetation. Here, the Mediterranean evergreen shrub Viburnum tinus, commonly found in oak forests.

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Above: Carefully positioned landscape uplighting illuminates the oak trees at night.

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Above: A computer drawing shows the relationship among the guest building (in dark gray), the covered patio (in light gray), and the main house (in white).

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