The motto that greets you on BLOXAS’ website is, ‘A practice for empathic and experimental architecture’. If their project Garden Pavilion is anything to go by, then the architects can be taken at their word.
The overarching concern that needed to be addressed was the sleep disorder that the client had suffered since he was a “young boy”, and which caused him to take hours to get to sleep.
Although the client’s home already stood on the site, he wanted a small addition to the space that would fulfil dual needs: socialising and retreat, introversion and extroversion, light and dark, work and sleep.
Before they started planning for the site, the architects at BLOXAS first needed to address a number of questions. At the heart of these was, how can architecture improve human outcomes?
“How can a small piece of architecture address an individual’s personal neurotic condition, juxtaposed with a highly activated and social environment?” reads a statement from BLOXAS. “It was this challenging and specific brief established by the chronic sleeping disorder suffered by one of the clients that underpinned the success of Garden Pavilion.”
The design process was heavy on collaboration, requiring in-depth and personal discourse between architect and client. It was an explorative method, with an architecture that was created around a condition and its consequences, rather than a lifestyle being moulded in response to an already built environment.
In response to the need for isolation, BLOXAS conceived of a curved footprint that would refract sound and control heat gain without losing the potential for connectivity, nor compromise views of the garden. This outside-in approach was then used as a launching pad for the rest of the project’s design.
“The tapered space formed an anchor for the entire project,” explains BLOXAS. “[It was] designed to control its environment, primarily light and sound. The space’s perforated acoustic ceiling panels provide sound clarity and quietening, while heavily insulated walls and double doors with custom seals form air gaps, strengthening the acoustic condition.”
As a Garden Pavilion, it was logical that the material choices reflect a preoccupation with and sensitivity to nature. Operable charred timber-clad shutters were used to enclose the glass-walled structure. When closed, the dark colours ensure total blackness to the interior; when open, the exposed glass façade floods the interior with light.
“The wooden shutters over the large windows completely block out all the light,” explains the client. “Each morning I walk outside and undo each of the straps on the shutters and fold them back. My room fills with light. It is a peaceful and calming place to be.”
Considering the client’s heightened awareness of spatial and atmospheric conditions, a number of technical measures were incorporated to address concerns of temperature, daylighting, ventilation and noise levels. According to the architects, both themselves and the client consider Garden Pavilion a “living” project; rather than the job ending with the last panel laid, both the technical and spatial strategies of the space will continue to be monitored and adjusted as the project matures.