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Wow: A House with Dry Rock Surround Creates Private Upstairs Meadow

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.

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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.

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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.

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From a slight distance, the gabled roof is barely noticeable with its grey metal cladding.

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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.

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The void is open with no garage door closing it off to the public.

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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?

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Cars drive into the void and then turn right where there is a 3-car garage.

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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.

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The master suite and two private bedrooms each overlook the swimming pool.

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From the outside, the 3 bedrooms share a wall of glass within a niche in the rock facade.

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The bedrooms and their ensuites are all clad in local wood.

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Upstairs is where the living, dining and kitchen are located and unlike the lower rock facade, this volume is completely wrapped in glass.

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From the upstairs vantage point, the downstairs is but a memory, buried somewhere beneath this man made meadow.

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The pitched roof expands out past the exterior walls creating a sheltered terrace that wraps all four sides of this volume.

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A gully of pebbles next to the terrace stops rainwater from pooling and whisks it away to a drainage location.

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While rainwater is whisked away, a small water feature is contained between the terrace and the living room window.

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The living room enjoys a view of the water feature and the 360 degree panorama beyond.

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The ceiling of this volume follows the roofline which appears to float above the walls of glass.

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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.

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This closed volume does not extend to the windows, allowing the continuous glass facade to continue all the way around.

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The stairwell is surrounded by a counter height storage unit that was designed as a dining buffet and bar.

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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?

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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.

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  • Kevin Westbrook

    I absolutely love the wood and glass decor in this home! I saw many gorgeous houses with a similar architecture and design at corcoran.com/florida.

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