If you think pithouses are a thing of past, then you are wrong. The work of Architect Bercy Chen proves just that. Edgeland House is a work conjoining the modern form of architecture with the goodness of the pithouses of the past. This concrete and glass structure, situated in a brownfield site, literally is a symbol of healing the nature of the wounds created by the many misdeeds of mankind.
What is so good about pithouses?
To those of you who don’t know what a pithouse is – it is a dwelling that is partly dug into the ground and has a proper roof. This form of early dwelling structures had many advantages. One of it is that it provides thermal stability. Since the building is partly below ground, the interior temperature is always at the average annual temperature of air in that region. This thermal comfort is maintained throughout the year regardless of the outside climatic condition and weather. The pithouses are an effective place of housing in case of natural calamities like a hurricane and heavy snowfall.
The Edgeland house is about making efforts to coexist with nature while healing the environment of the many scars. It draws attention to the fact that the natural landscape is limited and exponentially reducing and the need to reach a balance between modernization and naturality.
The Edgeland House has an insulative green roof which makes it look like a part of the surrounding. The roof also helps in maintaining an amicable atmosphere inside the building. There is a mechanical system which combines the hydronic heating and green roof cooling for maximum energy efficiency. The structure has two pavilions – one as living quarter and other as sleeping quarter. One comes in direct contact with the natural elements while traversing from one pavilion to another.
Another notable point is the step it has taken is to preserve the local ecosystem. Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center collaborated with the architects to reintroduce around 40 native species of plants and wildflowers in the roof and around the house. Edgeland House stands as a model for sustainable housing design which employed an obsolete idea of the past to bring out the best of both ancient and modern ways.