Houghton Hall, UK
Inspired by traditional Nordic Sami huts and old log construction, the name Sami is a derivation of a Finnish word for ‘shelter’. Sami provided the opportunity to experiment to test the potential and structural solutions of digital fabrication. The result is an architecture that brings a contemporary spirit to a natural surroundings, providing an example of space and shelter in its most basic form. Walking around and within the structure, the viewer is immediately consumed by the contrast, as well as an uncanny similarity, of natural and unnatural: a large oculus that opens to the sky, and a porous surface that frames the surrounding woodland. Its simple geometry and patterns of intersecting panels flutter between transparency and opaqueness.
The programming of Sami’s convoluted form was made possible by a number of exercises in parametric variation and control. Each aspect, from its geometry to its fabrication is parametrically detailed using computer-aided design. The desired form is refined to accommodate specific requirements, size constraints, client budget and maximum efficiency.
Sami is 3m high and 4m wide, with 24 planar ribs CNC’d from 18mm plywood. The ribs are assembled via a series of lapped dovetail scarf joints and inter-screw bolt connections. Once assembled it is fixed to the ground with several ground anchors. The simplicity of the production method enables people with no formal training in construction to build the framework in a relatively short amount of time.