by Andy Fett
(Sioux Falls, SD, USA)
The “Green Office” has several characteristics that make it viable as an indoor/outdoor office retreat. It responds well to its garden context and successfully addresses issues of sustainability. The form of the structure is derived from the idea of “threshold”; treating the structure as a transition between contexts.
The Green Office is intended to be a place to work from the home, free from distractions. The challenge here, however, was to make the structure part of the garden. The Green Office accomplishes this by incorporating a green roof, a reflecting pool, and a trellis. These elements do not serve to eliminate the distinction between structure and landscape. Rather, they blur the boundaries, allowing the Green Office to become a sculptural piece and a threshold within the garden.
The structure opens up to the east and west. This allows the trellis to shade the south facade. The concrete wall on the north also provides protection from cold winter winds. The West facade opens to the garden visually. A four panel Nana-Wall system, can be closed or opened depending on the season. Both the
south and north facades are constructed of concrete. Although concrete loses some value as a sustainable material, the thermal advantages
are incredibly valuable. The roof projects out to the west slightly to shade most of the summer sun. The winter sun is allowed to penetrate the office, and the concrete serves as thermal massing. The concrete also mitigates heat gain in the summer
The green roof helps the structure blend with its context, but it also prevents the heat island effect and serves as insulation. Wood decking and structural cedar columns are used to compliment the concrete.
As previously mentioned, the form of the structure acts as a threshold. The Green office can be entered through a door on the East side. The building then then opens outward to the garden and reflecting
pool. A built in desk/storage unit provides adequate working space. For those who wish to proceed directly to the garden, it can be accessed along the south facade which funnels users into the garden.
Functionally, the funnel shape also catches prevailing summer winds from the southeast and pushes them out the east entry.
For those that are not interested in architectural jargon, the Garden Office is simply a well conceived idea. It is a place to work in the landscape, the cool summer breezes, or the dancing reflections of the