The Conservatory House designed by Ignatov Architects near Varna is a place for recreation, relaxed chat with friends and fellow musicians, and contemplation with nature. In architect’s words, “Local residential building code for rural areas required collateral agricultural use which was in line with the owner’s desire for having a large conservatory for growing flowers and hosting small life music events. Steep, picturesque, but compromised site initially used as local sand quarry and illegal waste dump later presented a good design challenge. It pushed us to think about how to restore the original slope and rehabilitate the local ecology. Naturally the waste was cleaned up, the house was fit into the existing quarry pit and the conservatory was put on top of the living spaces for catching maximum sunlight and minimizing footprint.
This approach allowed us to use the house as a retaining wall itself and restore the terrain around and even inside it. The typical for every glazed garden heat gains and losses were addressed carefully throughout the design. As a result the conservatory became the main functional, aesthetic and environmental feature of the house. It allows daylight to reach all levels of the house, balances the indoor climate by the thermal mass of its soil, freshens the air with flower aromas and is a favorite place for relaxation. In summer the house benefits from the conservatory’s natural cross ventilation, while in the winter the residents enjoy its greenhouse effect. Opaque insulated walls to West and North avoid summer overheating and winter overcooling. Cooling and heating losses in extreme conditions are compensated by a clean exchange with earth via six closed loop geothermal probes connected to a heat pump and radiant floors.
The glazed roof collects all rainwater for irrigation and features integrated solar collector for domestic hot water. Living spaces under the conservatory have minimal heat losses due to its insulating effect. Reinforced concrete structure is chosen because of its local popularity and affordability. It is designed with a central core and load-bearing facade frames without internal columns and shear walls. Diagonal, vertical and horizontal structural elements on the Southern and Eastern facades follow the stress lines and reveal the building’s tectonics. Organized in this way, the house resembles a tree with a green crown (conservatory), trunk and branches (structure) and roots (geothermal probes) with the residence accommodated in symbiosis within it. Natural landscaping promotes local plant species and preserves local microclimate. Bio-active wastewater treatment unit turns waste into bio- compost and irrigation water. Clean agricultural produce grown on-site adds to the experience of the Conservatory House.”