CONCEPTUALIZING THE OVERALL
With such a similar program and context, variations in the cabins pose a unique architectural challenge. CW architects began by studying the program and the surroundings each cabin site offered the future occupants. Thinking broadly, the reason for the stay at Coffee Ridge is to enjoy the wellness benefits nature has to offer. The first revelation to a universal concept tied to the context began with just that. The realization that the outdoor spaces in each building were the primary spaces while the interior spaces were secondary. Thinking of the outdoors as the served and the interiors as the service we began exploring "inside out" architectural concepts. This realization, however, does not instill uniqueness in the structures. To achieve a balance between unique buildings offering variation and a level of cohesiveness that creates a strong overall identity, CW began to think of the buildings as a "kit of parts" that can be reconfigured and repurposed to solve specific site and program-driven variables at each cabin.
THE KIT OF PARTS
The components that make up the cabins of Coffee Ridge are thought of separately and arranged in different ways to create uniqueness in each cabin.
The Platform: While walking through nature, especially in East Tennessee, you rarely find level ground. The Platform is the first architectural component we need to perform any activity. A level surface for enjoying a meal, laying in bed, or any number of functions buildings need to operate. The cabins should feature a hovering platform to both enjoy the activities within and delicately touch the sensitive, steep sloping surfaces of the ground plane.
The Canopy: Shelter is perhaps a building's most basic pragmatic benefit to the occupant. Most activities related to architecture need a shelter to shed water and block sunlight. The shelter can come in a variety of shapes and sizes but selecting simple forms, is preferred to match the vernacular architecture of the area.
The Structure: Combining the canopy and structure, poetic connections can be made between the canopies of buildings and the surrounding trees. Similar to the trunks of the tree supporting the forest canopy, the posts support the man-made canopy structure of our buildings.
The Pod: While the majority of the focus is exterior space, there are some activities that need conditioning. The pod is a volume of temperature control placed separate from the other components. A necessity to provide comfort for guests during harsh months while offering the design freedom of position.
Once the elements are placed these kit elements then get modified based upon the context, program, and other parts in the kit.