In the wilderness of Poyntelle, Pennsylvania, architecture firm davidclovers formulated their concept for a “Butterfly House”: a structure “that disappears in different seasons and days.” Set amidst black cherry, maple, and other deciduous trees, the home is as much homage to the shifting landscape as to the painters for which it was designed.
Part of the genius of construction is the way in which the house is camouflaged amidst the forest surrounding it. Like a swallowtail settled amongst black-and-yellow poppies, the exterior masquerades with plates of iridescent color. In summer, the colors shimmer with the deep green and wildflower of the forest. In fall, it appears to serve as a rustic palette of the deciduous trees in autumn color. Then, when the sun hits at just the right angle - in winter, perhaps - the home shimmers and gleams, the white harnessing even more the colored exterior. It is a home for all seasons, shifting and reveling with the beauty of the outdoors.
Built with a standard rectangular plan, the house yet stretches out to the landscape. There is a sense of movement in the roof’s gentle slope that accelerates before overhanging a concave porch. The lens of glass here looks out to nearby pond, a reflective view for the artist-inhabitants within. The cladding which offers such a distinct tone to the home is recycled stainless steel, and custom-colored for the effect. Project lead David Erdman described that the design is a response to the “visual properties found on site,” in order to evolve and develop a relationship between the indoor and outdoor. The bedrooms and common areas such as the kitchen are separated along the length of the house, where “translucent, sliding panels allow the house to be completely opened up and used as a larger single room.”
The experience of the architecture Erdman describes as offering “a range of dynamic qualities to the house that integrate it with its surroundings in counter-intuitive yet meaningful ways.” Namely, the concave window-wall has the effect of the outside “pressing” inwards, and the effect continues through the home. He illustrates the design as a specific response to Los Angeles’ Case Study Homes, known for a centrifugal relationship of landscape flowing through the homes. The reverse is found in the Butterfly House, in which the landscape is being drawn and focused inwards. The effect is fascinating, and yet seems moreover to respond to the contemplative, even spiritual undertones of the northern Pennslyvania landscape. Where the Case Study Homes awe with their glittering wings, the Butterfly House cloaks itself in the colors of the landscape, drawing the nectar of the outdoors in.