Ricardo A. Munoz, Page, UT Arlington CAPPA
From the Jury:
The house is a simple, elegant solution that takes advantage of its position alongside and into the water — it gently opens its roof toward the view in a gesture that captures the glory of the site.
Element House derives its organization from an evolution of Thoreau’s cabin to a modern place of shelter. The gable structure represents the historical memory of built structures on the site, while the rectangular frames on the opposite end of the project represent the unknown future structures that could occupy these grounds. The materiality of the structure also recalls the simple materials used in the famous cabin that occupied these woods. Visitors will come to Walden to experience nature firsthand, as Thoreau did, and to find what simplicity and solitude can teach. The program is distributed among a series of small structures, encouraging the visitor to experience the outdoors when walking from space to space. These structures share a single continuous roof that, along with the walls of the small structures, caps the narrow spaces in between them, framing views of the woods or the water. Windows in the enclosed spaces also provide living portraits of the surroundings, calling to mind beautiful landscape paintings. The serenity and stillness of Walden provide real yet ever-changing vignettes through these large windows that will linger in visitors’ minds long afterwards.