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Black timber cladding on Bridge House covered by snow
View through the forest towards black timber clad home

A young architectural practice called NOMAD Architects in Riga, Latvia may be new to the design landscape, but they’ve proven their dedication to a sustainable and affordable building mindset through their recent Bridge House project. The low impact home placed an emphasis on sustainable materials and construction methods, while designing for adaptability and disassembly in the future.

Spanning over a hilly forest floor, the appropriately dubbed Bridge House, was designed in collaboration with architectural designer Dr. Juris Dambis to add compact and efficient 80 square meters to an existing family home in Baltezers, Latvia.

Close up view of black timber cladding and timber window frames

The well-insulated new addition includes an entry, home office, living room, and bedrooms for the family of five. The project came with a strict budget, so to keep material and environmental costs low, they retained the existing kitchen, bathroom, and living spaces.

With a vision for efficiency and flow, the new timber clad volume is elevated above the ground. This allows for parking and storage to make use of the space below. It also reduced the impact the construction had on the existing forest floor and it allows for the undulations of the landscape to be highlighted. As an added bonus, the elevated structure also frames views of a nearby lake. Capturing those views, and washing the space with natural sunlight, are the well-placed double glazed windows.

View through trees towards timber clad house during winter

With respect to the forested surroundings, the architecture is simple by design, not wanting to detract from the natural elements. The selection of a dark facade further immerses the structure into the landscape. Although meant to blend in, the timber facade detailing provides a playful contrast between the blackened timber and timber window frames and roof structure.

Wherever possible, within the challenges of the building location and budget, the team chose natural materials. Locally sourced timber was used for the structural elements and interior and exterior finishes. Wood fibre and cellulose from recycled newspapers is used for insulation. Wood fibre boards are again used for wind protection beneath the ventilated facade. OSB (orientated strand board) was sealed and used as a vapour barrier to avoid the use of foils or membranes.

Want to read about more sustainable projects? Take a look our collection of sustainable homes here

Close up view of peaked roof and timber structure
Close up of blackened timber cladding

The low impact home design also provides for future adaptations. As the kids begin to leave home, for example, or if a larger room becomes necessary, the modular design can accommodate, with mechanical hinges that allow the interior walls to be opened, repaired, or disassembled and removed altogether. It has cleverly been designed to maximise the practicality of the family home while minimizing any potential construction waste from future renovations.

This energy efficient home was installed with a decentralized ventilation with heat recovery and a pellet stove for domestic hot water and space heating. The pellets used in this type of heating system, are typically wood pellets made from wood chips and sawdust or sometimes straw.

Side view of black timber clad facade
Side view of black timber clad home extension with large window

To prepare the site for construction, existing trees needed to be felled however they were taken to a local sawmill and have been reused for a gorgeous all timber on-site shed and outdoor kitchen, called Shed in a Forest.

Timber shed in a forest illuminated at interior light
Timber shed with smoking metal chimney
A worker constructing the timber shed

Sustainability specs:
– Low impact home
– Local timber used throughout the entire building – structural elements, interior and exterior finishes
– Well insulated envelope using wood fibre and cellulose from recycled newspapers
– Air sealed with taped interior OSB to avoid membranes and foils
– Design for disassembly – all connections are openable and materials separable
– Home extension with high adaptability due to removable interior walls
– Decentralized ventilation with heat recovery
– Pellet stove for domestic hot water and space heating
– Double glazed windows with placement to optimize natural daylight
– Removed trees were handed to a local saw mill and were used on site for the construction of a shed (Shed in a forest)
– Recycled part of construction waste in a local community project GO[A]T WASTE?

Front elevation of Bridge House by NOMAD Architects
From the architect:

Building sustainable is the core of good architecture. It is the challenge to stay within planetary and social boundaries while at the same time creating healthy, adaptable and long-lasting environments.

The building industry is not only one of the largest man-made causes for climate change but also one of the main raw material consumers and contributors to waste generation.

We devote our work to solve current and future issues. Therefore, we strive for creating networks, cooperations and projects which help educate and encourage the wider public to build sustainable. Only together we can create a meaningful change in the building industry.

Images courtesy of NOMAD Architecture. Photography by NOMAD architects + Dr. arch. Juris Dambis


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