The clock is ticking down on the last design trends of the aughts. Squeaking in just before the calendar flips is this unlikely development: a fashion for stilted homes.
Why stilted? Whatever their actual environmental benefit might be, stilts express a culture-wide desire to tread lightly on the land. These homes hint at mobility; without basements or foundations, they could be gone tomorrow. They’re also a throwback to the virtuously simple tropical huts and the early days of prefab.
The trend may have been prompted in part by the much-publicized auction sale two years ago of La Maison Tropicale, the prefab on stilts designed in the 1940s by Jean Prouvé for French colonial officers in West Africa. One of the three prototypes, manufactured in 1951, was sold auction for $4.9 million to hotelier Andre Balazs who owns the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and the new Standard Hotel in New York.
Robert Gaukroger of KITA Design may have had La Maison Tropicale in mind when he created this pod-shaped set of classrooms for a prep school in a Northwest England out of chestnut and recycled plastic milk cartons. Gaukroger says the design resulted from green consciousness: By raising the classrooms off the ground he avoided using cement and disturbed no tree roots. Its elevated posture makes it naturally cool in the summer.
Baumraum, a German company, built this meditation room supported by steel cables and pillars.
The Parisian architects Jean-Baptiste and Sihem Lamine built this stilted house in a Burgundy meadow to defer to the surroundings. Their intention was to make a simple box resting on the land with retractable polycarbonate walls and Douglas fir framing that blends with the landscape.
Stilted structures aren’t just about what a structure can do to the environment; it also about what environment can do to you. This house by Andrade Morettin in the jungles of Brasil is screened platform that rides above the jungle floor, protected from insects, dampness and creatures.