A Folly! It used to be that every wealthy Estate in England would have at least one folly on their grounds. Ranging from mock Roman temples, Egyptian pyramids, Tatar tents and all variety of unusual and striking designs. Traditionally appearing to have no practice purpose, simply providing decoration and a symbol of status, ultimately the term is used to describe a small building that shows folly or foolishness on behalf of the builder.  Can we adapt that concept for our own use? Stretch the notion of pushing the boundaries even further and incorporate a functioning folly onto the site? Or is the idea of designing a folly simply folly?

Perhaps it was the excitement of something new, perhaps it was the empty bottle of pinot, but the concept of designing a folly engaged the entire team. Quickly ideas begin to fly; can we concentrate all the storage into a 3rd building on the site? Sure why not! Can it be spread across three levels? Of course it can! Can we use the upper levels for overflow sleeping space? What a fantastic idea! Although, in the early stages of planning the folly, our ideas seem farfetched, these concepts that seem so outrageous in the beginning quickly begin to form the third structure to solve all our problems. Fundamentally, the folly is the antithesis of what we are trying to do with the rest of the buildings on the site.

The notion of the folly was to stretch the limits, bend the rules and push boundaries. We know we want height, we want it to stand tall among the other structures on the site and we want it to be different. The whole idea of a folly is that it is unusual and striking. Amongst the understated, moody pavilions that blend into the landscape is our folly; a little YELLOW, metal sky scraper. Yes, yellow! And why not, visit Hanmer in Autumn and you will see the striking yellow poplar trees, and think of old fashioned barns, sitting isolated in the middle of a field, a stunning rusty red not nestled into the landscape but standing out. Our folly is a cheeky nod to the rural location and injects some fun and interest into the site.

So where do we put it? We don’t want the outdoor lounge to be super shaded but obviously the folly is going to cast a shadow. If we embrace that shadow, place the folly due north of the outdoor lounge then the pronounced reflection from the folly can be used almost like a sun dial on a sunny day, enabling me to know the right time to pour a pinot without requiring a watch!

As the folly evolves, the entire look and feel of the site evolves with it. Three buildings, cradling our outdoor room, orientated for the sun and the views and opening onto the outdoor space. Similar to camping, we position all buildings to have their backs to the neighbours, not to be rude but for privacy and security. We set about considering materials and finishes for all three structures, externally sticking to cedar, a natural material which fits into the rural context, the roofing needs to allow for photo-voltaic array to be placed. Decisions are being made and everything is tracking along swimmingly….

The next step is to explore form. Perhaps I should’ve have sensed Ange’s lack of enthusiasm for our folly, perhaps I should have taken a step back and examined our design, perhaps I should have truly considered how much more work there was to come. But instead I soldiered on… setting myself up for an inevitable fall.

Published on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017