A hauntingly visualised proposal for a family dwelling in the remote English Valleys of Cumbria
The ‘Hamlet’ of Selbach’s shortlisted the project’s title refers to a small rural settlement, though it could equally recall the complex familial dynamics of the Shakespearean tragedy. ‘My father has five children from three different wives,’ says its designer Gordon Selbach. ‘Our family structure is very chaotic, my relatives are all at odds with each other.’
Cross section of the children’s house, showing the narrow passageways that line the walls
The project explores whether architecture can mediate such troubled relationships. Like much of family life, a conventional appearance belies a more troubled interior reality. While externally it may look like a pair of vernacular stone buildings, the simple massing joins a parents’ house with half-a-dozen separate apartments for warring offspring. Much of the heavy masonry remains uninsulated, with pockets of freezing circulatory space lining the periphery.
Chilling, also, is the way the project has been visualised: the hauntingly grainy visualisations would need only the addition of a title and an 18 certification to become the DVD cover of a horror film. And it is this artful alignment of concept and visual sensibility that impressed the judges, winning this diminutive yet complete project its place in the GAGA shortlist.
The lone figures in Gordon Selbach’s house for his dysfunctional family turn away from the viewer, their body language eloquently anomic
Shadowy passageways recede abysmally into the void
Visualised in a dismal landscape, a solitary light does not so much beckon as unsettle the observer
Plan of second floor of parents’ house and first floor of family house