Blackwell House

Straw bales with a view

Location: Windermere, Lake District
Status: Competition, runner-up

The Baillie Scott lookout competition required a temporary viewing platform in the grounds of Baillie Scott’s handsome Blackwell House overlooking Lake Windermere. The house and grounds have a luxurious compliment of splendid long distance views already and it seemed that perhaps the Lookout might in fact be an opportunity to look not at the view that orientates both house and garden, but rather at a tenet of the movement of which Baillie Scott and Mawson’s work are such extraordinary exemplars; the idea of looking carefully at nature and trying to learn its lessons.

So we considered the Oak tree that has sheltered and shaded the south west corner of the lower garden terrace since its creation and indeed the rolling fields that were there before. We thought about how it might be nice to interact with the tree, to really be pulled into the crown, close to the branches and leaves; So we make a bridge, from the upper terrace, that sets us off at about the right level. 

The bridge lets us look out and see the landscape and the house anew, but when we get to the end we step down and are quite abruptly enclosed, with nothing to look at but the branches and the leaves on the tree. So maybe we sit there and do just that; we look at the branches and the leaves and we think about where Baillie Scott began, about treehouses for princesses, about the romantics that used pass this way, about what it means to look at nature and what’s to be gained from doing so.

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