Building a house with 360-degree views that still preserves the homeowner’s privacy is no easy task, but I/O Architects rose to the challenge in style with the Observation House. Located on the highest point in a rural Bulgarian village, the dwelling is surrounded by tall gabion walls topped by a green roof and a glass pavilion-like structure. Set far back from the edges of the fort-like walls, the glazed structure offers panoramic views while maintaining the site’s “distant visibility.”
The stacked gabions, or stone-filled cages, are an attractive and cost-effective way to build walls. A large rectangular entrance leads to a cavernous space housing the entrance hall and the garage. The bedrooms, bathrooms, staff quarters, sauna, massage room, and other assorted rooms wrap around the central glazed hall. The bedrooms, arranged along a horizontal glass wall, overlook views of and have access to the outdoor pool.
An elevator and stairways lead up to the fully glazed space that houses the open-plan living space on the upper floor and is topped with a large pitched roof. “The pitched roof geometrically connects the upper volume with the base and adds complexity in the interior space,” write the architects, “while the oversized eaves connect it to the little meadow around and exaggerate the hovering effect of the slim metal structure.” In keeping with the rustic surroundings, the architects chose a minimal materials palette largely comprising stone, concrete, and wood sourced from local forests.