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Exploring the Wilds of Memory: Our Clubhouse | Birmingham Architects Blog

Think back to your childhood, exploring the woods for the first time. The sights, the sounds, the excitement of being in the wilderness – all of these memories invoke in us a special passion for being surrounded by the environment.

This excitement is perfectly encapsulated in the experience of building a clubhouse. Whether we clumsily built them ourselves with whatever scrap material we could find, or we enlisted the help of our fathers and older brothers, our clubhouses were retreats, bastions for us to experience the joys of childhood in a world that was what we made it.

At first glimpse, the Clubhouse is the counterpoint to the landscape. Its orthogonal form complements the landscape by not daring to compete with it, but instead complementing the towering trees around it. The design invites you to explore, because the entrance is hidden from the approaching trail, drawing you further into the landscape. In this way, the house draws you in further, in an escape from the reality from which you came.

Once it has been discovered, the entry reveals a rope ladder and a trap door into the play space. With hatches for battening and an observation deck for engaging the scenic hillside, one is allowed to experience the height and verticality of the woods against the shelter and horizontality of the play space.

The horizontal slats of the play house envelop the interior of the space with rays of light that recall the imagery of those memories of the woods from our childhoods, but in a way that is novel to this one place.

Above all, the Clubhouse is a sanctuary for imagination and dreams. As Birmingham architects, we appeal to emotion in our work, trying to prompt some response from those who see our creations. The Clubhouse does precisely that – taking you back in time to when you wondered and dreamed and searched for a place of your own.

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