12 Aug

NEON’s moving ‘Shiver House’ is re-imagined in wood

It was a traditional Finnish Hut that inspired the designers at NEON to create the ‘Shiver House.’ Due to the installation’s popularity, the structure has now been re-created in wood.

Occasionally, you come across an architectural structure that seems to stand out for its fresh concept and fascinating form. NEON’s ‘Shiver House’ is one such creation. The award-winning, Margate-based design practice is known for challenging the territory between architecture, art, and design. They believe that architecture shouldn’t be rigid and static, and that design can change the way we relate to the landscape that surrounds us.  

NEON initially designed and installed the ‘Shiver House’ back in 2015 for the Barfotastigen exhibition on the island of Korppoo in Finland. “Every year, the Barfotastigen exhibition invites professional artists to interact with the unique archipelago environment – asking them to respond to the site and address issues concerning the wider archipelago area,” Sandra Nyberg, the curator of Barfotastigen, explains.

Captivating the imagination through expert design

The original ‘Shiver House’ installation was made from plastic and should have only been on the island for four months. It fitted in perfectly with the artist-run, annual exhibition that focuses on environmental and site-specific art. Yet it quickly became a sensation, with the structure’s poetic, living and dynamic movement captivating the crowds of visitors. However temporary the structure was first intended, its popularity did not go unnoticed, and the decision was made to keep it there on a longer-term basis.

During the project’s second year on Korppoo, the island began hosting summer concerts next to the ‘Shiver House’ as part of the renowned “Korppoo Sea Jazz” festival, and it has played a vital role in the event ever since. In April this year, a new edition of the ‘Shiver House’ was reconstructed out of Finnish Airplane Ply to celebrate the project’s 5th anniversary.  

“While most works are temporary with a life span of 4 months to a year, ‘Shiver House’ quickly became part of the site in a very prominent way,’ explains Sandra. ‘Therefore – to the delight of our visitors, the organizers of the Korppoo Sea Jazz festival, and of course ourselves – we decided to commission a new version of the work and make it a more permanent feature of the exhibition. The concept of the work suits well to be experienced in all seasons and times of the day. The ever-changing conditions strongly and fittingly alter the mood of the work, ranging from lively and light to sombre and subdued.” 

NEON – Shiver House from NEON on Vimeo.

Moving design, inspired by local heritage

‘Shiver House’ is a radical reinvention of the common Finnish Hut, which is known locally as a mökki. The project is a kinetic “animal-like” structure which moves and adapts in response to its surrounding natural forces. ‘Shiver House’ explores the idea that we can use architecture to create a closer emotional link between its inhabitants and the natural world it sits within. Also, the project explores the idea that architecture can be made to seem “alive” with the intention that this will engender a more profound and longer-lasting emotional relationship between people and the structures we inhabit.

“While the world is adjusting to the new reality of Covid-19, I feel that there needs to be a greater emphasis given to the way architecture, art and design might be used as a means of reducing anxiety, connecting us with nature and bringing people together again in public spaces. ‘Shiver House’s’ architecture is in a constant state of transformation and ‘performs’ with the ever-changing flows of the wind, it is an ideal means of grounding people in the present moment,” said Mark Nixon of NEON. 

Putting timber at the forefront of design

The house consists of 600 feather-shaped shingles which ‘flutter’ in response to the changing weather conditions of the site. The shingles are constructed using a folded and cut Airplane Ply, soaked in a protective oil which was kindly donated by Virtasen Maalitehdas. A simple timber structure supports rows of tensioned steel wire, and these steel wires hold the shingles. Each shingle is fitted with a counterweight that enables it to pivot upon a steel tension cable, and collectively the shingles create a rippling effect. 

Wind, rain, and snow cause the shingles to rotate into a closed position, giving the structure the appearance and function of shelter. The ‘Shiver House’ is forever transitioning between being a functional shelter and a poetic and experiential device. When sitting inside the structure, you can observe the ever-changing environment as the kinetic shingles modulate the internal light levels, as well as views out to the surrounding landscape. 

Using timber as a sustainable, secure, and durable material

Being a windows and doors specialist, we believe that it is essential to use wood instead of PVC and aluminium, which are damaging to the environment. We strive to offer our clients the highest quality products, which is why we use Accoya® for the outward-facing section of our engineered wood. Accoya® primarily comes from abundantly available, FSC-certified trees such as Radiata Pine which are sustainably sourced from forests in New Zealand, Chile, or Spain. Radiata Pine only needs approximately 28 years to grow, compared to 70-120 years for a hardwood alternative such as oak. 

Accoya is strong and stable and provides superior thermal insulation. Due to its robust nature, it is ideal for the more vulnerable elements of our projects, such as the ridge cap of a roof lantern or the external window cill. Accoya is virtually rot-proof and is guaranteed to last for up to 50 years, meaning that our bespoke doors, windows, and roof lanterns will look good for years to come.

Westbury Windows and Joinery specialise in crafting made-to-measure windows, doors, and roof lanterns, all made from our workshops in rural Essex. Contact us today to discuss your project in more detail, or alternatively you can book an appointment to visit one of our showrooms. 

NEON is an award-winning design practice based in Margate, UK. The studio was founded to investigate the territory between architecture, art, and design. They have worked on projects ranging in scale from objects up to monumental art installations. All images provided by NEON