The Butterfly House
Butterfly House is a dramatic architectural sculpture by English architect Laurie Chetwood, inspired by the lifecycle of a butterfly, a demonstration of experimental environmental design on a liveable scale.
The butterfly’s lifecycle
An experiment in zoomorphic design, the remodelled 1930s timber-clad family home traces each change in the butterfly lifecycle.
The larval stage is represented by the steel bridge with curved balustrades that hint at the segmented body of a caterpillar leading to the house, the chrysalis is captured by the staircase, enclosed areas of the house and conservatory and the final winged insect is represented by retractable winged external canopies spread as sun shades over a paved garden space.
The interior of the house is ‘alive’ with colour and a web of fibres, wires and cables, cocooning its inhabitants.
Originally Willards Cottage was a show house at a 1930s Ideal Home Exhibition when it was built to demonstrate the advantages of Canadian cedar-frame construction. When re-erected on a site near Godalming that was a perfect habitat for the butterfly the architect, Laurie Chetwood, wanted to transform it into something that would reflect its life cycle- so Butterfly House became a reality. There is a steel walkway leading to the house, enormous Kevlar winged canopies with red admiral markings projecting in all directions with tubes, pipes and cables festooned everywhere. The RIBA Award Judges described it as “an art installation as much as a house, wrapped around a largely unchanged building.”
They concluded: “The architect deserves praise for the way that art and design have been integrated in this building. Innovation and experimentation are the key drivers behind the design vision and this has created a truly unique and different building”.