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Denning House, Ennead Architects, Standford

To Study in a Treehouse: Denning House at Stanford

Denning House stands on the southwest side of the Stanford campus, on the edge of Lagunita Lake, where it has taken the place of an old parking lot. Surrounded by California oak trees, the building fits into the unmistakable landscape of the Sunshine State.

Ennead Architects designed the new structure as a curved construction of massive wood. The convex longitudinal side of the two-storey building faces southwest. While the base is simple and seems quite diffident, the upper level of Denning House opens towards the lake in the form of large-format glazing. In front of these windows, the architects have set a veranda that invites visitors to study with a view of the natural environment or enjoy some time together. A slightly jutting roof offers the veranda some shelter. While all the constructive elements are of native Douglas fir, the sides of the building and parts of the concave northern face feature a curtain façade of cypress. This lies protectively around the Stanford building in an irregular grid pattern.

Denning House is accessed from the north. A meandering path leads to the main entrance. Along the longer sides of the building, visitors can ascend exterior stairways hidden behind the cypress façade to reach the sunny terrace. Ennead Architects have distributed the communal functions over the upper storey, which enjoys a view. Along with a dining area, this level is home to a relaxing lounge and a large auditorium for lectures. The ground floor accommodates the lobby, administrative areas, offices and seminar rooms.

California Douglas fir dominates inside as well. This creates more than an attractive look; it also provides a sustainability factor to the Stanford campus. Moreover, it gives Denning House the look of a treehouse amid all the green.

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