Perspectives on the Life House site

“Driving through the preceding valley, the weather closes in, but the whirling wet and wind does little to quell the instinct to strike out as soon as the car’s engine stops. As the mind starts to quieten, soothed by the rhythm of walking, so it is as though the ability one had as a child to focus intensely on whatever is to hand is restored – on the yieldingness of the wet ground underfoot, on the way the reed stalks flush with colour as they dip below a pool’s surface, on how the hiss of rain falling on a waxed jacket becomes instantly more percussive when the droplets turn to pellets of hail and on the way the slightly deeper rasp of the raven sporadically underpins the caw of the crow.

Stumbling through this austerely sweeping panorama, the subtlest natural browns and greens become so vivid, they burn on one’s retinas. Nothing is still and the sensation is of inhabiting a giant time-lapse photographic sequence, where the skyscape changes from second to second, the heathland grasses quiver in a state of perpetual vibration and tadpoles wriggle in even the tiniest accumulations of water.

Travelling to such a place, where retreat into isolation feels like not a flight from but an embracing of the fullness of life – as all authentic retreats tend to be – naturally prompts a questioning of habits and assumptions. In this environment that peels your eyes, opens your ears and thins the membrane between self and outside to tender transparency, what an opportunity there lies to make a house where time spent indoors acquires a quality of intensity commensurate with the experience of being outside – a house where one would be fully alive to the smallest details of the architecture and of one’s behaviour within it.”


Words by Alison Morris
Photographs taken from a visual essay by Jason Orton