Today’s post is a continuation of the previous week’s. Here, I’ve blown-up the kitchen proper, which like my grandparents’ kitchen that inspired it, has a large central island. Where theirs was square, though, I’ve rendered it circular, in homage to Sir Edwin Lutyens’ great subterranean kitchen at Castle Drogo. Similarly to Lutyens’, I’ve topped it with a great circular skylight as well, to bring ample daylight into the workspace. For a stroke of my own interest, I’ve placed a small breakfast nook to the south, which takes cues from Frank Lloyd Wright’s many inglenooks that dotted his earliest works.
I like circles. I like squares. I like circles and squares together. This is a gazebo. It has a square brick base with four Tuscan columns. These support a circular lintel with conical purlins. The drawing below does not have a circle. It is kind of boring.
That is all.
Today’s post takes its impetus from a number of geometric games I’ve been playing with myself recently – the staircase moves from a circle to a square in plan, the tower moves from a square to a circle in elevation, the staircase moves from a rectangle to a circle as it moves from floor to floor. Programmatically, it is a take on Krier’s belvederes, which crop up again and again in his oeuvre (and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. . . ).
Today I’m featuring two disconnected and distinct projects linked only by one formal trait – circular forms inset within squares.
The top project riffs on Adolf Loos’ Steiner House, isolating the iconic barrel vaulted roof, expressing it as a bow truss on the interior, and topping it with a central circular skylight.
The bottom is a take on a vestibule in Lutyens’ Middleton Park, where a hemispherical dome is cut rather unceremoniously by a rectangular rather than the typical square room beneath, giving the dome an inherent axis. I’ve topped this with a tall sculptural skylight, at once a nod to both the Choragic Monument and Michael Graves.
One square, one circular. The square has a radial winder stair inside (but cut as a square), while the circle has a square stair inside, with habitable spaces inside of that inner square. This particular example is a rift on a project by Oswald Mathias Ungers, where circular and square towers are set alongside one another (and of course, I can’t track it down, though I know it’s in the Electa monograph. . .).
The story of where these ideas come from is a hodgepodge, so let’s just talk about what this is: a circular atrium in the middle of a nine-square plan demarcated with Corbusian piloti-cum-columns, with its four corners filled with circles: two circles are set up as objects, while two others are strung together with a larger radius. All of this sits below a blank square volume, continuing the allusion to Villa Savoy, with a strong gable at the roof line.
This project stems from a building I passed by every so often living in New Haven, CT. Two or three Victorian and Colonial homes had been repurposed as a school, with one long porch wrapping all of the various buildings into one. My proposal here places two opposite forms – one square, the other circular – against one another, united by a shared central staircase and a wrap-around porch, as one house with two identities. The bottom elevation shows a variation, with a larger second floor and attic, but the basic idea is lost. . .
This project started as a half-cube, which then got its corners chamfered off to become an octagon. It then had a large spherical central space carved out of its inside, in grand imitation of the archetypal Pantheon in Rome, but here rendered in simple brick, without the fuss of the Orders or coffers. Typically, the entrance to a central sancto sanctorum like this is given directly from the outside, but this project forces one to ambulate first through smaller domes at the corners before entering the central space, which is shown in the diagonal section below.
My brother-in-law lives in a small military town in the Mojave desert, and when he mentioned buying cheap land and building something, naturally I got thinking. Courtyard typologies sprang to mind, perhaps met with elements of pueblo adobe rectangular masses and carved wood porches. My plan offers a square adobe mass punctured with a circular courtyard and fountain at its center (evaporative cooling), and is rimmed with wood porches about to enjoy the expansive desert vistas, and to offer deep shade to any exterior openings.
While traces of Irving Gill abound in the reductive classical-vernacular language, the plan geometries posed a small problem, reconciling the circular interior form and the division of rectangular rooms about. I turned to Palladio’s Villa Capra (La Rotonda) for help, but also needed to situate the rooms of a modern single family residence, and thought Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cheney House might work.
Taking cues from the Craig Ellwood project I featured a few weeks ago, this generic office building places a large glass box off the ground, ringed at grade with reflecting pools. The drama is in the circular courtyard hidden inside, which is conical in section, flaring open to the sky above. Corner staircases echo the circular motif.