Today, I’ve got something a little odd here at frame, four ‘L’-shaped towers surrounding a nine-square cubic courtyard. The exterior walls are bare brick, but for small observatories in the upper corners. The ‘house’ itself is broken into four independent towers, with public spaces grouped on the ground floor, connected via the large tree-filled courtyard, which acts as the main living room of the house, with baths and bedrooms located on the upper tower floors. In contrast to the bare brick exterior, the courtyard walls are detailed in a strict classical vocabulary, with pilaster colonnades wrapping floor upon floor.
Returning to the work of Lutyens, this small room takes its primary cue from a detail in a stair hall at Viceroy’s House, New Delhi, where an arcade is topped with a small pendentive at the corner, curving the profile of the ceiling. Wormseye axonometric views follow – the bottom image also has sectional and wormseye studies of another Lutyens-inspired previous post.
Taking its form from some barn structures I passed on my trip to Oregon, this house has two opposing axes, one large gable, and a hip-ish roof. A spiral stair gently curves out on the side opposite the main entry. Classical details sit happily next to vernacular forms. Further formal explorations below
Lacking any particular program (that is, use), this courtyard structure plays on several ideas: the plan is neither a true double-courtyard, neither is it truly H-shaped (where the courts would be open on one side); one half of the project is more abstract modernist while the other is more expressly traditional; glass walls sit next to Classical colonnades; all the while the two side volumes are topped with that dormer I posted a few weeks back.
We all know what gas stations look like here in America – banal. Yet, the same ‘Mid-Century’ Modernism that is so popular right now also tidied up these rather pedestrian buildings as well. Mies van der Rohe even tried his hand at one in Montreal as part of a larger development. However, decades of neglect and changing cultural tastes have obscured the once minimal elegance of these structures. I drove past an example in Santa Monica that had been covered up in all the various and cheap appliques of ‘Mediterranean’ style. If Modernism could love this typology, could good Classicism? Behold, the fruits of such thinking – Doric porticos and pyramidal skylights.