Having begun my architectural education in Southern California, Mid-Century Modernism (and especially Richard Neutra*) has always held a place of honor in my personal canon – MadMen be damned. Among the Eastern variants of that style, the Harvard Five are most likely the most influential.
Today’s work is a variation on Eliot Noyes’ own home at New Canaan, CT. Effectively, I’ve taken the iconic low-slung, masonry-clad, flat-roofed house and swapped its stylistic elements for more traditional, vernacular ones: an arched entry opens to a colonnaded patio; hip roofs with exposed trusswork sit over the living rooms and bedrooms; and double glass doors replace the sliding panels that so often fail. A brick variation is below, with jack arches in place of the wood trabeation found above.
*Growing up around his buildings at the Crystal Cathedral didn’t hurt either. . .
Staring at a blank sheet, knowing that I want to draw something, just not knowing what to draw, sometimes I try to draw the plan of a house from memory. This particular day I was musing over Greene & Greene’s seminal Gamble House, the high water mark of the California Craftsman bungalow. But being my own self, obsessed with modules and keeping things on grid, I drew it a little differently, quickly observing a plan that reminded myself more of Gill than Greene. So I ran with it. White stucco replaces darkened shingles; Rectangular parapets take the place of deep Japanese-inspired gables; Minimally appointed Italianate colonnades take over for iron-wrapped wood posts. What we’re left with, while deriving from the Gamble House no doubt becomes something completely different, yet all the while essentially Californian.
Something interesting today – A shallow gabled house sandwiched between two oversized hemispherical porches, with large conical roofs above. The house itself is clad in clapboard, while the porches are colonnaded and shingled. A tall lantern caps the central volume to bring light into an otherwise dim space. The house itself is divided into a cubic central dining room, with a kitchen/bathing alcove to one side and a sleeping alcove to the other, while the expansive porches are intended to be the primary ‘living rooms’. Elevations and axonometrics below.
Today’s project is a nine-square pavilion that is organized along the diagonal, with two opposite corners rounded off, one side a wall, the other a colonnade. An oculus centers the pavilion, inside the trabeated coffered ceiling. A diagonal section, perpendicular section, combo womseye oblique axonometric, and oblique wormseye axonometric round out the representations.
To celebrate my birthday, my wife took me to see over 20 of Irving Gill’s extant works. I’ve always appreciated this seminal figure, and his lasting impact upon Southern California’s architectural development, but had never taken it upon myself to actually seek out his work in person. Lesson learned. And as much as I appreciate precedent study, that is the representation of existing works through drawing, I believe that history must be operative – that is, we must look to how history can work for us today. Not only what we can learn from it, but what we can do with it.
And with that introduction, I give you a small house, three squares in plan, stepped in section, cubic in volume. The articulation of the volumes is typical Gill, with an arcade wrapping the a portion of the ground floor as a screen, yet open to the air above (quoting Gill’s Bishop’s School in La Jolla). The remainder of the details are taken from Ungers, with some Schindler-esque diagonal planning.
For a little dose of fun, I took this week’s longhouse and shortened it up, ending up with a square with half-round screened porches on either end.
Maybe today’s project is not a longhouse perse, but definitely a domestic form that is quite elongated, with long solid brick gabled walls making up the length of the volume, and a hipped apsoidal colonnaded porches on the ends. I think that the roof itself would be particularly interesting, with the intersecting gables at different pitches, and a generous Rossi-inspired conical skylight.
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.
A week or so ago I promised elevations for a courtyard plan. Well, here they be. The front and back feature vernacular porches, complete with columns and hip roofs. The sides, however belie the modernist floor plan inside, with floor-to-ceiling Mies-ian windows at the dining room and bedroom (what’s privacy?), and counter-height butt-glazed windows at the kitchen. The roof forms cannot be seen from the exterior, as they all slope inward to the impluvium-like courtyard. I really aught to do some sections. . .
Continuing my exploration of rural agricultural form, this square cabin-like-structure plays on ideas of symmetry, complete and incomplete form, nine-square and four-square planning, all within the guise of simple vernacular architecture. The side elevation was the generator, with an overall symmetrical gable, infilled below with a colonnade on one end, a blank wall on the other, and a large picture window on center. The plan operates between the three bays of this side elevation and four running perpendicular, with a long vaulted living-sleeping room flanked by the porch-colonnade on one end and a long kitchen-toilet-service gallery opposite. A study of potentially running a barrel vaulted ceiling the length of the main living hall is at the bottom.