As a part of my Christmas traditions, my family and I spend a weekend in the mountains here in Southern California, where we can play ‘winter’ and ‘snow’ and safely return to our warm weather when our fingers are sufficiently numb. The so-called ‘cabins’ we stay in are often over-sized log mansions, and kitschy as can be expected.
This project is an answer to them: a simple nine-square plan with a central courtyard, and a circular infinity-edge spa at the middle; the kitchen-dining-living trio lines the north edge, with sliding glass walls fronting a supposed lake view; and private sleeping quarters located on the lower level.
Take last week’s modern courtyard, put it on a diagonal axis, and wrap the corner ‘L’ volume in a reduced vernacular language and this is what you get.
My brother is kind of infatuated with mid-century modernism, with volumes on Palm Springs and Neutra strewn about his house. So naturally, I began to tinker with what I might do with the tropes of ‘MCM’, and how I might incorporate it into my own tendencies of modular, square plans. This plan again plays on ideas of four and nine-squares, with brick walls surrounding three sides of a square, one half of which is dedicated to the interior domestic spaces and the other is given over to the exterior with a brick patio, wood deck, gravel garden, and a pool. The timber-framed living volume is flanked by a service bar in which a small entry courtyard is situated.
I’m not happy with the pool, and am tempted to try it on center rather than the side. . .
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.
This small house is defined by the square courtyard at its center, which is filled with trees and a reflecting pool. The form that wraps it is bisected by alleys, forcing one to ambulate through the courtyard to move between the halves. Further, no access is granted directly from the house to the surrounding landscape, making the courtyard the public entry as well. Studies below explore rendering two of the courtyard faces in Doric form, opposed to the simple brick envelope at the exterior.
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.
Further pulling the thread of hidden circular courtyards (here, here, & here), this exploration introduces yet another platonic geometry: the triangle. Low gables on each facade take the center, allowing colonnades to wrap the acute corners, while a circular colonnade sits in the middle, centered on a triangular obelisk in a circular pool. Interior spaces are fluid, with low walls and pipe columns hinting at spatial division. The dialogue between the round courtyard and the triangular roof ridges creates a dynamic interior roof form with exposed rafters throughout.
A study in pure form, this project is a derivative of a previous post, with a curved pediment sits coplanar with the colonnade-cum-pergola that surrounds a circular pool, and some admittedly quirky curved glass-block walls mediating between the three bays of the facade with the smaller volume behind.
Today’s installment is something a little idiosyncratic – this one didn’t begin with a square, but rather a triangle. From that, came a rotunda, and two arms, one of which I furnished with a square. This project takes more precedence from the picturesque traditions, but is still rather rigorous in module and geometry. References stem from Robert A M Stern to Samuel Vosper’s work with the Army Corps of Engineers and a touch of Lutyens.