After taking a little well-needed vacation, I’m back with more frame. Specifically, I’m sharing a continuation of the past two posts – a hillside studio and home. Both of these projects included a small cubic volume topped with a pyramidal skylight. This particular ‘studio’ typology is explored more fully here. While the exterior is a solid white stucco-ed cube, the interior shows a four-square heavy timber frame, with a pair of wood scissor trusses forming a smaller cube at the top, which is itself topped by the skylight proper. Since the geometry is a bit difficult to make out in these projections, I’ll draft up a quick perspective for a subsequent post.
Most often, architects design with ‘plan as generator’, that is we begin designing a building with the floor plan, and derive all the elevations, sections, and even details from it.
Today, though, is something different. This began as an elevation – what you see above. I was thinking something between Adolf Loos and Irving Gill, with a Richardsonian picturesque quality – a ‘character study’ if you will. A rectangular volume makes up the center with a cubic one stepped down to the right and a smaller cube to the left, with a stair tower at the ‘rear’.
The plan – below – came after, trying to work out precisely how the different squares and modules worked together, playing localized symmetries and forms against one another, and eventually placing a formal parterre garden on the upper level with a pool deck on the lower, while a gravel auto court fleshes out the public side of the property.
Small (often illegal) studios riddle the Hollywood Hills, where all ilk of entertainment-oriented folk hash out their hits and edit down their next Oscar-worthy performances. . . or so the stereotype goes.
This is such a studio – a miniature white cube set deep into the hillside with a service shed and private garden adjacent. Upon approach, only the pyramidal skylight is visible, slowly revealing the tall archways underneath upon descending a spiral stair. The form itself owes much to both Irving Gill and O.M. Ungers, with a few picturesque moments from Wallace Neff’s Spanish Colonial Revivalism thrown in for good measure. Upcoming posts will feature the interior of the studio, with that large skylight and intricate trusswork above.
This small home is a take on the shingled row houses of southern New England, particularly by a number of homes I visited on the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border while in graduate school. The volume is a simple cube, wrapped in shingles for three stories, reflected by a nine-square breakdown in floor plan. While the precedent is more humble in its vernacular porch, I’ve given it a more deliberately Grecian portico, with a deliberately pedimented end gable at top. A small ocular window hints at the circular central staircase inside, played against the otherwise rectangular language of the whole.
Or is it just glorified trailer? Oh, let’s not quibble over semantics, shall we? You’re here for pretty pictures. Well, what I have here is a small ‘home’, a tiny home, rather.
There is a whole market out there that is centered around this new class of detached homes for those without the budget for a conventional suburban home, or those who would seek to lessen their actual footprint on the earth in addition to their carbon footprint. What I find interesting is the challenge of fitting all the normal homey things into a smaller package, wrapping that package around conventional building modules, and yet still fitting it into Department of Transportation standards for a ‘mobile’ trailer.
My thoughts ramble between two or three eight-foot cubes, all topped with pyramidal roofs and skylights, and jam-packed with foldable shelving, hidden beds, and all the other hoopla that comes with a ‘tiny home’.
I’m fascinated by drawing projections, that is the way that we draw or project the linework of a floor plan into elevations, sections, axonometrics, etc. The drawings I feature here on frame clearly show that. But I know that often the thing to be drawn is often obfuscated by the drawing itself, where the projection can overpower the building itself. Today I present not a project per se, but a series of different projections of the same simple architectural form – a cube with a small dome and oculus.
The simple plan of the upper-left is revealed in simple section and elevation, and explored in two different axonometrics below – aerial and wormseye (upview). Oblique axons, my special sectional wormseye oblique axon, and sectional axons flesh out the sheet.
Another Gill-inspired project, this time taking planometric cues from Ungers, with a large central hall that cuts through three stories to a pyramidal skylight atop, wrapped in a continuous arcaded portico all around. Maybe this one could do with killer attic spaces, for a fourth floor.
Three sketches, three squares, in anticipation for my 3X10 birthday tomorrow (the 3rd).
The first, an elevation, with an arcade atop two square windows in a wall – Traditional form with abstraction below.
The second, a plan, square in form, but diagonal in organization, with a nice entry rotunda on the corner. This is an homage to Schindler’s diagonal square plans (the How House and Bethlehem Baptist Church, plan), and his mentor’s detailing at the Ennis Brown House.
The third, in a three-dimensional axonometric, a modernist cube.
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.
Most of the time, the drawings I post on frame are more complete, polished, and thought out. Often, they are the reworking of previous ideas, or different ways of representing an already designed form. But that is not to say that I never do quicker, rougher, sketches. Indeed, often these early sketches lie buried underneath more ‘finished’ drawings. But today, I thought I’d share a few nascient ideas before they got worked through:
The top drawing began two discussions of halls-and-hearths (here and here); the below sketches reflect some agricultural forms I encountered on a long road-trip; a small cubic ‘house’ with a telescoping tower; another small cubic structure, with a large spire and a funky base condition; and a constructed mesa, a futile and humble attempt to capture the grandeur of those immense landforms (and not wholly unalike Hans Hollein’s landscrapers).