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.
I began by drawing cabinetry I found in a new volume on O. M. Ungers, then for whatever reason took a look through a book on Lutyens, where I found a small round wood kitchen island, detailed as four miniature Tuscan columns. I’m not one to shrink from putting two incongruous styles alongside one another, so why not? Lutyens’ kitchen at Castle Drogo, itself a riff on Soane, informed the ceiling.
Facade as generator: that is, starting with a facade and working back to a floor plan instead of the opposite, more traditional, fashion. Here, a scored plaster exterior references brick construction, with radiating joints at the circular window and jack arches over the rectangular side windows. A tall pyramidal skylight centers the whole.
Another facade, this time actual brick with rounded corners, simple square double-hung windows under jack arches with thin metal overhangs and stone shoulders at the inset front door. The plan suggests a small linear courtyard at the center.
This circular rotunda has a few things going on in plan that a section won’t illustrate. But not to mind, for the section shows enough of its own intrigue. The dome is cut, making it shallow at the center than the ends. A large skylight sits above, illustrated here as a small tempietto, a room beyond a room, above which the skylight proper is positioned.
This is a simple room, with a shallow dome set on squinches capping a square room. The whole is topped with a small tempietto-cum-oculus. A perpendicular section (top-left) is paired with a diagonal section (top-right), and a wormseye sectional axonometric on the bottom-right.
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.
Most of the church forms I’ve featured have been basilicas – that is, long linear rooms with clearly defined axes and a higher central nave with lower side aisles. But recently, I tried to reconcile my basilican interests with my predilection for squares. Enter two historical church types based on the nine-square motif: the German hallenkirche (hall church), where there is no clear distinction between nave and aisles, but rather a large, open ‘hall’ of columns with extensive windows on all sides, and the Greek cross-in-square, in which a cruciform church plan is contained in a square form, with a large dome over the central crossing. This project fuses the two, with an intense wood roof structure that attempts to read as both the hallenkirche and the cross-in-square in one, and goes even further to render the space as a cube.
I’ll be featuring the rest of the house from which this small detail stems tomorrow, but here’s a small tidbit – a foyer or entry hall that is not quite a true octagon, due to the geometries at play in the larger plan. Different ceiling options follow, where the first attempts to regulate the whole in a ribbed ‘melon’ dome, the second highlights the four cardinal direction in a circular vault, and the third treats those as flat panels.
In a change of pace, I’ll share a quick plan and section study of another architect’s work – Gunnar Asplund’s Woodland Chapel in Stockholm. A classical portico and a domed sanctuary hide under a large hip roof. Schematic details of jamb conditions of my own making grace the top.