In 1950, Philip Johnson completed a townhome in Midtown Manhattan for the Rockefellers. The simple mid-century modernist gem has become an icon of the halcyon era, with a black steel frame filled with a blind brick first floor and large floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows above, and an open floor plan hiding an exterior courtyard and reflecting pond, with a bedroom suite beyond.
Like most things I enjoy, I’ve re-drawn the project, but on a strict nine-square module and outfitted with a more traditional aesthetic. The brick, not the steel frame, becomes the driving tectonic, with columns in place of sliding plate doors at the courtyard, which itself is centered on a fountain rather than floating around one. The rear bedroom suite is more glorified with a full gable where the hip roof of the main house is tucked behind shallow brick parapets. The front elevation remains rather blind, but trades a single french balcony window for the trio of floor-to-ceiling glass panels.
Some time ago, I shared a very Irving-Gill-dependent rectangular home with a wrap-around arcaded veranda. Today, I’m offering a new take on that plan – taking a cue from the Shingle Style and rounding out the corners of the veranda, and subsuming the whole under a large, steeply pitched hip roof. Here, the veranda is more closely tied to the rectangular volume behind it, rather than merely acting as a stand-alone wrapper. Personally, I find both equally interesting, but I’ll let you take your pick.
This small house takes its initial generation from a small, L-shaped home I drove past while on vacation in Oregon this past spring, where a porch filled out the square floor plan, its tall hip roof hitting the crotch of the two-story L behind. My version envisions a three-story volume to heighten the drama of the hip roof over the porch, with a circular stair at the corner of the L, while large Richardsonian Syrian arches front each gabled end, here rendered with a Gill-inspired symplicity. I also toyed with adding a wing outside the L, after seeing a photo of a similarly planned house which featured a few wing additions – in this parti, the L is subsumed into an overall symmetry.
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’.
Today, merely an elevation and roof/floor plan of a simple structure Edwin Lutyens designed at Middleton Park, where a pair of these cubic houses form the gatehouse entry to a much larger country estate. Why I enjoy it, and why I represent it here, is because it is one of Lutyen’s only square/cubic projects, where the picturesque goes to the wayside in an exercise of formal purity. A large hip roof mounts the brick and stone Georgian base, where two dormers are set aligned with the windows beneath on two sides, and one dormer is centered on other two. A large central chimney sprouts from the ridge. The house itself is built into a larger gate, with two eagles perched atop, flanking the gateway.
Apparently, you can live in one . . .
Above, a small pavilion built into a wall, which I imagine could extend quite some ways beyond where I’ve drawn it. The roof, a tall shingled pyramid.
Below, a roof that modulates between a square base and a round oculus at the crown, again figured as a tall, shingled pyramid.
Come to think of it, what if we combined the two, a really long wall with a larger rotated square pavilion cut out of a portion of it (and I mean, big, like Krier big), topped with a tall, oculus-ed, pyramid? Maybe tomorrow.
Today’s post is a small pavilion, four-square with on-center columns at each facade, radius-ed corners, each topped with a miniature turret and blended into a larger hip roof. Bits of Richardson clash with modernist modularity, postmodern idiom, and multiple readings in the plan (a diamond? a cruciform? nine-square even?). While I’ve drawn the exterior in brick, it could work wonderfully shingled or in clapboard, perhaps even stucco.
It began easily enough, a simple linear plan with two entrance porticoes per side, opening onto a square central hall with a circular stair its center, flanked by two sitting rooms, all sitting beneath two large deep-eaved hip roofs. But then my love of iterations got the best of me, and I began to chop off the side porticoes, play with roof forms, and open up the central hall into a dogtrot type house. . .
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. . .
From last Friday’s foray into Craig Ellwood’s Scientific Data Systems building, I offer a revised take, with a large standing seam copper hip roof, and a skylit rotunda in place of the cubic atrium, and rounded out the panelled masonry walls along the east and west axes. Placing a large hip roof on a square form may be a subtle nod to Thomas Beeby’s Baker Institute at Rice University. The detail at right shows a new cornice with dentils and beads rendered in brick. Maybe something fun could be done with those columns. . .