Today’s post is a continuation of the previous week’s. Here, I’ve blown-up the kitchen proper, which like my grandparents’ kitchen that inspired it, has a large central island. Where theirs was square, though, I’ve rendered it circular, in homage to Sir Edwin Lutyens’ great subterranean kitchen at Castle Drogo. Similarly to Lutyens’, I’ve topped it with a great circular skylight as well, to bring ample daylight into the workspace. For a stroke of my own interest, I’ve placed a small breakfast nook to the south, which takes cues from Frank Lloyd Wright’s many inglenooks that dotted his earliest works.
Sometimes I’ll sit in front of a blank page of my sketchbook, pen in hand, coffee poured, for some time with seemingly no idea of what I’d like to draw, what ideas I’d like to explore – an ‘architect’s block’, if you will. To break the silence, I might attempt to draw a floor plan of a house I know in a different style (as in this previous post, where I took the Craftsman Gamble House and reinterpreted in in the spirit of Irving Gill), or try my hand at recalling a house long gone from my personal memories and recollections.
Today’s post is an extrapolation of the latter, taking my grandparents’ sprawling home, which started as a simple 1950’s California ranch, but with multiple ad hoc additions over the years. By placing it on a strict module, the floor plan grew a bit, but I’m happy with the result nonetheless.
A central entry off of a walled kitchen garden opens directly onto a long corridor that acts as the main circulation spine of the home, with a living/music room to the left and a large kitchen to the right. Further past the living room, the corridor picks up again, with guest bedrooms to each side and a formal library/study at the end. Past the kitchen, laundry and mud rooms flank the corridor with a large master suite at its end. A formal dining room connects the living room and the kitchen, while also creating a patio on one side and pool deck on the other. The detail below is of the central corridor, which meets Edwin Lutyens with Louis Sullivan’s Auditorium Building.
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.
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 . . .
Rather, they started with a frame. Shelves, that is. I was scouring the internet and architecture books for shelves, first to house my inordinately large (and growing) library, and then just for the interest of how shelving could be used/designed in an architectural setting. So I started with a frame, three cubes stacked, but quickly found myself drawn to a two-by-four stack, with it’s squares within squares. Squares led me to think of Ungers, but placing a base and a top on it made me think Rossi. The detail below assumes a hollow metal frame with sheet metal pediment and base, prefabricated coves cut and welded to form rudimentary mouldings. A wormseye axon explores how an entire wall may be covered with these. And a final alternate places two large half-round cabinets to either side of the shelving proper, taken from a large wardrobe Lutyens designed for Viceroy’s House, Delhi.
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.
This is a simple, ‘shotgun’ home, with two porches flanking either side, and a large central room in the middle, accentuated by the ‘dutch’ gable of the roof. The ‘opposites’ so named in the post’s title indicate that the ground floor has open porches on the ends with a solid middle, while the semi-enclosed basement has the opposite: enclosed ends and an arcaded middle. This came about through a simple drawing, shown above, where the same parti could easily be rendered in either formation – so why not do both? That hybrid elevation is below, where the opposition of the two systems results in a ‘checkerboard’ pattern, not too dissimilar from Lutyens’ own, larger, experiments.
First, an apology for erratic postings lately: my wife and I spent a gorgeous weekend in Yosemite, where I photographed the granite quoins of the elegant bridges as I did the granite faces of El Capitan and the Falls; and I’m neck deep studying for licensure. But neither of those should give cause to think that I have ceased to draw. Indeed, my study copies of the AIA contracts are filled with margins of vernacular, agricultural, and ‘rustic’ architectures. Many of which I hope to make onto frame in the coming weeks.
But for now, more Lutyens. Two details: a Tuscan pilaster as reduction rather than addition, taken from his war memorial at Thiepval, France (adapted with stars per Paul Philippe Cret’s own memorial at Chateau-Thierry); and my own interpretation of a common Lutyens formal operation – changes in plane alternate from side to side, rather than retaining diagonal symmetry (again, look at the Thiepval memorial, especially the lower arches, where the walls step in from the side before stepping in from the front, and then repeating as it goes up…).
This house plays a game of symmetry, where the magnificent double gable of Lutyens’ Homewood is played on every facade, but punches out by one module on the east and west facades. The stair is set off-center, with a tall square atrium (Craig Ellwood of two posts back), and an asymmetrical collage of symmetrical rooms inside. My first plan (above) had double columns throughout, the second plan (below) favors the single centered column.
Returning to the work of Lutyens, this small room takes its primary cue from a detail in a stair hall at Viceroy’s House, New Delhi, where an arcade is topped with a small pendentive at the corner, curving the profile of the ceiling. Wormseye axonometric views follow – the bottom image also has sectional and wormseye studies of another Lutyens-inspired previous post.