It’s been far too long – apologies are in order.
But today it’s back to basics: square and arches. The first project is a simple study of a simple idea, instigated by an awful homespun diy renovation in my neighborhood, where a series of plaster arches had been tacked up under a shallow roof overhang, obscuring the clapboard home beneath. I’ve ordered it a bit more, rendered in a square with access via brick steps at the corners – a four square clapboard home sheltered behind a humanist arcade.
The second project is another simple pavilion, this time with rounded corners and centralized access. A quick study to the right explores an arcuated form, with a centralized column instead, harkening back to the four square plan mentioned above.
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.
The plan above is a direct take on Philip Johnson’s Hodgson House of 1951, at New Canaan, CT. The original is of the same mid-century modernist vein as his own storied Glass House of 1949, also in New Canaan. My version keeps the same U-shaped floor plan, but filled out to take up an entire square, and replaces the focal fireplace wall with a half-round bay. Most dramatically, though, the entire exterior is rendered in brick, including the window openings, which in Johnson’s were a black steel and glass system, no doubt in deep homage to Mies’ contemporary work at IIT, Chicago. A shallow shingled roof completes the traditional restylization, and makes the whole more reminiscent of the earlier Chicago traditions of Richardson & Burnham.
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.
I think through drawing; I interpret as I reproduce. The drawing above perfectly capture this, where I set out to draw an accurate representation of an existing floor plan and ended up drawing what I wanted to see. The project in question is Frank V. Klingeren’s T-Karregat Center in Eindhoven, of 1973. The original is a system of steel truss ‘trees’ that serve as both structure and building systems, in some Reyner-Banham-dream-come-true, culminating in large pyramidal skylights that provide the majority of the light to an otherwise free plan interior.
My interpretation keeps the modular system, but lays it out in a rigor more reminiscent of early SOM (Mitchell Hall at the US Air Force Academy), and imagines it rendered in popular-once-again heavy-timber framing. The drawings below investigate the basic modularity, the nine square, and centering.
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.
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’s project is a nine-square pavilion that is organized along the diagonal, with two opposite corners rounded off, one side a wall, the other a colonnade. An oculus centers the pavilion, inside the trabeated coffered ceiling. A diagonal section, perpendicular section, combo womseye oblique axonometric, and oblique wormseye axonometric round out the representations.
Linguistics, or the study of language, is today’s topic, expressed in four buildings: On the left, traditional languages are used to express a four square plan (top), and a nine square plan (bottom), with floor plans on the left and ceiling plans on the right. On the right, modernist languages express the same four square (top) and nine (bottom), with symmetrical plans on the left and directionally symmetrical plans on the right – mainly because modernist ceiling plans are far less interesting to draw. . . A section and elevation lie beneath.
Another vernacular form taken from my Oregon drive. This one, the study of roof masses, with a four-gabled volume over a hipped porch. I’ve taken this to it’s logical extent, with square-in-square, and a continuous, cubic central ‘house’. The reality is that this is no house whatsoever, at least not at this scale. Perhaps more of an elaborate cabin. Miesian stairs offer access from all four sides.
The final drawing represents a different formal operation on the same floor plan, with a single pyramidal roof replacing the hips and gables, echoing Asplund’s Woodland Chapel.