I like circles. I like squares. I like circles and squares together. This is a gazebo. It has a square brick base with four Tuscan columns. These support a circular lintel with conical purlins. The drawing below does not have a circle. It is kind of boring.
That is all.
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’s post takes its impetus from a number of geometric games I’ve been playing with myself recently – the staircase moves from a circle to a square in plan, the tower moves from a square to a circle in elevation, the staircase moves from a rectangle to a circle as it moves from floor to floor. Programmatically, it is a take on Krier’s belvederes, which crop up again and again in his oeuvre (and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. . . ).
I find the late Victorian octagon houses fascinating on many levels (this one, this one, this one). A few weeks back, while scouring a site devoted solely to documenting these gems, I stumbled upon one that had been wrapped in a square two-story porch. This project is a derivative of that, with a tower-like octagonal form completely subsumed behind the square porch, only peeking out in a cupola at the roofline, taking a cue here or there from good ol’ Aldo Rossi. A study below takes the tower metaphor further, extending the octagon below the porches, which take on a more expressive tectonic with braced timber supports below.
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.
Leon Krier always has an interesting point or two to make with regards to Le Corbusier, most likely due to Corb’s immense power over Krier’s earliest work and schooling. In many ways, Krier’s career can be seen as one long extended dialogue with (and often against) the Modernist figurehead. As part of that, Krier has recently talked about a resurgence of those five points against which Corb wrote his – and argued that these five points ought to form the core of a vernacular traditionalism, much in the same way Corb’s have loomed over the moderns.
So I figured I’d take a synthetic middle ground. What happens if we take Corb’s five points and dress them up in traditional garb. What then? Piloti are given bases and capitals (and become columns); picture windows are gathered into long fenetre en longueur; the plan is libre (free of rooms en filade); the roof is flattened to host a garden; and the only point I’m probably missing is the free facade. O well, better luck next time. . .
Sitting in a local coffee shop, I began to wonder the great ‘what if’, and sketched out how I would have solved the problem. Starting with a square (shocker), I drew out a central nave, complete with side aisles and a high altar – a wall of single origin small batch coffees complete with a cash wrap. Sculptural skylights cut into the ‘nave’, while exposed lamps hang along the bottom of the ‘aisle’ soffits, not unlike old theatre marquees. Grab a cup. Stay awhile. Amen.
Two rooms with a passage down the middle – the typological dogtrot house. Here, I’ve begun to play with the articulation of the central ‘trot’, articulating it with an English hammerbeam truss above. Below, a slightly more refined study, with two different plan interpretations of the elevation at the top, as well as two different studies for the cupola at the central passage.
Today, a barn, a square, and some fun with drawing projections. If you’ve spent any time looking at my posts, you’ll know that I have a penchant for vernacular architectures, especially the banal agricultural buildings that dot the majority of America’s varied landscapes. The barn is probably the epitome of those forms, and heavy timber framed barns seem to more or less rise from the earth itself.
This particular barn is my interpretation of the timber framed variety, with my love of formal rigor – the square. The plan is a large four-square frame, with a double-wide central ‘nave’ and two single-wide ‘aisles’. Large, folding doors frame the ends, with small punched windows the sides. Since this barn is not intended to be utilitarian, the flooring is gridded black basalt pavers, with two large concrete decks on either end.
The drawings are all halves – the plan is half floor plan, half roof plan; the axonometric is half aerial, half wormseye; the oblique axon is also half & half; the elevation is half the side, half the front.
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.