This small home is a take on the shingled row houses of southern New England, particularly by a number of homes I visited on the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border while in graduate school. The volume is a simple cube, wrapped in shingles for three stories, reflected by a nine-square breakdown in floor plan. While the precedent is more humble in its vernacular porch, I’ve given it a more deliberately Grecian portico, with a deliberately pedimented end gable at top. A small ocular window hints at the circular central staircase inside, played against the otherwise rectangular language of the whole.
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. . . ).
One square, one circular. The square has a radial winder stair inside (but cut as a square), while the circle has a square stair inside, with habitable spaces inside of that inner square. This particular example is a rift on a project by Oswald Mathias Ungers, where circular and square towers are set alongside one another (and of course, I can’t track it down, though I know it’s in the Electa monograph. . .).
This is a piece of a larger puzzle, the basic parti of which is sketched above. The stair is located centrally in the square plan, and is itself a nine-square plan. Tectonically, the stair is supported on a peristyle of Tuscan pilasters, while the stair proper is takes its details from Mies’ Crown Hall at IIT, and tall fireplaces occupy three sides (their form, a take on Schindler’s Kings Road House.
A Palladian villa facade on the primary axis is countered with long, low shingled porches on the transverse, which in a twist of irony is where the entry is located. Behind a symmetrical elevation of colonnades and porticoes, the building takes a more free spirit – one porch is exterior, the other ‘enclosed’, a glass-wrapped stair hall occupies two of three bays of a frontal portico, while the left over bay is screened in. The shingled roofs of the porches extend to meet a long skylit lightwell, cutting the central Palladian volume in twain.
This beach cottage betrays symmetry while remaining rigorously modular. A tower surmounts the concave entry aedicule, a large half-round stair walled in glass block curves back into the square living room, where a circular bay window contrast with the entry, and a long porch is added onto the otherwise square, hip-roofed volume.
Today is the day I celebrate my birth into this crazy world. So I’ll take this time to share some personal drawings: my house, or rather the little nooks and crannies of it that I’d like to alter, shift, sheathe, or paint. There’s a lot of me here, my confusion, my interests, my unrest, as well as where I sleep, read, eat, and otherwise live. There are bathrooms (above and just below), staircases (below), ceilings (below), gardens (bottom), and wainscotts throughout. Enjoy.