a belvedere


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.


a retreat


This began as a small retreat house, in two halves connected by a central skylit entry, with full-height sliding doors on two sides and blank walls on the entry facades.  But, then I got to thinking, and decided to put it on stilts up in the air, like the fire lookout towers that dot the American West’s forests.  Obviously, this necessitates a staircase, which I suggest making a conical spiral.  To increase livable space in what would be an otherwise stuffy cabin, the entire steel structure has been wrapped to create an over-sized screened porch.  While I started with a butterfly roof and tried out a hip roof, I find the dichotomy of the butterfly against the spindly supports to be rather compelling.


a house in four towers


Today, I’ve got something a little odd here at frame, four ‘L’-shaped towers surrounding a nine-square cubic courtyard.  The exterior walls are bare brick, but for small observatories in the upper corners.  The ‘house’ itself is broken into four independent towers, with public spaces grouped on the ground floor, connected via the large tree-filled courtyard, which acts as the main living room of the house, with baths and bedrooms located on the upper tower floors.  In contrast to the bare brick exterior, the courtyard walls are detailed in a strict classical vocabulary, with pilaster colonnades wrapping floor upon floor.





two stair towers


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. . .).



not-so-lightly sketched


Most of the time, the drawings I post on frame are more complete, polished, and thought out.  Often, they are the reworking of previous ideas, or different ways of representing an already designed form.  But that is not to say that I never do quicker, rougher, sketches.  Indeed, often these early sketches lie buried underneath more ‘finished’ drawings.  But today, I thought I’d share a few nascient ideas before they got worked through:

The top drawing began two discussions of halls-and-hearths (here and here); the below sketches reflect some agricultural forms I encountered on a long road-trip; a small cubic ‘house’ with a telescoping tower; another small cubic structure, with a large spire and a funky base condition; and a constructed mesa, a futile and humble attempt to capture the grandeur of those immense landforms (and not wholly unalike Hans Hollein’s landscrapers).





a tower


Taking cues from a small apartment complex south of Wilshire Boulevard, this small tower features an upper story that steps out over the lower floor, with a large, oversized ogee profile between the two, cut through with arched windows.  The resulting effect is reminiscent of machicolation found on medieval embattlements.


a cottage villa


A square with Richardsonian towers on the corners, flat masonry facades in the main axis, with full-height shingle roofs over porches in the other.  A skylit circular stair in a square hall in the center with octagonal-ish foyers on either end with half-round aedicules for entry porches.





modules, mullions, and mies


Today, I’m featuring the pinnacle of Mies’ urban tower typologies: the Seagram Building of 1958.  The wide flange steel mullions on the Lake Shore Drive apartments are rendered in custom bronze extrusions, with thermal breaks at the windows, but all appearing as though they were constructed of arc-welded steel sections (as at the Farnsworth House).  The glass curtainwall is brought proud of the structural column line, allowing the windows to be consistently sized throughout.  A contemporaneous example in Toronto follows:


palladio, meet hejduk

VILLA_03Two outer walls are traditionally detailed, while the porticos between them take on an abstract formalist language.  The cubic volume of the villa proper is more Mies-ian, and  is topped with large shingled hip roof (with the dormer I featured yesterday), while a round stair tower sits on the other side of the far wall (alla John Hejduk’s ‘Wall House’ series).