Today’s project takes its impetus from the tithe barn (Fr. grange dimiere), medieval structures used to collect villagers’ tithes, which prior to the proliferation of cash was often given as a portion (one tenth) of the individual’s harvest. These cumulative tithes required an elaborate barn to store them for safekeeping throughout the following year. The structures are fabulous syntheses of the ecclesiastical and the secular – large, windowless stone or brick fortresses with soaring trussed, nave-like, roofs.
Barn conversions are fascinating to me, with the domesticization of the agricultural, and the tithe barn is no less so. This project attempts to take the typical tithe barn and meet it with the domestic, with a large enclosed courtyard to compliment the truss-framed living room.
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.
Oregon has a large number of covered bridges, where the wood trusses had to be protected from the persistent damp and subsequent rot and failure. These are simple, rectangular, white clapboard (or board & batten) gabled ‘houses’, concealing impressive, large-scale Howe trusses inside. I find engineered structures to have a brutal beauty, especially those of the early 20th Century, and often believe the Historic American Engineering Record to be much more fascinating than its architectural counterpart. These covered bridges offer a wonderful contrast between the utilitarian trussed interiors and the domestic exterior form. There might just be another project somewhere in there. . .
Most of the church forms I’ve featured have been basilicas – that is, long linear rooms with clearly defined axes and a higher central nave with lower side aisles. But recently, I tried to reconcile my basilican interests with my predilection for squares. Enter two historical church types based on the nine-square motif: the German hallenkirche (hall church), where there is no clear distinction between nave and aisles, but rather a large, open ‘hall’ of columns with extensive windows on all sides, and the Greek cross-in-square, in which a cruciform church plan is contained in a square form, with a large dome over the central crossing. This project fuses the two, with an intense wood roof structure that attempts to read as both the hallenkirche and the cross-in-square in one, and goes even further to render the space as a cube.
My wife and I drove the coast on our way back home from Portland, and we stumbled upon an lighthouse along the Coquille river in southern Oregon. I was struck by the simple forms rendered in white plaster: the tall cylindrical light and a low lozenge-shaped accessory building. These were both detailed in a pseudo-French collection of mannered profiles and mouldings, with large cyma-ed keystones and segmental arches, and iron king-rod trussed roof construction. Civic work today pales in comparison.