Small (often illegal) studios riddle the Hollywood Hills, where all ilk of entertainment-oriented folk hash out their hits and edit down their next Oscar-worthy performances. . . or so the stereotype goes.
This is such a studio – a miniature white cube set deep into the hillside with a service shed and private garden adjacent. Upon approach, only the pyramidal skylight is visible, slowly revealing the tall archways underneath upon descending a spiral stair. The form itself owes much to both Irving Gill and O.M. Ungers, with a few picturesque moments from Wallace Neff’s Spanish Colonial Revivalism thrown in for good measure. Upcoming posts will feature the interior of the studio, with that large skylight and intricate trusswork above.
As any casual observer of this ‘drawg’ will note, I have quite an affinity for the vernacular architectures of the Americas. My family’s winter trips to rural Oklahoma have offered me a greater opportunity to acquaint myself with the seemingly endless variety that the vernacular languages offord.
This is yet another home in a barn – yet this time a quonset-roofed barn, where the structural rigidity of the expansive roof comes from its circular geometry rather than the elaborate king-post trusses typical of agrarian structures. The top variation uses shed roof lean-to’s to house ancillary spaces, while placing main living areas under the quonset proper, while the section and plan below explore formal variations on the quonset itself.
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.
Having begun my architectural education in Southern California, Mid-Century Modernism (and especially Richard Neutra*) has always held a place of honor in my personal canon – MadMen be damned. Among the Eastern variants of that style, the Harvard Five are most likely the most influential.
Today’s work is a variation on Eliot Noyes’ own home at New Canaan, CT. Effectively, I’ve taken the iconic low-slung, masonry-clad, flat-roofed house and swapped its stylistic elements for more traditional, vernacular ones: an arched entry opens to a colonnaded patio; hip roofs with exposed trusswork sit over the living rooms and bedrooms; and double glass doors replace the sliding panels that so often fail. A brick variation is below, with jack arches in place of the wood trabeation found above.
*Growing up around his buildings at the Crystal Cathedral didn’t hurt either. . .
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.
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.
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.
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. . .
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.
This project attempted to talk to both the vernacular-traditionalism v. minimal-modernist dichotomy and the art v. architecture dialogue, taking one of the central figures of American modern art (and himself an influential figure to many American modern architects) and running him alongside a long history of American traditional vernacular form.
I took a simple, three-square concrete sculpture of his, untitled (1991), and rendered it in the most prototypical of American vernacular architecture, clapboard. One rendition maintains the homogeneity of Judd’s concrete as a single clapboard volume (‘abstraction wrapped in ‘vernacular’ ‘), and the other rendered as a full building, with a shingled roof and brick foundation (‘abstraction become vernacular’).