Residential Design – The Eyebrow House

Hello again readers,

The month of March is dedicated to the 18th century architect Etienne Boullee who was known for has literal use of planar solids in his design output. Very few of Boullee’s designs were ever built, as the scale of his projects tended towards the monumental and achieving the pure shapes he drew was somewhat beyond the construction capabilities of his time period. Boullee is most famous for his cenotaph projects, all of which were never built. His spherical cenotaph dedicated to Newton is probably the most familiar of all of his projects. You can see photos of that in the slideshow running at the homepage of this site. It is interesting to note that today’s architects will often return to the simple shapes that Boullee employed so successfully such as the doughnut shaped Apple campus designed by Foster & Partners or the Buckminster Fuller sphere.

I decided to design something in the vein of Boullee that uses his simple shapes and monumental scale to great effect. My eyebrow house takes a typical eyebrow dormer and transforms that element into a 3-dimensional curtain wall roof. The shape of the eyebrow is repeated on the rear deck mimicking the shape in the roof-line. The side roofs also echo that dormer shape. H.H. Richardson popularized the use of the eyebrow dormer on his masonry clad libraries around New England (as seen below).

Crane Library by Richardson

My eyebrow house also employs the circle (as seen in the garage door and windows) as well as the use of a pyramid which houses the owner’s study. This house is sited over an ocean vista which I included in the photo from the study. The house itself has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 lavs, 2 elevators, parking for 6 cars, as well as an infinity edge swimming pool & hot tub. Other spaces include a grand formal foyer, a home gym, a formal dining room with its own wine cellar, and a boat dock to allow sea visitors a place to dock. This house is complete fantasy, and most of the elements utilized would never be found in a traditional home. In fact the house is in some ways almost set like. One enters at the ground floor into this surreal columned hall covered with checkerboard tile on the floor and walls. You ascend the stairs inside a hollow large column and arrive upstairs in what appears like an outdoor environment outside of your house. You are inside but seemingly outside at the house’s “front door”. This indoor garden area looks out onto a pond that cascades into a waterfall all of which can be taken in from the gym or before you enter the house. Once past the front door you enter a grand foyer with its own fireplace. You get your first glimpses of the eyebrow roof structure in this room. Beyond the foyer is the main living area. At its center hovering above the seating area is a pyramid supported by 4 columns. The pyramid houses the study but it also serves as a sun shade diffusing the light that comes in from the glass roof. Moving outside, you face a massive sun deck also in the shape of eyebrow. The deck has a water feature that runs around the outside edge reaching out to the sea below. Two shaded pergolas emanate from the side roofs to create shaded area for the master bedroom and the gym. The house is highly symmetrical which contributes to its overall pleasing proportions. Like Boullee’s projects, this eyebrow house would be very complex and very expensive to build despite its spare lines.

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