Commercial Project – Performance Barn

Hello readers,
For February I have decided to turn my attention to performance spaces. I designed this unusual barn-like structure to be an outbuilding for a large estate where the owner could host small parties of up to 25 people for music or dance performances. The barn contains a ballet studio as well as a recital hall with an adjacent bar and lounge area. Bathroom facilities are also included as well as an outdoor patio space complete with a fire pit and outdoor seating.

The inspiration for this building came from Lewis Carol’s Alice In Wonderland and the fantasy world that the book manages to portray. Around the building you will see various characters and scenes from the book integrated into the architecture of the building.

The Caterpillar on his mushroom as a newel post
As much as the building is about Alice and her adventures, I also wanted to express the frustration associated with the performing arts, specifically music and dance. Both music and dance strive for perfection, and the practice associated with those disciplines in attempt to achieve that perfect performance can be very frustrating if not maddening. The player/dancer in a way can morph into Carol’s Mad Hatter. I attempted to express that frustration through the building’s architecture by incorporating all of the ugly, overused and disappointing architectural elements used by many top architects and designers today into the building. Keep in mind this is a totally subjective list, but for me these details just irritate me.

My worst of list of Architectural Elements
1. The barn door and its overuse in residential design
2. Netting as railing or guardrail
3. The beauty/ugliness of Concrete
4. The work of Paul Rudolph and Brutalist architecture in general
5. Peekabo windows and dangling feet (found often in Japanese architectural photography)
6. The fireplaces of Le Corbusier

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In this barn you are surrounded by all of these unpleasant architectural details that are acting as silent witnesses to your daily practice routine. Such annoyances could either inspire you to rise above the unpleasantness of your surroundings or all that visual frustration may end up driving you mad making you give up music/dance altogether. This building is all about taking risks, it comes with a warning label associated with its construction. In a way the building serves a commentary on art as well; that it is better to buy what you don’t like rather then things that speak to you. It needs to pinch and hurt a bit, in order to have a lasting meaning. Pleasantness doesn’t inspire or push you forward, and in the end you may end up liking what you initially disliked. Initially I thought that I was going to hate this building, but ended up really liking the building despite all of its irritating details. The building was as much about embracing change and being open to new experiences as it was an exercise in design.

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