This week I designed a house based on the exterior shots of the home used on the ABC family tv show the Fosters, a show about the trials of raising children in the foster care system. Television architecture tends to glorify the exaggerated and often unrealistic lifestyles of the fictional characters created for our tv screens. The typical tv home tends to be much more elaborate and much more costly then what the average person could ever afford and is often much more costly then even what the fictional characters could possibly afford to live in, given their circumstances and backstories. Television by design tends to shy away from the subject of money/jobs or financial status in any detail in the stories, (to keep it light) but our consumer driven culture makes sure that those details aren’t forgotten when the design of space is concerned. Tv homes are stocked with all of the latest wears/fads and fancies that corporate America pushes on us. The Friends NYC loft apartment being the quintessential tv pad that everyone living in NYC would love to inhabit, yet no one could realistically afford.
The Foster’s home is in that rich tradition of grandiose living. The Adams-Fosters family live in a period Craftsman style home with lots of wood paneling, detail and custom touches. Although it is an older home built at the turn of the last century, it manages to exude comfort and livability. Using just the exterior shots taken from a real Craftsman house in the LA area, I designed a similarly ornate Craftsman home that would fit right in in the tv set universe. The house has 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 lavs, a library, a study with its own entrance, a kitchen, dining room, tea room, butler’s pantry, screened porch with garden and outdoor spaces and a 1-car garage to stage all of that tv drama. Even the colors used on the walls are consistent with the Craftsman period making it look authentic.
From time to time I like to revisit previously created work to see if it could be improved or altered for better use and functionality. I created this villa back in 2014 (see post) and this past week revisited it for the first time. I ended up significantly reworking the villa by adding a porte-cochére, removing a couple fireplaces in the foyer/kitchen, eliminating levels in the living area, adding an additional bedroom and bath upstairs bringing the total to a 4 bedroom 4.5 bath house as well as creating outside basement access and housing for the pool equipment. I also eliminated an entire structure, the architect’s office and incorporated it into a home office with its own entrance within the main house. Additional changes might include adding a 3rd bay onto the garage as well, but I opted not to do that. Hope you like it.
Hello again readers,
A belated welcome to the new year. My latest design represents a fusion of styles with elements taken from the Craftsman style, the Shingle style and even elements from a Lutyens English manor. I would say that it is my favorite house design to date. The house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 lavs and a guest bedroom and bath over the carriage house for visitors. A porte-cochére allows guests to arrive in style without being exposed to the elements. They enter into a mudroom with its own fireplace watched over by the lady of the house cast in stone who sits at the foot of the staircase. Other rooms on the first floor include a dining room, breakfast room, the great hall and the kitchen. The second floor is devoted to the sleeping quarters as well as a library found at the top of the stairs. From the master bedroom access to a third floor study and music room round out the space. The study was designed with a secret panic room as well complete with a concealed door. Look at the photo, can you find it? I bet you can’t. The house has 4 fireplaces and garage space for 1 car. Outside the kitchen is a vegetable garden, a formal garden path as well as a frog pond directly off the patio.
Hello again readers,
This month I am featuring nautical themed architecture on my blog, so I designed something that would reflect the sea and its relationship to design. The most common building associated with the sea is the lighthouse, the guide post for ships at sea. I incorporated a decommissioned light into the house design and attached it to the main house. Traditionally, the lighthouse keeper’s home was separate from the light, but I chose to connect the two and turn the light into a stairwell/2-story library. Access to the lamp is retained and the once active light now becomes a great lookout spot for the homeowner. The attached home has 3 bedrooms and 3 full bath with 2 lavs. A separate home office space above the 2-car garage is provided for work or as as study. Other features of the home include a putting green, a gazebo, a pool with hot tub and its own pool facilities, as well as a separate boathouse for housing water craft. The house was designed in the Shingle style and is typical of houses found on the Eastern seaboard at the turn of the 20th century.
Hello again readers,
This month I designed a shingle style elevated beach house designed to be built right on the sand dunes. This is a 3 floor house with the primary living spaces on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The ground floor houses 2 garages, storage for small boats, a home gym with its own bath and access to an elevator. Other features include an in-ground pool and spa, a gazebo for parties and a large sun room that functions as a family room or function space. The house has 3 bedrooms and 4.5 baths along with an outdoor shower to service the pool area.
Continuing our exploration of Swiss architecture, I thought that I would design something that is more prevalent today, the Swiss concrete house. The Swiss love concrete as a design medium and they tend to create these concrete structures carved into the hillsides that overlook the mountains. While this style of architecture can be often cold and uninviting, it is in a sense practical as concrete holds up well to the heavy snow loads and possible avalanches that may occur in the Swiss alps. So here is a Swiss bunker made of concrete for you to ponder. The house spans 3 floors and has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and 2 lavs along with a 2-car garage. The ground floor houses the garage, foyer with a lav and the stairwell and elevator to the upper floors. Floor 2 contains the 2 children’s bedrooms, a bath and the laundry room. The third floor contains the master suite, and all of the living spaces. The roof of this house also can function as a solarium. A stairwell ascends to the roof and is shielded by a wind sail. The wind sail blocks heavy gusts to make for a less treacherous climb as you ascend the roof stairs as well as blocking spray from the waterfall that the house is sited next to. Below are photos from the house and its plans.
As this month is devoted to Swiss Architecture, I thought that I would design a couple of houses in keeping with that archetype. The first house is simple in its design, a square box with 4 decks. In terms of president this house represents a modern version of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda which I have featured on this blog before. Each of the minimalist decks acts like a portico which would have had 6 Ionic columns attached to it had Palladio designed it. The comparisons continue as this house also has a central foyer with a skylight functioning in the same way as Palladio’s rotunda with its lantern. As much as this house pays tribute to Palladio’s villas, this house is really more Miesian in its styling. With its Farnsworth house inspired decks and Tugenhadt house’s chrome columns, this square box employs all of Mies Van Der Rohe’s preferred gestures. The house is basically a 4 bedroom 3.5 bath ranch with a detached 1-car garage. On the first floor are the master suite, a study, living room, dining room, kitchen, and maid’s quarters. The basement contains a wine cellar, laundry, 2 guest bedrooms, a bath, and an indoor pool. The lower level bedrooms open onto a patio.
Although the house is modern in its design, its layout and circulation function more closely to the 18th century. You arrive at the entry and are then ushered into the foyer to await an audience. Then one formally passes through a pair of glass doors into an ante-room bounded by a marble wall. From here, you can either precede left to the study or walk around the marble wall into the formal living room in all of its glory. After lounging you would move to the dining room and then finally out to the decks after diner to enjoy the evening. The house is divided into public and private spaces as well as servant and served spaces delineated along the axis of the house. The fenestration pattern on the elevations match its neighboring side. Two adjacent elevations only contain a large curtain wall while the other 2 elevations are bounded by a window to the left and right of the central curtain wall similar to Palladio’s window layout on most of his villas. Despite its German/Italian styling this house does work in the Swiss alps. This simple ranch style structure was popular in the 1950s and 60s in Switzerland. Movie buffs may recall the small guard house in the movie Goldfinger manned by the heavy set house wife with the automatic weapon. It was a similar simple box design.
Below are some photos and the plans for this Swiss house in the Alps.
This is the second part of my two post feature based around the spider parti theme. While the previous house was rather traditional, this design is unequivocally modern. The design abstractly mirrors the parti, but instead of simple elliptical rooms independent of one another here the ellipses overlap, interlock and fuse together. This house is also unique with its use of circular windows. My initial sketch of the floor plan did appear very bug-like with the elliptical house forming the bug’s body and the colonnade around the driveway forming its legs. The spider’s head derives from the elliptical pool and patio deck.
Steeping back from the sketch, I was also reminded of the aliens with their oversized heads in the movie Independence Day.
The central feature of the house is its central skylight spine which runs the length of the great room roof terminating in a peak. This skylight allows light to enter the living space in interesting ways. The image below illustrates the light and shadows that are created by the skylight.
The house has 4 fireplaces, 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths with room to expand to add an additional bedroom and bath if desired. There is a 1-car attached garage and a 2-car detached garage which could double as an art studio if desired. The house has an infinity edge swimming pool and lots of outdoor deck space as well.
My next two designs were created around a 4-line parti that resembles a spider. This spider parti proved very fruitful and served as the basis for the organizational structure of these two houses. I chose to work with the ellipse in both spider houses using them in traditional and nontraditional ways as you will see. For this historic house, elliptical rooms were arranged in the shape of the spider parti with the landscape elements mimicking the parti of the house. While the form of the house is very colonial from the outside, the 2 prominent dormers on the North facade are meant to invoke the eyes of a spider staring down at the people below. This house is probably the largest I have designed in recent memory with as many as 9 bedrooms and 10.5 baths with a 3-car garage and room to host many guests. The house has a tennis court, pool house, in-ground swimming pool, gatehouse, elevator, formal gardens as well as a grand 2-story domed library, a billiards room, a study, two dining rooms and a total of 6 fireplaces. Below are plans and renderings of the property.
This week I designed a rather futuristic home which I titled the comet. The building’s shape mimics a comet with its long tail of dust.
The house is the fusion of several circles and triangles that come together to form a 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home. There is also an attached 2 car garage and a round swimming pool included on the property. The comet’s tail acts primarily as a shield from the street to give privacy to the backyard swimmers as well as creating a sheltered entry path for visitors and additionally serving as a movie screen for poolside cinema. In the foyer, you are greeted by a comet mural on the rear wall with access to a lav reached by grabbing the comet’s tail to open the concealed lav door.