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.
After my recent famous building post investigating Palladio’s La Rotunda villa, I felt compelled to try and improve and modernize on a classic building for the twentieth-first century. Palladio’s villa was built in the 1560s and served more than anything as a symbol of the wealth and power of its owners. The design for the villa was more an exercise in pure ascetics then functionality. The highly symmetrical plan generated a total of 9 usable rooms (8 rectangles and one circle) with each room having at least 2 entrances. The rooms were arranged en allié (with one room adjoining the next) which was a popular layout of spaces in the Renaissance. Fast forward to today where open plan living is the ideal combined with the need for multiple spaces to house all of the machines of modern life. Palladio’s villa was built prior to the creation of indoor plumbing, so there were no bathrooms in the villa nor was there any artificial lighting for illuminating the rooms at night other than the limited power of a candle. To summarize lots needed to be changed to make this gem a usable home for today.
I chose to keep the outside walls of the villa intact as well as the central rotunda leaving its location and proportions unchanged. The location of the windows and doors also remained fixed. The end result of my labors was a villa with 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. The ground floor contains the following rooms: a living room, a library/study, a foyer, a master bedroom and bath, laundry space for the master suite, a lav, a billiards room with wet bar, a formal dining room, a kitchen with butler’s pantry, and the aforementioned rotunda at the building’s center. The attic floor contains 4 large bedrooms each with its own bath and walk in closet as well as an additional laundry room to serve the second floor. I altered the number of chimney eliminating two, while the number of fireplaces remains the same at 5.
I also created a separate modern garage that is adjacent to the villa to house autos as well as designing a gatehouse for the complex. Plans and renderings of the redone spaces are shown below.
Hello again readers,
As you see from the elevation this house has many jogs that form saw tooth like wings with courtyards formed between the teeth. Despite its jogs, the house is remarkably symmetrical with the central water feature forming the axis line for the house. This is a design that came about combing two ideas, crenelation and an eyebrow window within a polyhedron. The void space between these two shapes form an arching hallway which the main living spaces are distributed off of. The house features a first floor master suite, a 2-car garage, an eat-in kitchen with separate formal dining room, a small study and a large living room that opens out onto the patio with its own swimming pool. Upstairs are two bedrooms, a bath, a teen space, and gentleman’s room/man cave complete with tap room and billiards table. The house makes extensive use of stone veneer which clads the entry tower, foundation and retaining walls found on the property.
Welcome to a new year. To start the year I designed a house around a treasured architectural detail, the inglenook. The inglenook was originally an old English detail created by recessing a fireplace into a small alcove. Over time these ‘nooks’ grew to rather elaborate proportions. Below is an inglenook designed by Lutyens, the quintessential English architect. This large inglenook was designed into one of Lutyens’ Country Homes titled Crooksbury and was the size of a small room.
The Greene Brothers from California also created inglenooks in their Arts & Crafts homes as did the Arts & Crafts architect Gustav Stickley.
While this house may seem far removed from an English country home, that doesn’t prevent us from incorporating an inglenook into the design to enliven the clean lines of modernism. The modern house with traditional details is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with 2-car garage, screened porch and an in-ground swimming pool. The house features dual office spaces as well as desk space in the kitchen. The master bedroom has its own on-suite bath and his and hers walk in closets as well as offering a deck to take in the sunsets. In addition to the inglenook fireplace, the house has a second fireplace right in the foyer with its own built-in bench. Photos and plans are below for your enjoyment.
I thought that I would explore the use of a specific material in this design. I have wanted to create a design for some time that used gabion walls. This is a type of retaining wall consisting of loose rubble held together in rectangular blocks by heavy gauge chicken wire. The photo below illustrates this type of wall system.
This form of wall construction is almost always used in landscape design for retaining walls, (as shown here) but I thought that I would try to use it in a different way. My design uses a gabion wall as both a structural element and as a barrier. My gabion wall faces the street with cutouts to showcase a sunken garden and openings for entry into the courtyard. I also liked the idea of using this material in the bathroom, so the master bath abuts the gabion wall making for an interesting shower enclosure.
The gabion wall house follows a U-shaped plan built around an entry court and it contains 3 bedrooms and 3 baths and 2 lavs with an in-ground swimming pool and a 2-car garage. A second floor architect’s studio was also created that is supported by the gabion wall. I studied the work of Luis Barragan prior to creating this design and many of his ideas and furniture designs were incorporated into this house.
Today’s design features a square atrium at its center bringing lots of light into the primary living spaces. Today’s design actually represents the second iteration of this design. I created an earlier 3 floor house but it didn’t function as well, nor did it have the signature atrium detail. The atrium is covered by a pyramidal skylight creating a lofty living room. The house has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths and 2 of the 3 bedrooms have decks as well. Other features include a 2-car attached garage, music room, and a private study, while the master bedroom has its own adjoining sitting room. The second floor laundry is illuminated by a unique circle window. Photos and plans are provided below.