Residential Design – Domed Delight

Hello again readers,
This month’s design is something a little more modern. This house features not one but 3 domes; a dome in the foyer, a dome in the living room and a special domed space on the second floor. I created this house out of a fascination with domed and spherical spaces. I was particularly inspired by Boullee’s Cenotaph to Newton project. Although his monument to Issac Newton was never built, Boullee’s design clarity and the project’s monumental scale was certainly inspiring. I attempted to recreate a smaller version of Boullee’s cenotaph within my 2nd floor domed space. Like Boullee’s design, my space is illuminated with a large lamp at night while I opted to install thousands of tiny led lights embedded into the underside of the dome to simulate the stars in the night sky present during the daylight hours.

Cross section of Boulle’s Cenotaph to Newton

An alternative construction method utilizes embedded fiber optic wires which are fed into a solar collector on the roof. This method comes closest to achieving Boulle’s simulated night sky during the daylight hours. A more low tech approach used by John Lautner on the Sheets Goldstein project utilized jelly glasses embedded within the concrete roof to create a dappled light pattern reflected on the ground below.

Photo of Sheets Goldstein home taken from The Architecture of John Lautner by Weintraub & Hess.

Below is a rendering of my Cenotaph to Newton.

Outside of these domed spaces the house has every creature comfort imaginable. There are 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths with a swimming pool, hot tub, home gym with sauna, an office with a concealed vault, a 1-car attached garage, and even an elevator. Elevations and plans are shown below.

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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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Residential Design – The Farmhouse

Welcome to 2019 readers. This month I will be showcasing ideas for farmhouse style homes. The first home to be featured is this design I created. The house has 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths. There is a first floor bedroom that can act as a guest bedroom or an office. It has its own bath, and a large window seat among its more notable features. This multi-purpose room also opens onto a screened porch should you want to enjoy the outdoors. The Master bedroom is located upstairs with its vaulted ceiling and an expansive balcony to admire your backyard in the mornings. The other 2 upstairs bedrooms each have their own bath along with a second floor laundry room. This farmhouse has porches on 3 of its 4 sides along with the screened porch just off the dining room. A detached 1-car garage is also included on the property.

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Residential Design – The Brick House

This brick house sited on a sloping lot with a walk-out basement really delivers great views. The main living space has a floor to ceiling glass curtain wall looking out over the yard and the pool below. The 4 bedroom 3.5 bath house makes use of several light wells to illuminate the basement level. These light wells provide lighting for both bathrooms and a bedroom on the basement level. Each light well has a garden at its bottom for enjoyment of nature below ground. The house has a 1 car attached garage as well as an in-ground swimming pool for summertime fun. The plan for the house was derived by lining up 4 rectangular sized boxes of varying sizes and arranging them in a line. Very simple yet effective. Other features include a small home gym, a large private study and a second floor guest suite for company.

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