To celebrate one year of frame, I have something special for you all. That’s right, a small, un-programmable garden pavilion. A four-square frame of 4X4’s set on the diagonal, with a copper standing seam roof atop and a brick base below. There’s no way in, just a beautiful form without. Better than cake, right?
More than just a Bach reference, that title could really be the title of this entire blog, since the vast majority of what I post here are really just different takes on courtyards. Blame it on my being a SoCal native, blame it on my love of squares, palazzi, and any other architectural trope you can. I love me some courtyards. So here we go again. At the top, a more detailed elevation of a previous project, and below, a different take on that same floor plan, this time more loudly echoing Giorgio Grassi and Louis Kahn.
Another trip to Oregon with my wife has yielded yet another flurry of agriculturo-vernacular projects. This one is a barn, made a square, with exposed gothic-arched framing inside, and two shed-roofed wings to the side. Two planters reflect these wings to create a larger cruciform plan. Exposed diagonal beadboard makes up the wall treatment inside, while white painted board-and-batten the exterior walls and roof.
Today, I’ve got something a little odd here at frame, four ‘L’-shaped towers surrounding a nine-square cubic courtyard. The exterior walls are bare brick, but for small observatories in the upper corners. The ‘house’ itself is broken into four independent towers, with public spaces grouped on the ground floor, connected via the large tree-filled courtyard, which acts as the main living room of the house, with baths and bedrooms located on the upper tower floors. In contrast to the bare brick exterior, the courtyard walls are detailed in a strict classical vocabulary, with pilaster colonnades wrapping floor upon floor.
One square, one circular. The square has a radial winder stair inside (but cut as a square), while the circle has a square stair inside, with habitable spaces inside of that inner square. This particular example is a rift on a project by Oswald Mathias Ungers, where circular and square towers are set alongside one another (and of course, I can’t track it down, though I know it’s in the Electa monograph. . .).
Three ‘k’s. Three drawings. Three ideas:
Kahn – an homage to Louis I. Kahn’s Center for British Art at Yale, where one of his pyramidal concrete skylights is placed above a more classically detailed library, contrasting the stark materiality of his modernism with the richness of the English country house which inspired it.
Krier – Starting with a plan very much like Wright’s Charnley house, but facing its street façade with a stuccoed language taken from Leon Krier’s Perez Architecture Center at the University of Miami, all for the domestic scale of the single family home.
Kiosk – Almost an exact reduplication of a small Tokyo ‘warehouse’ featured in a book by Atelier Bow-wow, ‘Pet Architecture Guide Book’, with a triangular floor plan topped by a butterfly roof, centering the downspout on the front façade. All I’ve done is perfect the geometry and replace a roll-up garage door with a french glass door.
It began easily enough, a simple linear plan with two entrance porticoes per side, opening onto a square central hall with a circular stair its center, flanked by two sitting rooms, all sitting beneath two large deep-eaved hip roofs. But then my love of iterations got the best of me, and I began to chop off the side porticoes, play with roof forms, and open up the central hall into a dogtrot type house. . .
A week or so ago I promised elevations for a courtyard plan. Well, here they be. The front and back feature vernacular porches, complete with columns and hip roofs. The sides, however belie the modernist floor plan inside, with floor-to-ceiling Mies-ian windows at the dining room and bedroom (what’s privacy?), and counter-height butt-glazed windows at the kitchen. The roof forms cannot be seen from the exterior, as they all slope inward to the impluvium-like courtyard. I really aught to do some sections. . .
A friend and I were out exploring the local architectural haunts here in the Los Angeles area, which in this case included Pasadena’s Gamble House of 1908 as well as the other Greene & Greene homes studding the neighborhood. One of these sits kitty-corner to Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura (or Millard House) of 1923, and I noticed a lovely wrought iron gate at the rear of the property, almost coyly unimpressive against dynamic klinker brick wall. I began to think of my own home, and if a similar wrought iron gate would work against its Spanish revival aesthetic, with some details massaged here and there. Not a building per se, but a linguistic study nonetheless. Now if I can just find a blacksmith and a few dollars. . .