Thursday, February 23, 2017

Housing: Variety through repetition

 

1_ VIEW-web

Designing a house form that works and that can be replicated to produce variety is fun, and economical, but not straightforward.

7_VIEW I-web

This project, by Organon Architecture, has 36 houses of two types; two types whose lower floors are identical and whose upper floors differ only in their orientation – and in that difference lies the difference that produces the difference: two house types in which the way they come together creates the structure of the composition, produces the interest, creates (with the simple form becoming complex by repetition and the relationship to the other repeated units) creating the relationship of composition to landscape.

2_web

Repetition means ease of assembly. Repetition means making use of industrialisation to reduce costs and waste. Repetition, here, producing variety instead of conformity.

That’s they way nature does it. That’s the way to make it work.

I think it does.

Could you live here?

5_VIEW INTERIOR-web.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Quote of the Day: “Not only cathedrals … ”

“Not only cathedrals, but every great engineering work is an expression of motivation and of purpose which cannot be divorced from religious implications. This truth provides the engineer with what many would assert to be the ultimate existential pleasure.
    “I do not want to get carried away with this point. The age of cathedral building is long past. And, as I have already said, less than one quarter of today’s engineers are engaged in construction activities of any sort. But every man-made structure, no matter how mundane has a little bit of cathedral in it, since man cannot help but transcend himself as soon as he begins to design and construct.”

~ Samuel Florman, American civil engineer, general contractor and author, from his book The Existential Pleasures of Engineering

.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Quote of the Day: Form ever follows function …

 

“[T]o the steadfast eye of one standing on the shore of things … the heart is ever gladdened by the beauty, the exquisite spontaneity, with which life seeks and takes on is forms in an accord perfectly responsive to its needs. It seems ever as though the life and the form were absolutely one and inseparable, so adequate is the sense of fulfilment.
    “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight or the open apple blossom, the toiling work horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies in a twinkling.
    “It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognisable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.
    “Shall we, then, daily violate this law in our art? Are we so decadent, so imbecile, so utterly weak of eyesight, that we cannot perceive this truth so simple, so very simple?”

~ Architect Louis Sullivan, in his 1896 article ‘The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered

.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rivendell et al, by Laurie Virr [updated]

 

img_04

Architect Laurie Virr has lived and worked in Canberra most of his life, where he has been something of an apostle for organic architecture, especially that practiced by Frank Lloyd Wright.

His first house in 1969 was (and still is)

an unusual Canberra example of the late twentieth century organic style of architecture based on a triangular module. The house was Laurie’s first commission in Canberra and displays the themes he would explore in his residential projects over the next three decades: the use of massing, geometric forms and deep roof overhangs in an energy efficient, solar house.

His own house, dubbed Rivendell and designed in 1975,

is an outstanding example of the late twentieth century organic style with its massing, use of geometric forms, deep roof overhang and energy efficient design. The successful implementation of a complex geometric plan based on a hemicycle is unusual if not unique for a mid-century Canberra house. The house has been published many times, in the U.S.A., Europe and Australia. Inexplicably, it is relatively unknown in Canberra.

img_01

The roofs and brick masses of Rivendell, looking north towards the Mount Taylor Nature Reserve

 

Convinced that government-financed housing had been a disgrace rather than a grace to the Canberra landscape, he set out to prove what was possible --

to design a house no larger in area than welfare housing of that time, 102.4m2,  but one in which the siting, the exploitation of space, the massing, the concern for the environment, and the details, expressed in unequivocal terms what I considered to be architecture.

Rivendell4
Dining area of another Laurie Virr hemicycle, at Valla Beach, New South Wales

 

Taking his brief from his wife (no architect should deliver his own brief, he reckons) and allowing the site to suggest the house that could deliver it, he began a study of hemicycle houses, first designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the second Jacobs House, and designed this passive solar masterpiece for him and his growing family. Taking his cue from Louis Sullivan’s edict to “take care of the terminals and the rest will take care of itself” he held the public spaces of the hemicycle between the orthogonal cavity brick masses housing retreats, servicing spaces and study.

VIRR-rivendell

The French doors and stationary glass on the north face of the house encompass an arc of 90o [he explains], making it an architectural expression of the problem. This is also exemplified by the walls that define the terrace and mark the extent of the glazing.

Rivendell5

Courtyard of Laurie Virr design at Murrumbatemen, New South Wales

 

Built with his own hands, he has lived and worked there –very comfortably -- ever since.

There are just two people living in the house at this time and it is comfortable for us, but there was an occasion when 56 folk gathered within and there was room for all.

img_02

Beautiful!

[Images from Laurie Virr’s site, Canberra House, and Wright Chat.]

NB: UPDATED 15 Jan to add corrected captions.

.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fallingwater

 

Does this animation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Fallingwater’ (set to Smetana’s ‘Moldau’) ever get old?

No, I don’t think it does.

 

Fallingwater from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.

.