Floating, Walking, Figures: Are three projects development for an exhibition at the University of Illinois Chicago. These three houses are an exploration of my interest into the diagram as a Formal, Spatial, and Organizational device that is a manifestation of a fundamental disciplinary project that is then transformed through the use of different graphic systems, spatial elements or both. Floating, Walking, Figures refers to three different formal qualities and three different relationships to the ground. All three projects are small scale houses in an attempt to engage in the long architectural tradition of using the house as a testing ground for new and innovative ideas. Like the Domino House diagram I see these fundamental diagrams having broader architectural potentials.
The Floating House uses a single element the cone, to generate an irregular figure that hovers tentatively over the landscape. Floating a mere 4’ above the ground this irregular figure contains all of the private spaces, and all of the public spaces of the house are located beneath this hovering mass. A continuous ribbon of glass located between the ground and underbelly of the house provided the half submerged public spaces with a radically different relationship to the ground as well as a panoramic view of it. Unlike the living area, occupants of the floating figure are never given a panoramic view, only controlled views. The cones either frame specific views of the ground or frame views of only the sky. The cones at times also give visual connections internally between the public and private areas of the house. On the roof a convex cone creates a rooftop patio that is linked to the living area by an internal stair.
The Walking House explores how an elevated mass can organize the space below it. The Walking house does not try to hide the fact that it touches the ground, but instead take pleasure in it. All of the public space of the house occupies the ground plane while all of the private spaces occupy the figure itself. One goal of the walking house was to generate a “vague form” that osculates between being “house like” and “Figural”. To do this a gable roof was manipulated and the way the building touched the ground was controlled to produce an animal like figure out of architecturally known elements. The way the figure touches the ground is not only critical to produce the sensation of a walking building, but is also the means by which all of the public living spaces are organized.
The star house is interested in producing a legible figure in plan only. Through strategically placed cuts an irregular shaped box is transformed into a star like figure. The introduction of the star figure into the house typology transforms the house from an outward focused object in the landscape into and inward focused figure that pulls the landscape in. The four cuts that generate the star figure act as courtyard like spaces for the house. The outer walls of the house are solid and windowless. The only windows in the house are the floor to ceiling one way mirrored glass. Every space in the house has a visual connection to one or more of these courtyards. Though the house only has inward focused views to the landscape contained within the courtyards it doesn’t feel contained or claustrophobic. Rather the presence of these courtyards with their one way mirrored glass reflects the landscape and begins to erase the presence of the other parts of the house. From every location in the house the occupants have the sensation of looking out at a vast landscape even though they are looking inward at a contained courtyard like space.