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The Architectural Trio: Edition #41
Happy Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena as they call it in Spain. Despite the festive celebrations and probable lack of work, architecture has pulled it out of the bag to provide three great buildings for this week’s Architectural Trio. Due to present buying and packing to return to England for the holidays, I haven’t had time to write another article in the past seven days. However, I have embarked on a big project which I’ll be writing about over the coming months. You’ll have to wait to see what it is, though… All that remains for me to say is Merry Christmas, and enjoy the architecture!
White House, America, Cutler Anderson Architects
The design of this home in Pennsylvania is based on the farmhouses scattered throughout the region. Working within a tight budget, the architects have used passive techniques to save money alongside simple touches to bring joy and comfort to the scheme. The most striking feature of the house is its large vertical shutters which simultaneously act as both shading devices and security panels when the owners are away. The narrow slits in the shutters allow daylight to penetrate the interiors even when in the closed position. Extensive glazing, especially on the south facing facade, maximise natural daylight, with the centrepiece of the home being its double height living room. Against the canvas of greenery and blue skies, the brilliant white of the house looks crisp and clean. Whilst I am unsure whether it will look so brilliant in five or ten years, there is no doubt that the design is welcoming and makes the most of its striking surroundings.
Maggie's Centre Barts, England, Steven Holl Architects
“Maggie’s centres offer practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends” is the opening statement on the Maggie’s website. After designing a care centre in my final year of university with a similar ethos (check it out in my portfolio) and analysing many Maggie’s centres, I feel a close connection with the charity, especially since their centres are all architecturally unique designs. This centre is located next to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, the oldest hospital in Britain. New York based Steven Holl Architects created the scheme, describing it as “a vessel within a vessel within a vessel”. This can be see from the sketch above, which shows three containers which form the building. The central core which consists of bamboo panelling contains a kitchen and dining room, a “pause space” near the entrance and various private counselling and office rooms, as well as the circulation. The use of timber is favoured in Maggie’s centres due to its tactile quality. Next, a concrete frame provides structural support, followed by a translucent glass wrap which provides ample natural light whilst maintaining privacy for visitors. The system causes the building to appear like a lantern in low light, presenting “a new, joyful, glowing presence on this corner of the great square of St Barts Hospital”, said Holl.
Crescent H, America, Carney Logan Burke Architects
Located at the foot of the Teton Mountain range in Wyoming, this home responds to its context in both materiality and form, with views of the surroundings acting as a major guiding force for the architects. Looking at the plan, three distinct zones within the property reveal themselves. The first is a relatively private area set on two storeys which contains the master bedroom, a pilates studio, home office and the garage. The second is the more public part of the house which contains a showpiece, open plan space with the kitchen, living room and dining room. The symmetry of the view from the dining room out to the reflecting pool and trees and mountains beyond is especially striking. The final zone returns to more private spaces again, with a den and two further bedrooms. From a sustainability point of view, deep overhangs on the south side shield the interiors from powerful, high angle solar rays, whilst extensive glazing allows more welcome, low angle sun to provide passive heating. The use of stone from a local quarry references the context and minimised transportation emissions, whilst internally white oak softens the spaces to create a tranquil and comfortable atmosphere. The contrast between this project and the first in terms of expense and scope is extreme, however both are exemplary pieces of architecture in their own right due to their considered response to context, budget and function.