Tuesday, August 7, 2007

At last... the first conceptual drawings of our home!


Okay, drum roll please.... finally it's time to present and discuss the first conceptual drawings of our home! It's taken a while to work up to this point; I had to make sure I had provided all of the background and set the stage for all that has gone in, and will go into, this project. Before launching into the concepts, I also want to bring us all back to the purpose of this blog. We truly have felt the movement of the Holy Spirit in this endeavor (more posts to come on that), and that includes telling others who may be so led as to design or transform their homes to foster the family as the "domestic Church". Or, perhaps this blog and our family's struggle to live for Christ in everything we do may inspire and support other families in the same struggle. However the Lord wants to use us and this project, we are overjoyed. May the will of the Lord be done in all things, and we totally submit ourselves to whatever God has for us. As our Lord so eloquently explained in the Gospel this past Sunday, we desire only to grow rich in the things that matter to God, and this home must only come to fruition if it plays a part in achieving that end.

Conceptual Design Process

I've posted recently (here and here) about how we provided my brother with some of the information he needed to get started on the conceptual design of the home. These posts were done partly to give enough background information for when we finally got to explaining the first conceptual drawings, but also partly to give insight to the architectural design process for those who may be interested (I know I had no clue before getting into all this). My brother took that information and worked for 3-4 months (remember, he works full-time at an architecture firm, so this is all in addition to his normal work) to create three separate conceptual designs of the home. We told him it was okay to start with just one, but he insisted that he could get three different ones done (and we are so glad he did, as it has added so much to our discussions). I also had told him that he didn't need to fly back here to present the concepts, I was sure we could just talk on the phone and review on the computer, but again, he insisted on flying back to meet in person (and, again, we are so glad he did). There's much more to be gained by meeting in person early in the design process, and in the end this will be a much better home for it.

So, early in July, just 5 weeks ago now, my brother flew out to visit us to present the concepts. They are entitled.... (hushed silence, egregiously long American Idol-like pause).... "Scheme A," "Scheme B," and.... (wait for it)... "Scheme C." (wild, roaring applause, people in the front row screaming and weeping).

Before I get into it, a few random notes:
  • The exterior of the home has not really been developed in any way. This includes "materiality," as my brother would say, which is the materials of the exterior of the home.
  • We have only one neighborhood covenant that seems to be non-negotiable with the architecture committee of the development (there's a committee of people who are involved in organizing the development and selling the lots, and they must be presented the final drawings for approval -- though none of them are architects, a little weird). This covenant states that at least 30% of the front facade of the home must be made of brick, stone, or other natural materials. There are other covenants, but most you can petition for an exception if it comes up as a problem.
  • I am trying to represent my brother's ideas here; all this is his own product that I am attempting to explain in my own words.
Because I pride myself in logic, we will devote this first post to Scheme A.

Scheme A

Here we go, let's start with the overall organization diagram first...
This kind of shows the main areas of the home, and their functions. Scheme A is a design that has different "wings" devoted to different functions of the family. "Entertaining Space" should be taken with a grain of salt, since we're not big entertainers. It basically means that's where the formal dining room would be and a sitting area for conversing with guests.

Here's how this scheme looks from above, in a birds-eye view. The home is rotated 90-degrees from the organization diagram (up/down is North/South, click to enlarge)...
Just as a reminder, the main views to the wetland area from where the home will be built are shown below...
And my brother has incorporated those views into the design of the home, schematically depicted here (with the triangles depicting the views)...

Here's the actual floor plan (rotated back 90-degrees, click to enlarge)...
The R1, R2, and R3 labels I added are for three virtual renderings that my brother modeled so that we could get a picture of what it might look like. The first rendering (R1) is if you were standing in the dining room and looking East, across the patio out to the wetland. You can see the chapel further out, and its height or verticality compared to the rest of the home. (Click to enlarge)
The trees, etc. are actual pictures that my brother took in Winter of our land, which he incorporated into the renderings (cool, huh?). Here you also see the floor-to-ceiling windows that we had discussed previously.

The second rendering (R2) is if you were standing in the family room, near the chapel, looking diagonal across the fireplace and patio. (Click to enlarge)
Before I get to the third rendering, you may notice a few big things that we wanted incorporated into the design. The first is having one girls bedroom and one boys bedroom (almost dorm-style bedrooms). We don't think it's the best idea for family interaction, as well as for practice in virtue, for children to have their own bedrooms. I didn't have my own room when I grew up (with my two brothers); I loved sharing an attic with my brothers. Right now we have two boys and two girls, with a desire to grow our family. For this home to be "modular" and accomodate a growing family, this style of bedrooms is almost a necessity, as you have two space that you can constantly reconfigure. So the third rendering (R3) is a view of the boys' bedroom as designed in this scheme... (click to enlarge)...
Here are the side elevations of Scheme A, keeping in mind that the materials and details of the outside of the home have not been developed fully (click to enlarge).
As you can see, this will be a very different looking home, which is what we want. We want there to be some visual cue from the outside that something different is going on in this home. One thing you can notice is a brick wall that both connects with the facade of the home and extends past it to form a couryard area and a retaining wall with steps down to the wetland area. This kind of leads your eyes along sitelines past the home.

Well, there you have Scheme A. This post is getting so long, that I will leave a discussion of what we specifically liked about this scheme, and what we didn't like, for another post. Until that time, you could probably try to guess what we liked and didn't like. Feel free to post a comment on that or anything else!


LeeAnn Balbirona said...

Wow, nice drawings. As a mom of 4 (three girls, one boy) I'm wondering about a couple things. First, if you build in those twin beds like that, what if you get more than three of either sex and you need more than two bedrooms for the kiddos? Also, do you think you'll really use two dining areas separated by one partial wall? Plus another table with chairs in the school room? I must spend an hour every day pushing in chairs and washing tables after meals. I like the chapel in the corner (better than the other one above with it in the center of the house). Best of luck on construction! Either plan looks like it will make a fantastic house.

Brendan Koop said...

Leeann, you're right on regarding the kids' bedrooms. That was one thing we forgot to mention in our list of things we would do differently. We told my brother that the little walls separating the bedrooms into smaller areas would have to go, because it was too inflexible in terms of the number of kids we may have. We want the flexibility to rearrange the bedrooms, and even have bunkbeds, so that we can adjust to the number of boys or girls we have.

That's an interesting comment regarding the dining areas. I hadn't thought of that, but now that I am thinking about it I would say that I think we will need an informal dining area (complete with splat mats, etc.!) and a "formal
" dining area for when we have family gatherings at our home. We have this now in our current house and we seem to get a lot of use out of both areas. The homeschool area, in terms of specifics, hasn't really been designed in any detail. So the table and chairs you see there might not actually be there. My brother will have to work that out a little more, but I think we may have some beanbag chairs for reading, and some small kids' tables for doing work, or whatever. We'll have to think about that a little more.

Sara Freund said...

Hello Brendan and Molly!
First, I have to say how impressed I am with this whole process, including the drawings! But I am going to try to comment (with my "domestic church" lenses in place) on each floor plan separately for efficiency's sake (maybe not all tonight).
What I love about this scheme is the chapel placement on the lot (visible from living areas so visitors and family can recognize it as a real focal point/focus of your family life), the proximity of family room, home office, and kitchen to one another (practical), the main-floor master suite sharing a wing with the children's bedrooms (family unity, with a chance for you to grow old here--stability), the nursery/guest/office (my suggestion) nearby, and the kids' bedrooms with distinct but open spaces (nice way to help the kids be together and STILL enjoy solitude, especially as they get older and want the space). Overall, great use of space practically, and in establishing your family's faith priorities.
Some thoughts: The location of the chapel, while prime on the lot, is right off the family's main activity areas, which could make it a less than peaceful retreat. Perhaps swapping the locations of the family room and the home office areas would help, as there is not likely to be anyone in the chapel while home-schooling is happening; but there could be someone watching a video or playing a game while someone else is in the chapel (but maybe I'm wrong). OR swap the kitchen and informal dining room locations, and simply use the home school as the informal dining spot. Having a formal dining spot seems to make sense here, and would be a great way to teach your kids hospitality. It makes more sense to me to have the kitchen BETWEEN the dining areas, since it must service each. This might allow a better way to design the garage closer to the kitchen without upsetting the courtyard design, which is great.
I think that will have to be enough for now--more to come!

Brendan Koop said...

Thanks Sara, great thoughts (I'll have to chew on them). I look forward to seeing your other comments!

This is almost like a rubics cube, but one thing we've gotten from other homeschooling families is that if there is a defined homeschooling space, it should be adjacent to the kitchen. So we're going to try to keep that as the goal, lest we not use our homeschooling area and end up in the kitchen all the time (which has happened to some homeschooling families). Other space arrangements are certainly up for grabs in terms of moving around.

Talk to you later!