Sunday, August 12, 2007

Last (but not least)... Scheme C

As promised, we now present the third schematic concept, Scheme C. If you're coming into the presentation of the schemes late, here's Scheme A, Molly comments on Scheme A, and Scheme B. We didn't do a separate post on the likes and dislikes of Scheme B because I mentioned most of them in the post on Scheme B. In the end, many of the things we would change ended up being common to all three schemes, while the likes are more specific to each Scheme. I'll do a summary post after this one to try to tie it all together.

Alright, this time I'll present the overhead shot of Scheme C first, and here it is (click to enlarge)...
I present the overhead shot first because we've shown the schematic drawings of our home to a few friends and family in person, and every time we get to Scheme C, the reaction always is "whoa." As in, "whoa... this one looks really different." You can tell right away that Scheme C is pretty different than Schemes A and B simply by the angles within the home, and the fact that the separate spaces of the home are visible even from the outside (or overhead). Here's the organizational diagram:
Describing Scheme C as my brother did to us is pretty fun too. I was even able to generate the "give me a break" eye roll from my seminarian brother, Evan, when I said (cue sarcastic newscaster voice), "Now, in order to really understand the conceptual design of Scheme C, we need to take a little trip back to Hadrian's Villa in ancient Rome..." Hadrian's Villa, on the Eastern outskirts of Rome, was built by the Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century. It's widely studied in architecture because of the way the architect used the topography of the land to design the entire complex. The complex is oriented along a series of axes that naturally follow the flow of the land and take advantage of the views available. Here's an image (click to enlarge):
And here's a quote from Sir Banister Fletcher in his "History of Architecture,":
Walking around it today, it is still possible to experience something of the variety of architectural forms and settings, and the skillful way in which Hadrian and his architect have contrived the meetings of the axes, the surprises that await the turning of a corner, and the vistas that open to view.
So the gist of Scheme C is that my brother employed the same principles that are evidenced in Hadrian's Villa in the design of the home. Spaces are oriented along linear axes that make the most sense in terms of flow of the home, and also which align with viewing axes of the wetlands. Here's the organization diagram depicting this, with the blue triangles representing the main views...
Here's the floor plan for Scheme C (rotated back 90 degrees, click to enlarge):
Just a note, the "wall" separating the master bedroom from the kids' bedrooms on the second level wouldn't really be there. My brother didn't have enough time to sketch in a connection between the two areas before he flew out to meet us. The area between the two areas is also actually a prime spot to have the laundry, instead of on the first floor.

There are quite a few differences in the floor plan of Scheme C as compared to Schemes A and B. First, an advantage over Scheme A is that the home is a little more centralized, allowing us to keep track of the kids while still being in a different area. Second, the entry of the home is a lot more developed than both Scheme A or B. I think my brother has some great ideas on the entry. His concept was that of a "triptych," which for anyone who is familiar with Midieval and Rennaissance painting is a familiar term. A triptych is a three-paneled painting (or a relief sculpture), where each panel is usually held together by hinges. These works of art were often used in churches as altarpieces or in side-chapels. An example of one of the more famous triptychs is shown below, "The Decent from the Cross," by Peter Paul Rubens (ca. 1614):
So my brother's concept was that as you approach the entry of the home, the door (containing a window) and two angled windows on either side of the door would form a type of triptych, with each "panel" offering a preview of the inner life of the home. The left-hand window would be oriented to be directly in-line with the chapel, the right-hand window would be directly in-line with a view all the way through the home and out to the wetland, and the center window (door) would view a sitting area as a way of welcoming guests into the life of the family. Here's a schematic below where I illustrate this concept:
Another difference in Scheme C was the way the homeschool area was designed. This time, the homeschool was completely integrated into the kitchen, which is a concept that seemed interesting at first, but in the end we decided we didn't like this arrangement (having all the children at a linearly oriented table with no defined space or working area seemed to encourage clutter).
Of course you may have noticed that you couldn't get any further away from the garage if you were standing in the kitchen, so the whole kitchen would have to be moved to a different place, closer to the garage.

One cool aspect of the design of Scheme C was actually the garage. It's hard to notice from the floor plan, but the garage is designed in a pass-through arrangement, with the intent of having two garage doors (one on either side).
Again thinking independent of cost, this would be cool because we're going to end up having a big van some day, and never having to back out would be a good thing safety-wise and annoyance-wise.

Having just mentioned cost, that is one factor that is a big unknown with Scheme C. On the face of it, it would seem like Scheme C would be the most expensive of the three schemes. It has the most roof, the most exterior surface area, and it's unclear whether the angles themselves would add to the cost (not to mention the garage design, though that seems like it would just be the added cost of another garage door). My brother is currently working out the "costing" of the three schemes, at least an arrangement of most expensive scheme to least expensive scheme and some general magnitudes between the three, and so he will be providing this guidance soon.

Here's the side elevations of Scheme C (click to enlarge):
What can be seen more easily from the elevations is that the design is to communicate that, again, there is something very different about the home, as well as to communicate that there are many different aspects to family life inside (by the multiple visible "buildings"). In fact, the design almost seems like a small "village" from the outside.

There you have the last of the three Schemes! Our task now was to consolidate what we liked and didn't like about each Scheme, and pick one as the best starting point for the formal design of the home (while also trying to incorporate elements that we liked from each of the three schemes).

Let us know any comments/ideas, and don't forget to participate in the poll in the upper right of the blog!


John said...

First of all, let me say that this is a fascinating blog, and I hope to be in your position in a couple years. (As you said to anders in the comments on the previous post, this could be sooner than even seems possible!) Moving right along...

With no bias against Schemes A and B, I especially like C because of its uniqueness. Art is allowed to wield great influence in the design, but function does not suffer. The integration of the chapel is most graceful in C as well, for while it shares its convenient access without excessive foot-traffic with A, it is located more prominently, visible - as you point out - from the entry way.

Finally from me for now: C's second floor provides the best mix of function and symbolism. Your ecclesia domestica will live there (while guests will stay on the first), but during the day, the nursery will be convenient to Molly. Scheme A has the nursery on the first floor but the master bedroom and children's bedrooms split; Scheme B has everyone upstairs with the nursery alongside.

I pray that you continue your great work, and I (selfishly perhaps) hope that you continue your wonderful blog posts.

God bless.

John said...

Comment from another John:

Fascinating plans.

Plan C: Can't stop thinking about the distance to carry food from the kitchen to the formal dining room...

One recurring thought on all the plans: there seems to be quite a bit of duplication of table and chairs arrangements-- formal dining, informal dining, and school-room working areas. I see the purpose to having a dedicated area for the school-room ("we're here to work now!") but perhaps one of the other dining areas could be put to other use.

Fabulous ideas on all the plans!

Brendan Koop said...

(First) John... rest assured, we plan on regularly posting on this blog all the way through the construction of our home (and maybe beyond), because at bare minimum we want to document this process any maybe put it together into a book someday. Thanks for your kind words.

(Second) John... You're right on the formal dining area distance from the kitchen. Since the kitchen would have to be moved to be closer to the garage, perhaps that would take care of that problem. And you're the second person to comment on whether we need multiple table-and-chairs areas, it's definitely something to think about. I'm not even sure we can afford to furnish a formal dining area for some time, so it may be that we experiment with just one informal dining area (even for guests) for a while. Thanks!

Sara Freund said...

First, all "Ecclesia Domestica" aside, I am personally attracted to this schema because of its innovative style, the mix of open and enclosed spaces, and the master suite--spacious, private, but still close to the kids. I love it. The angles especially lend themselves to lots of cozy space, and visual interest from the outside.

I would agree with your concern about the garage, kitchen, and I would include dining room locations--it seems like these zones ought to be closer together. The drive-through garage is a really cool idea, though--it never would have occurred to me how nicely that works for large families! And when your kids start driving . . . (speaking as one who remembers backing dad's truck out).

I love the Triptych entrance idea, and especially that on one side you see the chapel--wherein dwells the Bread of Life--and on the other you see the dining room--where we eat our daily bread. Nice link.

The chapel's location is also great--I see your point about getting more eastern light. Maybe you don't need a tower but a cupola? A way to invite light from on high without having to shift the whole foundation.

And finally, I really like the family room. It seems cozy to me, despite its openness or placement as a kind of "pass-through" between living areas, indoor and out. And cozy is a nice way to do family rooms--it invites calm, which I know can be a bit of a feat with many young kids! Still, this one seems to create a nice transition from noisy spots into quieter ones, which is a great way to head to the chapel for family night prayer.

Overall, I really appreciate the creativity behind this design--the only way to get to a beautiful, lasting family home is to think outside the box! And this design is a really great start--if the numbers work out nicely too, even better!