Residential Design

Vol. 3, 2017

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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PRO-FILE D meaning is what makes it so interesting. You have to tie it to the landscape. "We are not trying to deny that these are man-made products, but they blend in and then reveal themselves," he concludes. "They're not about using their man- made-ness to stand apart." Mountain House's façade echoes the colors of the site, much as Camouflage's exterior does. An evolution in materials has clearly taken place all these years later, but the careful balance of constancy and change remains. Like the Prodema panels, charred cedar cladding will hold its color long term and protect against the elements. Mountain House also employs clear cedar that will silver over time and corrugated Cor-Ten steel that will age to an earthy patina as ruggedly beautiful as the landscape. No Gut, No Glory? Multiple site visits and exhaustive studies go into the evolution of Johnsen Schma- Above: 510 House has recently won an American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum. Again, the roots in Camouflage House are readily discernable. ling's designs, whether residential or commercial, single-family or multifamily. Elements are distilled, extrapolated, and then reapplied to the final concept. The team generates axonometrics, diagrams, renderings, and other graphics. And they build "a lot of physical models at all scales and levels of sophistication— rough and fine," says Sebastian. "We explain graphically the bark structure we see and how that resulted in the façade system. It's very different from the gut-feel approach. Our clients say they wouldn't have understood it without the backstory of how we got there." This rational, methodical process stands in opposition to how some other architects divine their design solutions. Indeed, many creative professionals talk of tapping into an almost trancelike state of artistic flow that feels like a higher power or divine guidance. If you believe in the left brain/right brain assignment of labors, does that mean our analytical skills lie wholly divid- ed from our creative powers? Or does that trancelike state more plausibly originate in an open, functioning pipeline between the two hemispheres? Says Sebastian, "Our buildings are a hybrid of something that is inspired by subjective elements of the landscape and packaged in a rational object that is not organic in a stylistic sense. We use a reductive process of organizing our own observations and translating them into a tectonic language—it's instrumental to the way we work." Even if the firm's buildings are tightly rooted in the rational world and the process by which they are designed is a highly edited one, they total much more than the sum of their parts. They evoke their own exalted state that elevates them above the ordinary. The paring away of unnecessary distractions reveals a pure and poetic heart. Maybe they're "not organic in a stylistic sense," but given their ability to elicit an emotional 20 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGAZINE.COM VOL. 3, 2017

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