1. Understanding the “Dream Home”
What is a dream home, really? We explored different facets of what a dream home could be including the freedom of expression, customization, and aspirations. We considered a systems approach - a recipe, for the lack of a true client. As well, we looked at materiality, eco-efficiency, human scale and proportion. These were the beginnings in our search for a full understanding of what is today’s idea of a dream home.
2. Identify Challenges
The National Home Show only allows for an intensive 7-day build and take down in 2.
We had to work with the exhibition hall’s existing structures and consider the dimensions of the loading dock entrance.
In the past, dream homes were discarded after the show without much thought of re-using the structure that has been built. We felt the need to be ecologically responsible. Our dream home needed to have a life beyond the show.
The dream home was going to be built offsite. Trucking the home meant considering the size the transport could hold.
Furthermore, there was no real client who can define their needs and wants. We were in a search of a program.
3. Search for the Size
Typically, prefab dwellings are created at 8 feet by the length of the transport or containers for obvious practical reasons. We started to explore other possibilites. What is the approriate size for a module?
In our search for the perfect size, we started to consider stock lumber (8 ft.) and sheet goods (4x8, 4x10, 4x12) before we arrived at our unique vertical dimension: 2’x8’ = 16’.
Complimented with varying heights of 8’, 10’ and 12’, the 16’x16’ module would satisfy functions within a home and meet aesthetic goals.
The word structure here is used to designate an organic form, an organization in a very definite manner of parts or elements into a larger untiy - a vital whole. So, in design, that element which we call its structure is primarily the pure form, an organization in a very definite manner of parts or elements into a larger unity - a vital whole as arranged or fashioned and grouped to “build” the Idea: an idea which must always persuade us of its reasonableness....But there is a psychic correlation between the geometry of form and our associated ideas, which constitutes its symbolic value.
There resides always a certain “spell-power” in any geometric form which seems more of less a mystery, and is, as we say, the soul of the thing....certain geometric forms have come to symbolize for us and potently to suggest certain human ideas, moods, and sentiments - as for instance; the circle, infinity; the triangle, structural unity; the spire, aspiration; the spiral, organic progress; the square, integrity....we do sense a certain psychic quality which we may call the “spell-power” of the form, and with which the artist freely plays, as much at home with it as the musician at his keyboard with his notes.
- Frank Lloyd Wright, Essential Texts
"The Japanese Print: An Interpretation"
Edited by Robert Twombly , 2009 W.W. Norton and Company
Explored Positive and Negative
ground 4. Search for the Form
Upon discovering our square module, we explored it’s additive and subtractive possibilites. We started to arrange home functions in appropriate relationships. Created orientation and spatial focus.
Architecture is the making of meaningful spaces.
It is the composition of elements, which comes from form. Form is the distinction of the inseparable elements. If you take one of them away, you do not have the atmosphere you expect from architecture.
- Louis Kahn, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture
by Christian Norberg-Schulz, Rizzoli New York, 1984
5. Create the Connection
Then it was time to start linking the modules, to create opportunities that maximize sun and solar exposure, access to wind and cross breeze, maximize interior and exterior views.
It was also a time to create cluster considerations for below ground utlities ensuring optimal functionality.
6. Add Windows and Doors
An entrance point was selected. Windows of 4’x8’ dimensions were used once, twice or thrice based on the best orientation and circulation.
7. Add Roof Slopes and Overhangs
The choice of roof style was influenced by several practicalities and aspirations such as water run and rentention, solar gain, or ability to hold a green roof.
An independent roof package was developed due to transporation constraints - as a result, a seamless connection to the base module was also vital.
8. The Finish
Charles Sheeler, Barn Abstraction, 1918 We employed our firm’s design philosphy:
Limit palette, explore material possibilities, use scale, texture and colour - all in a harmonious, contemporary composition.
For the exterior, considerations were to choose simple, local materials, and minimize waste.
For the interiors, tilt-up finish panels were designed for time efficiency, cost and quality control as well the ability to apply unlimited design possibilities.