The Eco-Aplexus is a theoretical proposal for a minimal energy dwelling in Aspers, Pennsylvania. This is an un-built design project that focused on a methodology of design criteria that Malcolm Wells used to design his "gentle architecture". Designed as a new build for a client, this was a very site specific design challenge.
E·co [ek-oh; Italian e-kaw] meaning habitat; Am·plex·us [am-plek-suhs] meaning embracing. My objective was to inquire the relationship between the environment and its connection with humans. How are they interdependent upon one another? How do they affect one another? How can they help one another? I focused on needs of the inhabitant, and the capabilities of the environment to provide. Through process of design my goal was to enable them to exist in unity.
Wells Residence project was a schematic design project that actually turned more into some design development and even construction drawings. The main design challenge from a functional point of view, was fitting in 4 bedrooms, not counting the master suite. As the Wells family continued to grow, space would be an important part.
Secondly this became a tinkering challenge for foundation and structural systems. I showed multiple ways that the thing might be built which led to figuring out which one was more cost effective and beneficial for the function of the house. Unfortunately I left for graduate school and was not able to be part of the construction or seeing the work in progress. They were lucky to have a great contractor who ensured things went smoothly.
Details and Systems
Drawing Sets and Renderings
on the boards
This house was a design development project that was really a re-arrangement of a previous ideas that the client had. It was a very collaborative process where we would actually sit down and model out ideas, play with different arrangements, and make decisions instantaneously in three dimensional space.
Collaborating first hand with the contractor is also beneficial for hashing out the systems used, as well as the tectonics of how this thing will be built. Also, by doing the upfront "guts" of the building, allows for me to then play around with aesthetics of the materials. This allows for a rich and direct approach to actual material selection once the construction begins. Visualization during the design process is how we communicate the non technical, experiential qualities of the aesthetics and spaces.
Maple Lake Cottage
Maple Lake Cottage is my newest project that I am currently working on. This is a really interesting design challenge, one that explores a difficult site, form and materiality, spacial relationships, a tight timeline, and constricted budget.
Tucked away in the flowing hills of West Virginia, this piece of land is in close proximity to a lake, and actually has two small streams that flows right through. The house will sit nestled down in a small ravine. The overall site slopes a great deal, but flattens out a bit towards the bottom.
The site allows for a great deal of passive design elements to be introduced. The surrounding houses are all oriented to views, rather than any directional bearings. Hopefully using more of a solar approach, we should be able to really root this house to the land, and design more intelligently too.
My main goal with the site analysis was to identify site characteristics to enhance, views to frame, and sound to capture. As I began my first iteration, I am not considering any materials, and actually am barely thinking about too much form. For me, personally, if I can draw a plan of something, I automatically can envision the section I want to create. But working out the spacial qualities is vital, because aesthetics can be changed and ultimately are at the discretion of the client. However, the forms begin to imply what certain elements may be; load bearing walls, shear walls, glass, etc.
Moving forward, I will tweak and massage the plans until something works. To me, this stage is very diagrammatic, and not conducive to what he actual end product will turn out to be.
This little project is really coming along quick. There is still a lot to do, but my intuition tells me that guts of this is pretty well in place. I think the arrangement works pretty well, I could still see some things shifting and changing around a bit. I really am anxious to get into the structure and materials of this because that is when it starts to feel real. I have had a busy past week with a lot of other things going on, but I think the next moves with this house will really bring it to life.
I haven't been able to apply as much time as I thought I would here of late, I had to catch up with school and job interviews and such. But I made it a priority to fix some of the concerns, and adjustments, and really dig into moving this along faster. Materiality has been a consideration from the beginning, both from an aesthetic point of view, as well as a cost constraint. As a designer, it is my job to consider how materials can become used, rather than thought about as a covering, or skin. These material studies were really aimed at considering combinations, ratios, and how they appear together. I think then it is best to consider this as a building envelop, and begin to think about how these systems work together.
This is an important step, mainly to eliminate bad ideas. It isn't as if one of the material studies is the "right one". This will take a few trys at just tinkering with combinations. But once we eliminate a material or combination, it helps to condense the iteration range.
I am also beginning to consider this as a very site specific setting. The exact orientation of this is still yet to be determined. I like the true orientation for many reasons, and I think the more this house evolves, the more those moves become stronger reasons. I also am now adding the garage to the master plan approach, looking at this holistically, rather than two separate structures.
My next moves are to tighten up the plans some more, and also consider the volume shifts along with the material selections. I think there will be some more material studies, as well as window size, scale, and placement. I am anxious to start rendering some actual shots.
It has been a little bit since I have visited this project. I know that considering the garage as a new multinational space was a new element that I would be addressing. Materiality and form were still also a bit unclear. I had some ideas I wanted to try to address graphically as well. First and foremost, I wanted to start the conversation by considering the garage space as both a workshop, basketball court, and a garage.
I also continued my exploration of the volume changes. It's not much, only a foot protrusions. But I started to consider not only how these would begin to break up the exterior facade, but more importantly how they could function on the interior. I think that some of the interesting parts are highlighted in the section where things begin to be built in as shelves or TV's, and also worked in as the actual fireplace itself, which I envision to be made of concrete.
One of the coolest parts may be the bedroom, where the bed sticks into the wall where the protrusion is, and there could be an operable window that could allow light, sounds, and smells in from the surrounding creek.