House as Town – Intentional Design

Consider the application of physical components of a “designed” town to the design of the site of a house, and by necessary extension, to the harmoniously integrated design of the house, itself:

  • Approach Road or Drive
  • Wall 
  • Gateway
  • Carriage Plaza and Carriage House (Garage!)
  • Inner Wall
  • Piazza or Plaza
  • Pathways and Courtyards Defining Building Blocks 
         “Cisterna” Monument as Focus

          Defined Circulation Routes (whether formal or informal), Strong Pavement Patterns

  • Terrace:          View Over or Across Countryside (or Water or City)         

                               If on a Hillside: A Parapet Wall to Define the Edge of the Domain         

                               If at a Meadow/Field/Waters Edge: Steps Down to the Land

                               Projects Past the Building Line (The Prow)

                               Paved; Lateral Edges Planted or Naturalized

                               Small Structures Frame or Lead into the Focal Point of the View

Piazzetta Michelangelo  (c)2006 Randy D. Bosch
Piazzetta Michelangelo (c)2006 Randy D. Bosch

Historical references can be found in many places, including at the “Town” end of the scale: the Piazzetta Michelangelo, Firenze; Hohensalzburg, Salzburg, Venezia Campos and Piazza.  At the “House” end of the scale, references include Anasazi towns of Central Arizona, Pueblos of Northeastern Arizona and Northern New Mexico, Palladian Villas in the Veneto, Tenuto throughout Italy, and elsewhere.

Coltasalla Terrace - Volpaia (c)2007 Randy D. Bosch

Coltasalla Terrace - Volpaia (c)2007 Randy D. Bosch

Do not let the “scale” or “largess” of examples cloud your vision of the design concepts!  Neither are the issue, instead the ubiquitousness of human needs and their anthropomorphic expression regardless of “place” are what drive responsive design.

Similarly, “designed” may be the result of an individual vision for a singular project, the reformation or expansion of an existing project over time, or a centuries-long multi-generation community endeavor – with or without architects, landscape architects, planners or artists involved.

Places and homes that exhibit these characteristics were created by careful, intentional application of skill and techniques, often at “No extra charge”!  That remarkable results can be realized by such disparate groups in widely scattered places over millenia gives great hope! 

 A relatively contemporarily example, and with the tie to dwellings firmly in mind, is Antoine Predock’s design for a house in Tesque, New Mexico.  The result was recognized for its interpretation of “village life” in the design of a single family home (Architecture magazine, July 1987, pages 34-39, and Santa Fe Style Christine Mather, Rizzoli, New York, 1986, pages 189, 232-235).  The following parameters were listed:

  • “Resembles a cluster of homes in a small village;
  • Interlocking multilevel communal rooms reminiscent of Native American pueblos;
  • Similar to mountain villages such as Truchas, New Mexico, with pitched roofs and staggered profiles;
  • Design grew from a ceremonial approach to the use of various rooms;
  • The Living Room intended to resemble a basilica or town hall;
  • The Master Bedroom intended to recall a castle keep;
  • Each of the “buildings” that comprise the home has a separate function;
  • The exterior walls are completed with different pastel tones to emphasize separateness;
  • The chimney tower intended to stand guard like a village campanile”.

No photograph!  Your “homework” is to visualize a house containing these elements!

Certainly, your specific application of regional vernacular to design, specific site environment, and very individual needs and desires that will define “home” for you, will differ greatly from both historical and other contemporary examples.  Key to the very best “crafting place” is not stopping at “thinking about” the details, elements and combinations that are most functional, useful or beautiful, but actually applying them to your home.

Action is the new competence! 

About randysrules

From a professional background in architecture, community and regional planning, urban design, leadership, and fine arts, this blog provides insights on ethics, leadership, architecture/planning/urban design, Venice, and whatever intrigues me at the time. Enjoy!
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