This project explores movement as a basis for generating form through the revealing of subtle geometric and proportional logic within the context of a new residence in Malibu, California. Movement through the site and living space creates a path of connected points which were analyzed utilizing methodologies inspired by the work of Constantinos A. Doxiadis (Architectural Space in Ancient Greece) and Gyorgy Doczi (The Power of Limits), and the photographic work of Eadweard Muybridge and E.J. Marey. The desire to make an essential connection between the inhabitant and the architecture provides the basis for developing the space and form. In an effort to manifest the continuous nature of the inhabitant’s path through the spaces, a series of critical moments along the path was chosen as the generator of the architectural experience.
The program incorporates spaces for entertaining guests, both indoors and out, private retreat spaces for the couple including a study, gardens and a lap pool. Public and private spaces open out to embrace the canyon in which the house is nestled. The façade offers less detail, perforations limited to several precisely cut windows, the front door and a screen of punched metal for filtering light and views. The two acre flag lot is covered with native plants, brush and manzanita. The sparsely populated area includes coastal Native American burial grounds, an orchid farm and both weekend retreats and full-time residences.
The architecture was generated from methodologies inspired by research into Doxiadis’ theories of ancient Greek temple planning. From measured studies of ancient sites Doxiadis found temples and other buildings within their precincts were not randomly sited as had previously been assumed. The structures were located with plan and sectional relationships to the visitor’s dynamic position in space while entering and moving through the precinct., Doxiadis was able to identify the presence of another logic at work, one with more nuance, subtlety and complexity than Euclidian geometry.
The process incorporated these precedents in a series of overlays examining golden mean proportional relationships at each point. This relationship of the major elements of the building is visible from each node and caries through from point to point, remaining constant. From the main road, the undefined mass of the house is visible; the formal and spatial order unfolds as one approaches the house, and makes the transition into and through the spaces. The exterior solid metal panel dissolves into a perforated metal screen as one approaches and more of the façade is revealed. The plan, sectional and elevation elements in the project were developed through the application of regulating proportional overlays. For example, the façade, the entry stair and the primary fenestration were designed to function programmatically but also were located and articulated employing a set of proportional relationships. Within the space, the architecture responds to the movement of the inhabitant, tracing paths through the house and locating key moments or as they came to be know on the project “epiphany points”.
The nineteenth-century photographer Eadward Muybridge began his inquires with the human form in motion, dissecting and documenting movement as a series of parts. His predecessor, the French physician E. J. Marey, studied movement with a technique known as chronophotography, developing an apparatus for photographing objects in motion simultaneously from multiple points of view. He believed that the best way to understand motion was to break it up into parts and then reassemble them into a composite picture. Inspired by these studies of motion, the site was analyzed along with uniquely domestic programmatic moments of this house in order to develop the form and spaces, then animated these moments with materials, natural light, views, and spatial experiences.
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