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ARCHITECTURE: CELEBRATING THE SIMPLE FORM
Architects look at subtracting from rather than adding to the form of this home slated to be finished next summer.
By Lila Margaret
Before a house becomes a home—before fixtures are installed, before walls are painted, and before furniture, art, and people move in—it is a form. “Form develops throughout the design process,” says Eric Logan, a principal at Carney Logan Burke. “We strive to simplify. Simple forms seem more lasting in this landscape.” Simple forms might be more lasting, but, once a project is complete, they can also be underappreciated, even if they are what inform most everything that comes after.
With still a year of construction to go, there’s nothing to take attention away from the form of a Carney Logan Burke project off Spring Gulch Road. (Once a custom, purple twelve-by-four-foot glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly is installed above the dining table, it will most likely steal much of the spotlight from the form.)
Low and wide-slung, the 8,700-square-foot space has a “pull tab” in its otherwise traditional shed roof. Positioned in the ceiling above the main living area, the pop-up creates a dramatic spatial move in what will surely be one of the most used areas of the house. Seen from the exterior, the roof detail is suggestive of the views from the home’s interior. It is also functional: “It allows some southern light to penetrate these mainly north-facing living areas,” Logan says.
While the “pull tab” roof feature is one of the most notable elements of this space’s form, the idea wasn’t there from the beginning. “Overall form has to adapt as the design develops,” Logan says. “In this project, the little carve-aways and the move on the roof happened as a response to what is going on inside.”
The clients came to the firm with an idea of their home’s design. “At an early meeting, they drew their preconception of how the house would look,” Logan says. “Like a boomerang overhanging a lake already on the property.”
The firm took that feedback and ran with it. The boomerang became more of what Logan calls “a broken horseshoe.” The inside of the horseshoe faces south, creating a protected outdoor space. Almost each area of the house has its own outdoor space. The lake nearly laps at the base of some of the outdoor areas on the horseshoe’s north-facing exterior. “The house is really trying to be as close as it can be to the water,” Logan says. “The lake is a powerful piece that not every project gets to have on its property.”
With the goal of keeping things as simple as possible, the roof detail is one of the few additive elements. The form is generally subtractive. “Rather than adding things to the shape, we carved it out,” says Kevin Burke, the firm’s managing partner. “The front porch doesn’t bump out, but comes in. The main covered terrace is subtractive of the main form, too.” Logan says, “Fewer forms and simpler forms get us further in the goal of making timeless architecture.”