As I move through this design process with Corey and Melissa, it is becoming clear that the three points of the Long Architecture triad – Mission, Aesthetics, and Family – are going to drive some very specific design decisions before we ever get to a floor plan. The three are pretty well interwoven – for instance, the way the storytelling overlays the site connects to Corey and Melissa’s desires to live an outdoor-focused life and to raise children with a sense of wonder and a wealth of stories. This vision for their life drives not only the arrangement of the house on the land, but also the way different spaces will connect to each other, and how outside and inside will be connected.
Part of the couple’s mission is their wish to lead a physically active life, a wish that finds a philosophical expression in the ideas of Nutritious Movement. The arrangement of spaces in the house we are designing will encourage movement, and the choice to replace traditional furniture with a module system will be the beginning point for the design of each room.
But what will the spaces feel like? Corey and Melissa have now visited several pieces of architecture around the country and much of our conversation about this has turned to qualities of light.
Refracted light, ambient light, filtered light, direct light, artificial and natural light; each of these has different qualities and each creates a different experience. The light in Stephen Holl’s St. Ignatius Chapel, for instance, was reflected and colored and had a spiritual quality that seems appropriate to the more magical parts of the house – the bedroom and kitchen, for instance; these are spaces where we slip into dreams and turn groceries into meals and meals into family dynamics. At the same time, the more social spaces, the more public spaces, do well to be open to direct light, unfiltered sunlight as much as possible.
I’ve made a drawing of how this should work in the different parts of the house:
This is where Mission and Family meet Aesthetics. Usually an architectural plan begins with space planning. Here we will have to start with qualities of light and connections between inside and outside, then work our way up to the plan itself.