Collaborating with Yourself
When asked to design an addition to an existing building I view it as an opportunity to collaborate, not only with its owner and users, but also with the original architect. Typically, that individual is not available for direct collaboration. So I must become a detective, to analyze the original design objectives and then peer into the designer’s mind to develop a deep understanding of the approach he or she used to try to achieve those objectives. And, if appropriate, I see it as my obligation to take up that designer’s design vocabulary – expanded and embellished – to say something new and relevant to the current moment.
That task becomes simultaneously easier and more challenging when that original designer is yourself. Easier, because you know what you were thinking at the time. Challenging, because you have different priorities now.
Such is the task at hand: To create an addition to my existing home to provide a Covid-office for the present as well as a studio to use in retirement
Functionally, the addition should have a flexible separation from the existing house to allow for private and public functions of home-life to co-exist in a controllable way. It needs a separate entrance, hidden from the residential street. The space within needs to accommodate hand-drafting, digital-drafting and in-person conferences. Dynamic access and storage of resources, digital devices and supplies is also a must.
Formally, the addition should extend the building through formal transformations, not by simple repetition, but through evolution of building forms reflecting its context and functionality as well as the changing image of “home”.
The design problem thusly stated, below is a description of the design solution in a series of graphic images and text captions to elucidate them.
The existing home is...
The existing home design was conceived as a simple 2-story box with a hipped roof, evocative of the building traditions of residential construction in Williamsburg Virginia, from the 18th Century through the early 20th. Trim detailing, while evocative of local Greek Revival traditions, is stylized and contemporary, earning the overall effect a “transitional” moniker.