- Design Professionals Sd/Dd:Annabelle Guan, Yibo Jiao, Jiashi Yu, Yusi Zha
- Interior Design:Mary Jane Williamson
- Structural Engineering:Paul Dannels (SDI Structures)
- Landscape:Rick Meader
- City:Ann Arbor
- Country:United States
“This time it is just simply my bedroom. To look at the picture ought to rest the brain or rather the imagination. The walls are pale violet. The floor is red tiles. The wood of the bed and chairs is the yellow of fresh butter, the sheet and pillows very light lemon-green. The coverlet scarlet. The window green. The toilet-table orange, the basin blue. The doors lilac. And that is all—” Vincent Van Gogh from a letter to his brother. Two directives were posed by the clients' brief: house their collection of late 20th century artworks and design objects in spaces that compliment, but do not detract from their presence; accomplish this on a primary single continuous floor plane that allows for a graceful aging in place. Additionally, the client expressed a strong mistrust for open plans. Finally, site the project on a shallow, tightly constrained and steeply sloping site.
To integrate the space for living and display while maintaining the desire for spatial separation, this project creates rooms defined by incomplete geometric figures. Each room accounts for its neighbor in the definition of boundaries. Spatial continuity emerges by implication through open figures as they are completed through overlapping edges while remaining programmatically divided. Given the flatness of the continuous floor and the desired discretion of the individual rooms, this project attempts to resolve the complicated figure-ground relationship through a spatial tension between programmatic containment and geometric overlap. The primary geometry of the floor plan is derived from two arcs anchored on corners of north setback lines, which creates a linear layout of rooms along the eastern boundary and a continuous wall of paintings to the west. Deploying the arc as a spatial register orients the array of rooms at different angles, grouping them into six relational coordinate zones. Each disrupted by the adjacent, yet together they define the boundary of individual rooms. Mediating the curvature of the perimeter and the rectangular shapes of the rooms, walls and openings are cut and translated based on the geometric references from adjacent elements rather than the internal logic of each room.
In Red Blue Green, 1963 by Ellsworth Kelly (one of the artists represented in the owner’s collection), the glowing edge of different colors depict the tension of its figure-ground relation. In the house the arrangement of figured rooms possesses the quality of this spatial vibrancy between figure and ground. Yet unlike the registration of a line in the painting, the opacity of walls enables a spatial transition from one side to the other, which also creates a figure-ground inversion through movement and changing vantage points. Within each zone, the composition of rooms reveals the overlay of boundary conditions and coordinates territories through the overlap and juxtaposition of modern paintings. This inverts the more common translation from architecture inspired by painting toward architecture that could potentially generate a painterly reexamination of spatial complexity. Van Gogh’s bedroom has grown restless and has permeated the spaces beyond. And that is all…