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a view with a skew

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:32 AM
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by bubba of the bubbles ( last modified Mar 20, 2011



After pondering the plans for a couple of weeks and exchanging a few friendly emails with Dennis Cudd, the architect, we decided that our next step is to investigate skewing the present design on the lot. The bride and I love the initial design but do not like the house pressed up against the northern side of the lot and encroachment of the house onto garden area and hammerhead (turnaround for the drive). Skewing orientation of the current design addresses these issues. However, skewing is not without its own issues.

Mr. Cudd hasnt been too excited about skewing the house. In large part, this is due to aesthetics and losing sides of the house. He pointed out that with a skewed alignment, there is only a front and back of the house. I hadnt thought about that, although I recognized that by skewing the front of the house toward the south, the northern private side of the house was now exposed to the street. The master suite, outdoor dining area, and upper level nude sunbathing deck are still hidden, but the rear end of the Sandcrawler, which houses a covered deck for one of the bedrooms, is now exposed. But we can live with that. A tall wall or fence extending from the house to the property line would serve to protect ground level privacy and frame nice sectors of the yard front and side.

Dennis says that skewing the house ruins the tectonics of the Sandcrawler as viewed from the street. He is right about that. By skewing the house, the front of the Sandcrawler will be completely hidden from streetside gawkers. People will only be able to see the rear end of the crawler (and its a fine-looking rear end), but it probably wont be as pleasantly jarring. Thats a shame. On the other hand, wed be compromising on a lot of day-to-day living conveniences to keep the front of the crawler visible. On this, we lean strongly toward function over form. We would be able to see and enjoy the crawler every day (and only reveal it to close friends). In this sense, the property would be like a pair of Lucky Jeans

Side note: My bride and I debated what Dennis meant by tectonic when he described the Sandcrawler. Being a geoscience and engineering couple and savorers of words, we thought he was referring to plate tectonics, the well-established theory that the Earths continents float about (very slowly and very destructively [see San Andreas fault]) on a sea of magma. Therefore, my bride thought he was referring to the floating nature of the front of the crawler. I thought perhaps he was referring to the fact that the crawler appears to be faulted out of the house (the geologic term here is horst). After asking Dennis about this and then taunting him with an email about the new Massive Attack album being tectonic [which, indeed, it is], Dennis replied with a standard dictionary definition. Tectonic is, first and foremost, a building term. The root of the word, tekton (from late Latin), means builder or carpenter. Well, there you go. Now back to the house

Another concern is that skewing the front of the house muddles a visitors approach. Because of the skew, the formal entrance will (probably) need to flip from facing south to facing northwest. The drive and informal entrance would remain on the southern side. With the drive and formal entrance on the same side, all the visual cues are aligned: theres only one place to go. With them split, theres an opportunity for confusion. We plan to put in a gate (hopefully an automatic one) to close off the southern side of the property to foot traffic. Having lived near downtown for nearly 20 years and having been broken into several times, weve learned that open access to your side and rear yards invites shenanigans via bums and crackheads. Perhaps a gate and strong architectural and landscaping signals to the formal entrance will help here. If not, theres always the shotgun

When we first talked about building on the lot, I yearned for a solar aligned house. Because the bride-engineer and architect werent too keen on having the front of the house at an angle with the street, I retreated. Now were looking at aligning with the sun to solve some other issues and yet keep the house as initially designed. Dennis suggested a composite: Have the front module aligned with the street and then skew the rear modules with the sun. But thats a very different house and the likely death of the Sandcrawler. Nonetheless, we may wind up investigating that approach. And although neither of us want to, were fearful that well have to move the garage toward the front of the lot. Because all of this designing costs money, were moving incrementally.

For now were going to view the skew and then decide on what to do




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