Drawing / Word
“A word is worth a thousand pictures.”
- Naoya Hatakeyama, Photographer
We saw this exhibition as an opportunity to gain new insight into a building that is complete in drawings, yet still under construction. The building is The Cantilever House, a 3,000 sf two-story residence for a couple overlooking Portage Bay, directly across from the University of Washington campus. Concrete foundations, concrete site walls, and rough framing are complete.
As we began to consider the content for our submittal, we became interested in the relationship between drawing and model, and the words that we use to articulate our intentions. We decided to construct an experiential model to trace the spatial and material qualities of our design. We first laser cut detailed building sections from the construction drawings onto acrylic. We then used the acrylic drawings to cast the extruded sections in concrete. Each section represents a different sectional quality of the building, drawing in three dimensions the primary spatial experience of the building.
The General Contractor on the project constructed the model base for us out of plywood, the same material that serves as formwork for the concrete walls already erected on the actual site. In a reversal of typical protocol, we drew the shop drawing which the contractor then used as a template to construct the model base. The site is fraught with steep slope and small lot restrictions, resulting in a 7’ cantilevered structure to minimize disruption to the steep slope to the east. The east and north edges of the site model are battered to acknowledge the steep slope conditions of the site, and we like how it resembles a Mayan ruin.
Behind the model hangs our requisite 2-dimensional board onto which is printed drawing sheets that comprise the original drawing set currently being used to construct the house. Printed over the drawing sheets is an essay entitled “The Perfect House”, written by my thirteen year old daughter for her writing class, coincidentally assigned by her teacher at the same time that we were developing this exhibition project. When I read my daughter’s essay, I was struck by its specificity and its strong narrative. Her words allow me to form a very clear vision of her house in the bamboo forest. Her essay was timely in its relationship to what we were discussing in the studio. And so with her permission we included it as part of our exhibit.
This exhibition allowed us to explore the moment between drawing and constructing as it coincides with the same moment in reality. The spatial sequence of these specific sections generates the spatial experience in the still incomplete building … just like the words on a page that generate visions of my daughter’s perfect house.
Robert Hutchison, Principal, RHA
Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture
Anton Blewett, Scott Claassen, Tim Dolan, Megan Greenfield, Matt Fujimoto, Robert Hutchison, Pia Sarpaneva, Wenjing Zhang
Scott Claassen, Dong Nguyen Dinh, Robert Hutchison, Tom Maul
Interior Design: Carla Allbee, Megan Greenfield
Structural Engineer: Todd Perbix, Bykonen Carter Quinn
General Contractor: Tim Dolan, Josh Russell, Dolan Built LLC
THE PERFECT HOUSE
By Anonymous 7th Grade Student
The bamboo forest around the house is so thick nobody could ever possibly see through it. A long, twisted pathway leads you to a JapaneseGarden. The path is very well taken care of, mind you. Of course, not many people will be walking up this path. Because the bamboo forest wherethis is located is unknown to anyone but myself. It is such a shame that such a beautiful house has to be so secluded from everyone else. But thenagain I don't want people from my past trying to mooch off me. However … if you somehow managed to find the forest, make it up the path, past thegarden, and up the marble steps... I suppose I might let you in.
At first when you enter, the seemingly endless dark ceiling stares down at you, making the sitting room look ominous. When you walk in furtherthough, the oak floors echo every time you take a step, but the natural light makes it look more pleasant. I politely ask you to remove your shoes for Idon't want my oak floors to get scratched. You oblige and sit in the classic Herman Miller chair. You listen to the trained penguin playing "Canon inD" on the Grand Piano, as we discuss old times because talking about the eggshell paint makes for awkward conversation. You look around as wespeak. You notice the intricate detail that lies around. The kitchen with all types of measurements known to man. The fireplace with animalsengraved on the side. The large bay windows allowing the sun to gleam through. The sitting room is so large, it makes you wonder how large therest of the house is. I sense your curiosity, and I invite you for a tour. As I lead you down the hallway, you take one last glance at the sitting room andfollow me.
You follow me down a flight of stairs and on to a deck above the garden. We walk through the garden until we reach a small brush. Behind the brushis a large white Orb. You follow me into the Orb only to find the Hubble telescope at its center. "Welcome to my observatory" I say. You stare indisbelief as I walk up to it and show you the galaxy in which we live. The entirety of the observatory is white, all the way down to the trim on the sides. I have put a cheap IKEA couch in the corner, because I don’t want a lot of things in the way. You sit down comfortably on the couch, and lookat the multiple screens in front of you. The room is small, no larger than the average classroom. But it somehow seems spacious. The tap-tap-tap ofthe computer inputting data rings in your ears, and I shuﬄe around the dome typing things. You can't help but ask how I got the Hubble Telescope,and the answer is I bought it. After you had seen enough of Saturn we continue on.
I bring you back inside, to perhaps the darkest room in the house: the library. The library is dusty, and it is loved. There are shelves upon shelves of colored bindings on the walls. Every book you could possibly imagine is in this room. We sit down and don't speak for a good 30 minutes as we flip through books. There is only one window, and in the sunbeam you can see the dust particles floating in the air. You inhale, smelling the smoothpaper, and you enjoy the sensation. The library has a hum to it. You can hear it in the back of your ear even though nothing is making any noise. Webarely speak except for the brief exchange of words. Finally, you close the book and inform me that you must be leaving soon.
So we make our way out of the library and back into the sitting room. I lead you to the front door. I thank you for coming, and ask you not to tellanybody where my house is. You promise and head down to the trail. After I close the door you start to become sad. You are sad because you willnever see such a wonderful place again. Even years later, it remains only a memory. The perfect house. Only for me. Not for you.