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Reciprocating Place, Ground, and Tectonics


Reciprocating Place, Ground, and Tectonics

STEVEN TENZEL University of Florida BA Design 2009 University of Florida M Arch 2011

A Master’s Research Project presented to the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Architecture. University of Florida College of Design, Construction, and Planning Spring 2011 MRP 1st chair: Bradley Walters MRP 2nd chair: Guy Peterson All photographs, drawings, and models are the work of the author unless otherwie noted Steven Tenzel

This book is dedicated to my family, for the love and laughs you have given me since day one, for the support and encouragement in work commonly misunderstood, and to Phil, for being with me every step of the way. To my Professors, Gundersen, Walters, and Peterson, for the wealth of knowledge and dedication to your work, for asking the right questions, and always demanding more. It happened! And lastly, to my friends, for making Studio the place to be, for making Gainesville a home, and for making it a couples Halloween. It’s been real.

CONTENTS Introduction to Prefabricated Systems Wachsmann + Gropius Frank Lloyd Wright Jean Prouvé Shigeru Ban

The Packaged House System Usonian SIPs Maison Tropicale Nemunoki Children’s Art Museum

08 10 12 14

House and Place Frank Lloyd Wright Paul Rudolph with Ralph Twitchell Shigeru Ban

USONIAN HOUSES First Jacobs House Affleck House SARASOTA SCHOOL Siegrist Residence Revere Quality House SIPs to FURNITURE UNITS Furniture House 1 Nine-Square Grid House

18 20 24 28 30 34 38 40 44

Pavilion and Place ISO Shipping Containers Erin Moore Watershed

48 50

Place and Tectonics Florida Climate + Landscape Florida Cracker Vernacular Florida Modern Tatami Mat vs. Panel Exercises

52 54 56 58

Place, Ground, and Tectonics REINTRODUCTION Transitional Plinth Aquatic Introspection Mangrove Trellis Arboreal Loft

60 64 70 74 78

Reflection and Conclusion




INTRODUCTION The inspiration for the research was to disprove preconceptions of prefabrication as a ubiquitous practice. The interest was not to defend the universal prefabricated house, but rather to design a new process maximizing the cost effectiveness of custom designs. To tie a universal architecture to a context with words like regionalist, vernacular, and local, it seemed as if they could mediate and improve prefabricated volumes by making them of a certain place and modernize a vernacular with new technology. These basic, generalized definitions only describe a small sector of the prefabrication industry, yet, the sector seen is producing the most work. Designing for high levels of craft and detail would have meant high prices and limited selectivity in the past. Today, it means mechanization, mass-customization, the availability for broader and small scale design to achieve highly designed products. Prefabrication is a fundamental part of the construction process. The extent to which materials and parts can be prefabricated off-site, in a workshop, or a manufacturing plant have been a factor historically.

Prefabricated System 1: The Packaged House System (1942) Walter Gropius and Konrad Wachsmann with the General Panel Corporation developed their Packaged House System using ideals of universal architectural space into an oversaturated manufactured housing market. Gropius and Wachsmann began working together at the Bauhaus in prewar Germany on panelized, prefabricated housing prototypes. After fleeing from the political stresses of Germany they picked up their pursuits in the U.S. Benefiting from a housing push in postwar America the demand grew for those returning from war, and speed was a factor. The project, funded by the U.S. government and General Motors (the world’s largest manufacturer at the time), distilled its system down to ten different panels all to use their one adaptable wedge connector1, (Figure 1) the focus of their continual improvement.2 The main joint of the System connected floor, wall, and roof panels without nails or screws. Panels slid together, aligning seams with the primary joint in 1 (Wachsmann 2003) 20 2 (Davies 2005) 23


Figure 1. Wedge connector in its final stage of development

Figure 2. Frame Joints and Connections. The panel’s overall detail and shape is defined by the assembly method


place, and locked in the opposite direction with a wedge3 (Figure 2). Playing off of the ideas of balloon and deck framing, the Packaged House promised a modular starting point, a physically and economically successful future. An issue historically with prefabricated, mass-produced systems, and an issue here as well, is with the efforts to stay current while in the production process. The obsession with an over-designed connector created an intricate, specifically universal intersection4 (Figure 3) that could flourish at larger scales and more complex configurations. In reality, the spatial condition at one scale did not adapt when larger; its uses narrowed as the spatially featureless volume expanded. The Packaged House failed without ever taking off, a result of the economy and industry evolving faster than the product advancement itself. The concepts, illustrations, and lessons, however, prove to be a great source of information to understand the strengths in detail, as a whole.5

Prefabricated System 2: SIPs and Frank Lloyd Wright Structural Insulating Panels, or SIPs, can be traced back to 1935. Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) hypothesized that plywood and other hardboard sheathing products could provide enough structural support as walls.6 Their test panel consisted of insulation between two skins with additional framing within the panel for support. Over the course of the products history wall assemblies have been disassembled, tested, and examined in order to find the best combination of components and materials. Around this same time, Frank Lloyd Wright’s post-Depression Usonian Houses were exploring sandwich-panel technology in his efforts to design cost-effective, beautiful, simple homes. Wright’s panel consisted of three layers of plywood and 2 of tar paper, but no insulation, which limited him in producing these for a broader market. One of his students, Alden B. Dow, concerned with the lack of insulation and conscious of the energy inefficiency, created a panel with an insulated core in 1950. A styrofoam core sheathed with two sheets of plywood, used in Midland Michigan, was the springboard for modern SIPs, and some of the original panels can still be found on those early houses today.7 SIPs today are about 150mm thick (5.9”), rigid insulating foam core with 2 continuously bonded sheets of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) on the exterior (Figure 4). They work on a stressed skin principle in which the 3 4 5 6 7

(Wachsmann 2003) 22-3 (Ibid) 21 (Ibid) 21 (Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) 2008) (Ibid)


Figure 3. Showing the hardware sliding into the standard slot of the panel and locking in with the wedge

interior sheathing foam core/ insulation exterior sheathing

Figure 4. Simple Structural Insulating Panel composition


products together form a unit far stronger than the sum of its individual parts. SIPs are capable of supporting upper floors or roofs the same way a brick wall or wooden frame can. It creates an airtight enclosure with very high thermal insulation values, and is then clad with some type of rainscreen of board or tiles.8

Prefabricated System 3: Maison Tropicale Jean Prouvé’s Maison was not necessarily a house, and in the three constructions that were realized only parts of them were used as homes. The interest, however, lies in a lightweight metal building system and its ability to adapt and be fabricated in any number of sites; it still meets this expectation moving between museum sites today. They were meant to be advertising pieces, by the Maxéville aluminum company that employed Prouvé, for the French bureaucrats and business people colonized in the Congo, and suggestive outposts of standardized, shippable components. The marketability of the company would extract materials from the mines in Brazzaville, Congo, ship the raw materials back to France to be manufactured, and then ship them back as houses in building component form for the people, specifically the higher-class. No orders came through, so only the three were ever produced. The detail designed and built into these allowed quick construction times and a minimal number of people to do it. Aluminum wall panels and a central roof beam supported the split panel system. Colonists found that in this climate their conventional concrete structures were inappropriate for adapting to the harsh temperatures and had to move their beds outside at night to sleep. Temperatures are claimed to never exceed the mid-eighties in the Tropicale house. The light reflecting skin, moveable shades and louvers to promote breezes or allow light, a suspended floor above the on-site constructed base provides insulation as well as elevation away from dampness. The shape of the roof, and full span chimney, utilizes the stack effect (the natural rising of hot air) to control temperatures as well. The Maison’s high cost and strange look proved unprofitable, in 1947 that is.9 Two of the original Maison’s have been recovered from their sites in Africa, one bought at Christie’s auction in June 2007 for nearly $5 million. The Tropicale houses are great icons of Jean Prouve’s inventive model of “green” architecture from before the term existed. In the second half of the twentieth century the relationship between the architect and interests in mass-produced houses changed. The hope was to change the world by example rather than direct intervention everywhere.

8 (Davies 2005) 148 9 (Bergdoll 2008) 110


Figure 1.

Figure 4.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.


Prefabricated System 4: Nemunoki Children’s Art Museum (1999) Located in a forested valley southwest of Tokyo, this one-story triangular building houses 300-square-meters of gallery space for children at a nearby school. Glass walls on all three sides leave this structure on fifteen steel columns holding up a roof structure of honeycomb-gridded paper, plywood, a translucent PVC membrane, and a transparent, fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP). Diffuse, natural light is the only source of illumination in the gallery space and is filtered through the triangular honeycomb structure. The entire structural form relies on this series of plywood, paper, and aluminum triangles that define the overhead. Prefabricated panels are brought in, lightweight and serialized, screwed together, and as a honeycomb would, compound to make up the latticework from the smallest detail to the overall roofscape (Figures 1-3). The first steps are inserting 23 in x 6 in x .6 in (60 cm x 15 cm x 15 mm) sheets of plywood between the two sheets of honeycomb board, then screwed together with the aluminum plates holding it into its 60 degree angle form. There are 2 other prefabricated joints used in this project, as the lattice moves towards the edge the pattern changes.10 The gallery space, while also not a house, helped to guide the topic further. What started as the prefabricated house in the Florida landscape entered into the scale of the house, barring program. The preliminary research through the history of prefabricated housing systems, in the most general sense, helped to define interest in the constructable processes; the design ideas and their execution. The main criteria in choosing architects to study revealed itself through the regional interest as well as the prefabrication research. In the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Rudolph, and Shigeru Ban the climatic band, progressive ideals, and conceptual links yielded cohesive concepts: simplicity, indoor - outdoor relationships, flexibility, and variety of expression (even within their own work, it became about discovering things, testing and discovering through making, not continuing one successful model). Analytical plan diagrams were done for two of each of the above architects works. Specific projects were chosen based on prefabricated and developing technological processes bracketing stages of development in the architects 10 (McQuaid 2003) 57


hexagonal aluminum die-cast pipe

aluminum stem, link to column

plywood spacer (12+15 mm) aluminum clamp plates plywood reinforcement (15mm)

2-ply honeycomb boards glued together

steel column

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.


careers, within the residential field. The analysis worked to illustrate the developing reciprocity between the parts, bringing the plan back to its most basic elements and defining its underlying interest. The analytical process realigns the functions and programmed spaces to accomodate circulation axes, slight shifts in site lines and volumes allowed for more concise understanding.


Prefabricated materials are practically unavoidable in the construction industry today, and there is no reason to try and avoid them. Variable levels of prefabrication in many ways allows for more flexibility in design. Timber joints, for example, vary in column caps from Simpson Strong Tie© (right) to a proprietary connector designed by Anderson + Anderson, a design-build firm out of Seattle, Washington. The connections allow prefabricated pieces to be as site specific as site-built. The relationship to the landscape can become exponentially more personal than the “precast” stereotype leads itself to be. The stigma that comes with “prefab” needs specificity.


USONIAN HOUSES “Part of the attraction of the Usonian House is its implicit authority based in natural order.”1 Frank Lloyd Wright’s post-Depression, Usonian houses take an approach on the modest life of the everyday American. (Figure 1)2 Designing affordable homes allowed the clients an opportunity for a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and in return allowed Wright to experiment with cheaper materials and invent new techniques. The “woven” walls were designed as boards affixed to a continuous core of plywood to expose horizontal recesses for Wright’s “Forest-style” architecture. The Usonian House was conceived of as a three-dimensional gridded volume intersecting a 2’ x 4’ or 4’ x 4’ plan module with a 13-inch vertical module for the horizontal recesses, window and door heights, and built-in furniture. This method reduced the waste of timber from adopting standard mill dimensions of members. Wright also worked in a “thick wall” concept placing storage within his modulated wall panels, this concept has continually resurfaced.3 The Usonian House system was designed as a kit of parts that had to be assembled in a certain sequence. This also allowed the parts to be ordered and sent to a client to assemble themselves when budgets were tighter for more affordable structures. One would first cast the floor slab and build the masonry chimney core, then the framework and roof, and finally a screen-like infill wall.4

Figures 2 & 3. The natural concrete block is the essence of the “Usonian Automatic.” The inside face is generally coffered for lightness, and because of it walls were often two blocks thick, coffered sides facing each other.

1 (McCarter 1991) 151 2 “Usonian House 1939,” Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, accessed April 8, 2011, buildings/usonia/usonia.html 3 (McCarter 1991) 143 4 (Ibid) 146 Figures 2-5. (Wright 1954) 200-3


Figure 1.

The “Usonian Automatic,” featured in the images below, is a Wright series pushing the prefabricated systems further. The blocks are made on-site by ramming concrete into metal or wood forms, with an outside and an inside face (different from standard blocks). All edges of the block have semicircular groove for steel “pencil” rods to sit within. Another block is placed on top and semi-liquid Portland cement is poured into its vertical channel, as a grout (one part cement and two parts sand). The grout is poured into the vertical holes at each level that flows and fills the horizontal channels, locking them together. If “double walls” are designed (two blocks thick) galvanized U-shaped bars are laid horizontally at each joint to lock walls together. The patterns and designs of these blocks may vary, but remain unified (for the most part) per project.5 5 (F. L. Wright 1954) 199-203

Figure 4

Figure 5


FIRST JACOBS HOUSE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 1936 Madison, Wisconsin The First Jacobs House, considered the first of the Usonian Houses, is designed on a 2 by 4 foot grid with the L-shaped plan framing a personal garden surrounded by glass doors and windows to maximize the views and presence of the outdoors. Designed for a young journalist, his wife, and their daughter, the goal of a sensible house meant a cost of $5500 (about $80,000 in 20081), including the architect’s fee of $400.2 The design required an assessment of what simplifications needed to take place in the building process. Mill work was worth the trade-off, but minimized the need for field labor “which is always expensive;” a reevaluation of heating, lighting, and sanitation systems, but maintaining the views and spaciousness. There would be no complicated roof and work on the interior would happen at the same time as exterior work. This was thought of as a companion to the ground, it was not supposed to be grand.3 Three primary innovations began here: “board and batten” wall systems4, a planning grid (probably from his interest with Japanese architecture and the tatami mat module), and new under the floor heating technology which heated the space from the core of the house, the hearth. Images below show the front and back of the house, the hard edge given to the street side (Figure 2), and the direct relationship of the garden to interior spaces (Figure 3).5

1 (Bergdoll 2008) 72 2 (F. L. Wright 1954) 69 3 (Bergdoll 2008) 74 4 (Ibid) 74 5 “Jacobs House, Madison,” Kevin Matthews and Artifice, Inc, accessed April 1, 2011, Photos by James A. Gwinner Figure 1. (Bergdoll 2008) 74


Figure 2. street-facing facade and carport, Wright’s suburban America revolved around the car.

Figure 1. The roof span operates as a companion to the ground3 creating and denying views.

Figure 3. garden and garden facades. the private side of the house beckons transparency5

Figure 4. Living room with built-in bench and bookshelves4



exterior : interior edges fold towards common space residential hinge as the hearth

below: hearth : public program and entry circulation and living spaces merge 22


room volume : registration across courtyard circulation to secondary volumes

below: Frank Lloyd Wright First Jacobs House (1936) 23

AFFLECK HOUSE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT 1940 Bloomfield Hills, Michigan “But I think a cultured American, we say Usonian, housewife will look well in it. The now inevitable car will seem a part of it. Where does the garden leave off and the house begin? Where the garden begins and the house leaves off.” The Affleck’s wrote to Wright asking him to design a house for them. He told the couple to find a site that nobody else would build on for their project. So, they found a heavily wooded, hilly area, originally intended for housing, but the lots did not sell because of their rough terrain. During construction the Affleck House got a lot of media attention, an L-shaped plan anchored on one end and a cantilevered living area and porch over a ravine, with a fountain and garden, maximizing the natural landscape. On a 4 by 4 foot grid the Affleck House plan laid out the interior partitions, furniture, rugs, and cabinets. A 2,359 square foot house on 2.3 acres of land cost $19,000 to build, $26,000 with Wright furniture. There are more than six-hundred feet of cabinets and a six-foot high fireplace.1 The original 13 furniture units, such as tables, chairs, and sofas, were all constructed of threeply plywood. Its orientation to the sun, with many windows and skylights promotes a different interaction with light and landscape.2

1 “Affleck House: Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” Lawrence Technological University, accessed April 2, 2011, 2 “Gregor Affleck House: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,” new photos added January 29, 2004, afleck_house.htm. Figure 1. Posted on “Not PC” on Wednesday, September 1, 2010, accessed February 20, 2011, http://pc.blogspot. com/2010_08_29_archive.html Figure 2. Image by Andrew Johnson used for the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, September 19, 2010.


Figure 1. House section. Carving the landscape was Wright’s challenge, while the architcture remains flat on the main floor sectional developments are made down the slope. Wright insisted that the clients find a site that no other architect would build on.

Figure 2.



T-shaped, linear program public orientation

below: private : semi-private program exterior and private street orientation 26


room volume : exterior. lit from clerestory roof/ ground/ garden overlapping

below: Frank Lloyd Wright Affleck House (1940) 27

SARASOTA SCHOOL Six determinants of architectural form1 as per Paul Rudolph: The environment determines a relationship to other buildings or surroundings in terms of scale, proportion, or even the space created between the buildings. A building’s function should not just determine the form, although it is something to be conscious of and work within. It becomes about practicality, but the concept should not be about the buildings function. Region plays a large role, climate, landscape, and natural lighting all define a place. They create conditions within a place, [Florida], where with natural light one can begin to understand things that are tactile and phenomenological. This is how one truly knows his site. Materials have their own potential, the vital focus here is to be as eloquent as possible. Psychological effects of a building may deal with ornamentation or monumentality, asking, what is the space about? Take a stance on how it currently exists and how one should work within those factors. The Times create passions for certain forms to change. It is important to design to culture while also avoiding trends and fads. One would hope to be designing in his own time, it is important to think about what makes a building of its time, or timeless. “Modernism emulated vernacular architecture’s honest expressions of both function and construction methods. In the nineteenth century, writings by John Ruskin and Viollet-le-Duc advocated the honest expression of function and materials…”2 The sources describe a school of thought, whose work needs less explanation when experienced in its landscape.

1 (Rudolph 2008) 25 2 (Hochstim and Brooke 2004) 17 Figures 1-4. (Howey 1995) Chapter 1, Introduction diagrams of Sarasota School Architects work from John Howey, 1941-1966.


Figure 1. Cocoon House

Figure 2. Hook Residence

above: Rufus Nims, Miller House, 1937 plan and perspective sketches discovering: proportion, 3D module, overlapping materials, established site grids, interior to exterior space

Figure 3. Walker Beach Cottage

below: Rufus Nims, Hibiscus House, 1952

Figure 4. Altavista Elementary School


SIEGRIST RESIDENCE PAUL RUDOLPH with RALPH TWITCHELL 1948 Venice, FL Postwar America held different theories of public and private space, and different even in coastal Florida than other parts of the state. As Wright’s work privatized its connection to nature as a garden, Rudolph and Twitchell designed the Siegrist Residence such that its most open/ transparent facade faces the street. The “picture window” was becoming more popular as a mediator of the public and private realms, framing the landscape and conversely the “view into the decorated living room, family life, and its Rockwellian imagery [inside].”1 The transition of glass throughout the day becomes a topic of discussion with transparent houses such as the Siegrist. “We need ‘caves’ as well as ‘goldfish bowls’” 2 as Rudolph often said. I took this stance with my own exploration to define the qualities of materials, light and darkness, and glowing outwards while lighting within. During the daytime, glazing reflects the environment which, in essence, creates an artificial screen to give the illusion of privacy; natural elements in Rudolph’s work operate on similar Wrightian principles in creating outdoor rooms with the structure.3

1 (Domin 2005) Page 51 2 (Rudolph 2008) 3 (Ibid) Page 51 Figure 1. image by Ezra Stoller (Esto) Figures 2-4. “Siegrist Residence, Venice, FL, 1948 (with Ralph Twitchell),” University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Library Web Page, accessed January 30, 2011, Paul Rudolph & his Architecture. A source of text and supporting images.


Figure 2. section through hearth and living spaces. Composition of the roof plane and intersection with the hearth were of particular interest.

Figure 1. The image into the living room across the water’s reflective surface reveals a clarity of the interior space and degrees of privacy. The curtains on the opposite side of the house were to enclose the glass facade from the street side when the natural conditions were not concealing it.

Figure 3 & 4. The simple grid allows a straightforward reading of an open interior. The variation in the extruded volume and the reaction in the grid within the module were of note here. Degrees of enclosure, with or without a canopy and its relationship to shading and occupation.3



spatial division : outwardly transparent entry sequence

below: structural form : interior volume exterior program 32


room volume : program exterior space

below: Paul Rudolph & Ralph Twitchell Siegrist Residence (1948) 33

REVERE QUALITY HOUSE PAUL RUDOLPH with RALPH TWITCHELL 1948 Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL “Use of locally available materials, such as lime block and cypress [in Sarasota], have produced an effect which some might term regional; true regionalism, however, comes principally through form.”1 The Revere Quality House used local materials in a premanufactured process for cabinetry and storage units. The Florida landscape, flat and unbounded, evokes a certain quality of work in a context. This particular house was sited in the center of the lot surrounded by nature, a face to the water. Surrounding houses have filled in the Siesta Key lots, which create an entirely new context for these mid-century minimal structures. Natural forces maintain the serenity on the site, water, sunshine, and natural vegetation (which is even narrowing the view that the house once had to the water. “Many problems could be solved more adequately by using light weight synthetic materials rather than dense, locally available materials.”2 This quote stands today even more relevant than when Rudolph spoke them. As materials from various local sites are over-harvested, the need for modern materials introduced into vernacular contexts and uses could relieve some pressures from the land and yet still maintain the essence. Defining the essence of these houses, their successes in the landscape is critical in understanding the architecture of the Sarasota School.

1 (Rudolph 2008) 11 2 (Ibid) 11 Figures 1-4. images by Ezra Stoller (Esto) 1949.


Figure 2. view from the water/ back yard

Figure 1. view coming into the driveway, open carport and views through the house to the water

Figure 3. view from dining room to screened patio

Figure 4. view from patio/ interior yard into the living room




prefabricated : refined on-site construction implied spatial boundary within larger space


exterior-interior space within the structural grid


overall volume : individual rooms. transparency with division. Circulation through rooms


Paul Rudolph & Ralph Twitchell Revere Quality House (1948) 37

SIPs TO FURNITURE UNITS Shigeru Ban has always used his constructions to test materials and fabrication techniques. In 1991, Ban built Library of a Poet, his first permanent paper-tube structure; two years later the use of paper tubes was entered into the Building Standard code in Japan.1 In his fourth Furniture House, similar to SIPs, prefabricated modular furniture units function as primary structural components. Ban’s one story, “traditional” courtyard house combines local materials as vernacular elements with modern form while experimenting with new uses of bamboo. The prefabricated system helps to minimize the amount of on-site supervision with its remoteness and limited budget. Fabricating laminated bamboo lumber for framing units and beams, finished and unfinished, ultimately proved complicated to control the quality of the completed product. Even still, the potential is there to further develop laminated bamboo as a building product. Each material test brings along a series of technical processes and in effect, his own “Case Study House” program, one of these processes being prefabrication. Ban designed his first prefabricated furniture units after tragedy from a 1995 earthquake. Starting in 1996, his first Furniture House affixed the furniture as the structure, enabled several workers to move the units into place and install them in one day, and reduce labor and construction costs.2 He found that adopting prefabrication techniques he could regulate quality of construction on projects in remote sites. In combining furniture and structure Ban interestingly ties the research findings of structural grid informing interior space, he brings new materials, program, and overall enclosure to structure with these studies.

1 (McQuaid 2003) 14 2 (Ibid) 153 Figure 1. image provided by ARTSTOR through, Contemporary Architecture, Urban Design and Public Art (ART on FILE Collection) Figure 2. (McQuaid 2003) 166 Figure 3. image provided by ARTSTOR through, Contemporary Architecture, Urban Design and Public Art (ART on FILE Collection) Figure 4. image provided by ARTSTOR, taken in 2002 by photographer Larry Qualls of an exhibit at Shigeru Ban’s Nomadic Museum, Figure 2.


The engineering behind the products, controlling the joinery and material quality that one would hope to achieve with standard building materials is so beautiful and unique. Early interests in connections, materials, and understanding the design processes as well as the construction of these buildings bring these projects to light. Figure 1.

Figure 3.

Figure 4.


FURNITURE HOUSE 1 SHIGERU BAN April 1995 Lake Yamanaka, Yamanashi, Japan Ban’s first Furniture House was designed at 1250 square feet with thirty-three full-height prefabricated furniture pieces. The process required fitting coated plywood panels on the cast concrete floor. Precut wooden studs were used to support more of the roof and roof framing system and concealed within the units. Most of the furniture walls were located on the interior as exterior walls provide views to the forest landscape. This particular project shortened the construction period and minimized the amount of material that had to be removed from the site post-construction, efficiently using materials. It reduced the labor requirement on-site as one worker alone could move the structural cabinets into place; all of these factors lowered overall construction costs by minimizing the amount of onsite work.1

1 (McQuaid 2003) 167 Figures 3 & 4. images from Shigeru Ban Architects, Houses and Housings, Furniture House 1, SBA_HOUSES/SBA_HOUSES_14/SBA_Houses_14.html


Figure 2. plan and section relating spatial organization to structure

Figure 1. organization of structural furniture units

Figure 3. view from within the landscape back towards the house

Figure 4. view from interior living space through the house



extended volumes, open house focus view

below: storage space as structural grid open plan 42


occupiable : storage space extending space and view

below: Shigeru Ban Furniture House 1 (1995) 43

NINE-SQUARE GRID HOUSE SHIGERU BAN November 1997 Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan Located in a bedroom community1 this house takes the Furniture House Case Study further. Steel studs were used for the furniture instead of wood to free the interior of the house of load-bearing walls, inspired by balloon-frame constructions. The furniture units are constructed of steel studs, plywood panels, and glass wool. These units create a more singular gesture, three units on each of the two walls. Each unit is 10’ 7” x 9’ x 3’ and used for multiple functions: storage, clothing, to conceal the refrigerator, air conditioning equipment, washer/ dryer, etc. The open interior is a 1,164 square foot space that can be partitioned into multiple configurations of up to a nine square grid by sliding full-height, hollow, wooden doors along recessed tracks in the floor and ceiling. When not being used, the doors slide away into “pockets” within the walls.2

1 (Berube, et al. 2006) Also known as commuter towns or exurbs, bedroom communities are fringe districts located that have at least 20 percent of their working class commuting to jobs in an urbanized area. They are also classified by low housing density and have a relatively high population growth, their main economic function is housing sales. 2 (McQuaid 2003) 172 Figures 2 & 3. (Ibid) 173


Figure 2. constructing the roof plane

Figure 1. diagramming movement of partitions in creating a spatial grid

Figure 3. view back into the house, semi-open



extended volume : internal volume focus view

below: storage space : structure open plan minus program 46


occupiable : storage space confining space : open : variable

below: Shigeru Ban Nine-Square Grid House (1997) 47

ISO SHIPPING CONTAINERS Having worked through the precedent studies and working through more contemporary prefabricated structures the research question shifted from how these houses operated to how to go about constructing their elements. In formulating a vocabulary of transparency, structural systems, their degrees of readability, and connections to their landscapes an attempt was set at a standard unit to develop the structure and allow the landscape (the place) to be born from the building. The lessons of the projects and the technologies employed were of interest, but the scale defined the components within the grid. The structural lally columns of Rudolph and the SIP derivative furniture units of Ban were explored under a different module to coincide with the modern adaptation of a shipping container. The optimum sizes of shipping containers was decided in the 1950’s by American trucking entrepreneur, Malcolm McClean, based on the available transport networks. International Standard Organization (ISO) shipping containers are 20’ long by 8’ wide by 8’ tall; some are 40’ long, but international freight is commonly measured in TEUS (Twenty foot Equivalent UnitS). This module of the shipping conatiner has maintained a spatial order for quite some time. The SS Ideal X (Figure 1) made its maiden voyage in 1956 as the first “huge multistory container megastructures, absolutely regular and temptingly architectural, [that] are continuously constructed and deconstructed like modular cities of the future.”1 Questions of permanence arose, along with stacking techniques of such building blocks to compound their space and structural integrity.

1 (Davies 2005) Page 169


A series of housing volumes 16’ x 60’ (6 ISO containers) testing proportion and internal spatial configurations. The diagrammed purple tone highlights the main axis of circulation and the orange labels indoor/ outdoor connections (from view to outdoor spaces). The roof planes (slid to the right of its respective volume) each have 2’ x 2’ skylight apertures cut into them to light dark spaces (bathroom or closet), focal elements (central over the kitchen counter), or entry into rooms.

Throughout the design and decision-making process with the ISO containers a curious point to their structural integrity was questioned. Once the shell of the container is modified, the strength is compromised. The tests can still be considered in units of the same size, just not necessarily made of the container.

Figure 1. illustration of SS Ideal X conatiner ship


WATERSHED Erin Moore 2007 Wren, Oregon, USA Made of steel, red cedar, polycarbonate, and glass the structure encloses a single, 70 square foot room. A reinforced concrete base, steel structure, and wooden cladding built in this way meant they could be constructed in a warehouse and brought to the site. In the optimal building conditions it took fourteen days to prefabricate the steel structure and the wooden cladding, and then sixteen days for transportation, foundations, and installation of the cladding and roof. The polycarbonate roof creates a soft, filtered light inside and emphasizes the sound of the rain. There is not a single joint in the whole structure that cannot be undone to replace or recycle any part of the structure including the steel.1 The opportunity present in this project to develop ideas about construction, material details, exposure to elements with orientation, all of these things that were considered at the scale of the house but geared towards smaller systems in its entirety. A specific interest developed in the research to get into the details, to be able to dabble in all facets.

1 (Costa Duran 2008) 12 Figure 1 series. (Ibid) 12 photos by Gary Tarleton Figures 2-4. (Ibid) 14


Figure 2. West Elevation

Figure 1 series. snapshots of the construction series. Limited materials, man-power and time required on-site to construct this prefabricated pavilion.

Figure 3. North Elevation

Figure 4. East Elevation



Central and North Florida

Mid Gulf Coast

South Gulf Coast

South Atlantic Coast “Bordered by more shorelines, bays, and beaches than any other state in the United States,”1 Florida is a lush, tropical, fully humid place home to panthers, bears, buffalo, alligators, snakes, and mosquitos to name a few, and nearly nineteen million people.2 Hot summers and long rainy seasons, along a relatively flat topography is just the beginning of what early Floridian settlers dealt with. 3 Qualities of the east and west coasts are quite different in terms of topography and coastline. Water levels in everyday tides to storm surges from hurricanes require buildings elevated higher off the ground, as seen in Figure 2. Fourteen feet above sea-level is completely different in Palm 1 (Howey 1995) Chapter 2 2 U.S. Census Bureau, accessed April 14, 2011, 3 I say it in this way because the population of Florida today, as most of the country or world for that matter, does not have to deal with the elements the way people had to in the past. In Florida’s climate particularly the introduction of air-conditioning has exceeded the abilities to maintain comfort zones with passive systems.


Figure 2.

Beach than in Sarasota. Questions of water intrusion are important to have a position on. Light and shade, shedding water, connections to water, land, sky, and architecture are bases for which the research develops individually and then collectively. As the designs developed, solidifying an orientation is critical to further develop the design.


FLORIDA CRACKER VERNACULAR “I’m not interested in inventing new ideas just for their own sake. I’m much more concerned with distilling familiar forms down to their essential elements.” 1 -Deborah Berke “The technology of today is awesome, and along with keeping the pace and watching where we’re going, it’s important that we hold on to where we’ve been. That sense of consistency is crucial.” 2 -Ron Haase A synthesis between the quotes of Berke and Haase would be the modern vernacular that arose early in this search. To combine the materials and knowledge of place and craft with its developed counterpart is where this study is leading. Vernacular, in this sense, is defined as “the native language or dialect of a particular region or place,”3 and can then describe conditions of the landscape by evaluating the architecture. Some of the elements or decisions of shed roofs or the evolution of fireplace placement in terms of heating the main space, but preventing uncontrolled fires describes the culture of early settlers more than it was used as a working model .

1 (Haase 1992) 81 2 (Ibid) 82 3 (Ibid) 11 Figure 1. (Ibid) 24 Photo by Dan Branch Figure 2. (Ibid) 15 Figure 3. (Ibid) 14


Figure 2.

Figure 1.

Single-pen and Dog-Trot plans (above and below, respectively) are two of the most common and simple Cracker vernacular structures. This fact makes sense as the larger volumes would take longer the construct and were increasingly more complicated. The single most important development of these volumes was the shady porch, necessary and practical in providing a breezy outdoor space, but cools the interior space as well.

Figure 3. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ home, the source of story-telling for a career-full of writings.


FLORIDA MODERN Worldwide influences on a Modern movement in the United States pulled from Frank Lloyd Wright’s space defining principles and Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s exchange from the Bauhaus in Germany into teaching positions at Harvard University’s School of Design and Chicago’s Armour Institute (later renamed the Illinois Institute of Technology, I.I.T.). The expression of glass, structural steel, and proportion became the essence, as Berke suggests, of Modern design. Florida’s movement began before World War II with the construction of Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Continuing for years after the war it brought attention to the area and surrounding major cities; Miami, Jacksonville, the Tampa Bay area, and a strong architecture program at the University of Florida,1 with Rudolph and Twitchell in proximity word got around with the help of an A.I.A publication, Florida Architecture and the Allied Arts which resumed in 1947. And again, the need to adapt architecture to the high temperatures and humidity, enclosures to keep the insects away, all of the major factors of the region adapted the Modern style. Large roof overhangs shade large portions of walls and windows and keep facades dry from frequent rains. Organized floor plans within one room deep structures promoted access to cross-ventilation and flexible control of light as well. Sliding glass doors were introduced as large physical connections to the visual link that was prevalent for so long, extending indoor space to screened outdoor patios. Ironically, “modern architecture developed by embracing technological advancements, and yet it was technology that largely brought about the demise of the originality of Modern Florida houses.”2 For additional information supplementing the Florida Modern movement, refer back to “Sarasota School” on page 28.

1 (Hochstim and Brooke 2004) 23 2 (Ibid) 28 Figures 1 & 3 images by Ezra Stoller (Esto)


Martin Harkavy Residence by Paul Rudolph Located in Lido Shores, Sarasota, Florida the Harkavy Residence functions in a different manner than his “fish bowl” houses. Rudolph’s angle changed once on a suburban lot needing a more private interior for the client, reorienting the house from the front porch to the back yard. The bedrooms occupy the front rooms shaded and shielded by the grill panel over the carport, while the living spaces are oriented to the back of the house. An addition to the right of the original house (seen in the color image below), will continue to be seen of these retreat style homes on such prime real estate as they are adapted for modern lifestyles.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


TATAMI MAT vs. PANEL EXERCISES The question of scale, of architecture to the human body, and to its environment arose from the research. Analyzing layers of horizontal architecture and corresponding texts answered original questions of orientation to context, sun or view, interior/ exterior relationships, and seeing the architecture as a ‘machine for living’. New queries questioned the relationships within the architecture to itself. Tatami mats have this scalar connection from one mat to another, which defines occupation, but also informs the structure (the mats are structural themselves, but the column grid must align with the mat grid too). There are many methods in Japanese traditional architecture that have passed down ideas on dividing plans, units of measure, placing structure, etcetera. The inaka-ma method relates rather directly to developed research theories. Contrary to the kyo-ma method, the inaka-ma is strictly based on the 1 ken equals 6 shaku (1 shaku is roughly 1 foot) square grid. All construction methods here are some multiple or fraction of 6 shaku and within the definition it is determined that the measurements are center to center distances between members. The prefabrication of mats has been present for centuries and as seen in Figure 1 mats n, c, and e are most common throughout the different room-mat combinations, and are therefore more frequently produced.1

1 (Engel ) 39


Figure 2. The process of “playing” Modulor is about taking the series’ of values discussed above and applying them to surfacesor forms.

The Panel Exercises, on the other hand, is a name given to deriving space from the scalar relationships of the Modulor, man as Corbusier measured. Any such derivative, using a mathematical calculation, of the primary number 2.26 meters (89 inches) is applied ad infinitum. Starting with the square of 2.26 m, it can be halved, intersected with the Golden Section (1.397 m, 55 in), Golden Section of the half value (1.13 m, 44.5 in), and into halves, quarters, squares and square roots2, “a prodigal wealth of harmonious combinations is obtained. It is without end. There remains still the question of choice, requirements, means of execution, in short the premises of the problem.”3 The Modulor can be used to determine lengths, surfaces or volumes. Maintaining the human, tactile scale everywhere, its formulaic use empowers the user to determine the values of the units, members, or spaces, while at the same time maintaining a cohesive band of measure. Whether Corbusier’s specific Modulor units are used, or other series/ proportional units, the lessons of maintaining a module and allowing it to be applied throughout delivers a unity with diversity.4

2 (Corbusier 1954) 92 3 (Ibid) 96 4 (Ibid) 90

Figure 3. Generally, the user would pick those most appealing to the senses, the one(s) that feel right. The select units chosen here have a more direct, visual connection to the inaka-ma tatami mats (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The tatami formulas are measured in millimeters and are differentiated in terms of room size. Four-and-a-half-mat rooms are usually at the smaller end, various configurations of mats, a sort of prefab catalog would be available to order one’s room area.

Figure 4. a closer look at some of the tatami-like, Modulor-derived units.


REINTRODUCTION “The role of the architect in this evolving world of construction processes remains squarely on an architecture formed about an idea of use and place, but we must also have tentacles extended deep into assembly, products, and materials. While we cannot return to the idea of the master builder embodied in a single person, the architect can force the integration of the several spun-off disciplines of architecture – construction, product engineering, and materials science – all with the aim of reuniting substance with intent.” 1 The Kieran Timberlake philosophy insists that the “architect must take control through supply-chain management and product development, rather than through formal exercises of geometry.” 2 This would be the next logical step. Corbusier’s writings on the Modulor go on about it, the concept, theory, and publicity involved in the process. Taking these ideas of scale and dimensioning should not stop at a pochéd square; where does that take the architecture? From the constant search, following paths of even the most minor consequence to pan for answers, I stumbled upon a Canadian architect doing beautiful work, residential and larger public work, Brian MacKay-Lyons, of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. In his book, written by Malcolm Quantrill, it describes his “Three Fs for an Architecture of Regionalism: fitting, framing, and forming”3 that feel as connected to the research as it is to his work expressing it.


deals with the where and how architectural conditions will locate themselves within the site. Defining from within the architecture itself, out into the landscape, the structure integrates with its established place. The building becomes as much a part of the ground as the natural elements themselves, by commiting a structure to its site it then can bury its roots.

Framing speaks of the relationship of frameworks to the external form, views and contexts alike. Dealing with the art of building the frame is not necessarily the skin, but while framing the structures implications on its shell and the ground become more defined. It is a skeletal exploration of space while leaving an impression on the site 1 (Kieran 2004) 31 2 (Ibid) 50 3 (Quantrill 2005) 32


connecting assembly construction invention composition typology context topography locale experience tradition




articulated augmented topography site


Forming is “giving shape to an idea.”

Developing a local environmental connection with materials, occupants, light and space. A continuous reciprocity will exist between the inputs and the formed. 4

A decision had to be made at this moment whether or not to continue with the house. What is the goal? The specific contexts, defining program, spatial configurations, and other implications of the house, brought to light that the search is about the building, the “fitting and forming.” 5 Each of the following constructions was initially driven by different ways of touching the ground. To be embedded in the ground in the Florida landscape finds issues with flooding and drainage; but to be embedded and elevated made interesting topographical connections and asks questions relative to precedents. From the ground conditions, building elements were defined by the place: large overhangs, orientation to varying degrees of sun exposure on facades, specifically south-facing, the material palette, and thoughts of seasonal occupation with program drove the architectural decisions. Through the act of making the different pavilions were edited under the same criteria defined throughout the research at a smaller scale. The conceptual ideas are realized, but how to deal with scale and proportion; testing exposure to different light conditions, did it operate as intended? Structural grids within the volumes were developed and with each design decision the grid became a defining factor in modulating the spatial and structural moves.

4 (Ibid) 32 5 (Ibid) 32



TRANSITIONAL PLINTH The initial connection in developing a construction method for a pavilion is inspiration by Mies van der Rohe. His mindful detail allow buildings to become a vessel for experience, as the architecture sits gently and intentionally on the site, two specific projects come to mind, the Barcelona Pavilion and the Farnsworth House. An instant recognition of materiality, elements sliding past one another, and its stance on the site would begin to define my pavilions distinguished attributes. To experience the space in this way, a quiet structure is required. The ground condition is such that without the mediation of the valley one moves through to approach (excavated and forms the yard platform) the site is worked to move from one elevation to the next, experiencing the light and space passively. Structure serves as a wayfinder, through the fenestration on the north face of the Pavilion one could chart his path visually through the surface.


mapping boundaries versus enclosure, circulation, structure, and focused views. visual and physical enclosure

expressing the ground to overhead and their relationship with the structural impression in the landscape


Defining and designing in section to relate circulation, structure and restricted views. Horizontal reach of the roof span in directions of movement and light.


The Transitional Plinth in its approach offers shade, a mediation of the landscape. The Farnsworth House begins to speak to construction methods, transparency, and reflection. The outdoors, the dappled light and its elevation move it out of direct view and off the surface ground. The Barcelona Pavilion is a display of materials, a mysterious craft and control and both carry an expression of lightness, qualities to continually test.



Four columns and load bearing walls allow the large “floating� roof plane to hover over single and double height space below. The columns work through the top surface of the floor and roof slabs to transfer the loads directly to footings below grade.


AQUATIC INTROSPECTION The feeling of floating on water drove this design. A sequence moving from a wooded site towards the bridge platform sets the destination of the concrete anchor, enclosed on seemingly three sides. The repetition of columns and beams underfoot can be seen through the reveal in the wallfloor seam. The movement of the water against the partially submerged structure completes the soundscape of the remote site. Channeling wind and light, vertical elevations shade and restrict views; primarily these edges create exterior room conditions as Rudolph explained in the Siegrist Residence. By completing some pieces of the landscape with the architecture, nature then composes the rest of the space allowing the occupant to feel enclosed in implied spaces.


mapping boundaries versus enclosure, directing circulation, structural dualities vertically and horizontally, and focusing views from vantage points. visual and physical enclosure. spaces for one or a couple.

expressing the one to one ground to overhead relationship with the structural impression in the landscape


The systems of construction that are defined by the overlayed grid allow all elements to have specific rules to remain cohesive. In prefabricated constructions this is determined early on, from design, to development, through construction, to assembly as to how components connect.

The concrete anchor serves in framing and redirecting views. An overhead enclosing space, but only serves for shade when the sun is directly overhead, this condition encourages movement to the smaller meditation enclosure or the seating towards the water. The vertical scale of this piece was tested at various heights, rendered (right hand image on p. 73) at its preferred height for a more intentional seam between it and the horizontal screen.


Wall sections of the Maison Tropicale inspired the introduction of louvers as shading devices or view channels instead of the solid, panelized wall. It also brings a smaller scale to the project that it previously lacked.


MANGROVE TRELLIS Mangroves, in the early history of South Florida’s growth, dominated the shorelines. Their presence served an ecological purpose to hold the shoreline and maintain that edge as well as create a natural buffer to the water. Before its natural importance was realized mangroves and natural vegetation on the water’s edge had been replaced by seawalls and vertical bulkheads. Mangroves today are a protected species in Florida, a menace to waterfront properties but important in reestablishing a natural habitat. The trellis could work as a construction by latching onto a seawall or other structure and symbiotically live within or alongside the native plants. The trellis construction has its own light and shade stance only to be enhanced by the vegetation. The location of the structure should also promote a more intimate connection with the water.

Two mangrove examples reaching towards the ground to then expose its roots growing out of the water.


mapping boundaries in line with enclosure, movement into the space, structure, focused views and possible elevation changes underwater. visual and physical enclosure as shading and privacy screen.

expressing the structural impression in the landscape with the opposite face of louvers


The sequence to enter into the project is from the dock above, a hint towards movement down to the water. The trellis model could be developed for linkages onto other frameworks like the house on pilings (above). Connections to the ground were reoriented vertically for the possibility of not relying on the vertical supports but using tieback anchors into the solid wall. To prefabricate and install these elements this pavilion can be deconstructed to the smallest member or moved as panels, depending on ease of the site. Large concrete vertical supports like this could be prefabricated like Shigeru Ban’s PC Pile House, and bring them to site prepoured. This would greatly reduce on-site construction time.


Light filters, rather than shades, have an everlasting goal to achieve what a tree does so effortlessly. Grilles and trellises work to develop a pattern of shadows and light pockets to be experienced anywhere between natural or man-made. The Harkavy Residence street-front privacy/ light screen filters modulated, regular shadows. With the use of modern, mass-customizable materials with fenestration, manufactured screen components are able to achieve tree-like qualites like never before.


ARBOREAL LOFT Architecture is more than a protective shell, more than a place for ritual actions to be performed, while it should define within the boundless landscape, it does not necessarily enclose in all three dimensions. To introduce a bias to the natural, to tug on the way things are to the way we want them to be. 1 The ground connection for this pavilion was slightly elevating it from the ground, the common practice of tropical and Florida Cracker architecture. The structural members that achieved this would be the basis for the structural grid throughout. So, within a 4’ module the main space was determined, but the limits tested in pushing and pulling to work with the standard measure of units and materials learned from Wright and Ban in minimal material waste. To understand the units, the module also inherently links the human scale, physical connections to the architecture, the upright modulor. The scale of a person moving under the canopy, outside of the pavilion relates to the cut of the exterior plywood skin (see below). As the occupant moving into the space elevates to reach the seam of light expressed by the relief of building elements in the internal volume.

1 (Kostof 1995) Page 21


mapping circulation, operational components, and roofscape boudaries. visual and physical enclosure overhead

expressing the ground to overhead and their relationship with the structural impression in the landscape. To mediate between the ground and the canopy is the way of discovering form within this process.


The scale of its floor materials worked with the dimensions of the foot, to feel carefully balanced between the landscape below and the constructed canopy above. A tongue and groove system locks the materials together and down to the cradle of beams below. The construction of the layered filter overhead places the occupant in the elements while inside; sun, rain, clouds, and the stars make up the slice of the sky. At night the aperture defines occupation to take in the view or to avoid getting wet, blocking out the horizon, open to the sounds and climate it rests within. Nature is the pavilion’s interest.






To develop the structure in terms of place, affirmation of its orientation considered and almost always shaded interior volume with the physically adjacent, but disconnected exterior space, shaded on the north side and still under the canopy. Again, with this construction its materials were formatted to conventional dimensions, off-the-shelf lumber and the panels could be as preconstructed or dismantled as preferred to get it out to the site. The “canopy gap�, as seen below, along with the opening in the center of the roof, will capture breezes from all sides, and through convection draw the hot air from the interior.

canopy gap



A mosquito screen has been considered and would be added to the interior square, minus the circulation. So, one would walk up the ramp and once underneath the overhang, open the sliding screen to move in. These systems only really work if they remain closed, special considerations would have to be made.

South Elevation Conceptually, the entry sequence is about moving the nomad/the camper along his route to a post in the landscape. The site surrounding remains relatively dry, but in the rainy season will probably experience flooding at the soil ground level...

East Elevation The ramp can operate in the rainy season to enter from the water, allow water in, and just as naturally exit back out. One variable feature in all of the pavilions allowed it to open up, to expand the dry platform for more people in the wet conditions...



North Elevation The degrees of openness to enclosure are considerations to edit the systems. In this study, being Case Study 1, the East panel is operable, manually folds down and lands on the two remote footings in line with the core structural grid. This feature nearly doubles the useable floor area from four simple pin connections.

West Elevation The circulation, north yard shade, and the only horizontal “window� in the project can be seen in the West elevation. As an aperture for light, shade, and view the east moveable panel could operate for the Florida sunrise, this window on the west could be oriented to focus on a specific view or, its original intention, to frame the sunrise.


In the decision to use single column piles, steel connections and timber framing it could be produced almost entirely of common mass-manufactured lumber. The dimensioned materials could all be carried out to the site with one or two people, even the longest spans of up to forty feet could be made up of three twenty-foot and two ten-foot spans with the third one bridging the seam. The logistics of all of these alternatives have not been fully explored, but there are so many possibilities varying the design when changing materials would be more interesting, in Case Study #2.




The shear connections would also allow, as the Watershed precedent has done before me, the unit to be disassembled pieces at a time for replacement and improvements over time.



“The history of all architecture, including the most modern, can be read in the simple indigenous buildings which we so often overlook in our search for architectural sources. The Cracker “shack” resembles a variety of pure architectural types which are all derived from the same essential source the human response to the need for practical shelter.”1

-Walter Chatman

1 (Haase 1992) 76


REFLECTION and CONCLUSION As no architectural text considering shelters is complete without its source, the primitive hut (Figure 1) depicts Vitruvius’ tale of man and shelter. Woven into its construction is a process to emulate nature. As a reaction to sun, wind, and rain the hut adapts to improve its stance within the forest. The essence of constructing, living with nature, and utilizing nature as structure brings man in harmony with the earth. “The role of making in the design process includes documentary photography, collages, prototypes, models, and drawings, which work as two- and three-dimensional examinations of site, behavior, and events, rather than purely representing notions of static space and material.”1 The process of “making” in this project is difficult to justify if following this method, which for me too proved to be paralyzing at first, but later freed me from my own hesitations. Behind all of the research, and life experiences, came an understanding of the landscape; rather than site specific, it was about designing for the environment, which responded well with prefabrication and modular processes. The mark that architecture leaves in the ground was as much a part of the design consideration as the elements that make up the space; its impression on the land demonstrates the impact and organization of the structure. The scale and method does not attempt to emulate the landscape, and in the process, each of the four pavilions is designed to operate as an object as well. To hold the models toward the sky, or view the images without a context helps to understand their individual systems and to imagine an entirely new site condition for it.

As I began my journey down one road there were constant deviations from a single path. The movement into all of these different realms was an enjoyable method of searching. To continue this investigation of the Florida Pavilion, explorations of some conditions at full scale would be interesting and helpful. All of these pavilions deal with the complicated, sub-tropical climate that, in many ways, is the largest struggle of the project. I am interested in researching and witnessing the effects of these canopies and overhangs, and applying lessons of Wright, Rudolph, and the tropical vernacular. Shading large areas of constructed or natural ground, with screens to keep bugs out, but allow light in, achieve a low-tech and effective goal. Dog trots, breezeways, and elevating over damp ground, all lessons of the modern, and previous, architectures that we rarely are able to experience 1 (Smout 2007) 7


Figure 1. Charles Eisen engraving of Vitruvius’ allegorical primitive hut. Served as the frontispiece for Marc-Antoine Laugier’s Essay on Architecture,1753

completing the steel ring to minimize movement

elevating the steel and hardware by pouring the footings another 10� taller to move farther away from water and corrosion


today because of air-conditioning and other “necessary” technologies. Not that they are not effective, but it has inhibited the progress of Florida Modern architecture. Being able to experience these qualities would validate and instruct what changes can be made: What dimensions and qualities need to be enhanced? Could the members and components be substituted for other materials? What dimensional qualities would change for the structure to operate out of some other material, possibly a tensile structure? And how would this effect the space? As a post-rational study, I have come upon Wes Jones’ Container House and Primitive Huts, from the early 1990’s. The architecture works with shipping containers and found objects to construct the pavilions, and operate as a kind of organism that can adapt to the conditions at different times of its inhabitation. At the other extreme from Jones’ work, I am interested in looking into the Micro Compact Homes and various companies that offer them. I felt that the introduction into this market held too many gadgets, not enough construction hands-on. I see an endless technological path here that could transform a remote Florida cabin into a satellite computer. Eventually, I see this search coming back around to the house. With the research established and the smaller scale explorations complete, I would like to test that larger scale again. Not within the confines of the ISO containers, but to revisit the early prompt with updated ideals and understanding of these methods. This work has brought excitement and hesitation I have had for my Masters Research Project since undergraduate studios to the forefront. It has been a highly informative process synthesizing literary research and design exploration. I did not know what to expect out of each next step, but let the work and search guide itself. I look forward to continuing my search in the near future.

Figure 1. (Howey 1995) Chapter 7, 7.22. Figure 2. MOMA exhibit. Prefabrication, Wes Jones, Figure 3. Ibid. Wes Jones image ,


Figure 2.

Figure 3.

Figure 1. Joseph Farrell and William Rupp, Uhr studio-residence


Bibliography Anderson, Mark, and Peter Anderson. Prefab Prototypes: Site-Specific Design for Offsite Construction. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007. Anderson, Mark, Peter Anderson, Donlyn Lyndon, Cameron Schoepp, and Andrew Zago. Anderson Anderson: Architecture and Construction. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. Bergdoll, Barry, Peter Christensen, and Ron Broadhurst. Home delivery: fabricating the modern dwelling. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2008. Berube, Alan, Audrey Singer, Jill H. Wilson, and William H. Frey. “Metropolitan Policy Program.” Living Cities Census Series. October 2006. (accessed December 2010). Corbusier, Le. The modulor; a harmonious measure to the human scale universally applicable to architecture and mechanics. London: Faber and Faber, 1954. Costa Duran, Sergi. New Prefab Architecture. Barcelona, Spain: Loft, 2008. Davies, Colin. The Prefabricated Home. London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2005. Domin, Christopher, and Joseph King. Paul Rudolph : The Florida Houses. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005. Doordan, Dennis P. “On Materials.” Design Issues, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2003: 3-8. Engel, Heino. Measure and Construction of the Japanese House. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle Co., 1985. Haase, Ronald W. Classic cracker: Florida’s wood-frame vernacular architecture. Sarasota: Pineapple Press, Inc, 1992. Herbert, Gilbert. The Dream of the Factory-Made House: Walter Gropius and Konrad Wachsmann. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1984. Hochstim, Jan, and Steven Brooke. Florida Modern: Residential Architecture 1945-1970. New York: Rizzoli, 2004. Howey, John. The Sarasota School of Architecture. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1995. Ishido, Takeshi, and Satoru Komaki. Contemporary Japanese Houses, 1985-2005. Tokyo: Toto Shuppan, 2005. Jackson, Neil, and Craig Ellwood. California Modern: the architecture of Craig Ellwood. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. Kieran, Stephen, and James Timberlake. Refabricating Architecture: How Manufacturing Methodologies Are Poised to Transform Building Construction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Kostof, Spiro, and Greg Castillo. A History of Architecture: settings and rituals. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. LaFrank, Kathleen. “Seaside, Florida: “The New Town: The Old Ways”.” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Vol. 6, Shaping Communities, 1997: 111-121. McCarter, Robert, and Kenneth Frampton. Frank Lloyd Wright: a primer on architectural principles. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1991. McQuaid, Matilda. Shigeru Ban. London: Phaidon, 2003. Morse, Edward Sylvester. Japanese Homes and their Surroundings. New York: Dover Publications, 1961. Mumford, Lewis. “Excerpts from The South in Architecture.” In Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity, and Tradition, by Vincent B. Canizaro, 97-102. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007. Prouvé, Jean. Jean Prouvé : the tropical house. Paris: Centre Pompidou, 2009.


Quantrill, Malcolm, Glenn Murcutt, Kenneth Frampton, and Brian MacKay-Lyons. Plain modern: the architecture of Brian MacKay-Lyons. Chicago: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 2005. Rudolph, Paul. Writings on Architecture. New Haven: Yale School of Architecture, 2008. Smout, Mark, and Laura Allen. Augmented Landscapes. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007. Stevenson, Katherine H., and H. Ward Joandl. Houses by mail: a guide to houses form Sears, Roebuck and Company. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1986. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). 2008. (accessed December 11, 2010). Wachsmann, Konrad, Walter Gropius, and Michael Tower. “The Packaged House System (1941-1952).� Perspecta, Vol.34, 2003: 20-27. Weaving, Andrew. Sarasota Modern. New York: Rizzoli, 2006. Wright, Frank Lloyd, and Donald D. Walker. The Natural House. New York: Horizon Press, 1954. Wright, Frank Lloyd, and Robert McCarter. On and by Frank Lloyd Wright: a primer of architectural principles. London: Phaidon Press, 2005.


A special thanks to the University of Florida and all of the Professors who have contributed to my education.


Florda Pavilion: Reciprocating Place, Ground, and Tectonics  

Steven Tenzel, Univerity of Florida Graduate School of Architecture | Master's Research Project, Spring 2011

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