Article: Laurie Virr's House 'Rivendell' - Canberra, AU

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Yes. Comparing this plan to that of a conventional (and somewhat larger) residence misses the point, I think. We take this design as we find it, rather than asking why it isn't like other houses. If the concept echoes that of a motel suite, so be it; the designer acknowledges that precedent with pride rather than apology, and the client seems satisfied with the result. I suggest taking the thing on its own terms and judging it by those, rather than some other, criteria . . .

SDR

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

While the bed may be the first thing one sees entering the usually small motel room, the analogy is limited. The more swank the motel/hotel, the farther from the door the bed. Go to a high-priced hotel (there's one in WeHo that goes for $32,000/night), and there will be no hint of a bed from the front door.

Motels are for traveling persons at the end of a leg of a trip, a sort of "crash pad" for the night. There is no need for living room or dining room, and often as not for a kitchen, either. In my own travels, I have never had guests over to my motel room, nor have I ever eaten a meal in one.

This is less a motel for one than a "man cave," (if I can use such a term) or even a redoubt for a single person who is unlikely to have an open-door policy where visitors are concerned.

If I were to design such a place of equal square footage (~784 for the main block), I would eliminate the division between sleeping, cooking and lounging entirely, with just a screen to sequester the bed when visitors are around. For such an intimate residence, walls as dividers become expendable.

Craig
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Post by Craig »

I meant no criticism. I am only speaking of my own limited sense of understanding what is driving the plan. I do agree with Roderick regarding the elimination of conventional walls in such a small space (or maybe as Schindler did it, solid walls up to the door datum and then open or glassed above).

Perhaps it is the site which is driving such choices. It certainly makes sense to have the main living space facing the view. If that is the case, it would still be nice to be able to enter the living area directly from the bedroom without the need to always pass through the kitchen.
ch

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

I see that I've been remiss is passing on all of Bill Buck's notes. On March 10, in a note accompanying some of the images to be posted and in response to one of my questions, he wrote:


"The answer for light from above. And a clever way to take out the summer heat. One or more of the skylights will open.

Not a Murphy bed, though in the LR- there would be a fold-out queen in the built-ins for guests. The grandkids can camp out on air mattresses above the heated floor.

A Japanese family of four would be happy here."


Perhaps this will clear up some confusion.

SDR

peterm
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Post by peterm »

I wrote earlier that I thought there was only one entrance to the house, but I now notice that there is access to the terrace and the French doors off of the living area.

Image

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The plan shows door swings elsewhere but not at the window wall. The section drawing does indicate hinging direction of those doors. And another detail catches the attention: unlike in some of Laurie's later houses, the glass on either side of the french doors
does not descend to the slab. Perhaps this was a client choice or was dictated by the budget ?


There's a note to the second section drawing, to the right of the chimney, indicating the opening above the lighting deck.



Image

Rood
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Post by Rood »

There is always, of course, the dreaded comparisons that Mr. Wright warned against, between, say, this small house and the "Artist's House" designed by Mr. Wright sometime in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Essentially a one-room house, the only inside doors include a sliding door walling off the kitchen from the entrance, and a two-way door between the kitchen and the dining room. In addition a large folding wall of doors separate the sleeping alcove from the living room, but it's essentially one open space.

If the garage, terraces, and covered walkway are included in the square footage of Laurie's design, Wright's Artist's cottage is not much bigger.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Wright's "one-story house for an artist," which shares a sheet of the Wasmuth portfolio with the Cheney plan -- significantly ? -- apparently at the same scale.
Using Storrer's scale indication for the Cheney house, the module as expressed in the window bands appears to be +- 40". Readers may judge (or calculate)
for themselves the square footage of this structure.

Mr Wright manages a particularly expressive roof cantilever in this unbuilt design. I like the peek-a-boo fireplace . . .



Image

peterm
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Post by peterm »

I understand the glass not continuing to the floor in Laurie's fixed windows, allowing the bottom rail to read as a consistent height all the way across. But he also chooses to eliminate the stiles and top rail from his fixed sash, unlike Wright, who typically (but not always!), made no differentiation between his operable doors and fixed corner windows, even when they incorporated mitered glass.

As one example, the Sweeton house French doors, where top rails and stiles of fixed corner mitered windows match operable French doors:

Image

More the exception, at Seth Peterson, tall side windows adjacent to the French doors are detailed like Laurie's (tall bottom rail, minimized sides and top):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/balsaphot ... hotostream

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Quite right. The one thing I think Wright stayed away from was taking the glass down to the slab -- something Laurie Virr, Olof Dahlstrand and others indulge in.
At its reductive best in Laurie's work, the door frame reads (and clearly functions) as structure, as support. I think that's the effect here as well.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JoLn ... 25255D.jpg

http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewto ... 6cf668aabd



But Mr Wright was happy to bury glass into vertical surfaces and into the ceiling plane, as we have frequently seen.

The side glass at the Buck residence is treated to a hybrid solution, frameless but with a bottom rail matching the adjacent doors as Peter says.
I'll be interested to see if that glass slots into the brick at either end. We have a mitered glass corner at the center of the composition.

SDR

BBuck
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Re: Article: Laurie Virr's House 'Rivendell' - Canberra, AU

Post by BBuck »

I thought that this thread might be the likely place to give you Wright Chatters an update on Laurie Virr.

I have had the pleasure of visiting with Laurie weekly via Skype for a number of years. Laurie has now been transferred to a physical rehab hospital after two weeks in hospital due to a fall. He has struggled with his feet and legs for some time and this has caused some deterioration of his physical and mobility condition. His mental capacity has not wavered one bit.

I’m missing our visits and look forward to returning to those as soon as he has gained enough strength so that he can return to his home, Rivendell.

He is currently away from emails and the Internet, but please keep positive thoughts for our friend Laurie. I'll post any updates as I receive them.

Many thanks and stay safe.

Bill Buck

DavidC
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Re: Article: Laurie Virr's House 'Rivendell' - Canberra, AU

Post by DavidC »

Thank you for letting us know, Bill. Our prayers are with Laurie. And may he have a speedy recovery to soon be able to return to his beloved home.


David

DRN
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Re: Article: Laurie Virr's House 'Rivendell' - Canberra, AU

Post by DRN »

Wishing Laurie well.
Thanks for sharing this Bill, I hope you are well too.

Rood
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Re: Article: Laurie Virr's House 'Rivendell' - Canberra, AU

Post by Rood »

BBuck wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:52 pm
I thought that this thread might be the likely place to give you Wright Chatters an update on Laurie Virr.

I have had the pleasure of visiting with Laurie weekly via Skype for a number of years. Laurie has now been transferred to a physical rehab hospital after two weeks in hospital due to a fall. He has struggled with his feet and legs for some time and this has caused some deterioration of his physical and mobility condition. His mental capacity has not wavered one bit.

I’m missing our visits and look forward to returning to those as soon as he has gained enough strength so that he can return to his home, Rivendell. He is currently away from emails and the Internet, but please keep positive thoughts for our friend Laurie. I'll post any updates as I receive them. Many thanks and stay safe. Bill Buck
Bill, thank you for bringing us up-to-date on Laurie Virr's situation. Of course we all wish him well, and trust he'll be back in short time and in good form.

There is one thing I've always wondered about in his design for Rivendell, his home in Canberra ... It's such a spectacular house that I find it difficult to say anything that might seem critical, except that I've never quite understood why he placed the "kitchen-workspace" at the far end of the living room, and not near the entrance stairway, where the bedroom is located.
If it were me, I'd flip the two spaces, but it would be interesting to learn his thinking on the matter, because I'm confident their were good reasons behind his choices.

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