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Napkin Sketch – April 24, 2014

Custom Residence Concept SketchBuilding a new home is a tremendous undertaking and likely the largest personal investment to be made by most individuals or couples.

Everyone has a different approach to selecting the layout and style of home to serve their needs. One approach is to simply purchase a set of house plans that reflect one’s desired financial standing to one’s neighbors. This may sound quick and easy but will not give you a home to suit your living needs over the long term. As an architect I don’t recommend this method. For long term enjoyment a better approach is to develop a design that not only reflects your needs and personal interests and activities but also works within the chosen building site. Maybe you want a home that reminds you of a fun vacation retreat, or something private and quiet. I always suggest the owner study the prospective property for a year prior to breaking ground. Figure out where the sun is during dinner time. Do you want your bedroom brightly lit first thing in the morning? Do you want direct sunlight in the Living Room all day? If you want an outdoor space to entertain, where does the sun set? Which direction will the wind blow the rain? Which rooms do you want to receive winter sunlight for natural warmth? A lot to consider.

Let me explain how a quick napkin sketch highlighting the amenities just mentioned depicts the conceptual design for a new building site with a brow view.

The path of the sun during the day is shown by the curved line at the bottom with arrows depicting rising and setting locations during the winter. The large arrowhead pointing to the lower right from the upper left represents the direction of the viewshed which was across a valley in this case. I drew a single line with arrowheads top and bottom representing the axis of entry from the top of the drawing. The view and entry axis intersection is a natural location for placing an activity such as outdoor dining or a fire pit. In this case the main body of the house was defined by the flow of activity. Garage from the top left into the living space. The master suite sits above to the right with a small connection to the living space thus setting it off as a private area separate from the rest of the house.

By allowing the owner’s property to dictate some important aspects of the site I have basically let the lay of the land dictate the layout of the home, it’s major axis and spatial connections to the outdoors. The most important of which was the viewshed from the living space and second is the axis of entry from the approach drive.

These axes also provide a visual focus from within the house that captures the attention of the visitor upon entry and creates a natural order to the functional space within the home.

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