The Easter Eggs of Architecture


[All images by BUILD LLC]

Last fall we wrapped up the Case Study House 2016, and its completion has been an excellent opportunity to test out our architectural hypotheses on the next evolution of BUILD-developed projects. There were several design concepts we’ve had our eye on with the CSH2016, and today’s post covers what we like to refer to as the architectural Easter egg — an unexpected design surprise to be stumbled upon. Because the project is a private residence, we wanted to build in a pleasant architectural moment to be discovered from the well-traveled sidewalk out front.

The structure was designed with a rational stack of three single-run stairways from the ground floor to the roof terrace. The stair runs are indicated with a recessed channel at the envelope of the house. This channel incorporates a vertical column of glass and aluminum rainscreen panels to match the clear

aluminum of the windows. It also allows a clean break between the white aluminum panels on the north side and the gray-stained horizontal T&G cedar at the south. During the day, the windows of the recessed channel disappear within the shadows, allowing a clear contrast between the machined white panels and the warm cedar. It isn’t until dusk that the surprise reveals itself.

As the sun sets for the evening, sensors activate tread lights at the interior stairways which illuminate the oak treads and provide a warm glow visible from outside. The clear alignment between the transparent channel and the three sets of stairs presents a striking visual from the exterior, enhanced by alignments within the landscaping. Adjacent lights in the house are switched off for the night while the stair tread lights continue illuminating the channel until sunrise.

While we were confident with the geometrical alignments, ergonomics, and function of the stairway and channel alignment, the visual effect was a leap of design faith. Pleasant surprises like this keep us on the hunt for additional Easter eggs opportunities in all of our projects. The Case Study House Series is an excellent experiment to test out design concepts like this and we’ll be sharing more from the CSH2016 in the near future. Stay tuned.

Cheers from Team BUILD

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