Blair House

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Blair House  (unbuilt)
Tampa, FL

This project develops from a series of tight restrictions that limit the buildable area of the lot.  The lot rests 50' wide and 104' deep with front setback of 25', rear setback of 15', and side setbacks of 7'.  This only leaves 36' of width to build while two grand oak trees, growing right next to each other, each measuring nearly 36" in diameter at the base of their trunks, pose another challenge of a 20' radius about the trunks that cannot be built on.  With these restrictions, the home becomes a composition that slips northward as fingers of a hand reaching out to shield the space under the canopy of the trees.  The living space manifests as an 18' cube that anchors the house and provides a mass acting as a barrier between the public street edge and the calm, private courtyard beneath the trees. 

There are 4  major concerns with the composition of the project:  Privacy, a sense of open space, natural light, and natural ventilation.  The organization of the project offers a shielding mass at the south and east edges that are pushed to the minimum setbacks to optimize the exterior space under the trees and provide a private court space for the dwelling.  By making the east bar of the private, enclosed spaces, an edge is created that encloses the court and provides an opportunity for a circulation zone that is at once interior and exterior.  The circulation edge is formed at its west edge by a series of concrete fin walls.  The spaces between the concrete columns are infilled with a wood and glass curtain wall system which opens up completely between the fins and gives one a sense of open-ness to the court at the west.  The east edge of the circulation colonnade is defined by a masonry wall made with broken scraps of 3/4" travertine tiles laid flat.  This highly textured wall undulates both in plan and in its top elevation.  The undulations in plan offer a sense of increased space in the bedrooms, provide a protected alcove for each bedroom door, forms the edges of closets, and provides a waist-high privacy wall in the master bedroom.  The undulations in elevation increase or decrease the amount of indirect, natural light that enters the spaces to the east of it, depending on their program.

The transition between the top of the travertine wall and the underside of the overhead plane is a critical one and must provide natural light to the spaces it forms to its east, allow for warm air to escape the spaces, and resolve the difference in the undulating geometry of the wall and the straight, planar edge at the overhead plane.  This transitional zone is made of glass set in small, steel angle frames as shown in the detail drawings on the previous page.  The glazed zone consists of 3 parts to respond to the programmatic requirements.  The first is a zone of operable, glazed panels, just beneath the overhead plane which allows warm air to be exhausted from the bedrooms.  The second is a horizontal zone that consists of tempered, triangular and trapezoidal pieces of glass that reconcile the curvilinear form of the wall with the straight edge of the overhead plane.  The third element, or face, of the transitional zone is the glazed, vertical edge that rests on top of the travertine wall. 

Right:  Plan Ground Floor

1.  Living space
2.  Kitchen area
3.  Dining area
4.   Entry
5.   Laundry / storage
6.   Bathroom
7.   H.V.A.C.
8.   Bedroom
9.   Closet
10.  Master bedroom
11.  Master bath
12.  Master closet
13.  Exterior living court
14.  Evaporative cooling
15.  Circulation colonnade

Right:   west elevation

Below:  site sketch model

Right:   east elevation

Above:   detail drawings of the travertine wall and its closure above.

Right above:  study model.  The travertine wall continues through entire space and it relates to the geometry and form of the loft element pushing outward from the living space.

Right:  overhead, detail view of the serpentine wall separating the public and private spaces.  The plan undulations push the space outward while diminishing the confining sense with its undulating top elevation.

Below:  overhead view showing how the travertine wall slips through the entire composition drawing attention to itself and giving the spaces a focal element and a dynamic character.

Right:  perspective sketch, pencil on trace.  Study of the transitional zone that reconciles the differences in geometry between the travertine wall and the straight, rectilinear, overhead plane.

Right :  1/4" study model.  The reflection seen on the overhead plane is from the evaporative cooling, reflective, water collection pool.

Right:  Study model shows how the loft is an element with a curvilinear edge that is suspended from the roof structure above and gives a sense that it floats inside a larger volume.

Right:  overhead view of the pool at the south edge of the structure.  The pool collects rain runoff from the living space roof via a scupper and slips underneath the south wall to allow the reflections of the sun to light the ceiling of the space year round.

Right:  south elevation.  As well as reflecting light, the floor level glazing also incorporates two operable lites that allow cool air to flow into the space.

Right:  section through the living space showing its relationship to the reflection pool.

Right:  detail section developing the connections of the concrete, glass, mullions and their relationship to the spiral stair leading to the loft space.

Right:  second level plan.  The loft level is suspended from the structure above and may be used as a library, a guest sleeping area, or a work space.  The balcony at the courtyard side of the glazed edge has a spiral stair leading down to the ground level and up to a roof deck.

Right:  north elevation.

Right:  view of the north glazed edge.  The reflective pool can be seen slipping beneath the far wall of the space providing shimmering light and shadow in the space due to the water.

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