Art House


The project involves the interior renovation of a 4,200 s.f., circa-1970 residence for a young couple with an interest in collecting contemporary art. The clients wanted to transform the character of the existing interior in a way that balanced the ‘neutrality’ of a gallery space with the ‘warmth’ of a home. The project was constructed with a modest budget of $51 per square foot. Working within the existing footprint of the residence, a ‘reductive’ design approach focused on four inter-related strategies aimed at distilling the interior components for both visual & functional clarity: 1) plan refinements, 2) a monochromatic color palette, 3) a new ‘gallery spine’, and 4) material expression.

PLAN REFINEMENTS: Minor reconfiguration of existing walls & openings established a subtle re-alignment of interior spaces, while also presenting new axial relationships between rooms and outdoor views. Spatially, the new visual continuity between interior spaces increases the level of diffuse daylight filtering in from multiple directions, affording optimum viewing conditions for art with indirect natural light.

MONOCHROMATIC COLOR PALETTE: A white color palette, utilized to visually unify interior spaces and minimize distracting pre-existing details, presents a neutral backdrop for displaying artwork on a rotating basis. A large expanse of wall surface within the living room area functions as a large-scale canvas for projecting video art. Both natural & artificial lighting are reflected and amplified from the wall surfaces.

GALLERY SPINE: A new ‘gallery spine’ - defined by wood veneer paneling - incorporates a pre-existing bridge element, staircase, and partition wall between kitchen and dining areas. Serving as both a functional & visual datum, it threads through the primary public spaces within the residence and consolidates various infrastructural elements for viewing art, including adjustable lighting, display storage and audio/visual wiring. Incorporating more colorful materials in contrast to the neutrality of the white walls, the ‘gallery spine’ evokes a sense of craft and becomes an artistic building element itself. Hinged panels within a section of the walls allow the kitchen & dining areas to be joined or separated, exposing contrasting materials between the two rooms.

MATERIAL EXPRESSION: Materially, the project employs a restrained approach through rigor in detailing and a deliberate expression of layering. Alluding to the idea of ‘luxury’ as an aspect of inherent material qualities rather than material cost, various project elements (both luxurious & humble) are detailed to emphasize surface characteristics such as texture, pattern, finish, & color.

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