Stargate House: Design

I recently posted a few photos of my house in a Facebook group, which kind of opened a can of worms. The limited number of photos led to a lot of questions about the design. People asked for both more photos and an explanation! While there is additional information on the Stargate page on this site, it's also pretty limited, so I thought I would make a few blog entries to provide more information, as well as move the discussion over here to my blog. Facebook got mad at me for commenting on almost every one of the 1.5K comments over there. I shouldn't have that problem here. It's easier for me to add more here in response to questions, as well.

The first of these posts was mostly photos, with descriptions. This second added post is for design notes and references. This is the heavy duty nitty gritty of what I was thinking when I designed the house. For me, this is not just a starting point. I keep all of these ideas and references in mind from the beginning to the end. From the layout to the details. It's all one exercise, executed at numerous scales.

The overall design consists of a cylindrical object inserted into the backdrop of a canonical house form.

With the house, as in the photo, each of the two juxtaposed elements highlights the other by contrast and comparison. The cylinder becomes more of a foreign object in the context of the house. And the house, even though somewhat unusual, becomes more traditional in contrast to the foreign object.

Although the cylinder is partially visible from various angles, it is never fully revealed, leaving the final resolution of the form to the observer.

In this photo, the silver blimp appears more mysterious and other-worldly that the more fully exposed FUJI blimp which has fully emerged from its hanger for all to see and understand.

The unresolved form of the partially exposed cylindrical section, in the context of the canonical house form, is intended to produce an interpretation of the cylinder as another canonical form, and the viewer has a tendency to see it as a completed geometric form, even though only portions of it actually exist.

In this photo, one is able to successfully ignore the top tail fin and feet below to see the form only as a perfect sphere, especially within the context provided.

Familiar imagery is used to reinforce the contrast between two forms.

Clearly, the inserted cylinder is the more dynamic of the two, and takes it visual cues from both real and imaginary space craft and other technical, marine, vehicular and science fiction sources.

Here, we can see the similarity between the "foreign object" and the lunar lander.

The entry bridge and the Stargate access ramp from the television show.

The red marker lights on the house are actually truck marker lights. The blue lights add an additional "loading dock" aesthetic.

Both the red color and the tight roof line of the familiar Monopoly hotel inform the design. The photo also demonstrates the clear distinction between the angular forms and bright colors of the houses and hotels and the silver color and rounded forms of the playing pieces.

The overall shape of the house is treated as an open-ended tube, but the shingles serve to fill the volume. This gesture keeps the mind from wondering whether there are end walls at the center where the volume is interrupted by the cylinder (there are), since the end walls of the larger house volume itself are merely infill.

Is there any question what the other end of this structure looks like? What it would like if you cut it in half?

Reinforcing the directionality of the house tube, horizontal windows, tight to the skin, are used in the direction of the ridge, but windows in the end walls are treated as punctures.

Of course, since Le Corbusier used the horizontal windows all around the Villa Savoye, it had the opposite effect, together with the pilote, of creating an absence of specific orientation.

Even when the house is elevated from the ground, it is clearly brought back down to earth by the over-scaled concrete column and network of steel structure that no only supports it, but restrains it.

There are places where the imagery attempts to cross over to some degree, by pulling from both sources. In the concrete, for example, which is an exclusive part of neither of the two forms, but upon which they both rest, is the patterning reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's grounded architecture, an ancient (perhaps alien?) civilization, or an electronic circuit board?

Of course, it's intended to recall all three, and more.

Finally, a house is not merely a geometric exercise or one of juxtaposition of imagery.

Leonardo's Vitruvian Man represents bringing it all together by uniting the circle and the square (I have converted the square to a simple house shape in the somewhat tongue-in-cheek logo for the house).

The presence of man in the image is evocative of human habitation and the various functional requirements which must be met by the two forms, each with a specific role to play in the task.

As the image points out, however, both are nicely accommodating.

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