Stargate Residence

This is my own house. It is something of a laboratory of design ideas, as one might expect from an architect designing a house for himself. It is called the Stargate House in order to make the project, which was otherwise very theoretical) exciting to my daughter, who was watching Stargate (the TV show) with me every week during the period in which I designed it.

She was only five when I started designing it, but she saw some of the early sketches and decreed that she would prefer “a whole triangle” instead of “half a triangle”. She was objecting to the shed roofs that she saw in some of the sketches. We negotiated on that point for a bit, and agreed that it would have a whole triangle, but that there would be a Stargate influence as well.

For me, this created the opportunity to juxtapose a form based on a simple child’s drawing of a

house with something decidely foreign to that vernacular. Soon it became clear that the “house shaped” portion would be more traditional in detailing and warm in color, while the “stargate” section would be more “futuristic” and cool in colors.

As the forms developed, specific interfaces were required between the two, both structurally and visually.  A double-wall system was developed at the core, where the two systems came together. This interface was studied in both drawing and (physical) model form, with the idea this interface should allow one to be always aware of one system from within the other. The image of the docking ring of a Russian spaceship not quite meeting up with its American counterpart due to problems with language and communication came to mind. It this case, the interface is functional (allows people to pass from one

section to the next), but visually somewhat jarring (intentionally mis-aligned).

 

The house is built in a known slide zone and a potential slide zone, a wetlands, and a wildlife area, according to the original city report. It turned out that the only wildlife was the rats living in the existing garage structure on the site, and it was agreed that the slope of the site was inconsistent with the wetland determination, so the wetland issue was put aside.

However, the slide threat is real, so the house is built on ten 24” diameter concrete pilings with an 18” steel I beam in each, going down 48’ bellow a network of 24” x 24” grade beams and an 8” structural slab. The round concrete column supporting the deck at the corner of the house is a 20” diameter extension of one of these pilings to remind us what’s under ground.