A Home Studio
Blending Home, Work and Garden
One of the more challenging aspects of modern intellectual life is finding the balance between professional demands and personal lifestyle. The thinker, consultant, writer, today, increasingly finds themselves on the road moving from city to city, country to country. The time home are precious and still full of demands.
The requirements for a home studio are complex; the design has to respond to a variety of general demands and, at the same time, provide very intimate details unique to the individual working the space.
This project is for a writer consultant who is turning to the home where she raised her children. Her request is for a place for books and garden (mind and Nature) centered around a tree that was planted when the children were young; it became a place for them to play and survived the many abuses of youthful enthusiasm.
Her first idea was to turn the Living and Dining Room areas in to a workplace. The house has a family room with a fireplace that is clearly the location for sitting and conversation. My design suggests another approach. This is to convert the garage, which is at the rear of the property, into the Studio. The Living Room is at the front of the house and does not afford an easy interaction with the outside. The Garage forms one side of the enclosed rear yard that hosts the tree. Access to the studio can be gracefully achieved via a niche adjacent to the fireplace. The new Studio can have a glass wall looking into the back yard which can be developed into a garden oasis in the warm Dallas environment. The Family Room can remain an open, high ceiling, casual environment (which also looks in to the garden) and the front space a place for dining and intimate sitting and dialog.
The garage affords an abundant area for books, project work spaces, a small collaborative work area and a quiet place for writing. Because a large space like this can be used for a variety of functions, the value of the house will be greatly enhanced by the project. Between the existing Garage and Kitchen is the Laundry Room, thus, a bathroom can be easily added now or in the future. There is adequate space behind the Garage to make a carport/Trellis which can wrap around the garden side to shelter the Studio windows and time the Studio to house and Garden.
This chronocols the process of Design/Build/Use as the writer’s own words are transformed into a living reality:
“It is primarily an office for me to write, make phone calls, answer e-mail. I might see a client there infrequently, but more typically I go to the client’s office.
“Books, books, books, I have lots of books I use on a regular basis. I use the books to locate ideas that I am writing about and it helps me to just have the covers in view to be reminded of ideas that are important to my thinking. For example, seeing a book out of the corner of my eye, like John Seely Brown’s The Social Life of Information, stands for a whole frame of reference to me about how knowledge is embedded in social exchange. So both the content and the presence of the books are important to my thinking process.
“There are also the special books that I have written - seven of them that I give a special place of honor - I’ve circled them in this raster messy picture here. (referring to an enclosed picture of her present workplace) The shelves in this picture have book on both sides and there are two more sections like these. I have probably about 700 books that I live among. the open dictionary is symbolic to me. On the window sill you can see a few of my African Violets. The wonderful thing about African Violets is that they bloom all tear around in an amazing variety of colors. Through the book case you can see my desk that faces the big picture window.
Two of my favorite places are greenhouses, for the light and the growing aliveness of living things and libraries, that are quite yet full of possibility because of all the knowledge that they hold. To be surrounded by great ideas - to absorb through my skin as well as my eyes is wonderful. Libraries are the epitome of organization and structure - shelves of squares and rectangles that are designed to allow you to find things as efficiently as possible, Like a library, my books are alphabetized by author and subject matter.
Greenhouses, on the other hand, are organic and a profusion of green shapes, with little order - in fact the randomness of pattern is what makes them so appealing. On the surface libraries and greenhouses seem at odds with each other - but in me they are compatible. they are both quiet, peaceful, neither are places where people rush or bustle. Can you imagine the sacrilege of someone running through a greenhouse of library? they are full of color, but one has to seek out the color, it does not hit you in the face - the colors are of book jackets, of the blooms on the flowers in a see of green. If I could manage it, my office would be a library interlaced with a greenhouse.
There is a tree in the backyard of the house on Selma (referring to the house where the Studio is be be built) that my son and I planted when he was just a boy. (Did I say that I raised my sons there") The tree was severely abused by my two sons by running into it, pulling on it, and often neglecting to water it - so it persevered by developing a strange configuration with three tree trunks, most to some degree parallel to the ground. My son is going to build me a platform in that tree, just a few feet off the ground to use as an outside office. An office in a tree is an idea I really like.
My ideal is to bringing the outside into my office and to bring my office outside.
This specification is provocative and clearly lays out the writer’s requirements. It is reveals what this workplace has to do as well as what it has to symbolize. It sets the standard of the design solution - to fail to meet any of these requirements is to fail totally. It makes the strong argument that the front of the house, as a Studio, will fall far short as a solution other than an interim step. “If I could manage it, my office would be a library interlaced with a greenhouse.” The “if” indicates that this is not considered possible today - well, it must be possible if this space is to work. My task is to develop a design and a building program that makes it so.
Program Statement
It is clear that this workPLACE has to be a keep; a refuge from a distracting and demanding world. It has to be a retreat but it cannot be isolated; and, soon it must have a measure of virtually that makes it possible for unnecessary travel to be eliminated Books, greenery and writing have to be functionally integrated. This is a place of memories - children were raised here and future books, yet to be written, are children of the mind.
Schematic Layout
The layout...
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Matt Taylor
April 20, 2003


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted: April 20, 2003

revised: April 20, 2003
• 20030420.210081.mt •

(note: this document is about 5% finished)

Copyright© 2003 Matt Taylor



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