Le Claire

Private Residence  

Dudley Lake, Wayland, Massachusetts
project cost: $350,000
project size: 2,600 sf
design: 2000

Program: Inversion House: the traditional notions of what belongs above and what belongs below are transposed.

The site for this house falls directly away from the street, toward a lake below.  As part of a geometric site analysis a sectional drawing was cut through this sloping land mass.  The resulting second image was mirrored and superimposed over the original, therefore forming an “X”.  Using a similar technique of tracing the shoreline, mirroring and superimposing over the original, another “X” was discovered.  This atypical site analysis is less about quantification of site related issues, than about qualification of site related conditions.

The qualifications have a direct influence over the house.  Traditionally, one enters a house on the first, or public floor, while private spaces are on the floor above.  Based on the above analysis, this site asks that these roles be inverted.  One enters this house on the second floor, which therefore becomes the public floor.  It contains the space for gathering, living room for entertaining and for viewing the lake.  The floor below houses private spaces of kitchen and bedrooms.  Circulation corridors traverse both “bars” of the house and are organized around a staircase that is X-shaped, in both plan and elevation.

Concept: Spanish abstract expressionist Antonio Tàpies uses the “X” as a symbol to speak about the Christian cross.  It becomes, for him, a means to consider issues of both morality and mortality.  The vertical column gestures to two opposing worlds (above, heaven; below, hell), while the constraints of the horizontal bar hold the device firmly to earth.  The horizon defines our visual limits; we use this buoyant line to reconcile up from down.  The program of this house unfolds in a similar manner.  One enters with the expectation of being on the ground flow, only to find a rotation about the horizontal and vertical axes: up is down and down is up; left and right expand away from the entry toward the edges of the site.  Equilibrium is held at the horizon.  
If the horizon is the point at which “above” and “below” meet, then the shoreline is the point of contact.  Each “bar” of the house is derived from the analysis described above; an inversion of the shoreline at the property’s edge.  It is the process of tracing and inverting that defines the form.

Material: lead coated copper . plaster . wood . glass