buehler house - illinois

Architecture responds reciprocally to its landscape; architecture is cast as landscape and landscape inflects architecture. Extending modernist spatial concepts, which project architectural space out into the landscape, we decided to superimpose an inversion. The landscape system, projected out onto the entire site, determined the location of interior wall systems that interact directly with the constructed landscape.

On this one-acre site, oak and elm trees rise to over 80 feet in height. Design codes for new construction required that proposed building designs make reference to local historical precedents. To meet this requirement we developed a building system that referred both to local stone walls and to an American tradition, begun locally by Frank Lloyd Wright, of an architecture conceived in relation to its landscape. Limestone walls extend across the full length of the site, perpendicular rather than parallel to the frontage road, exaggerating the scale and alignment of existing trees and delineating a perceptual field acrosss the site from which a constructed landscape develops.

We began by analyzing the site in terms of its existing vegetation, climate, and soils, as well as the region's native plant types. the wide range of available local prarie grasses allowed variegated color and texture in the site planning. Existing oak and elm trees act as monolithic vertical markers as well as shade canopies across the site, in contrast to the site's horizontal plane. The design process was directed by exaggerating and extracting from the existing landscape a matrix that would directly inflect and condition a building system. A spatial matrix sectionally pleats the landscape and structural system of the 4,600 s.f. interior structure. The modulated landscape and building elements provide privacy from the street while exaggerating depth perception within the site. Striated spaces, defined by limestone walls, prarie grasses, topographic articulation, and surface materials, run east/west through the site and cut through the building envelope, establishing a clear spatial relationship between site and structure. Exterior limestone walls move through the structure and become principal interor walls, defining simultaneously interior and exterior spatial conditions. Exterior paving systems continue through the interior volumes and interior fireplaces are postitioned for exterior use. Glass systems are disengaged from adjoining walls to act as volumes that are articulated vertically and sectionally, bending to project views upward and into the canopy of trees. The landscape becomes enveloped within the perceptual field of the built structure.