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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Structure and Elements

Concrete footing and caisson were used for foundation of the house

Steel studs

Rigid Steel Frame

Open Web Steel Joists

Metal Decking

Ventilation Duct-work

Lighting System

Picture of Hallway

Steel Studs, Open web steel joists, metal decking, ventilation duct-work can all be seen from this picture. No structural wall was used at all. Dry wall can be seen from the living area at the back of the picture. The house is suspended from the ground.

Monday, December 10, 2012


The threshold of the Wolf house creates a subtle transition from the ravine environment to an industrial-like inside space. The suspension cables used to support the platform that leads to the front door loosely resembles the entrance of a naval ship. This relates to Myers' experience in the navy and how it contributed to his design. 

The way the platform is partially suspended above the ground creates a separation between the outside and the inside space and already makes you feel that you are entering a different space. 


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Satellite Zoom in Site Plan

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Servant and Served Spaces

In the 1960's, Myers studied with Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. This experience evidently had a significant impact on his career and his building designs. Traces of Kahn's influence can be seen in the design of the Wolf House, particularly in the layout of the floor plan.

"Kahn encouraged me to explore the organization of mechanical systems." --Barton Myers

The floor plan of the Wolf House is organized in a very distinct way. All the services and utilities are aligned against the east wall, followed by a hallway that unites the two living spaces on the north and south side of the courtyard.

This style of organization can be traced back to Louis Kahn, who also organized floor plans with very distinct arrangements. He is well known for his distinction between servant and served spaces, a concept that is clearly used in the layout of the Wolf House plans.

Myers' organization of servant and served spaces in the Wolf House

This concept considers two spaces. The first space is a servant space, which contains utilities and services such as storage rooms, mechanical rooms, bathrooms, and sometimes kitchens, as well as the circulation spaces such as hallways and stairways.  Firstly, these spaces are called servant spaces when they are distinguished from the rest of the spaces, either by being grouped in a service block (like in the Esherick House) or separated  by some kind of divider. Secondly, they are servant spaces because they "serve" the rest of the spaces (the "served" spaces) eliminating the need for utilities in the latter. This can also be viewed in the terms of the served space being the habitable space while the servant space is the inhabitable space.

Esherick House by Kahn

In the Esherick House, the first servant space is the service block on the left. In the center is another servant space which contains the staircase and serves the other spaces by dividing them. This clear layout of servant and served spaces is used in the Wolf House plans as well.

First Floor

There is a clear distinction of habitable, served spaces on both floors, defined by both the hallway and the courtyard. The serving spaces are also grouped up and arranged against the least desirable wall of the house, the east wall, which faces the neighbour and has no windows.

Second Floor

In the Wolf House, Myers is able to use the servant space not only to efficiently organize the utilities of the house, but also to direct the circulation and the layout of the rest of the home. The servant space serves the habitable space in many ways. The idea of utilities directing circulation is further applied to the ducts and lighting, which follow the circulation of the home.

Biography of Barton Myers



Modernism and the Wolf House

Modern architecture deals with the simplicity of the form. It reduces the building into geometric forms that reveal the true structure. This style of architecture began in the late 19th century and early 20th century where the industrial revolution had taken place. At this time, many different resources were available to architects because many industries were growing. Materials such as steel, iron, and glass were often used in this period and pushed the architects to communicate through materials.

Crystal Palace- A prime example of early usage of glass and steel construction

Manufacturing of steel during the industrial revolution

In modern architecture, it was believed that materials of a building should not be hidden. Instead, it should be glorified and portray the essence of the building. “Truth to materials” was a phrase that used around the turn of the 20th century to help convey this idea. Another principle that belonged to modern architecture was the lack of ornamentation. Function was key when it came to designing modern buildings and it was believed that decorations did not help with the design of the building-- let alone the idea of simplicity.

"Form follows function"-- Mies Van der Rohe

Glass, specifically, was heavily relied upon during this movement. Not only due to the rapidly growing technology, but also because it encouraged the idea of exposure of the structure. It was common for modern buildings to have large expanses of glass. This was used to create a relationship between the inside and  outside space. 
Architects, especially Mies Van der Rohe believed in this concept and it is evident throughout his projects.  Having a steel structure along with glass panels that reveal all, Mies’ Farnsworth House is a prime example of modern architecture. The essence of the building is captured and nothing is concealed.

The openness of the Farnsworth House

Along with Mies, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright helped pushed this influential movement. Breaking from the traditional Victorian style, this new way of designing was revolutionary. In places such as North America, the spread of modernism was evident especially in commercial buildings. Steel and glass skyscrapers started to fill skylines of major cities such as Chicago and New York. In Europe, institutions such as Bauhaus significantly drove modernism in Europe. Today, architecture is in a place where it is still impacted by modernism. In fact, it has involved into postmodernism in the 1970s.


Modern influences on the Wolf House:

By analyzing Myer’s Wolf House, is it evident that it was created with a strong modern influence. From the assembly of geometric forms to the materials used, the Wolf House is a good example of a modern infill house. The main materials used in the construction were steel, glass, and aluminum sheets. These materials are assembled in a method to reveal and expose the steel structure of the house, without ornamentation. By this, Myers has expressed the machine feel of the house. Furthermore, he exposed the ductwork to further convey the industrial style.

The glass helps create the connection between the inside and the 
outside space, also revealing the exposed ductwork

The steel columns not only elevate the house but also emphasizes
the importance of vertical and horizontal lines

There is also an obvious emphasis of horizontal and vertical lines through the use of steel studs that run up and down the facades, the columns that elevate the house and the aluminum panels. The use of glass and the courtyard really helps show the relationship between the interior space and the beautiful ravine environment. Therefore, this house also reflects the modernism goal of breaking out of the traditional style of housing.