The challenge of the Arkansas House was re-assemble a house damaged by fire and introduce possibilities for re-think the spatial character of the house, adding new elements. The design had to be defined in three weeks and the details were settled after construction began, bit by bit. The architects could work only in areas damaged by fire in the house (exterior and interior), leaving the rest untouched.
The existing indoor structure, with a path between Kahn and Wright, was imposed with a new sense of hierarchy through the addition of light and lofts monitors suspended for spaces for children, a new kitchen and a large room lounge, entertainment, and a space for art pieces. Vertically oriented monitors need to bring light through windows in the sad steel interior damaged by fire. The great room is naturally lit from all sides and fill the center of the house with light and views to the sky and adjacent monitors.
With two children at one end of the house and their parents at the other end, the great room is positioned to unify the family in a large social space. The room is cut in a way that does not fit with the grid of the existing structure, providing a rich and contrasting spatial complexity. At the end of the base, a cantilevered wall appears to float in space, the composition of the metal is oxidised as a choreography of the music of Neil Young and his band.
Articulated concrete block corners of each existing space and eventually settled in different ways, leaving some areas to work on them plumb. Our tactic was to float the panels in cherry and walnut veneers on the walls and all over the sky, forming a separate inner skin. The cherry and walnut floors also act to form an inner line. Tense and highly traditional, this refined surface acts as a liner for the interior lining of the external monitors aged steel plates. There is a silent resonance between new and old spaces, wrapped in the warmth of several American woods, they come together to present a new material that softens their differences.
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