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Free Plan

A free plan is kind of funny because the center of focus in the layout is the least free part of the plan: when looking from a bird's eye view, your eyes are immediately drawn to the cores of the building. These cores house the essential utilitarian functions of a building - functions such as creating spaces for cooking, washing, and sleeping. The whole concept of a free plan is that, aside from these essential cores, you have a more liberated area for socializing and other recreational activities. Various free plans can have single cores or multiple; however, with more than five cores, the plan becomes more complex and there must be ample reasoning as to why someone would consider the plan to be a free plan.


One case study of this free plan is the Vandenhaute-Kiebooms house (VK House) designed by Juliaan Lampens. Looking at a plan of this house, you can see that there are clear and definitive guidelines created by the two main parallel retaining walls. Because Lampens has reduced the delineating attributes of this house to two primary lines, and because he has exposed three sides of the house to the exterior environment by maximizing the usage of glass, this residence is a prime example of "free" space that is encroached by multiple cores.

Fig. 1 - Plan of VK House (Source: Unknown)


The next aspect of the house to which your eyes are drawn are the circular cores present. Each of these cores is an opened (uncapped) concrete cylinder. The entrance to the house is a sliding door seen at the top left corner of the enclosed square space. In order to reach this entrance, residents must walk beneath a thick concrete overhang (Fig. 2) which blocks out most light. Lampens has placed the entrance so that upon entering, residents walk in a path between these cores. The placement of the cores in addition to the light being let in by the full glass windows leads residents towards the most open space in the bottom left corner.

Fig. 2 - Model photograph of the thick concrete overhang shown in the VK House. In traditional brutalist fashion, most of the residence has been sculpted from concrete.


Fig. 3 - Model photograph of VK House which displays how choreography through the house can be conducted. Entry is through the left and through the unstated, but implied pathway to the more open area in the top right.

 

My Free Plan Design


When designing my free plan house, one of my main objectives was to maintain some kind of implied choreography throughout the house while vastly reducing the amount of glass present. Although glass is highly desired in the architectural world because of its transparency and its ability to link the interior and exterior of a building, many of my civil engineering classes have discussed the inefficiencies of too much glass in a building.


Another aspect I wanted to incorporate into my design was a moment in the residence where one's line of sight ranged throughout the entire house. This moment is integrated into the diagonals of my final design's plan.


Since my design for the house is on an elevated surface, the main entrance of my design is actually through the floor; the T-shaped stairs start at ground level and residents' initial interaction with the space is very limited. They should only be able to see the back of the bathroom wall. When they reach the middle platform of the stairs, however, they will be allowed to go either right or left; both directions are supplied with full length windows allowing for maximum light to enter, creating a stark contrast from the dark entrance from which they have emerged.


Following this entry sequence, residents are introduced to the two main diagonal pathways of the house. These two pathways connect the "free" spaces of the house. These are also both lines where one can see directly through the entire house to the outside since there are full length windows at each of the corners of the house. In order to further emphasize these diagonals and this free space, the ceilings corresponding to these spaces are elevated above the ceilings in the cores (Fig. 5).


The cores include the two bathrooms (the top-left trapezoid and the bottom-right triangle), the two bedrooms (the two larger triangles on both the left and right), and the kitchen (the enclosed space which impinges upon the bedroom to the right). My intention was for the entrance to the cores to be through narrow corridors adjacent to the sides of the house in an effort to optimize privacy.


Fig. 4 - Top view model photograph of free plan house, demonstrating the overall layout of the cores and the free space around them.


Fig. 5 - Model photograph of a perspective view which emphasizes the various heights of the ceilings.

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