Tuesday, October 26, 2010


When I think of a home - although this analogy can also be applied to offices, hospitals, restaurants and more - I tend to think of it in terms of a heart. To channel Frank Lloyd Wright for a moment, home is where the heart(h) is; it is a center of life, of activity and creativity as well as rest and rejuvenation. So, much like a heart, to keep it functioning properly, it needs good circulation. Blockages and inappropriate paths can frustrate and cause undue stress; no one wants to live or work in such a structure or space, so it dies metaphorically. Of course, what is appropriate for one client may not be for another so, like many aspects I've discussed thus far, it's important to choose the right circulation for the project at hand.

(Building) Approach
Your destination may lay be a few yards to a mile away; if you have control over that span, then you can control the pathway, or approach, to the building or interior space. In general, this pathway can be straight-on or frontal, to the side or oblique, or you can circle completely around to approach from the other side in a spiral.

Image credit: Turrentine, Jeff. "Dude Ranch Do-Over." Architectural Digest. June 2006. 206. (Overlay mine)
The approach to the dude ranch above is frontal, through an impressive wooden gate. Visitors are clearly meant to appreciate the spread, and the owners can experience a sense of satisfaction in seeing their home in this way.

(Building) Entrances
The first impression makes the mark when meeting a future employer, friend, or house. For this reason, the entrances are just as important when designing a space as choosing inspirations or color palettes. How they look and where they're placed play a big role in determining if your entrances are effective and relate well to the rest of the project. Entrances can be flush, recessed, or projecting from the building; they can be centralized or off-set; they can take on particular geometric shapes or classical designs to reinforce ideas on the spaces to be seen beyond that entrance. Placing heavy emphasis or (opposite) de-emphasizing can call just as much attention to an entrance.

Image credit: Nevins, Deborah. "Distilling the Cottage." Architectural Digest. June 2006. 224. (Overlay mine.)
 As seen, because there is a kind of structural awning over the entrance, it calls more attention to it. It's a transitional space - visitors are both indoor and outdoor while under this projection - that protects from the weather and subtly recalls kingly canopies.

Configuration of the Path
This is, or can be, very similar to spatial relationships - which it should be, considering how these concepts dovetail together. Paths can be linear, spiral, radial, grid, network, or composite.

Remember the Hugh Newell Jacobsen structure in my last post? Here we see what a close relationship the configuration of a pathway can share with spatial organization. Its grid layout also ensures a grid pathway. The relationship won't always be this close, but it won't be terribly far off, either. For example, a clustered organization could lead to a network pathway configuration.

Path-Space Relationships
This concept differs from the above in that we consider how the path is relating to spaces very generally. As such, the path can pass by spaces, pass through a space, or terminate in a space.

Image credit: O'Keeffe, Linda and Ellen Johnson. "Hall in the Family." Metropolitan Home. April 2006. 116. (Overlay mine)
The pathway above passes by most of the spaces, and then terminates (mostly) in the den. The effect is of a rather large hallway, which was the focus of the article. The spaces off to either side have reduced traffic and help maintain a semblance of privacy for their occupants, while the hallway psychologically enlarges the place overall (one might think a long hallway means a big residence or building).

Form of the Circulation Space
We take our pathways for granted; we don't always think of how our pathways are built. But they, too, need consideration. They can be entirely enclosed, open on one side, or open on both sides. (I would argue that a bridge is almost entirely open; while there may be railings on both sides, their construction is such that you can typically reach over or through those planes, and unless it is a covered bridge, there is typically no overhead enclosure either.)

Image credit: Thurman, Judith. "Juan Pablo Molyneaux." Architectural Digest. September 2006. 186. (Overlay mine.)
A typical hallway, like the one above, is enclosed on all sides. Colonnades are examples of the other types, depending on whether or not they are situated next to another plane (wall). In a situation where there is a space within a space (such as a walled courtyard), the pathway's form would be open to one side when skirting the inner space. It could be a similar situation for a stairwell, also a space within a space, though the argument could be made that it is enclosed, instead. Regardless, the forms these pathways can take depend on various needs, such as air and traffic flow, or a need for openness or enclosure, more light or less, and where the pathways lead and terminate.


  1. You always provide such a thorough explanation for what we are studying, and for this I applaud you! Where I find my critique is in the overlays done for the images. You have such a fluid and beautiful way of describing the images and how they pertain to the term, and I feel like the overlays don't mirror this same quality of work. Maybe a thinner point Micron/Pen or using a t-square/ruler to make the lines sharper would help this?

  2. Thank you, I think I will do this. I tend to rush through that part of the process in the interest of completion, and so it gets neglected, sadly.