Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Playing with blocks. (part 3)

There's a certain adult version of playing with blocks -- the tower of crisscrossed squared block pieces that you must carefully remove from lower sections of the tower and equally carefully place on top of the tower, the aim being to build as high as possible with the tower's own parts before it falls over. We can do the same in architecture and interior design, only it's not a game and you definitely don't want it falling over! An essential component is just the same, however: doing something unexpected with what you thought was solid and unchangeable.

The idea is just as simple as the game: removing parts from the original form to create a new form. The new form may still resemble the original, but it may also look completely different. These are subtractive forms, and can surprisingly be found in many places you look.

Image credit: Bissell, Therese. "A Not-So-Simple Plan." Architectural Digest. November 2006. 194. (Overlay mine.)

This can be done in different ways, and more than once, depending on the concept at hand. Modernist houses like the one above have more than one subtractive form to be found. For example, the second floor seems to have a subtractive quality, as does the fireplace downstairs. This maintains a clean-lined aesthetic without it appearing static and uninteresting. Subtractive forms may also serve a purpose, mainly in delineating special spaces. Some resort hotels or vacation homes subtract in order to integrate with what's outside, such as a pool. That space then serves a transitional purpose, allowing users to seamlessly move from indoor to outdoor with no thought or effort.

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