Friday, April 19, 2013

Timberframe Floorplans

The design of spectacular timber frame floorplans as well as the looks is a complex process of understanding the needs of your clients and understanding what the site itself is asking for. Often when I talk to people who are in the market for a timber frame house, they tell me that they have poured over hundeds, thousands, maybe millions of plans....none of which suit them. The reason is very simple. Each of those plans was likely developed for an individual, a specific location geographically and for very local conditions, be they a slope or a particular relationship to the access, or even soil composition at the site. Not you...not your site.

  A well designed house works with the land, not against it. I typically tell people that all that effort and research into the perfect floor plan, sometimes resulting in the owner's own try at a good all great training and a benificial learning process....but now we start over. The work and graphics that most owners show me are a great tool for me to understand how the owner thinks as well as their priorities in terms of space and some details and appliances, but are not a viable house for them on this lot.

Sass House

For custom high-end first-class architecture, you start at the beginning and work to the end. The beginning is the land. The end is a house that is YOU. There are certain rules and preferences that define the process of good architectural technique, one of which is to avoid making problems for yourself in one area as a result of improving another area. Great design comes for spending the time and reviewing decisions over and over until every area is good, and nothing important is compromised. This is good design. It's not fast, and it's not particularly easy, but rather is a tough mental effort to make a design complete.

Designing with beautiful timberframing is a great challenge, as you must keep a lot of very nice timbers visable but not in the way...of windows, circulation paths, and kitchen seating for instance.

I design my houses so that you flow naturally inside the house, avoiding sharp unexpected turns, things in the way, excess floor height changes, and unnatural placement of room. You should be able to negotiate a house easily and in the dark in the case of power failure, or as a result of disability. Walking the house should feel as natural instead of like an obstcal course. Kitchens if possible should catch the early morning sun, while bedrooms may stay darker longer. Cross ventillation comes with open space with multiple outside walls. In the west, where I live, we take advantage of the long view with the house capturing the outside rather than overloading the inside with.....stuff. 

Christensen House

A blue sky is an element that should be featured in your house, using the right windows and framing the views with timber. Facing a lake or a river can suggest that you have a view down....and don't want to put a deck and railing in the way of the view.  If possible, in snowy country, face the garage doors southwest to get the best sun for melting the snow in your driveway.

Sometimes an existing plan is a good place to start, if it works with the land, but always keep your mind open for new, custom ways to solve the problems of design.
The very fun thing about a custom house is that there are alway things in the house, or the house itself that is a one-of-a kind. It is your reflection and part of your image.

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