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Organic Architecture

 

  

BRUCE GOFF
Ruth and Sam Ford House - 1949
404 South Edgelawn, Aurora, Illinois

 

After the Second World War a number of architects saw the opportunity to reuse the surplus Quonset Huts left over from the war effort. While most architects used the hut ribs in a portal arrangement, similar to the way they were arranged in the army huts, Goff used them in a radial configuration. The main dome of the Ford Residence is created using these Quonset Ribs. The ribs radiate from a central column, but are tilted to give the house its bulbous form. A shingled roof is laid over the roof, and a glass ceiling is utilized over the center of the dome to bring light into the building.

The interior space occupies only half of the main dome. Inside, the ceiling is finished in wood and is fixed in a diagonal pattern that identifies the rhythm of the ribs even when the rib is not visible. This pattern is then picked up by the exposed ribs as they move outside. The raised balcony and the sunken kitchen and dining area revolve around the central axis and flow seamlessly through the frameless glass, breaking down the definitions of interior and exterior. In fact the exterior space, which is enclosed by the ribs, provides a transition that is neither truly outside or inside. The way that the spaces are designed also ensures that the function of these spaces spills outside.

The two smaller domes on either side of the central dome accommodate bedrooms and bathrooms. The use of full height glass, and the way materials are brought seamlessly through the windows creates very little definition between inside and out.
The house has a black concrete floor, coal walls which are punctuated by the blue green glass cullet (glass slag that was left over from the manufacture of glass bottles). The diagonal wood ceiling is fixed to the underside of the domed roofs, while the low ceilings above the transitional spaces,; such as those between the domes, and the one that comprises of the entry way, and extend over the garage, and out from the bedrooms, are lined with hemp rope. This gives the low ceiling a uniquely tactile quality.
 


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