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Organic Architecture


Applegate House - 1969
Bentonville, Arkansas


The Applegate House was a complete departure from the orthogonal approach to design that Fay Jones had used for the entirety of his career. The grotto-like house was designed for a pharmacist client and his wife, who planned on doing “an unusual amount of entertaining”.

There are no right angles in the floor plan; instead, a combination of fluid curving and acutely cornered walls divide up the interior spaces. All walls of the house are clad in stone, and flow between rooms without the obstruction of a single internal door. To provide privacy, the walls flow away from sight to obstruct the view, giving the building a labyrinth-like quality. The flat, textured concrete ceiling floats overhead is inlayed with shallow circles and circular skylights that act as a geometric counterpoint to the seemingly loose flowing shapes of the remainder of the house. The floor is finished in slate, which combines with the stone to create a raw, even archaic quality. Where a softer more comfortable treatment is required, carpets are laid but are shaped by the meandering patterns of the stone walls.

The current owner was eager to show off the showers. In a room shaped as a cylinder of stone and lit by a circular skylight, the water sheeted off a series of rocks that protruded from the stone wall. The lack of any shower head ensured that even when bathing, occupants were treated to a primal experience.

The focal point of the home is the indoor swimming pool. The blue pool is a sharp anomaly in an otherwise natural toned house and is emphasized by surrounding it with bridge-like walkways on the second floor. The walls that form the rooms around the pool area bend out through the glazing, leaving a two-story opening that lets space and light in. At the end of the pool, a sparse two-story waterfall splashes onto the slate floor. At the opposing end, light flows in through a skylight, as single pieces of cut stone cantilever from the cylindrical walls to form a spiral staircase.

A connection to the surrounding environment is facilitated through a number of windows that bring even the gravel from outside into the interior space, but it is very interesting that such a primal and natural interior can be created in such a concentrically-focused building. In many rooms the connection to the exterior is solicited solely by material use and architectural design, yet it is achieved successfully. This house provides a lesson on how connections can be made to the exterior world through methods other than simply fitting windows everywhere.


Copyright 2013.        Andrew T Boyne Architect.        A: 69 Stanley St Nedlands 6009 Western Australia        P: 0423601604         E: