GHA on Houzz

Gelotte Hommas Architecture recently woke up one morning to learn that one of our project photos had been featured in a Houzz article.

The article, “How to Live With Plants,” explores the creative incorporation of plants and flowers into home design and features projects from several great architect and design firms. The Houzz article suggests growing indoor greenery in your window sill, under a skylight, in a passageway, or even in an indoor garden. We especially appreciated the artistic use of indoor trees as partitions between rooms and the creation of a green wall to add beauty, reduce noise, and insulate heat.

Our own featured photo used dry trees to add organic movement against the geometric lines of the home. The home—Casa Del Sol—endeavors to blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors with numerous French doors and a master suite wrapped in glass.

Jump over to Houzz.com to explore the “How to Live With Plants” idea book as well as a plethora of other inspiring designs.

Dwelling on Windows

“I discovered windows one afternoon, and after that, nothing was ever the same.”  Anne Spollen

Windows are a key feature in most homes–especially for the Pacific Northwest natives who peak through the window each morning to determine how waterproof their shoes ought to be that day!

At one point, windows were merely small holes in the wall through which to keep watch, shoot arrows, and let in light. Over time, human ingenuity tried to fill the drafty window voids with paper, thin slices of marble, or pieces of glass. Such materials—often paired with wood or iron frameworks—provided a modest amount of light and ventilation, but sacrificed on heat and security.

Today, however, architecture enjoys a veritable feast of window options that let in light, seal in heat, control sound, and offer security for any home design. For now, let’s revel in the beauty that large windows add to a home.

Light

Inviting natural light into your home with large windows comes with a host of benefits. During daylight hours, large windows lead to significant energy savings thanks to a decreased need for artificial lighting. What’s more, studies report that natural light increases productivity and helps regulate circadian rhythms in many people.

The one downside to welcoming natural light into your home: glare. Not to worry! Current window technology offers window solutions that help minimize glare so you can revel in the natural beauty around you!

Nature

Especially in a scenic region like the Pacific Northwest, windows enable homeowners to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors.

This Cedar Haven uses a wall of windows to bring the forest into the central living space.

Similarly, this contemporary home employs glass walls to welcome the waterfront into its neutral living room.

Design

Due to the influx of light and the absence of firm walls, large windows make a room appear larger than its square footage might indicate.

Large windows can also frame splendid sights outside your home, be it landscape or cityscape. A great architect will help you scout out your property’s best views and design your home with those sights in mind!

Functionality

Advancements in window technology ensure that while light shines into your home, heat or cool air doesn’t escape unnecessarily from it. In fact, well placed windows will increase your home’s energy efficiency by allowing the sun to gently warm your home in any season.

And on those perfectly temperate days, throwing open your windows allows fresh air to circulate through your house.

 

So, in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for the advancements that allow us to view the changing seasons from within the warmth of our homes.

The Tangible Scar: How Simplicity and Landscape Powerfully Commemorate Fallen Soldiers

Today is Veteran’s Day—the anniversary of the end of “the war to end all wars” and an opportunity to honor all men and women who have served the United States through military duty. Today, we’ll also divert from our usual architectural genre and explore the art of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

War memorials present uniquely challenging opportunities for architects to express sacrifice, death, division, and healing within the context of a single site. Few memorials epitomize the marriage of these concepts as does Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Constructed in 1982 following a massive anonymous design competition, the Memorial Wall commemorates the lives of men and women who died or went missing in action during the contentious Vietnam War. The contest judges selected the winning design due to its promise as “an eloquent place where the simple meeting of earth, sky and remembered names contains messages for all.” The winning architect: Maya Lin, then a twenty-one-year-old Yale undergraduate.

Lin’s Memorial Wall employs simple architectural scar to evoke tangible and timeless healing through one of Washington, D.C.’s most visited monuments.

Beauty in Simplicity

vietnam_wall_above
The V-shaped Memorial Wall sinks into the earth to create quiet place for reflection.

Located within the sprawling National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall doesn’t dominate the landscape. Rather, Lin insisted that her design work with the land. “You use the landscape. You don’t fight with it. You absorb the landscape,” Lin asserts. This striking architectural principal guided the entire development of the monument, from conception to construction.

A V-shaped gabbro wall sinks into the ground and merges with the earth behind it. This “sinking” wall allows visitors to descend from the capital bustle into a cloistered space—a space where “streets and skylines disappear to leave you alone with the wall and its names. Then, as you pass the angle and begin to climb, you feel yourself emerging again into the world of noise and light after a meditative experience.” The Wall shuts out the general chaos of the world and focuses simply on the names of the fallen soldiers.

A Scar

Vietnam veterans wall satellite image.jpg
An aerial photograph of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

In addition to forming a cloistered space, the tapered walls that descend into and emerge from the earth create a visual scar on the National Mall’s landscape. The wall cuts sharply into the land, and the polished stone wall symbolizes a healed yet ever-present wound. Throughout the design process, Lin maintains that she “never looked at the memorial as a wall, an object, but as an edge to the earth, an opened side.” Her intentional design acknowledges a pain felt by veterans especially, but also by the United States as a whole.

Lin reflects, “I thought about what death is, what a loss is. A sharp pain that lessens with time, but can never quite heal over. A scar.” Thus, the Memorial Wall uses thoughtful architecture to create a visual, tangible wound that offers healing to its visitors.

Tangible

TouchWall
Photo by Skyring at English Wikipedia (GFDL).
Lin’s intentionally minimalist design magnifies the significance of the 58,307 names etched into the polished stone surface. The etched names allow visitors to run their fingers over the cuts in the stone, to feel the permanence of each name’s existence, and to contemplate the permanence of each name’s death.

In contrast with many memorials, the names on the Wall are listed chronologically instead of alphabetically. As they walk the length of the wall, veterans can find the familiar names of their fallen comrades and therein find their time of service within the larger context of the war.

A Link

The tangibility of time reflected in the Memorial Wall’s chronological names extends further to the entirety of the two-part, V-shaped wall. “The two walls were positioned,” Lin explains, “so that one pointed to the Lincoln Memorial and the other pointed to the Washington Monument. By linking these two strong symbols for the country, I wanted to create a unity between the nation’s past and present.”

US flag reflexion on Vietnam Veterans Memorial 12 2011 000124
Photo by Mariordo.

The Wall also noticeably reflects its surroundings, so that visitors see their faces reflected in the names. “The design is not just a list of the dead,” Lin muses. “To find one name, chances are you will see the others close by, and you will see yourself reflected through them.” Past and present merge again in the names of the fallen past and the faces of the visiting present.

Thank You

Gelotte Hommas Architecture extends our gratitude to the men and women who have served the United States through military service. We thank those service members’ families for their sacrifice and support as their loved ones serve abroad.

Finding Warmth in an Eclectic Home Library

A rich color palate and unique design elements are sure to entice any reader to this Gelotte Hommas designed library.
A rich color palate and unique design elements are sure to entice any reader to this Gelotte Hommas designed library.
All avid readers dream of a relaxing home library where they can get lost in the pages of a good book. The eclectically designed Seattle lake house, Hitari, showcases a unique, romantic` library that is sure to make any book lover salivate. Here’s how this homeowner blended tone, structure, eclectic interests, and imagination to create a vibrant library.

Tones

Rich tones make the space feel warm and intimate. From the lush, red Persian carpets, to the brown leather armchair and the golden finish of the bookshelves and balconies, rich textures and colors fill this space.

Display

zebra_library
The balcony within this library invites readers to explore a seemingly endless array of books.
An indoor balcony displays the vast collection of books. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves fill not one, but two stories in this expansive library. With the addition of the indoor balcony, one can admire the entire collection from either level.

Eclectic Unity

A custom fireplace ties the space together. By visually breaking up its wood surroundings, this gorgeous fireplace makes a bold statement while simultaneously drawing the eye up towards the second floor.

Imagination

A travel motif ignites the imagination. Exotic animals are featured all over the space, with a zebra painting on the mantle and a taxidermy grizzly grinning at the books. Globes are also prominently featured in the design, with several globes of various colors and sizes adorning the floors, and a giant map covering the ceiling of the upper story. The entrance to the upstairs portion of the library is guarded by two figureheads, perhaps warning that adventure lies within the pages of these books!

If you’re hoping to add the library of your dreams to your home, contact Gelotte Hommas today for a design consultation.