Peekaboos between spaces make for interesting homes, creating an alluring tease which gradually reveals what lies beyond. Trust me, it’s much more fun than showing it all at once. Yes, this applies to architecture, too. In this example, a curved wall separates the foyer from the living room, and another separates the living from the dining. Combine this idea with the concept of layering spaces (a topic for another post), and you really have something.
This little corner of a modern house is a veritable laboratory of ways to incorporate windows in a home. It wasn’t my intent when I designed the home. It just worked out that way.
- Standard punched window, inset in the stone wall (this is the only type of window found in most homes)
- Projected window, at copper wall
- Frameless glass, above the stone wall
- Floor to ceiling “storefront” window, turns the corner
A four-family 5k run with bouncy houses
Just another race for team “Ice Cream Truck Chasers.”
I lobbied for the name “Team Bad Ass,” but nobody wanted to be half or dumb (I called dibs on smart). Yet, we snarfed down ice cream afterwards, so everything worked out.
What made this run extreme wasn’t so much the huge bouncy obstacles (12 of them interspersed along the route), but the terrain and the 90 degree temps. Rather than a nice flat park, the organizers chose a ski hill (at least it was summer and hills in Minnesota aren’t exactly a mecca for mountain climbers – I didn’t see a single mountain goat). It would have been too easy to run along the contours so… you can see where this is going. Just picture that guy in hell, Sisyphus, who has to push a boulder for eternity up a steep hill, only to have it roll down before he gets to the top. Except, there’s no boulder, only endless hill and bouncy houses – whee!
Despite this, or because of it, it was the most fun we’ve had at any run, including those with “mud” in their names. I attribute it to our exhaustive and exhausting pre-run training regimen. I personally napped the day before and trimmed my toenails on race day.
I’m sad to report we had one casualty. Bob (pictured below in the middle, standing instead of running), helped the youngsters over some of the obstacles and did not eat ice cream after the run. He’s been banned from the team for not living up to its ideals. [Update: after much discussion with Robyn, Bob has been reinstated. Apparently his ideals of kindness, generosity and healthy eating are precisely what the team should aspire to, not the opposite (plus he’s our ringer). It’s a topsy turvy world.]
Solution to the light switch puzzle:
Flip the first switch and leave it on for a minute, then switch it off.
Ignore the second switch.
Flip the third switch and leave it on.
Hoof your way, painfully gasping, up the many flights of stairs to your apartment.
Examine the lamp.
If the bulb is off, and warm, then the first switch controls the lamp.
If the bulb is off, and cold, then the second switch controls it.
If the bulb is on, do I have to tell you…?
Old cedar from a recently demolished closet… Check.
Can-do spirit… Check.
Twenty fingers… Check (I like to count them before and after. I find if you wait too long, it is harder to clean out the sticky pieces lodged in the machinery).
Instead of a typical box with a padlock, we went minimal. Aesthetically it’s just a box, nothing special, but what makes it cool is its locking mechanism. Everything is flush except for a single, solitary knob on top. The knob doesn’t appear to do anything. It doesn’t turn (much), or lift up, and cannot be pushed in any direction. While you can hear things sliding around inside the box, no matter what you do, opening it appears impossible. Unless you know the secret.
The secret is centrifugal force. You probably guessed that.
The box’s top is secured in place by six sliding pins (nails, actually). The box remains locked no matter how it is tilted because when some of the pins slide to the open position, others slide closed. In order to open the box, you must place it on a flat surface, knob on top, and spin it. Centrifugal force slides all of the pins to the outer edges of the box allowing the top to be lifted off.
Yet, even the wonders of physics won’t open the box unless you first orient the seemingly useless knob so a pin can slide through a slot under the knob, all the way out, when the box is spun. Nobody has ever figured out the secret on their own.
Here’s what the inside looks like (dead things not shown for clarity). It’s not elegant, but hey, it was our first try!
We didn’t build from plans because Beck likes to “Free-build,” or as I call it, “Wing-it and rebuild it ’til mom makes you practice piano.” Thankfully the box was simple and the mechanism easy to “wing.” Someday, though, I’ll chain Beck to his desk for 5 minutes of pre-planning work, just to teach him the “right way” to design. I’m not sure if the chains they use to anchor battleships are strong enough. Might need to add some super-glue and barbed wire, too.
This contemporary bathroom illustrates a guiding principal behind much of my work: windows should be more than mere holes punched through walls with a bit of glass thrown in to keep the bugs out.
- Windows make great walls of their own, transparently filling the space between solid masses.
- When placed on multiple sides of a room, they allow sunlight to bounce off and around the space’s surfaces, eliminating glare and headache inducing extremes of light and dark.
- They may be used exclusively for natural daylight, omitting the view. These concealed windows wash walls with light and add drama to a space (notice the daylight behind the tile-clad pier below).
What does mom’s night out mean? For me and Beck, it means Dadssert – anything dad can scrounge from the pantry that includes sugar or sugar-like substances. The only things not allowed are those mom wants us to eat.
The best we could do tonight was a mixture of Crispix, marshmallows and chocolate bars (not nearly as good as the candy salad we made before dinner).