Branch Technology recently announced the prestigious Chicago firm WATG Urban Architecture Studio winner of their Freeform Home Design Challenge. Leaving aside the debate over how The Perfect Architecture Company would have fared had we known beforehand, at least now we have the opportunity to reflect and compose a response much like we did back in April.
The challenge to design a “55 to 75 square-meter single-family home that would rethink traditional architectural aesthetics, ergonomics, construction, building systems and structure, from the ground up” sounds like one of many architectural studio assignments given in grad school. The winning proposal, “Curve Appeal”, loses a point right off the bat because of the pun in its title but that’s hardly a death knell for its architectural merits. I’m pretty open minded when it comes to radical design and applaud the extreme form though question its choice of materials; the exterior shell in particular seems hard and metallic, contradicting claims the form is organic in nature. Being somewhat familiar with the classification of curves and surfaces the form to my eye moves away from organic shapes and is better defined as hyperbolic.
There’s also some practicalities to consider: the extreme form leaves no straight lines for art or books which makes this house truly outside the mainstream. The extreme form also depreciates some of the exterior spaces around the structure creating inhospitable voids. I’d probably turn to Feng Shui to flesh out these ideas more fully but ultimately the sustainability goals of modern architecture dictate these sorts of uninviting non-functional areas be avoided in favour of excellent multi-functional design. I will reserve final judgement, however, until I see some floor plans since maybe this design really does offer a powerful interpretation of modern home life in architecture.