Symmetrical Asymmetry

Richard Lee, M.Arch+3 ’22

ARCH 505B: Graduate Architecture Design I - Elements, Principles and Phenomena

Gallery: The Inside and the Outside

Instructor: Gary Paige

This proposal for a guest house for a visiting lecturer is based on a passage from Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture: “Contradictory levels of meaning and use in architecture involve the paradoxical contrast implied by the conjunctive ‘yet.’ They may be more or less ambiguous” (p. 23). Conceptually, the house is designed to be open yet closed, inside yet outside, symmetrical yet asymmetrical. Taking the existing structure as a point of departure, a new volume is stacked on top of the concrete walls doubling the amount of enclosed area. A two-story volume is carved out of the center creating a space that’s open to sky, flooding the interior with sunlight and producing an ambiguity between interior and exterior space. To further blur the distinction, sliding glass walls are used extensively, creating reflections and varying degrees of transparency depending on the time of day. Two punched openings in the exterior shell—a doorway and a south-facing window, provide access and modulate light, and form a contradictory relationship between the symmetry of the plan-section diagram and the asymmetry of the facade.