The Ruskin House Series

Abstract: This project will result in a series of five houses which provide a modern interpretation to John Ruskin’s architectural theories. In order to realize these designs, special software will be written to lay out custom shingles, clapboards, and other repetitive elements in user-defined patterns. When the five houses are complete the software will be posted on the internet so that any designer can expand on the experiment.

Stage 1: Write the Program. Program-writing is merely a means to the architectural investigation, and the tool should result in a few hundred of lines of code. The product will help anyone to invent, evaluate at large scale, and document patterns they can describe with its simple graphic interface. The software will be written in JAVA and make extensive use of the Processing API. It will offer renderings within the interface and export both 2D and 3D model files to any user’s computer. These exported patterns can then be used in common architectural modeling platforms.

Stage 2: Design the Houses. The software tool will be created as a reflection on a passage from Ruskin’s “Lamp of Beauty” (in The Seven Lamps of Architecture) The five houses, each a single family home sited in the rural Northeast, will be designed in reaction to the implied grid set up by its cladding pattern. Although Ruskin’s passage is merely about color, these houses are intended to demonstrate how parametrically designed architect need not result in faddish “blobs.” Instead, these houses will illustrate how a wide variety of architectural personalities may result from a few restrained decisions.