Studio XY

Asheville, NC, 1997

The project presented a program for two conjoined studios - one woodworking studio for him, one ceramic studio for her, to be located on a farm in Asheville, North Carolina. The strategy became one of creating a coherent identity for the building while merging two distinct parts into a cohesive whole. Both studios were to be conjoined and sit parallel to a stream on the property. A studio assistant’s apartment was to be included in the program, located above the woodworking studio.

The project raised larger questions, such as, “What is an American architecture?” Perhaps it is a vernacular, practical, and economically driven simplicity of structures built as additions, warehouses, or sheds, and based on utility.

Each formal design move in her ceramic studio had an equal but complementary move in his wood studio. Accepting the particular gender/programmatic division, the project essentially became a collage of two distinct studios, each responding to specific site conditions and the requirements of their inhabitants. The intention was to monumentalize this simple structure and provide for a level of dignity and intentionality.

Circulation: There is open access to the pavilion’s ceramic studio from any of three elevations; entry is non-hierarchical through overscaled garage doors. In contrast, the entry to the wood studio and apartment is oblique, and is controlled through doors at three specific points located at the corners. One of these doors leads directly to the juncture of both studios and the upstairs studio’s vertical circulation, effectively suturing the two studios together.

Plan/section: The rectangular plan of the ceramic studio is sliced to respond to site conditions: a relationship to a horse pasture and access to a kiln track. It is a single story with a basic shed roof. The wood studio and apartment are stacked, with the roofline raised at one corner to allow clear headroom upstairs. It is deliberately intended to be visible through the trees upon entering the property so as to visually mark the project from the access road and distinguish it from the existing vernacular structures.

Materiality and structure: The wood studio is structurally framed with post-and-beam timbers and clad in cedar while the ceramic studio is sheathed in galvanized steel over stud framing. The ceramic studio was required to have a fireresistant cladding for the kiln cart. Both claddings are common, inexpensive, and vernacular building materials borrowed from typical agrarian structures such as hay barns, sheds, etc.

Status: Unbuilt
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