CASE STUDY: The Studio House by F451 Arquitectura, TEXT: The Conditioned Outdoor Room by Bernard Rudolfsky

The Studio House by F451 Arquitectura is advanced in how it blends architectural typology to maximize environmental efficiency as well as how it blurs the boundary between architecture and landscape. The Studio House is composed of four main volumes: the house, the atelier, the guest apartment and the garage. By combining the typologies of the modern house and the industrial warehouse, the different volumes interact with each other to ensure maximum natural lighting spills into each space, passive ventilation is induced and abundant rainwater is collected.

As the building site is located on a slope, the Studio House also carefully considers its relationship with the surrounding landscape. By cutting into the slope and replacing it with the guest house, the architecture becomes one with the landscape. The green roof blends into the sloped terrain and the terrain also blends into the interior space. As shown in the section cut, the floor and landscape are at the same elevation, creating a seamless blending of architecture and landscape, and of the indoors and outdoors. Conversely, the house sits on top of the garage and protrudes out of the slope. This stark contrast and interplay between the different volumes emphasize the relationship between man and nature. The use of all-white and strong, clear geometric shapes also emphasizes this relationship.

Similarly, Bernard Rudolfsky discusses blurring the boundary between outdoors and indoors in his text. Rudolfsky points out that the North American culture has retreated from nature by protecting ourselves within a temperature controlled interior environment. Our attempts at maintaining our connection with the outdoors, such as contemporary residential gardens are in fact spectator gardens meant to be viewed rather than inhabited.

His solution is to create a habitable outdoor room or a habitable garden and provides a plethora of examples of outdoor gardens which have been conditioned for human use in the past. He states that in the past outdoor gardens have been prized for privacy and habitableness. They have been conditioned and ordered to become habitable through the use of architectural elements such as paver textures, pergolas, hedges, vegetable patches and other elements to create an ordered room. Exactly as a room indoors is filled with furniture, so could be an outdoor room.

He evolves the discussion of conditioning outdoor spaces to the use of an enclosing wall. Firstly, he discusses how a single detached wall itself is a playful element which interacts with nature. The detached wall has an abundance of interplay with sunlight, creating shadows, can protect from protecting from winds and buffer noise. He surmises that within the current suburban environment, unused front lawns could be walled and filled with elements to make them habitable. Although I do not agree with a walled suburban environment, I wonder how technology can be used to strengthen the relationship between man and nature.

It is interesting to speculate how technology could potentially mediate the relationship between people and nature. I have always found the idea of interactive, kinetic architecture fascinating, specifically the work of Philip Beesley. As discussed in the case study and text, blurring the physical lines between architecture and nature is important, but I wonder if blurring our perception of how architecture and nature differ is also important. What if we were no longer able to differentiate between architecture and nature? What if architecture responded and changed as much as the climate did? I want to research the relationship between responsive, kinetic architecture and nature as well as the human perception of this relationship.


Theory of Advanced Architecture is a topic of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in Advanced Architecture in 2016 by:
Students: Connor Stevens
Faculty: Maite Bravo, Ricardo Devesa and Manuel Gausa