A home is often the place where one can find the greatest source of comfort, peace of mind and tranquility. It can be a sanctuary in the midst of a very busy world. This is particularly true when a house has been designed with this as its primary purpose. When architect Gary Segal designed and built his residence in Closter, New Jersey, he drew on a variety of architectural styles that helped him to achieve his vision. Segal states, "This is our house, our dream "inner sanctum" that has come to represent a refuge from a day filled with noise."
"Twenty-five years ago, Segal explains, "I had a dream to build a house with an interior courtyard surrounded with porches with arches, not only because I liked it, but also because I love the serenity of monasteries from Romania where I was born. I tried to incorporate my memories from Sucevita and Voronet monasteries and from my travels visiting the vestige of "Villa Romana del Casale" in piazza Armerina and even from the Cloisters in New York. The style also goes back to Roman times." In Roman courtyard houses, the hearth, which used to inhabit the centre of the home, was relocated to the central atrium or courtyard, and a colonnaded walkway surrounded the perimeter of the space. Segal adds, "This ensures safety and at the same time offers peace and tranquility from the outside world which we cannot control."
From the courtyard homes of ancient Rome to Maharishi Vastu Architecture, a form of Vedic architecture in India, and monastic architecture of the Middle Ages, the inspiration for what Segal refers to as an "architectural collage" came from numerous sources, all with a central courtyard as its most prominent feature. Segal explains, "Indian architecture, more specifically Vastu, has a philosophy which is very similar to Feng Shui. In Vastu it is recommended to have an interior center of your house that is open toward the sky to allow for all the good spirits to enter, as well as to have good ventilation and a place to gather water. My design also combines German or Austrian architectural styles with the style of a French chalet, and the interior incorporates art deco, art nouveau and other modern styles. My goal for this melting pot design was to create a design in which architectural style becomes an exchange of aesthetic details, between the old and new world, giving birth to a new international hybrid."
In order to build his dream home, Segal first had to decide what to do with the existing home on the property. "The new home was built around the small existing house. After the old house was demolished, we obtained a heavenly interior garden courtyard. From inside the courtyard, you can't hear noise from the traffic outside at all. I was going to design a donut shaped home around the courtyard, but decided to leave it open because it's almost a one acre piece of land. I kept a corner of the foundation of the old house to preserve a gorgeous wisteria plant which is flowering right now, even though the season has passed."
The house contains a 1,000 square foot greenhouse which is yet another way that the tranquility of nature has been brought into the living space. The greenhouse, or plant conservatory, has an interior head room of approximately 26 feet and helps to conserve energy by serving as a heat container during colder months. Segal explains, "In the winter we can open two doors, one on first floor and one on second floor, and the whole house gets heated up. In the summer it doesn't affect the air conditioning because I keep the windows closed. The floor of the greenhouse is built the same way you build a shower floor, it has been completely waterproofed. There is a full basement under the greenhouse where there is a central pit in the basement floor which is covered with a wood deck. When the plants are watered with a hose, the water drains and instead of going into a sewer, it goes into the pit that is completely open to the ground below the house. The reason I designed the hole in the basement floor beneath the greenhouse is because I had plans to plant a palm tree in the ground that would grow up through the basement and into the greenhouse." Segal never followed through with this plan, as the house is now on the market, but it can be done by future owners of the home if they wish to.
Aside from architecture, Segal's firm also designs furniture, mosaics and stained glass, all which were thoughtfully used throughout the home to make it a truly unique space. Doors are also one of his specialties, which he included in the house in Closter. Segal explains, "The door is the first thing we see and our first impression of a home or a room. It should make a statement. I can give doors personality by adding antique, decorative panels from around the world, stained glass or special hardwood boards with beautiful grains. Even a minimalist door can beautiful with the right design."
|Helpful Links for Architects|
AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN)
The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:http://network.aia.org/cran
AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit:http://www.aia.org/practicing/groups/kc/AIAS076039
Architect Online's Continuing Education Center
Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:
Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:http://continuingeducation.construction.com
Architectural Record Discussion Forums
The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:http://construction.com/community/forums.aspx
CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture
CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: http://www.corarchitecture.org
The Green Meeting Industry Council
The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:http://www.greenmeetings.info
The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world. For more information visit: http://www.worldarchitecture.org
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