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Garofalo Architects in Wisconsin

Garofalo Architects

Garofalo  Architects in Wisconsin
By Raymund Ryan -

The individual house is the mainstay of U.S. construction culture, a potent conflation of Americans’ desire for singularity, or independence, and the ruthlessness of that country’s mass production techniques.  In recent decades, inventive architects – most notably Frank Gehry with his own home in Santa Monica – have used the remodelling of generic single houses as research sites for radical notions of form, language and domesticity.  Like Gehry before him, Chicago-based Douglas Garofalo splices and mutates both existing and new elements so that their mutual roles as parasite and host become fused.
The house reconfigured by Garofalo at Spring Prairie, Wisconsin grows out of the original, red building as a set of orange pavilions that partially encircle a swimming pool and terrace.  The self-contained, pre-existing house has not so much been engulfed as liberated by the new construction, empowered now as the origin of a strategy that uses a tool shed, a screened gazebo, and a barn for llamas and goats to differentiate an outdoor inner sanctum (the pool and terrace) from an ostensibly natural outer world of prairie meadow, orchard, deep forest, and a small lake where one further pavilion may yet be sited.
The immediate extension to the house is a two-storey guest wing (parents below, children above) draped in a titanium membrane.  A vivid complement to the orange and orthogonal structure underneath, the diamond-pattern titanium blushes pale blue and green against the extensive sky and grass.  It billows to envelop the interior and is trimmed to a serpentine edge so that this hard industrial material is here surprisingly delicate. Suggestively biomorphic, the titanium reappears as metallic silver balustrade to an access deck in the exposed prow of the old building (the master bedroom).
The Spring Prairie house is a retreat from metropolitan Chicago, a bucolic getaway for an extended family of the client couple, their six children and spouses, and very...

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