PRIVATE RESIDENCE "Thayer Brick House" | The Plan
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PRIVATE RESIDENCE "Thayer Brick House"

An Oxymoron in Common Brick

Brooks+Scarpa | Studio Dwell

Designed by Californian architecture practice Brooks + Scarpa, Thayer Brick House in Evanston (Illinois) succeeds, like an oxymoron, in juxtaposing the apparently contradictory. Its façade in “common” brick is a manifesto against the mediocrity of the ubiquitous timber-framed maisonettes that blanket suburban Chicago. The privacy demanded for a space that is both home and workplace has been achieved with an unrestrained, even arrogant, screen. Then, there is the obsessive attention to architectural detail and the use of (exclusively recycled) materials - natural components not compatible with parametric robot-controlled building techniques, which required turning back to the beauty and quality delivered by painstaking craftsmanship. This cubic construction contains many of the themes dear to contemporary architecture but without any obvious discontinuities, as can be seen from the smooth well-balanced study sketches drawn by the careful hand of Lawrence Scarpa, the main architect and author; although almost all the same, the series of drawings clearly demonstrates the long and gradual process that led to the final program. What strikes the observer first is the façade. A stolid material like brick has been given the graceful movement of the bullfighter’s cape as he executes a veronica. Permeable to light and wind, the rows of vertically set bricks have been twisted on an asymmetrical axis to a seemingly unfathomable pattern, creating a double movement of opening and closing, making the façade seem like a bullfighter’s flowing red cloak. The colors of the bricks are not uniformly red but veer from pink to gray and orange. It is almost as if in choosing the Chicago Common brick, normally discarded for fair-faced buildings, Brooks + Scarpa were saying that our contemporary world cannot be captured by just one color. Made from multi-colored local clay, and traditionally considered unattractive, the Chicago Common is here...

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