Architecture: A Philosophy
The eloquence in the language of architecture is measured by how a building is put together. The joining of materials in a manner that retains the integrity of each part, while assigning a function compatible and advantageous to its nature, has always been a measure of “seriousness” in architecture.
“God is in the details” is a phrase attributed to Mies Van Der Rohe and revered by architects as we endeavor again and again to do the right thing. Architecture is order, and this order carries throughout the building down to the smallest corner. There is no back side to architecture any more than there is a detail that is unimportant.
Detailing expresses the “how” of buildings and when done with great care and skill reinforces the “why.” It can express the honesty not only of the architecture but of all those involved in the making of it. It is a slow process whose results are seldom noticed. It has been said that good detailing should never show the agony it took to produce it, but should appear as if it had not been detailed at all, as if it went together the way it wanted to go together–or as Kahn has said, “the way it wants to be.”
My detailing is deliberately sparse and linear in order to enhance the spaces within and without. People look good in my buildings.
I try very hard in my work to listen to my client since it is the client’s program, budget and site which are the influences that will drive the design. I have found, however, that of these three the site is the dominant factor. The quality of the light upon that particular area of earth is always unique and determines the path the architecture will take. I endeavor to design buildings that belong, make the site look better and, hopefully, never shout. The order established by the program, the site and the budget produces architecture. Because of this, I have never designed two buildings alike.
The architectural philosophy of Hugh Newell Jacobsen. Beautifully detailed, elegant, refined, clean, crisp, exquisite, by arguably the best living architect on the planet. With a style that is as subtle as it is elegant, his homes seem to capture the beauty of both aesthetics into one sparse and linear yet whimsical style. Best illustrated by the house above that appears to be a series of staggered one-room schoolhouses from the front but is actually one dwelling.
Infused with a rare sense of clarity and elegance, they are serene and classically proportioned, but at the same time distinctly modern. Drawing inspiration from vernacular architecture, his designs often recall the barns, detached kitchens, and smokehouses of early American architecture.
Hugh Newell Jacobsen
Photos: Robert Lautman