Hendee-Borg House: A Study in Nested Symmetries

Sonoma, California, 2011-2012

The Hendee-Borg House is a symmetrical saw-tooth roof house for two artists—a sculptor and a media artist—that includes a pair of large artist studios and an attenuated gallery space, in addition to a sequence of domestic spaces. The studio spaces are planometrically-mirrored about an east-west axis in order to facilitate distinct, natural lighting conditions for each studio under a series of eight skylights. This arrangement provides diffuse, northern light in the south-facing studio, and bands of direct light in the north-facing studio. Although the studio spaces remain connected both spatially and by way of a shared gallery wall, the main living and dining area separate them.

The primary order of symmetry, as is evidenced from the exterior by the profile of the roofline, is challenged on the interior by particular motivations related to the domestic program. These motivations—the desire for natural light from a skylight in the opposing direction to the series of large skylights, for example—foster several, local secondary orders of symmetry. Due to volumetric requirements of stairs in conventionally scaled houses, stairs typically resist planometric symmetry (stairs of grandiosity are an exception). In turn, the circulation throughout the house and studio spaces is circuitous. It is an asymmetrical, indirect and continuous loop that encounters two sets of half-stairs, both studios, the connecting gallery, and the stair on the domestic side of the house.

Project Team:
Bhujon Kang
Linda Yifei Zhang

Visualization: Peter Guthrie