Beverley David Thorne
Harrison Fuller House
Since first attempting hillside construction, I have been intrigued with resolving the integration of a space platform to the site without affecting the contours or natural state of the land or the occupants’ feeling that they are living on a hillside.
However, on a hillside the level one-floor solution creates many awkward and ugly spaces. The designer of a residence on a steep lot is confronted with no less than six elevations, the hardest one to solve being the underside or fifth elevation. The sixth elevation or roof is easily resolved architecturally to create a pleasing form. But the fifth elevation exposing the underbelly of the house is not as easily tossed into space. This elevation creates not only an awkward, wedge-shaped space but also unnatural, flat shadows on the natural contours of the site. The more houses I do where this space is created, the more convinced I am of the necessity to study natural foliage on hillsides. The fifth elevation is more easily solved if natural shadows can be blended with the shadow cast by the underbelly. Reducing column lengths to a minimum creates a favorable shadow effect, but this becomes very difficult without resorting to extensive cantilevers or some form of step-down principle.
I think we reached a happy solution in the Case Study House. The maximum cantilever is ten feet and the maximum column height is nine feet. The site has not been disturbed in stepping down the hillside. Reduction in column height was achieved by setting the floor place below the carport level.