Analytical Visualization of the D. D. Martin House
by Mark Maddalina
For decades, critics have analyzed Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House based on direct observation and 2D architectural drawings. But their conclusions lack the insight made visible by 3D computer visualizations. This study uses CAD techniques more commonly applied to design and presentation and re-evaluates both the house and the critical statements traditionally accepted about Wright's design.
These computer techniques reveal a unique relationship between the space of the Martin House and its fireplace. Only through computer analysis did it become clear that this relationship exists and what specific architectural conditions make it so.
Within the computer environment, a model of the various volumes of the house was constructed in order to analyze the spatial conditions in Wright's design. Inverting the space/mass relationship of the house in the computer makes it possible to see the spaces as they relate to each other, unobscured by the physical elements of the architecture, and allows for a unique analysis of the Wright's spatial treatment.
In his book Transparenz, Bernard Hoesli provides schematic diagrams and critical analyses for significant works by many architects, including several by Frank Lloyd Wright. Hoesli's illustrations of the space in Wright's unbuilt Ullmann House indicate what can be considered a "transparent" spatial condition. The various volumes as defined by the structure interpenetrate. Because the areas of overlap can be perceived as belonging to multiple spatial orders, a complexity develops that enriches and activates the space of the house.
The Martin House is considered to be Wright's first mature work, designed in 1903-4 and built between 1905 and 1906.
Photo: Mark Maddalina
A computer model of the various volumes of the house inverts the space/mass relationships, making it possible to see the spaces of the house as they relate to each other.
Image: Mark Maddalina
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