It was kind of a fluke really. The first time I met with the clients of the pavilion house I noticed a beautiful kimono displayed in their living room. I was mesmerized with it’s simple pattern and especially they way the kimono was displayed. The kimono reflected my client’s heritage
“That is so beautiful” I said. “You need to display it in a very prominent part of the house”.
“How about at the front entry” she suggested. “Make a floating wall or something”.
“What’s a floating wall?” I asked.
“I don’t know” she said. “That’s your job. You figure it out”.
It didn’t take long to put all the pieces together. I wanted something unusual and somewhat exciting to greet visitors as they walked through the front door. It needed to serve many purposes and stand alone as an iconic feature in and of itself. It also needed to express open and flowing spaces, one of the main concepts for the house. The Great Room with the Media, Dining and Kitchen were on the other side from the Foyer and needed to be partially shielded. (I wanted the visitors to get a peek of what was beyond and draw them to these spaces while not completely revealing what was on the other side). Placing a wall at the end of the open hallway between the Foyer and Great Room would satisfy these requirements. But it couldn’t be just a simple floor to ceiling wall. Additionally, the other side of the wall needed to include storage and small buffet platform to serve the adjacent dining table.
I love curves in architecture. They add a spirit to the place which is quite different than that seen in spaces where no curves exist. I try in incorporate them in every project I design and decided to curve the wall in the direction of travel from the Foyer. This gave a person an opportunity to walk to the left or the right. (It also has a slight arch at the top). To reveal some of the space beyond I limited the height of the wall to 7 feet and made the width a maximum of 11 feet wide. These dimensions satisfied the open feeling I was after.
I had the wall, but it needed to “float”. I raised the bottom 12” off the stained concrete floor to allow space to flow under as well as over and around the wall. The wall was nearly complete, but I needed to hide the two 3 ½” square steel columns that supported the structure. I remembered a desert scene in the very first Star Wars movie where a “landspeeder” hovered a foot or so off the desert floor. When it came to a stop I had noticed the space underneath shook a little bit. Yep – they used a mirror angled towards the ground just enough to give the illusion that it was truly hovering! We carefully cut small pieces of mirrors and angled them with mitered corners to fit around the steel columns so that it would be difficult to distinguish them from the surrounding floor. To finish the wall, I placed indirect lighting on the underside, so the wall would truly “float” at night.
For the many years my clients enjoyed living in the house, their visitors would scratch their heads and ask “How does that thing stand up?”
Think “Star Wars”.
Richard Emerson Kaufman is an Architect/Chief Visionary Officer of The Kaufman Collaborative Architects. Experienced in residential, commercial and institutional architecture. Kaufman is committed to helping clients find creative, workable solutions that are cost effective and environmentally responsible.