Spring 2016

Classic Modernism for New England

Christopher Arelt, Architect, AIA, LEED AP

103 Halls Road
Old Lyme, Connecticut    

Contact:  (860) 227-1169

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     ARCHITECTURE  -   INTERIORS   -     ART   -   DESIGN  -    PEOPLE   -    YOU !

 "Architecture is frozen music."
                    -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Poet

Goethe had it right. There's a close parallel between music and architecture:  assembling parts to create a harmonious whole! Maybe that's why you hear music in the background when we're at the design table.  I've been inspired recently by Nina Simone singing "...It's a new dawn it's a new day.... and I'm feeling good."

-Christopher Arelt, Architect

Wood Floors:  Grey Is The Way Of Today
The floor is arguably the most important surface in a home.  It's large, it's everywhere, you're standing on it, you're looking at it.  So an unsightly or incongruous floor is pretty much impossible to ignore when undertaking a renovation.  If you think about decisions in terms of scale and impact, once you've figured out the floor the subsequent choices start to become clearer, and you're on your way.

Most of the homes we here at Nautilus Architects encounter have oak floors.  Strip red oak is readily available and affordable in the northeast US.  It's also durable, stable and reliable.  A great choice, right?  Except that it's everywhere, amber-colored and pedestrian.  What's to be done?

Amber Alert

We have been having great success transforming tired, yellowed floor into a fresh, smart stage for today's style using a 3-step process.  First, we splice in any new pieces of wood that are related to an addition or modified space, and then unify by sanding all floors bare.  Step two is application of bleaching or whitewashing mixture that douses the pink and yellow tones that are lurking in the wood's color palette.

In doing so, we create more of a neutral blank slate from which to proceed.  The final step 3 is development and application of a formula or recipe of the finish color that we are looking to create.

Step 3 is a process of trial and error  --  sample boards, a little more of this, a bit less of that-too cold, too dark, not enough  --  until we get it right.  Many of our recent and current projects are turning to grey floors to get the look we're after.  Whether it's a coastal location and a "driftwood" look, or a smart contemporary and a slightly darker, crisp grey, these floors make a beautiful statement.  It's a whole new floor- and a whole new house.

If you are contemplating a project this year start with the Boston Society of Architect's Homeowner's Project Handbook. The updated 2015 edition is now available.  This guide serves as a valuable resource for individuals and organizations planning renovation, addition, or new-construction projects. It clarifies the design and construction process for a residential or small commercial project and includes advice on choosing the right architect and structuring the working relationship. A series of “worksheets” helps you think through your project.
Compassionate Architecture with Global Relevance

  You may know already that Alejandro Aravena recently won the 2016 Pritzker Prize for Architecture, but have you heard his inspiring TED talk?  Learn more about his passion for architecture that is based on a "common sense" approach.

Biomimicry is a design approach that draws from nature and bringing the outdoors in continues to imbue and develop in my design work.  Charles F. Voysey, was an English architect during the 1800's. Voysey's designs in the field of applied art included furniture, wallpapers, fabrics, carpets, tiles, metalwork, ceramics and graphic design.  Before he mastered each craft, he learned every stage of the hand making process and understood his materials thoroughly so that he could get the best results.  Here are two examples of his dazzling patterns that capture the blues and greens of the English countryside.


Flash forward to 2016...(New York City) Did you catch the Cooper Hewitt exhibition Provocations:  The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studios?

Design: Heatherwick Studios

UK Pavilion Beijing 2010:  Seed Cathedral

These fiber optic filaments are particularly responsive to external light conditions so that the unseen movement of clouds above the Seed Cathedral are experienced internally as a fluctuating luminosity. The studio's intention is to create an atmosphere of reverence around this formidable collection of the world’s botanical resources; a moment of personal introspection in a powerful silent space.

The Seed Cathedral is made from a steel and timber composite structure pierced by 60,000 fibre optic filaments, 20mm square in section, which pass through aluminum sleeves. The holes in the 1 metre thick wood diaphragm structure forming the visitor space inside the Seed Cathedral were drilled with great geometric accuracy to ensure precise placement of the aluminum sleeves through which the optic fiber filaments are inserted.
REGIONALISM:  Is it relevant?

Architect:  Christopher Arelt, AIA LEED AP

Should architecture embrace a sense of place and  does regional design matter? Connecticut is known for its beautiful shingle style homes along the shoreline.  Do you have a favorite?  Here's one of my designs located near several boat marinas with access to the Long Island Sound.  Regionalism doesn't mean literal reproductions:  rather, understanding a region's history and traditions provides a solid foundation for making design decisions on new projects.             

A handsome addition to a Brewer's Marina on Long Island's North Fork, this building was quickly dubbed "The Boathouse" because of its elongated shape and coastal finish.  In reality, it contains bathrooms, showers, laundry, and a "rainy day" recreation room, all for the convenience of the marina's tenants as well as transients.

Christopher Arelt, Principal Architect, AIA LEED AP,
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Christopher Arelt wins Best of houzz 4 years in a row
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