Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Writer's Retreat

Our final project for the semester was to create a space in the existing St. Mary's house located on Walker Ave for a visiting writer.  It was to be a space in which a writer could live, eat, write, work, meet with students and colleagues, and have public readings.  On important aspect of the project was creating a space that had both public and private areas.  After visiting the site which is currently a small chapel, it was important to me in my design to keep the character of the historic structure.  The building had beautiful woodwork surrounding the windows and doors as well as hardwood floors.  I wanted to focus my design on adaptive reuse, changing the existing chapel into the writer's retreat while keeping the historic character of the building.  In order to do so, I tried to keep many of the existing walls and woodwork.  As I wanted to keep the existing nave a relatively open space, I added a loft above the front to create a separate space for the writer to work in a more private area.  The front of the building is the public entrance with the public office and work/meeting place for students and colleagues.  Further into the nave is a semi-public space that is more of a living/dining area for the writer, but could also be used for working with students and colleagues.  It does also double as the public reading area as it can be transformed to have rows of chairs and the former apse forms a perfect stage for writer's to give readings.  The back of the house is the private area with the writer's personal bathroom and bedroom as well as the kitchen and laundry facilities. This has a private entrance and can be closed off with a door to the more public sections of the house.  When I visited the space initially, I saw the potential for transformation without many additions and changes and given my previous degree in historic preservation that was important to me and my design. 

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