Villa 9W and Five Elements of Feng Shui
by Dino Alexander, CEO Duncan Avenue Group
Principles of Taoism as a religion emerged around the 4th century BC in the work of Chinese philosopher and writer Laozi. Practices and traditions of balancing the natural energy (chi) in the environment are closely linked with concepts of Taoism and historically were widely used t orient spiritually significant structures and places of worship and took in account references to local topography, bodies of water, astronomical position and directions of Earth’s magnetic field. Over the period of hundreds of years, these traditions and principles have evolved and spread around the Globe. In many instances, these concepts were supported by modern science and research and in one way or another found their way into contemporary Interior Design, Architecture and even planning of our cities and infrastructure. In this Hudson Valley Style Magazine series of articles, we will observe a correlation between classical Feng Shui ideas and contemporary design thinking within one of the Duncan Avenue Design Studio Project for a residential property located less than a mile away from the Hudson River in Newburgh, New York – Architecturally Amazing and Naturally Beautiful Villa 9W.
Villa 9W is a typical yet unique example of an A-Frame House – architectural house style with the steeply-angled roofline that looks so close to our basic definition of a simple shelter that humans used to protect themselves from the elements just after they left their caves. This old form of utilitarian buildings (an elaborated version of a roof hut) was widespread in Europe, China, and the South Pacific islands due to its simplicity and a relatively short production timeline. Just like many great ideas, the modern version of an A-Frame house found its home in the United States and in 1934, R.M. Schindler built first contemporary A-Frame house in California.
Post-World War II architects helped to popularize the idea and in 1955, Andrew Geller has built an A-Frame house for Elizabeth Reese directly on the beach in Long Island, New York. The house became an international sensation after publication in The New York Times in 1957. Shortly after, thousands of A-Frame houses were built around the World and became one of the iconic ideas of the modern architecture. Interestingly enough, this particular type of residential homes combines practically every principle of Feng Shui when it comes to the design of a dwelling and Villa 9W even more so, because of its peculiar location.
Rectangular footprint, which most of the A-Frame houses have, is the second favorite shape mentioned in Feng Shui traditional texts. This shape helps to create functional relationships between all spaces inside of the house and energy/materials efficient building plans. Thanks to its pronounced directional roofline that visually leans towards the front of the house plus the two-story high glass atrium around the living room, there no doubt about the direction that an A-Frame house faces and where it draws most of its Chi energy. From the modern perspective, the atrium brings an abundance of daylight inside of the house. Large floor to ceiling windows allows a maximum amount of the natural light, while operable windows and sliding doors create an excellent source for natural ventilation. Many aspects of Feng Shui traditions, such as open floor plans, the inclusion of natural elements and materials could be considered as home ergonomics when it comes to modern residential design.
To be continued…