Prince Toronto home still reflects his personality

Entertainment Room at Prince's former Toronto homeThe home Prince once owned in Toronto still bears the imprint of his personality. This partly reflects Prince’s decorating tastes, but undoubtedly the house attracted him in the first place because of its design. Thematically suffused with circles and curves, the building gives the impression that Prince had the house built specifically for him. But, in fact, the house was built long before Prince even dreamed of owning property in Toronto. Half-moon bay windows jut out from the facade. A circular transom window perches above the entry door, where the ceiling arches over a rose compass that decorates the marble floor. A staircase spirals down to the lower level. Curved walls grace the master bedroom, entered through an arched doorway. A musical flow permeates the structure, like notes cascading down a waterfall. Continue reading →

What if your house was a musical instrument?

The Symphony HouseAn unusual house overlooks Lake Michigan. Known as the Symphony House, it not only emphasizes natural sounds but can be played like an instrument. Architect David Hanawalt and sound artist Bill Close designed the 6,200 square-foot home for Steelcase heir Jonathan Wege and his wife. At a cost of $2.4 million, the concrete-and-wood structure blends Japanese and Scandinavian architectural design. (I’ve included a video that provides a tour of the house’s unique musical properties.) Continue reading →

Music in architecture

Following up on my previous post, I’ve tried to find examples of music as a direct influence on architecture. Apart from concert hall design (which is concerned primarily with acoustic properties), there are surprisingly few examples. The Experience Music Project in Seattle, designed by Frank Gehry, has a Tower of Music built from guitars, drums and keyboards in its lobby. Part of the building’s unique shape seems inspired by a melting, surrealistic red bass with a grid of frets. Continue reading →

A house in the shape of a piano

House floorplansIt’s a commonplace that architecture and music share certain organizational elements: patterns, motifs, rhythm and repetition as structure. What’s less common is the presence of music in architecture. As a challenge, I designed floorplans for houses in the shape of a grand piano, guitar and French horn.

Certain musical elements are carried through the layouts. A five-line music staff inlaid in the floor runs the length of the entry hall into the great room of the piano house; a central courtyard resembles the body of a guitar, with a round fountain where the sounding hole would be.

A circular dining room occupies the heart of the guitar house, with six lines inlaid in the floor extending from the dining room to the fireplace and outlining the base of the neck.

The most ambitious plan is the French horn house. The tubing pattern forms curving counters and inlaid flooring throughout the main living area. The mouthpiece is a planter in a private garden for the master bath.

These were just whimsical experiments to work within the constraints of musical forms with curves. I’ll explore how music affects design in real buildings in another post.