Sun traversing meridian line a few seconds before Winter Solstice on December 22, 2013

Sun traversing meridian line a few seconds before Winter Solstice on December 22, 2013

Meridian House Concept

The 7 “Levels of Connection” used as the basis for Meridian House Design

During my sailing voyage it became increasingly clear the extent to which my ability to connect was proportional to my personal sense of well-being. I identified seven levels on which I was able to “connect" over the course of my voyage: 1) Nature; 2) Self; 3) Family; 4) Community; 5) Solar System; 6) Galaxy; and, 7) Spirit. The Meridian House was an attempt to create a living environment that enhanced each of these basic areas of connections in a modern home.  Examples of each are given below:

1. NATURE:  The Meridian House is only 15’ wide and located on the SE side of a 40’ lot leaving the remaining 20’ for pool, family gathering and gardens. All rooms in the house have a glass walls that, when open, “disappear” into the walls of the house.  This feature creates the impression of being in a protected alcove of a much larger outdoor space. All upstairs rooms have sliding glass walls that open onto private decks. There is an upstairs “garden” common bathing area that is open to the sky. The existing trees, along with planted bamboo, provide privacy and a green backdrop along the entire side-yard. The house has a greenhouse where plants can be seeded and grown for food or the gardens. The gardens have become the habitat of numbers insects and small animals whose daily routines intertwine with our own.

2. SELF: The Boathouse has “mini-ateliers” rather than bedrooms. These spaces are intended for our family to express our selves creatively. All rooms have private decks and are naturally lit by the clerestory windows in their raised ceilings. The wind scoops above each deck catch the ocean breezes for natural cooling as well as afford protection from rain and summer sun. At night, they area able to capture the sounds of the surf six blocks away and lull us to sleep. "Ship bunks" are located in “sleeping pods” (7’ x 7’) that contain space for a bed and writing table. These spaces have the intimacy of a boat cabin without the distraction TV’s, computers, etc. They have 180- degree garden views with operable skylights for ventilation.

3. FAMILY: The Meridian House has a “country kitchen” that combines dining and cooking functions. This is the center of family activity. The other communal family spaces are: 1) an upstairs open-air family bathing area; 2) an outdoor dining gazebo and, 3) a hot tub; and 4) a circular seating around the fire pit. There is a “family wall” in the multi-purpose room to display art and family history.

4. COMMUNITY: The Meridian House has a direct connection to the street and the community. The front living room wall can be folded back to open to a deck that looks onto the street and is accessible  for community gatherings. On the entry level, there is an overlooking balcony and outdoor seating area that also has visual access with the street below. An illuminated niche at street level provides the opportunity to share themed displays or community notices with neighbors. The “Juliette balcony” on the upper level, as well as the two roof decks, offer views of the entire neighborhood to the Pacific Ocean beyond.

5. SOLAR SYSTEM:  The Meridian House Living Room has at its center a meridian line.  It provides a reference point for the seasonal movement of the sun across the sky indicating solar noon and date on a brass inlay along the floor and up the wall. In the backyard, there is a 20’ sundial that provides the time of day on a curved seating area that encircles a fire pit. All openings in the house have sun control from overhangs, fixed fins and adjustable sun slats in the proper orientation to provide shading in summer and sun in winter. The slats provide a constant play of light on the white walls as does a sun sculpture that casts "cool" prismatic reflections on the living room walls before noon and "warm" ones in the afternoon.

6. GALAXY:  The Meridian House has a concrete "Monument" at the sidewalk with a "galactic address plaque above and an "offering niche" below. The plaque is loosely based on that sent into space on the Voyager Mission and provides our address in the universe based on the 13 pulsars in our galaxy. The sundial in the backyard when sighted along its gnomon will reveal the location of Polaris, the North Star.

7. SPIRIT:  The Meridian House encourages its guests to ponder what lies beyond space and our understanding of the world. There are multiple spaces for meditation and contemplation. There are also “altars” set into the walls around the house for personal objects or images to inspire its inhabitants. The most notable is a niche in the living room where a Nativity Icon is illuminated exactly at noon on Christmas Day.

Photos: Todd Goodman
© Copyright 2013 Thane Roberts AIA