Title page for ETD etd-03022004-100451


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Blume, George
Author's Email Address gblume@vt.edu
URN etd-03022004-100451
Title "a good rain and a baby calf are always welcome"
Degree Master of Architecture
Department Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
O'Brien, Michael J. Committee Chair
Brown, William W. Committee Member
Galloway, William U. Committee Member
Rott, Hans Christian Committee Member
Keywords
  • the nature of water in Texas
  • form
  • geometry
Date of Defense 2004-02-11
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
In most parts of the country, swimming pools are objects of recreation and entertainment—symbols of luxury, affluence. In Texas, they hold a similar position, but the water is viewed with a great amount of subconscious reverence. Its cooling properties make it more than a toy for "Marco Polo." Even people who cannot or do not want to swim will exert great effort just to dip their hands or wade their bare feet in a cool swimming pool.

The act of cooling is relegated to concerns of comfort, survival, and mechanical possibilities. It plays such an important role in the daily life of a Texan, especially in the summer, yet we treat our swimming pools, air conditioners, and ceiling fans just as any other American. Should such a vital aspect of a Texan's daily life be realized so mundanely? So crucial a factor in our lives must be uplifted to some form more poetic than the noisy A/C unit under the kitchen window.

In the Hill Country of Central Texas lies the village of Willow City, 1 ½ hours southwest of the capital, Austin. A sinuous road, known as the Willow City Loop, winds north from the forgettable village through an untouched, untamed, semi-arid wilderness. The area is a stretch of vast expanses of granite and limestone often exposed with little or no topsoil. For a brief period during the springtime, the road becomes a traffic-congested line of families hoping to see flourishes of the in-bloom state flower, the bluebonnet. At all other times, the road is completely deserted.

A field of alternating pink, orange, and rust-white stretches for miles with frequent interruptions of various shades of green from mesquite trees, live oaks, cedars, cacti, and lichens. The topography constantly changes. Boulder-sized shards of granite seem to just explode out of escarpments. In other places, horizontal bands of granite cantilever from the tops of hills, displaying the years and time of its formulation. Two hills in particular, the Twin Knobs, comprise a striking composition of great architectural quality.

The architecture of the kidney-bean pool and the air-conditioner is inappropriate and inadequate when considering the significance of water in Texas. What is the architecture for the adoration of water in Texas? Where does one immerse oneself in water as a retreat from the sun and an act of tribute to that water? Furthermore, what is the form this architecture? How does such an architecture meld into a dynamic and varied topography? How does geometry generate or dictate such a form? Where do the geometry and formal expressions end and the architecture begin? Or, are they one? What is the nature of a human in such a place?

This book presents a retreat whose architectural focal point is a pool nestled in an excavated basin between the Twin Knobs. It is shielded by a great cone that forces the heat of the sun to yield to the repose of the pool and its water.

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