Saturday, January 26, 2013


This post will be mainly about the electric lighting, but I wanted to start with this shot of the sun shining through the porch in the afternoon. I get this view from the kitchen table, where I've often worked since moving in, so I see the sunlight move through the columns over the course of a whole day. Because the house faces due west, the porch works like a kind of three-dimensional sundial. At noon - when the sun shines from due south - the column shadows line up with each other:

Even with a clock on the stove, I've often found myself looking outside to get a general sense of the time. This is the most precise confirmation that the surveyor laid the house out exactly right. Prior to this the best I could tell is that it looked "pretty close."

When I took this picture the time was about 12:10, and a sliver of sunlight had just appeared on the far column. O true surveyor! Thy stakes were right.

Now to the man-made lights. Of course I wanted my first experience of them to be at night. As it happened, the night I went out to turn the lights on for the first time, the darkness was intensified by a little rain and fog. All the better. I turned on every light in the house and walked back outside.

There is very little light on face of the stone wall, so the five small windows in it - illuminated by the lights in the Great Room - seem to float. I like that. To the right is the porch. I was especially interested to see how it would look at night. Here's the approach to the entry (west) side, along the stone wall:

From a little ways out, towards the street, the porch has the feel of a lantern in the woods, which is what I wanted.

There are four lights arranged symmetrically along each of the four sides of the porch. Each light is mounted up between two joists, so there's a bright glow from each joist bay that has a light.

Moving to the interior - I used the same organization of lights for the Great Room as for the porch (four per side). Except these are recessed in the wood panel ceiling:

Speaking of wood paneling, in my regular Bible readings I happen to be in Ezekiel now, and came across this verse recently, regarding Ezekiel's vision of the Temple: "The main sanctuary, the inner sanctuary, and the vestibule facing the courtyard were paneled with wood." (41:16) Oh yeah, that's why I did that.

These pictures were taken in the first week of December, before the walls or floor of this room had been completed. But the brick paving at this point was mostly done.

The kitchen also was in process, plastic still on the stainless counters and appliances. But I was excited to see the pendants and over-counter lights. This is easily the brightest room in the house (at night anyway), and I think that's appropriate.

Thankfully I was able to get a dining table (free - thanks to my boss) for the space under the pendants pretty quickly. I think everyone who visited the house before that bumped their head on a pendant at least once. Here's the "lived-in" kitchen with table shortly after I moved in:

Only recently did I realize I should climb up to the roof for some night shots. Here's the courtyard from above:

From my Ezekiel readings I also noticed a parallel with his Temple vision that I actually did not intend: the proportion between column and porch width. The Temple's porch is 12 feet wide, and the columns are three feet thick. My porch is four feet wide, and the columns are one foot thick. So the proportion is the same: 1 to 4.

Here are two bedroom skylights:

Mine is the clean one. Hey, you clean your own skylight in this house.

And the Great Room skylight:

...from which you can get a glimpse of the completed brick and stone flooring. Here's how it looked when the mason finished:

And here it is after being cleaned with an acid wash:

I think I got my money's worth out of that job.

The stone at the center is Pennsylvania bluestone, custom cut to form an enlarged version of the nine-square, space-in-the-center theme that is the generative pattern for the whole house.

The Great Room as a whole is a square in plan, the center stone area is a square, and the center-most stone is a square. The choice of this shape was inspired in large part by the square plan of the Holy of Holies in both the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon. But my recent reading of Ezekiel gave me yet another confirming example: Not only is his Temple's Holy of Holies a perfect square (35 x 35 feet), but the entire temple complex is enclosed by a square wall (875 x 875 feet).

I should probably clarify at this point, again: I'm not rebuilding the Temple. That particular structure was made obsolete by Christ's sacrifice. But holiness is not obsolete. Since this house is essentially about holiness, like the Temple in its time, I've been compelled by God's shape of choice for holy space. There just seems to be something holy about the square.

There's nothing particularly meaningful about the fact that this stone comes from Pennsylvania. I just wanted it to be blue or blue-gray, and this happened to be the least expensive and most readily available stone in that color.

In an earlier post I pointed out the unintended "crosses" I noticed in the pattern on the exterior brick walls. I used this same pattern for the floor in the Great Room. There are exactly three small crosses and four large crosses per side:

Seven is a special number. Just ask John the Revelator. My focus in the design of this pattern was the nine-square grid - the three in the lower half here, and the four in the middle portion that include 12-inch bricks. That was the "figure" for me, the focus; the "ground" was everything in between these grids. But for some reason in the translation from black-and-white line drawings to actual bricks and mortar, the figure and ground reverses. And the ground that was hidden from my eyes happens to be a bunch of crosses - each pointing toward the center, no less.

Oh, yeah, this post is about lights. So let's look at the Great Room floor at night!

I like that the lighting in this space reverses from day to night. During the day, the vast majority of light falls on the center (from the skylight). During the night, the perimeters are the brightest, lit by the electric lights above.

Here's a pair of shots showing the night-day contrast, including the skylight:

Looking straight up at the skylight at night, the stone floor and the glow from the ceiling lights can be seen reflected in the glass:

I'll finish with a few more of my favorite shots of the Great Room with its lights on: