Publication Date


Committee Members

Annaliese Bischoff, Chair - Dean Cardasis, Member


This master's project is a residential design project that focuses on the design process and the design of the residence itself. The residence that was used for this project was a thirty five acre site located in Rydal, Pennsylvania. The design process started with research that looked at the country place era and three case studies that were quintessential examples of axial residential designs from different eras. This research was meant to serve as inspiration for my design. The second phase of the project focuses on a site analysis which was also crucial in helping to make design decisions.

The initial background research that is included in this project examines the country place era in order to give some understanding of the time period when the site for this project transitioned from a farm to a residential estate. Secondly, the country place era has influenced and inspired residential design in this era.

Three case studies were looked at, starting with Dumbarton Oaks which was designed during the country place era. It serves as a quintessential example of residential design during this time. During the country place era the architecture and the landscape took equal importance which is something that Dumbarton Oaks epitomizes.

Because Dumbarton Oaks was so heavily influenced by classical European garden design, it led me to look at Villa Lante which is also a quintessential example of residential design from its time, the Italian Renaissance. During the Italian renaissance the landscape took a more important role over the architecture. Villa Lante is probably the best example because the architecture consists of two twin casinos which help to frame the landscape and create the visual axis.

Like the country place era, modernism was also inspired by classical European design. The Miller Garden is an example of modernism that highlights the connection between classical European design and modernism. This is because the axial organization of classical European design was used, however, it was simplified. Modernist gardens were highly functional spaces for people to use and come to rest in. The Miller Garden is organized around three highly functional axes.

All three case studies helped in inspiring my design which was, like my case studies, organized axially. The main axis of my design runs east to west and has three distinctly different sections which include the entry driveway to the west, the interior of the house and the terraces moving down to the pond in the east. Villa Lante was highly influential in many of my design decisions. The progression of moving from a formal style to more natural style with both vegetation and water features was inspired by Villa Lante.

Also, the movement of pedestrian circulation around the eastern section of the axis was inspired by Villa Lante. Dumbarton Oaks inspired how I used the axis to slowly reveal the site and the pond which was part of my site. The pond can not be seen when standing at the top of my site. Although, as the circulation moves down the slope, a fountain in the pond comes into view which is meant to hint that a pond does exist. However, the pond does not come into full view until one is standing at the bottom of the fourth terrace.

Finally, the cross axis which I incorporated into the design in order to connect the garden spaces with the main axis, like the axes used in modernist designs is a functional axis. Like the Miller Garden the vegetation is visually perforated.

The site analysis influenced my design decisions significantly because the topography, climate, vegetation and architecture all created opportunities and restrictions. Existing topography and vegetation was manipulated to help define many of the garden rooms. Spaces were created based on climate conditions.

The design itself was done in two phases. First, conceptual designs were created. This was done through plan and sections. This phase was when the overall organization of the design was established. The site analysis was the main source of inspiration for this part of the project. The second phase was the development phase and this was explored in a tenth scale model. It was during this phase that the case studies significantly inspired my design. All three phases of this project were crucial in arriving at a final design.