An abbreviated form of handwriting served as a conceptual springboard for Francois de Menil's design of this Houston home. Our client’s knowledge of shorthand, which she utilized throughout her professional career, inspired our team to translate the spatial diversity of a larger residence into a more condensed expression on a small suburban site.
We translated shorthand’s use of symbols into architectural forms to achieve spatial efficiency and redefine traditional concepts of domesticity. The public rooms are not defined by walls but by symbols, and traditional rooms are pared down to the components that most clearly distill their function. These elements serve as symbolic references to spatial boundaries within the open living space.
The continuity of space provides a framework for manipulating the interior into separate rooms as needed. “Shorthand spaces” are created by opening and closing doors as necessary, creating cabines (French for cabinet) or closets.
Francois de Menil