Houses on Stilts: Elevating the Design by Daniel Sagan

I have long been fascinated with diaries–particularly unconventional ones. Marking time creatively intrigues me. So when I discovered my brother Daniel Sagan was drawing imaginary buildings on an ongoing basis I asked immediately to see them. I’ve learned a lot over the years from him, as he is an architect, professor, and builder. We’re also obviously related–I dream recurringly of a house on stilts. Enjoy!


Daniel Sagan:

Musician’s play scales and etudes. Poets make haiku and quatrains. Architects don’t often get to focus on small explorations that are self-contained.  One of the conventions we use to describe buildings is the elevation drawing, an orthogonal representation of heights and widths and sizes of windows etc. Often it is more of a service drawing and a way to study a design in process.  To make an elevation drawing first, before the plan, before the building has been designed is not typical. I find however that drawing elevations of buildings that don’t exist is a form of practice. There is no program, no volume, no real specified size or scale. This frees me up to find ideas that often aren’t found during a more structured design process. This is how I talk to myself about design.

Similar imagery keeps occurring: houses on stilts, the hermit’s hut updated for the post Katrina world. The buildings are caught between rustic and high tech. My love of industrial buildings, the landscapes of northern New Jersey and the photography of Berndt and Hilla Becher are all influences on these drawings. I am also influenced by the work of my colleagues Arthur Schaller and Matthew Lutz.




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