Preston Scott Cohen Torus House, Old Chatham, New York (Scale model, 1999) 1999–2003

  • Not on view

Torus House represents a contemporary revision of the artist's house, a type of residence rooted in the nineteenth-century Arts and Crafts movement. The two largest spaces in the house will be painting studios. The space pictured in this computer-generated print will be used for easel painting and will also serve as a gallery and a living space. The glass walls provide generous views of the partially wooded field in this remote, contemplative setting. Spatially and visually, the vertical circulation in the center of the studio links all the principal elements of the house.

The formal character of the Torus House design is remarkable for its melding of seemingly incompatible geometric languages. The architect hopes to reinvigorate the historical tension between the orthodox and the radical: "The dialectic between norm and exception in architecture relies on the persistence or memory of social and building conventions on the one hand and formal transgression on the other." In this instance, the norm is a courtyard house, which is transformed by the use of nonarchitectural, seamless, curvilinear forms derived from the torus. That topological form is generated by rotating one circle along the path of a second, larger circle, usually producing a doughnutlike shape.

Amplifying the ambiguity between the house's interior and exterior, a stair, which occupies what would be the hollow core of the torus, bypasses the interior of the house by running directly from the parking area at ground level to the roof above. The architect explains that "the curvilinear lines and undulations blend the individual components into an unbroken surface that resembles features of the landscape beyond."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 358.
Laser-cut paper laminate, epoxy resin, paint, and wood laminate
10 x 36 x 31" (25.4 x 91.4 x 78.7 cm)
David Childs and Tracy Gardner Purchase Funds
Object number
© 2024 Preston Scott Cohen
Architecture and Design

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