Sarah Corbitt-Intern Architect LEED AP BD+C

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Delight: Manitoga

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Jumping into the 20th century, the designer Russel Wright had the same impulse as Frederic Church for a large wooded compound nestled in the trees. His wife passed away, so he raised his daughter at Manitoga on his own (OK, with some hired help). Inspired by that other Wright (apparently no relation), his house is of a piece with Modern houses of that era, nestled into the landscape above a small pool. Wright crafted the gardens, including a ‘cool tub’ which could be let out back into the main pool, a moss room, and a ‘cup garden’ outside his studio window. The house is charming, with a massive central fireplace, sunken conversation pit and an even more sunken kitchen and dining area. Wright experimented with material contrast, siting polystyrene insulation next to wooden timbers, encasing ferns in early plexiglass, and smearing his ceilings with stucco mixed with Hemlock tufts. The landscaping is as important as the architecture. Somehow I didn’t take any photos of anything, so these will have to do. They don’t really, as the property has a great procession to it, with arrival scenes carefully framed by plantings and remnants from the former quarry there. It’s a house all about personal experience, bringing to mind the first room: a bonfire around which people are gathered (like the house’s conversation pit) and find need to wander off from to search out their own mysteries in the woods.

The two houses above were recommended to me by Charleston architect Johnny Tucker.

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