After our first site visit – most of the time we already have a sense of what shape building will best fit. A curved building suits corner sites and allows itself to gently be exposed. A building with straight lines and rectilinear shapes , depending on the site, can have a more grounding effect.
On a scientific level, studies have shown that we are attracted to objects that have curves as it relates more to nature and the human body. When the great architect Philip Johnson first visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, he started to cry. “Architecture is not about words. It’s about tears,” Johnson reportedly said. Something about the museum’s majestic curves moved him at an emotional level. Many others must get a similar feeling, because the building is usually ranked among the most important in modern times.
Types of architectural curves in residential design
For centuries, many indigenous cultures relied on circular dwellings – think of the igloo, the yurt, tipi or Aboriginal humpy. Circular houses used inherently fewer materials than their square counterparts, an attractive option when resources were scarce and extra labor meant expending precious energy.
These traditional round homes could stand up to extreme weather. Their curved roofs make them wind resistant—less susceptible to high-velocity gusts lifting up the roof and tilting up the house. As wind can flow around the circular structure, instead of getting hung up around the angles, these homes are particularly resistant to hurricanes and tornados.
In contemporary architecture, curves are used for a number of other different reasons. Our Tamarama House, pictured below, responds to the corner site it is located on, overlooking the ocean.
By curving the front façade, the corner, with its terraces, opens up the building and the curves work well near the water – reflecting a sense of fluidity. The rear of the building is also curved and opens up to the north.