Graceful, but No Farm

Yesterday I took some time off from my busy Brooklyn architecture practice to visit SANAA's sinuous new building at Grace Farms in New Canaan, CT. Formerly a horse farm, Grace Farms is now a non-profit foundation/park open to the public six days a week. No animals.

I was drawn to this building by the way it looks. A long and meandering roof, connects a series pavilions ascending a hill and culminating in a sanctuary. Sometimes called the River Building, it reminded me of just that as well as the bucolic beauty of of a horse fence cascading along rolling hills or even a snake slithering along the grass.

In many ways, this building is unconventional and one wonders if it is, in fact, a building or, rather, a work of art or a landscape folly. Beneath the winding roof, each pavilion serves a single function within a single room - be it an athletic court, a library, or a commons area. It's an idealized paradigm unadaptable to the complexities of architectural problem solving yet light and beautiful. How many buildings solely serve one function? And is it appropriate for this climate? After all, if one need to use the bathroom, one needs to step outside to an adjacent structure.

This is luxe minimalism for the select few - those lucky enough to have time and means to get to a remote section of an affluent suburb. It is essentially functionless and, as a result, pristine.

Lastly, a nod to SANAA's furniture located in and around the pavilions. I heard a couple saying they were afraid to sit in the Drop Chair,  a  mirror finish stainless steel design inspired by Anish Kapoor, and Marc Newsom, because it didn't look comfortable and might not support them though I like it. I also enjoyed the whimsical and more functional Rabbit Ears Chairs, a lighthearted homage to Arne Jacobsen's classic stackable chairs.

 The approach

The approach

 Ascending the hill

Ascending the hill

 Switchback - between the library and the sanctuary

Switchback - between the library and the sanctuary

 Outside the sanctuary with a few Drop Chairs.

Outside the sanctuary with a few Drop Chairs.

 Bunny Ears Chairs (or are those peace signs?)

Bunny Ears Chairs (or are those peace signs?)