The color palette – and the big idea – started with an acorn.
Mark Fiedler, co-founder of Fiedler Marciano Architecture in New York, was on a two-week retreat at I-Park, the 450-acre artist-in-residence retreat in Connecticut.
It was early spring. “I saw acorns lying on the ground, split open with a green tongue sticking out, so they were inspiration for the palette – it came from that,” he says. “There’s a dark outer shell protecting an inside – the fertile seed trying to create a tree.”
What better metaphor for a building designed to house an incubating artist?
The actual structure’s materials – cedar siding outside, Doug fir inside, concrete floors and standing-seam aluminum roof – are simplicity itself.
But the studios’ forms sets them apart from other farm-like structures on site. “It’s a pitched-roof structure, and I shifted the center line of the ridge to one side and kind of sliced it with diagonal walls,” he says. “So it looks a little like the buildings there but it’s different.”
From the porch side, the studios are asymmetrical, but from the other side they’re flat. And from the inside – from the courtyard (a shared space for potential collaboration) between them – they’re sculptural. “They’re almost organic objects,” he says. “It’s a little dance in the land there – that’s how they feel.”
They’re each 1,000 square feet, about 35 percent bigger than existing studios on campus. There are plenty of windows and shelf space, and a small room that can serve as office, closet or photographer’s dark room.
But mostly, they’re about connecting with nature. “There’s a porch, because artists like to go outside and work,” he says. “It’s an outdoor space that’s an extension of the studio.”
The idea was to make spaces that are comfortable for the artists and engage them in their surroundings. “I angled the walls in toward the studio space so when you’re walking by, you can’t see in, and the artists feel protected” he says.
Which, when you think about it, is a lot like the seedling inside that acorn.
Chris Cooper, Photographer