Couch Cushion Architecture; A Critical Analysis

Couch Cushion Architecture; A Critical Analysis

Before we were influenced by Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright, before we had seen the visual delights of Ronchamp, Pompidou Center and the Bauhaus school in Weimar, we were driven by a greater force of design inspiration. More primal and immediate than any of the previously mentioned examples, it was couch cushion architecture that established the basic building blocks of our design logic. Unrepresented and ignored for too long in the architectural industry, today’s post pays respect to the wonders of couch cushion architecture. We’ve rounded up a (mostly) admirable collection of projects, taken from a randomly conducted search on the internet. Join us as we take a critical analysis of the architecture, methods and design philosophies of living room furniture re-appropriation.


[Copyright Jennifer Larson]

A clear derivative of the Miesian box, this handsome project is “informalized” with the use of colorful, freeform roof panels. Taking further direction from the Archigrammovement, the project explores architecture as body wrap and propels couch cushion architecture to new and exciting territory. Grade: A


At first glance the composition appears unintentional and the construction shoddy. But further investigation reveals a clear delineation between indoor/outdoor space with a design focus on protection through the use of barrier. Planes are shifted off the orthogonal to accommodate function; as a side effect it relieves inhabitants from a harsh Euclidian geometry. Grade B


Benefiting from the life work of structural engineer Heinz Isler, this lightweight roof shell structure creates a graceful span while fully sheltering the interiors. Massive counter-weights keep the structure taught while an entire façade remains open to the exterior.Grade: B


Mayan in geometry but American barcalounger in function, this hybrid design allows for both formality and comfort. To our disappointment, the plan design could have taken better advantage of the site opportunities and, ultimately, the fact that a roof structure was not included in the programming detracts from the overall project. Grade: C+


The crisp, clean, white planes, drawing clear influences from Richard Meier, are balanced with a splash of color offered by the roof membrane. The disciplined interiors offer relief to the eyes with a subtle yet intentional blue tone. Grade B+


Good God gentlemen, you’re a mess! You need walls, you need a roof. Get to work man!Grade: F


The crisp, orthogonal structure is, in a way, camouflaged by the informality of the landscaping. While a clear bifurcation exists between site and structure, we give high marks to the close coordination of architect and landscape architect in using similar materials to exaggerate the divergent design concepts. Grade: B+


We greatly admire the use of coffee table as lateral moment-frame in this application. The solution is both formal and fun, offering the users a sequence of experiences beginning with the entry to vaulted ceiling to raised deck. Grade A-


While foundation as roof structure may not create the most efficient tectonic solution, we applaud the geometric inversion and fresh perspective on the “form follows function” relationship. As a side note it’s always disturbing to see the finish details carried out with such haste in the presence of true structural achievement. Grade: B-


A brilliant synergy between the weighted foundation and the light tensile structure, this project impressed us with its attenuation of structure and bright interior spaces. The courtyard and formal entry are also well thought-out and provide a clear means of way-finding. Grade A+

Couch Cushion Architecture; A Critical Analysis 2

Part two of Couch Cushion Architecture expands on the known collection of significant couch cushion projects in the western hemisphere and continues the discourse. As withpart 1 of the study, the basic DNA of design logic can be observed in these works. At the root of any great designer lies a strong connection to the fundamentals of couch cushion design and construction.


A simple geometry and clear orthogonal moves allow this project to be a three-dimensional extension of Mondrian’s thesis. We admire the subdued palette of materials and ambitious structural cantilever. The nebulous entry, however, confuses the approach and subtracts from the compositional success. Grade: C+


An ambitious architectural statement, this structure takes its design queues from middle-east cave dwellings. The calculated addition of bold colors and rich textures softens the eye and puts one at ease despite the unknown variables in its structural system. Grade: B


The A-frame’s sound structural properties and ease of construction have long since proven their architectural merits. We applaud the use of red shag carpet as a departure from what would otherwise be a mere pedestrian form. Grade: B+


While typically the stacked foundation technique leads to a stable and impressive base, this particular application seems dubious. Fraught with apparent labor strikes the project is rumored to have developed irreconcilable technical inadequacies and unresolved scheduling conflicts. Grade: D-


The clear reference to pole barn framing resonates with us and we found amusement in the tongue-in-cheek dual structural system. The clever siting of the project is finished nicely with a deliberately draped, light-weight roof structure. A warm, modern color palette gives the project a handsome and approachable street front. Grade: A+


Drawing from the saw-tooth roof structures of industrial Europe, the orthogonal volume cleverly employs a swing hinge access door, popularized by the mid-century modernmasters. Grade: B+


This whimsical project draws inspiration from the classic Tuscan stone towers of Italy; where a taller tower symbolized an owner’s power and prosperity over neighboring structures. Unfortunately the design falls short of greatness with its lackadaisical cushion placement and poor choice of plaid. Grade: C


Employing a northwest gable frame vocabulary, this structure initially impressed us with its optimal function per structure ratio. Unfortunate structural failures have since played a role in the demise of this particular project. Grade: C-


Although we’ve never been the post-modern movement’s biggest fans, the project is well planned and structurally efficient. Roof caps allow for natural ventilation and at the same time provide a deliberate change to the color palette. Grade: B


The project treads lightly on the land and gains enormous respect as a piece of true sustainable couch cushion architecture. Surprisingly, the minimal structure provides accommodations for a lone inhabitant. Grade: B


A rare example of cathedral buttressing, this project also employs a heavy medieval base. The interior incorporates a steel frame and establishes a “belt and suspenders” structural system. Technicalities aside, the project suffers from an inconsistent material palette attributed to coordination issues with the supplier. Grade A-


Source: BUILDllc.com

Views: 389

Tags: architecture, couch, crafthaus, cushion, humor

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Comment by Rameen Ahmed on September 26, 2012 at 7:13pm

Hilarious!!  Brings back memories of talkitecture gone parental!

Comment by Ana M. Lopez on September 26, 2012 at 11:04am

This makes my heart smile, thanks!

Comment by Leisa Rich on September 25, 2012 at 11:11am

SOOOOO funny! Made me think of all of the couch architecture we have done in our family over the years!!!!! 

Comment by 2Roses on June 30, 2010 at 9:01am
Thank you for providing this much needed discussion on alternative environmentally-friendly housing. We are emailing you dirty dishes from our account in Aruba.
Comment by Brigitte Martin on June 30, 2010 at 8:31am

Thank you, Heather. As you have undoubtedly witnessed, on crafthaus, we aim to consistently provide:

a. educational experiences resulting from direct personal participation or observation;
b. actual knowledge or context, mixed with 
c. the possibility of a perception, independent of whether the object actually exists;
d. the totality of a person's perceptions, feelings, and memories in order to be emotionally or aesthetically moved by said event;
d. up-to-the-minute scientifically significant research topics as they pertain to the membership’s interests and knowledge-based backgrounds;
e. free dish washing (service available only in Aruba)

We appreciate your comment.

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