Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Round and Round We Go

One of my favorite spaces in a house is one that isn't even found there often. They're seen frequently in large public buildings, in classical and historically important architecture, but rarely in houses. I'm talking about the rotunda. In function, they're really just glorified, round hallways. But it's my opinion that the circulation space in houses is often overlooked but is actually one of the places where designers can make a huge statement. The means of moving from room to room is just as important as the rooms themselves.

Rotundas, unlike a standard hallway, are more than a means of getting from room "A" to room "B". They signify a "shift" of some sort, they may be the cog between public and private spaces, formal and informal, or serve as a vestibule that subliminally tells the person passing through to shift gears.

In my own work, I've found them to be a necessity in some cases--in the renovation of two large ranch houses, a rotunda served as a hub for bringing together what would otherwise have been a serpentine collision of hallways leading from old parts of the house to new. The rotundas we included in those renovations gave relief to the bowling-alley effect we would have otherwise had.

I've also used the idea of a rotunda in master suites, where the round shape served as a perfect convergence for the master bedroom, bath, and closets, and made for a very special dressing area.

I can trace my own rotunda fetish to a pretty dreadful movie from the early 90's. Anyone willing to take a guess at what movie this rotunda was featured in?

Love the inlay in the floor!
This one appears to be a half-rotunda, and again there is a beautiful inlay to reinforce the round shape: (you can check out the rest of the house this one came from HERE)

Photo by Blayne Beacham. If you aren't following her blog, you should be!

This one is elongated rather than a perfect circle. The coved ceiling and trimwork are stunning. I don't know where this one is, but it has the feel of a fine pre-war apartment.

And, finally, in this house designed by Stephen Fuller and built by Gabriel Builders, a paneled rotunda with built in bookshelves serves as a vestibule in the master suite:

Photo by TJ Getz


  1. I don't recognize it! This is going to drive me crazy now... :-)

  2. Julia, I'll be very surprised (and impressed) if anyone gets it. The only reason I remember the movie at all is because of the set. Answer and more pics coming soon!