Horton Kuwada Residence


Location Ann Arbor, MI
Date 2003
Type Residential
Status Completed

Thomas Jefferson’s Ordinances of 1784 and 1785 created the regulations for surveying and land acquisition for the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Ordinance established a one-square-mile grid oriented along the cardinal axes, where an aggregate six-square-mile section of the grid constituted a township. For Jefferson, the grid was not simply a formal geometric system. It was the armature that would give shape and structure to the complex relationships between individuals and society. Through the form of the grid, simple and accurate descriptions of property lines would facilitate the private acquisition of land that would, in turn, guarantee the rights of citizenship in the new agrarian society.

This homogeneous division of territory did not, however, render a banal or monotonous landscape. On the contrary, a rich and seemingly boundless tapestry of woodlots, homesteads, and furrowed fields emerged between these lines of measure that stretch to the horizon. At the larger rural scale, the precision of the demarcated fields produces a figural reading of three-dimensional volumes (woodlots, homesteads, agricultural buildings) dispersed within the open landscape. At the scale of the individual plot, fields take on clearly defined spatial properties through adjacencies of texture, thickness and density and edges of agricultural hedgerows. Within the individual homesteads, space is perceived as having a subtractive quality as trees and vegetation are cleared for human occupation while the dwelling and agricultural buildings aggregate to form external ‘courtyards’.

The particularities of this ubiquitous landscape provide the framework for our spatial investigations.

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