Vitruvian Pier

The “Primitive Hut” is an analogy for simple post and beam structures that provide basic shelter as an essential need for life. The Vitruvian Pier embraces and transcends this concept, focusing acutely on proportion in addition to providing shelter. Named after the famous study of human proportions by Leonardo da Vinci, the Vitruvian Pier similarly combines square and circular geometry with the goal of achieving ideal proportional expression.

The timber frame begins with the simple arrangement of four columns in a square. Perimeter beams connect the tops of the columns framing semi-circular arches on all sides. Two gables are posted up on the front and back, split with a king post. A ridge beam spans between the gables and cantilevers on both ends, reinforced with a bearing point in the center supported by two more arches that spring from the inner corners of the four columns. The dynamic overlay of circular arches crossing below the square rafter and purlin roof grid unifies the two essential geometries.

The crossing of the arches introduces diagonal lines to the composition, a motif that is replicated by chamfering the roof overhangs to points on both ends, as well as by the addition of diagonal struts that segment curved members. Finally, the weathered, clear-stained pier mimics the roof lines but provides ample walking space around the four columns. The poetry of the structure is intensified by the pier that appears to hover above the surface of the water.



Brown County, Indiana


Completed in 2013


324 SF


Mortise and Tenon

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