- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - For his client, a music lover, architect Robert Oshatz orchestrated a modern, wood-and-glass house that has a curving, cedar ceiling and other acoustic-enhancing shapes and materials.

More than amphitheater-quality sound, however, the Wilkinson residence, in a forested part of Southwest Portland, artfully blends two fields: Architecture and music.

It’s a long-held idea that the goal of both professions is a composition that best uses harmony, transitions, rhythm and scale. A musical composer creates an aural space; an architect shapes a physical space.

Both have build-ups, contrasting beats - long and short, dark and light, solid and airy - and geometrical ratios that provoke emotions and please the soul. Both speak of low and high volumes.

Music has been called “liquid architecture.” Architecture is “frozen music.” Frank Lloyd Wright saw a symphony as an “edifice of sound” long before early rock producers aimed to create a wall of sound.

Sure, architecture relies on musical language. But in Oshatz’s houses, you can see the sound waves. Dynamic roofs sweep up. Warm-wood ceilings are as soft as the quietest pianississimo. Cantilevered platforms deliver dramatic crescendos. In the Wilkinson home, a projecting deck floats 25 feet above the ground.

“Viewing the architectural works of Robert Oshatz makes me feel as though I’m watching the visualization of a musical composition that is beautifully balanced and triggers an immediate and satisfying emotional response,” says Yaacov Bergman, music director and conductor of the Portland Chamber Orchestra.

Oshatz designed the modern residence on a steep slope in 1997 for music appreciator Roy Wilkinson who wanted to hear the birds sing. After the house was built in 2004, it was called a “treehouse” because Oshatz placed the main rooms at an elevated, leafy canopy level and created a floor plan to save all the trees on the site.

But no treehouse is this inventive. Oshatz minimized parallel surfaces to improve the sound quality. Instead of straight lines and rectangles, he incorporated curves, spirals and cylinder shapes.

A down-turning copper roof forms a half cylinder. This tube is repeated - a refrain, if you will - throughout the main living space, kitchen and meditation room.

Visitors walk down a steep driveway and enter through a small courtyard, a prelude of the house. Here, undulating shingles of western redcedar were cut and laid by inspiration, not by a mandated grid.

There are more swoops and swings inside. Sway as you respond to more of the interior’s musical flow.

The front glass door is bowed. Shaped like the letter “D,” it pivots to open the rounded edge.

A wood ceiling floats on curved laminated beams, like notes on a scale. A flowing, 35-foot-long bank of windows captures the scenery. Frameless glass doors slide into two white rings, creating an 8-foot circular opening.

“The tube-like form provides a cohesive link that seems to tie the whole composition together,” says Oshatz. “It’s a house that feels like it’s at peace with its site.”

Oshatz serves on the Portland Chamber Orchestra’s board of directors, and because of this link, music and architecture appreciators can tour the very private Wilkinson treehouse and three other Oshatz’s residences - the Fennell floating home, the Rosenthal residence with giant diamond-shaped windows and the architect’s own funnel-shaped home in Lake Oswego - from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 20.

Tickets ($40) benefit the Portland Chamber Orchestra and can be purchased at the box office, online or by calling 503-771-3250.

Oshatz will be at the houses at specific times during tour hours and supporters who purchase $75 tickets will also be invited to a post-tour reception at Oshatz’s home overlooking the Willamette River. There, he will talk about his design process and members of the chamber orchestra will perform.

Adds Bergman of the Portland Chamber Orchestra: “Such a partnership between architecture and music provides a platform for an exciting fusion and makes this fundraiser a highly relevant event in support of the Portland Chamber Orchestra, the oldest chamber orchestra in America.”


The original story can be found on The Oregonian’s website: https://bit.ly/1FWtBit


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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