Domestic Hats


Domestic Hats installation at The Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta. © Patrick Heagney.


Installation by Jennifer Bonner


Domestic Hats is an installation by Jennifer Bonner that explores ordinary roof typologies and rethinks the role of the massing model in architectural representation.

A quick drive around neighborhoods such as Peachtree Hills, Cabbagetown, and Midtown demonstrate stylistic differences in the domestic architecture of Atlanta. Arguably the single most common element of these houses is the roof. Whether located in English Avenue, Old Fourth Ward, or Ansley Park, shared rooflines crisscross neighborhood boundaries. Ordinary and simplistic, yet highly repetitive, gable and hip roofs dominate the scene while butterfly and mansard roofs represent a rarer species. Dormers, A-frame, and shed roofs are combined to make a complex system of functional rooftops with countless variations. These copy-paste forms not only populate the housing stock, but represent house figures and house shapes widely accepted by the public.

But what happens if the conventions of roof typologies become distorted? What if the overly complex roofs seen in Buckhead are celebrated and further exaggerated? By focusing on the intersection of non-similar roofs—rooflines that just don’t belong—foreign types are discovered by deploying a series of Boolean operations. Originals are copied and hybrid forms are manipulated to create sixteen unique massing models. Domestic Hats calls for architects to consider misbehavior in the architecture, particularly at the roofline.

Massing models are usually small in size and the result of a quick, iterative design process by the architect. They represent the schema, the diagram, or a proto-architecture. Lacking detail and often made out of a singular material, massing models distinguish differences in a volumetric study—“slightly thinner”, “no, a little longer”, or better yet, “let’s make it fatter.” Domestic Hats delights in these tendencies to engage multiples, but rejects the constraint of smallness. For these purposes, the massing models are scaled up to an awkward size, they are not easily transportable, and they don’t quite fit in the frame of our foam wire cutter. The massing models to be included in the installation are not large enough to be considered a pavilion, nor do they sit comfortably on a client’s conference room table. Intentionally inflated, these massing models merely represent themselves. No longer a representational stand-in for something else, they reveal new hats for consideration in domestic architecture.



Domestic Hats drawings. © Courtesy Studio Bonner.









Domestic Hats models. © Courtesy Studio Bonner.










Domestic Hats models in front yards of Atlanta neighborhoods. © Caitlin Peterson.





Domestic Hats installation at The Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta. © Patrick Heagney.


Project Team: Jennifer Bonner, Ainsley McMaster, Son Vu, Ishrat Lopa, and Jessica Greenstein.


Jennifer Bonner is Director of Studio Bonner and Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology School of Architecture. A graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Design and Auburn University Rural Studio, her work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, London, and Istanbul. She is Founder of A Guide to the Dirty South with forthcoming titles in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Miami.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *