Verge; Tipping Over The Edge

By Georgina Sussman

An architect sits at their desk, sketching and scratching like they’re running out of time to create a marvel of a concept. A Cantilever, a horizontal overhanging that needs support and structure without having any visible support, to add finesse to a building they’ve been designing, knowing this final touch of a cantilever will take this building from a mansion to a masterpiece. The fear of total collapse combined with the intrigue of designing a refined, artistic building, stirs the contrasting emotions, forming a bubble of excitement in their creation.

There’s something enticing and appealing about being on the edge, which is why cantilevers and overhanging’s are so highly valued in architecture, the structure and design have to be perfect so that the building doesn’t topple over, and that brings a sense of danger and sophistication to buildings with overhanging’s. Cantilever’s and overhanging’s are important and influential in architecture as they need to have structure and support without actually being supported, creating architectural masterpieces that are complicated to create successfully but definitely worth it for the final appearance, adding sophistication and intricate design to each part of architecture they appear on.

One of the most fascinating houses built with a cantilever is The Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Robie House is one of the best known examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style of architecture, the house in Chicago demonstrates Wright’s creativity for the time as well as his genius in creating architectural structure.  The cantilever of the entrance porch is supported by steel beams providing a distinctive silhouette creating a dramatic effect in this reinterpreted vernacular form.

Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1909


The fantastic red-brick building is contrasted with the dark panelling of the overhanging to create one of the most successful and famous cantilevers the world has seen. Robie House has been part of architectural history in Chicago therefore being seen in multiple movies and TV shows, most recently the American sitcom Shameless.

Hoki Museum by T.Yamanashi + T.Nakamoto + T.Suzuki + M.Yano, Nikken Sekkei Ltd, 2010


The Hoki Museum is located in Midori-ku, Chiba, Japan and has one of the most wonderful cantilevers, the appearance of support for more than half the body of this overhanging appears to be nonexistent and the appearance and texture of the cantilever add to the effect of the weight that needs to be upheld. Not only does this museum own some wonderful artworks, but is home to a work of art that rests on its exterior.

Halifax Central Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, 2012


The Halifax Central Library is one of Canada’s finest works of modern architecture. The Library’s stunning glass panelling creates a translucent effect to the building and reflects light from the bright sun. The show stopping aspect of the building is the second part that appears to horizontally balance on top, creating a clear and innovative cantilever that hangs over the busy Canadian streets.

Balancing Barn by MVRDV and Mole architects, 2010


This Suffolk based country home and work of art may not have a cantilever but pretty much acts as one. With over half of the home tipping off the edge of the hill, it’s an architectural wonder as to how this home safely stands. Not only is the Barn a home but also has a swing in the dip for that added bit of fun! The metal materials of the barn reflect the surrounding environment, adding to the beauty and wonder of the architecture.

A House Forever by Longhi Architects, 2013


The Forever Home was commissioned by a young couple and was inspired by love, family and eternity. The ancestral and contemporary architecture embodies a combination of stunning and complex architecture and modern and bold materials to create a fascinating building. The multiple cantilevers are absolutely fascinating as they have no where holding them up, apart from the attachment to the home, they pretty much float. The mixture of materials mixed with the contemporary sculptural architecture creates the effect of modernity and grace.

The beauty of cantilevers and overhanging is that they can all be so different in looks and in purpose, some are used as space for the home and others are used as a dramatic decorated effect. Be it elegant and sculptural or brass and bold, these complicated  architectural wonders are definitely something to be marvelled at and explored.

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