Alternative Histories: De Smet Vermeulen architecten on Bruce Goff

By Henk De Smet and Paul Vermeulen

De Smet Vermeulen architecten, Bruce Goff’s elevation of the Cox House, 2018. Cardboard, 700 × 630 × 150 mm.
Bruce Goff (1904–1982), elevation, Julius Cox House, Oklahoma, 1949. Pencil on trace, 201 × 614 mm. DMC 1851.1.


Walls cannot just be surfaces. They are mass. Wouldn’t you agree?

Sure! But… this much? Can you afford the space? And why layering them twice? First the bricks, and then the ten-brick blocks

It is important that all wall heights are related. The steps must be easy to count.

Well… I’m not sure. It’s just a house, you know! And not very high either.

The kids love it. They are small, they relate to those blocks. 1, 2 or 3 – it matters to them.

… Of course! … Now I see! It’s a skyline! Look at all the shifted symmetries, superimposed through distance! Ah, geometry!

I never cared much about cities.

But you should! You could be an urban designer, posthumous.

I don’t know. I always wanted to build with nature.

Sure thing! But not the desert. Vegas, really? Is a lake all right?

As long as there is a horizon. All flat, and sun goes down, like mail in a letter box. The horizon is what matters.

– Henk De Smet, Paul Vermeulen