Posts Tagged ‘curb appeal’


Extreme Craftsmanship Required

May 17, 2014


Corrugated Aluminum House in Sweden, published in Designboom, by förstberg arkitektur och formgivning. Follow the links to see the entire house.

What could be more relevant:  sleek modern design, industrial materials?   So why does our very  real everyday built environment not often share such an aesthetic?  When it does, why must it end up looking “home made” like the house in the photo below, as apposed to the polished mechanized version above?  And granted, my photo below is bad, but not bad enough to account for the difference

modern reno

The sign in front of the building says “Design Build Finance”

So why do the quality places seem only to appear in expensive trendy areas, hidden away in private retreats, alas on the pages of Dwell?  To start with, a close look at the house in Sweden reveals that is a a timber frame.  In the US the skill of cheap stick building has been refined to the level of excluding everything else.  Any other structural system ends up costing more.  But it is not just the structure that is different.  It is the quality of the finishes, which in the Swedish house are perfection; no distorted or warped trim, unfinished edges, mismatched windows, off the shelf garage doors, or unfinished wood there.  Not to mention the strangely proportioned design and very commercial need to install windows in the roof.

There is a lesson here.  Extreme craftsmanship is required if industrial materials are to be used successfully.  If funds and/or confidence are in short supply, then I say opt for tried and true methods and put your efforts into a superior design.  I know!!!  Why not hire and architect?




Le Corbusier Fancy

January 4, 2014

2157559108_953bbcb4a0_oHouse of the Day #7: 409 W. 120th StreetThere is a type of chair often referred to in design school as a “Sheraton Fancy” and if one is inclined to look further into it, they would find that Thomas Sheraton was prone to pillage his predecessors to the extent that not a little of some history of architecture reference book shows up in his very elegant furniture designs, published in his book, The Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, and then not only copied but frivolously embellished forever after.    These houses somehow brought Sheraton to mind, as if they might first have been conceived in a chronology of 20th century architectural styles that were finally reassembled in a silly but nevertheless pleasing way.  I like these houses.  They are modest little jewels in a sea of…. well you know ..


Post Modern Wild West

December 17, 2013

vernacular post modern

I am often attracted to architectural projects that cross artlessly over the line between stylistic and strange, which they mostly do by crossing imaginary lines between style and style.  Strange is a holistic sort of term, like hot or big.  No one ever thinks to ask why a thing is big.  They just know that it is.  It is like that with strange, which the house in the photo most certainly is.

Once defined in such terms, a thing tends to acquire value based on the degree of bigness, hotness, strangeness, etc. that it demonstrates.  This house, for example, probably falls somewhere in the middle on the strangeness meter.  I expect that it could be a hard sell to an intellectual or sophisticated buyer, not so much to someone looking for features and even less so to an eccentric with a special agenda.

My interest is to discover whether analyzing the design has the ability to change our perception of it.  Without question the flat blue facade with the angled square window conjures up “postmodern” contraptions the likes of which Michael Graves may forever lament.  It collides with the not so subtle reference to rustic Western towns set in rugged terrain, consisting  of unpainted wooden buildings in rows made rigid by flat facades, and counterfeit by perfectly aligning parapets.  Not to be overlooked is the fact that what we really have is a two story colonial box with dated modern style windows.  Ok!  I take it back.  Analysis only makes it more strange!


Simply Elemental

July 9, 2013

Mini House by Jonas Wagell – Dezeen.

In Sweden people are allowed to build a “Mini House,” like this one, on their property without a permit as long as it is not bigger than161 sq. ft.  (15 sq. meters)  How cool is that?  Most places in the US allow residents to put a garden shed in the back yard sans permit, but I am not at all sure that inviting our adult children to stay in the shed for a while would be very will received by the local building & zoning department! 4295754214_198a2e9a3d_o(1)Just think, it would only be necessary to visit the local builders supply where you can have one of these delivered completely assembled and installed for around $2000.  Well ok, I know it is not finish inside but considering that the Swedish version will run you about $15,000 without the kitchen or any heat, it is still a deal.  I have visions of of somehow combining one or two of these, a single wide and a carport into a really great country retreat.  It is simply elemental, don’t you think?


“Real” Appeal

April 20, 2013

The ‘real” appeal of being house proud.

Three in a row.

Places like this are mostly excluded from the intellectualized world of architecture and design, except for – dare I say it -on  HGTV.  Those people understand that people don’t live in architecture.  They live in houses.  Whoever lives here is house proud, a term not often heard these days and in my mind somehow attached to the “American Dream.”  It means that even the most modest abode becomes alluring when it is obviously cared for.  Here the meticulously manicured yard, the fence, the porch, even the matching up and downstairs air conditioners deliver a strong subliminal message that says, “we like our house a lot and you should too.”  The thing about subliminal messages is that they are the stuff of art.  Art museums are full of ordinary objects arranged by artists against carefully chosen contexts in an effort to deliver some message often much less penetrating than the one that happens organically here.

Lest one think that there is a great deal of humanity, but really no architecture here, a closer look may be in order.  Consider how the bit of light foundation contrasts with the grass, forming a  visual perimeter around the house which doubles as a sill for the ample basement windows.  Consider how it repeats under the fist floor windows, capping the rusticated brick work and defining the top of a visual base for the entire building. Consider how the rusticated corners add substance to the structure.  Consider how the brick diapering and decorative pattern balances the heavy base and add interest to a plain facade.  Consider how repeating the house three times in a row in different colors adds humor. Perhaps this is architecture after all.


Biological Concrete Shows Promise for Sustainable Architecture and Creeps Me Out!

February 22, 2013

I am all for sustainability and innovation, especially when they lead to practical solutions to modern day environmental problems.  Sometimes, though, the growing pains are quite literally more than I would be willing to bear.  Honestly, how is this building with yesterdays salad stuck to its elevation any better, or more sustainable than the ivy covered house in the previous post.  I am pretty sure the Ivy absorbs plenty of “atmospheric CO2” and I expect that with a little effort it could be made to grow with abandon on every building in New York City.    Unless I have been mistaken and this is not an attempt at living growing architecture, but really a vertical composting operation.  Innovation or not, it creeps me out.  Give me the Ivy any day.


Go, go, going, gone green!

February 3, 2013

Ivy House Do 8 legged clients hire 8 legged architects?  I am pretty sure that a lot of 8 legged creatures live here.