Posts Tagged ‘mobile homes’


Accidentally Modern

January 19, 2018

Fun opportunity to add color!

These are real and work too keep out sun and weather.

Difficult to say how important these are for protection from the elements but at least they are real and work.

These shutters are a design elements, act as awnings, and keep out the weather. Triple duty!

A while ago I wrote a post called “De-shuttering Our World.”  I’m afraid it was not completely flattering to the application of most shutters,  my biggest complaint(s) being that most are ill used, and don’t actually work.

All of the shutters in this post, on the other hand, actually work and serve, often multiple, and very real purposes. This may qualify them for my definition of classic,  which brings me to the last photo on the bottom and the reason for this post, which is to  inquire,about what shutters have to do with classic design?”  The answer:  a lot when they work!

Does this mean that classic design is a product of function?  Well yes I suppose it does.  Certainly if one scours the architecture history books long treatises moralizing on the subject will quickly appear.  Likewise function is seen as the classical root of many products, cars, software, even business systems.  It would appear that form follows function is a classical standard.  One that nicely applies to the little manufactured home in the bottom image.

The need to justify having thus been satisfied, I am now allowed to say that I picked the place because I like it.  If I were looking for a sunny place to hang my hat I would take it in a heartbeat.

Classic manufactured home. I had to draw a picture because the photos of the house were copyrighted. Follow the link to see how it actually looks.

Why?  It is all about function, i.e., metal siding, hurricane shutters, carport, porch enclosure, and fence, all are there for a reason, even its overall size and roof angle has clearly been designed to fit on the back of a delivery truck.

Nothing more is included.  The construction materials look, manufactured, otherwise it is  without decoration.  Only the skirt around the base of the building, because of its color, hints at a bit of amplification.  The house is austere, un-contrived, accidentally modern and therefore pretty special.




Architects & Mobile Homes: Between Ponderance and Pragmatism

July 3, 2014

Many architects, we are told in this article, though totally interested in reinventing the mobile home, have jumped forward to all new modular, prefab type units, somehow leaving the original idea far behind.  Happy I am to agree and further say, please do not count me into that group.  For a solid 10 years, if not more, I have been pondering  possible ways of adapting an intact mobile home, the kind that comes directly from a dealers lot, into an uncommon sub-urban abode.  Why, one might ask, think so long?  My response;  between ponderance and pragmatism is the wall of perceived obstacles upon which is sit.  Since hurdling it would probably assign me too, to the school of reinvention, I guess I’ll sit a little longer.

Here are a just a few of those obstacles, perceived or not:

  • The floors always bounce in these.
  • I am not sure I want to deal with that much vinyl.  If you have ever had a whiff of a dollar store shower curtain you know what I mean?
  • I was wondering how one of these would do in a blower door test?  I could be really good….probably not.
  • I have a psychological aversion to creeping things crawling around under the house.  They offend my sense of neat.
  • I worry about some shady character hack sawing a hole in the plywood and shimmying up through the floor in order  to make off with my Timex.
  • I cannot imagine how these things are framed.  Yes, I have seen the diagrams too, but can they be believed and would a manufacturer part with critical information.
  • If I pull down all of the interior wall panels, presumably fabricated from some undefined material, will I be horrified by what I find?
  • If, in an effort to change the ceiling and floor finish, I do the same thing, is there a good possibility that I will be looking at air?
  • How does one make a semi trailer hurricane resistant.  This a very architectural notion, i.e., things are never water proof.  They are water resistant.




Barely conscious notions of trailers as high design.

June 18, 2012

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Somewhere around 2003, “Dwell” magazine published a critical comment about mobile homes.  The author, having stopped by a dealer’s lot for a look,  provided a concise description; covering the interior and exterior; not missing the vinyl siding, flooring, wall covering, bathroom fixtures, and synthetic carpeting;  noting the marriage line in the floor, in the event a double wide was chosen; and ending with a bit of drama, saying that his “throat froze up,” presumably from off-gassing.  I found this little article to be gut wrenchingly, guffawingly funny.  I was literally speechless with laughter.

Years later, I figured out that it was the absolute irony of the situation that made it so funny.  Here I was, an architect, harboring barely conscious notions of trailers as the stuff of high design, when along comes the unofficial arbiter of “green and cool” to reinforce the long standing stereotype recently resurrected by the “Trailer Park Boys.”  I start laughing all over again.  What is the mystique?  Why do I think there is design potential in these 16′ x 80′ x 10′ residential boxes.

The answer is easier to formulate than, and partially in, the  question.  It has to do with potential.  In my mind there are only two types of mobile homes on the market today.  The first type is the finished home;  complete with all the accoutrements large and small, tasteful or gauche, rich or not, and all visually  imitating  suburbia.  These are the stereotypical keepers of the cult.  Real people buying real mobile homes without which there would be no market, and no mobile homes.

The second type is the strip out;  usually the cheapest model on the lot, single wide, without shutters, or decoration;  it has vertical siding and just enough of a gable to shed water.  It looks more like the back of a semi parked in a truck stop than any image of suburbia, and that may be true of the interior as well.  Usually found in pristine rural environments, on construction sites, or industrial lots, these carry images aligned with the current elite stylistic vision.  Furthermore, they have all of the implicit design potential of “Modernism” packed into the perfect abstraction of a structural box that not only functions as a  house, but also moves.  What could be more liberating?  Suddenly the architect is free to  plan it, duplicate it, color it, extend it, decorate it, split it, open it, close it, raise it, lower it, “green” it, bridge it and even move and float it;  all with few functional confines.  It is not difficult to see how these simple basic mobile homes could become suggestive to the point of architectural fantasy.

Of course, this all leads directly to the questions of reconciling  the stereotype and the fantasy.  I tend to view the whole mobile home industry as a kind of natural resource to be preserved on the basis of its design potential.   In reality, economics and demographics might well be turning later into now.  Either way, architects would do well to prepare, because the “observation effect” is already in full shift.

Copywright © 2012 Bridget Gaddis

Photos used under creative commons here:
Basic Mobile Home
Extended Living Space
Quick and Easy Street