A collection of random thoughts, kudos and useful resources for home and business owners looking to do architectural work -additions, renovations or new construction- to their home or small business.
The identity and personality of a place was once determined not by style, as we tend to assume, but by elemental forms and patterns that over long periods had distilled into archetypes.
The same richness of character found in a 1920s Arts and Crafts bungalow, can be achieved today in a contemporary or modern home if the designer fully understands and begins to utilize similar principles and archetypes in their designs.
Whether or not they apply them, most architects are trained in the use of archetypal design concepts. House designers coming from different backgrounds, however, are frequently unfamiliar with the long-standing principles that generate good architecture and give a home character. We have an opportunity to create a better and thoroughly modern living environment. Clarity of structure and more elegant expression of character are possible, but only if we step back and really examine what we are currently building.
Drawing from the historical sources themselves, rather than interpreting a buildings essence from its outer form, allows for a completely different understanding of earlier design principles and functions that can be used today.
Rather than building ‘knock-off’ Colonials and Shingle Style houses—which custom builders have gotten very skilled at making look good—a new style could evolve that makes the most of traditional principles, but only as they directly apply to modern living. It is time to rethink the odd clash of modern open-plan interiors enclosed with Colonial exteriors.
For anyone who is interested in what “drawing the essence from the historical sources” rather than copying forms means, Scarlett’s book, Simple Rules, What the Oldtime Builders Knew provides a starting point, with a collection of design principles that at one time were common knowledge.
Everyone needs to know the color trends that the both the Fashion and Home Decor industries refer to as they develop new lines for each season… or, maybe not. It can also just be one of those little design tidbits that you can throw out there to sound like a fashionista!
SpringColor “minimalistic, ‘en plein air’ theme, taking a cue from nature rather than being reinvented or mechanically manipulated #pantone— Shannon (@scarlettarch) January 5, 2015
Just spent the weekend redesigning/ drawing up plans and elevatons for an addition on Brook Street in Wellesley to meet the requirements of the Zoning Board. Glad that Wellesley is being sensitive to design integrity and stopping , when they can, projects that are noticably thrown together without any design thought.
Here is the original elevation that I was asked to redesign.
Needham MA. In a pleasant neighborhood of early twentieth century homes, made up of an eclectic assortment of styles and sizes, is a small simple Cape perched on a hill. The house is well sited overlooking the neighborhood, however is a bit small and too plain for the fun and interesting family who lives there. After living in the house for a while they decided they needed something new. They really like their neighbors and that particular location in town, so rather than moving they decided they wanted to add on and renovate. That’s when they contacted me.
From discussions, questionnaires and images shared through dropbox, we developed a detailed program for everything they wanted to acheive—modern but sensitive to the existing, bigger but not a lot bigger area, improved circulation and spatial connections, plus a few specialty items like a small tandem garage space to accomodate 2 cars squeezed in in a snow storm; big front sitting porch; tons of storage (everyone wants that); a nice spacious sunny laundry room; a convertable first floor study/guest room with Murphy bed; a golf-swing room; a green monster wall in the sons room, and if he was getting that, then the daughter would need a fairy princess wall…
Then after we brought builders in to review the early plans, to get us in the ballpark in terms of budget, we embarked on the design. The goal was to maintain the existing character both of the original home and streetscape, and at the same time, it should develop its own personal style. The owners had clipped an image of a house they really liked, and I agreed it was a good model, so we used that as a starting point. We looked back to the model a couple of time when the owners struggled to clarify some aspect of the design they wanted to modify. The final front elevation as we begin the construction drawings is shown above. The existing house and the image they clipped are shown below.
I will post periodic updates for anyone who might be interested in the process and resulting product that comes out of it…