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Bridget Vranckx is a writer and editor specializing in books on architecture and design.
Esther Moreno has collaborated on various books on art and architecture.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The design of houses holds a special place in the field of architecture, somewhat apart from all other architectural typologies, and considerably more interesting and varied. The house is the place of dwelling, the archetype of shelter, fulfilling one of the most basic primeval human needs. It is thus the original architecture and all other typologies are derivative of it.
There is more variety in the design of houses than in any other type of architecture. Most typologies, like office buildings or agricultural buildings for example, are almost always found in the same environmental context: office in urban or suburban areas, and agricultural structures in rural farm land. Houses are built in almost every corner of every city, suburb, small town and every type of countryside, from deserts to northern forests to sea sides to mountain tops. And in each of these environments the house almost always faces out towards its environment and responds to it in ways both subtle and obvious, that most other typologies don't. To use the office build again as an example, almost any office tower could be transplanted to another city or country not appear at all out of place, whereas each of the houses featured in this book would be hard to imagine in any other location than that for which it was designed.
The house is the prime location of architectural experimentation. While publicly used buildings cannot afford to experiment with materials or assemblies that might be easily destroy or with spatial arrangements that might confuse or displease the public, in the protected realm of the private house, where only desires of its owner need be considered, all manner of experiment might be tried.
In its long history (and pre-history) the design of houses has been ever changing, both over time and in different locations. But the design of houses is changing more rapidly now than ever. Rapidly changing family structures, new construction technologies, new cultural norms about privacy and shelter, the rapidly expanding use of ever more sophisticated technology throughout the house, and global cross cultural influence is having a huge impact as well. Your grandmother's kitchen (and it was your grandmother's, not your grandfather's) was likely to be in an enclosed utility space at the back of the house. Its limited machinery would be considered hopelessly primitive today. Your mother's perhaps was an open kitchen that had the family room as an adjunct, but separated from the 'formal' living spaces. Today's open plans have moved the kitchen right out into the living areas, front and center. Interestingly, the American concept of the 'family room', which was ubiquitous in North America just a decade ago, is disappearing.
Being as it is our basic shelter from the elements, the changing climate impacts it directly and substantially. And as housing makes up almost three quarters of our built environment, consuming untold resources, it too has a great impact on climate change. But fortunately there are many ways that houses can be made environmentally friendly.
We explore all these issues of modern house design here with exemplary case studies of houses that range in style from clean, spare minimalism and striking neo-Bauhaus to woody mountain retreats and gable-roofed stucco bungalows. The major construction materials are each given separate consideration as to are the varieties of contexts and environments we find our houses in, including houses in the context of multi-unit complexes.
The house is the home. But 'home' is a concept that goes well beyond architecture. 'Home' describes a place of belonging, a place where one sense of self is born and sheltered. This is why the house/home has such deep cultural importance. These projects illustrate our modern culture's latest reiteration of the concept of home and of the house, subject as it is to all the cultural, technical, and environmental influences of our time.
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Book Description Firefly Books, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX1554073936
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