October 18, 2008

inspired to aspire?

Today's book of the month club pick was inspired by a recent forced detour up to Vinyl Village. Now I know that aesthetics and design preferences are subjective things. And that because we live in the north building supplies are hard to come by and our cold climes set the terms in many regards yada yada yada but surely there's a better way.

Case in point - the Case Study House program that began in post-war US as a challenge to designers and architects of the day (think Eames, Killingsworth, Neutra, Saarinen) to come up with thoughtful, efficient and inexpensive model homes to meet the growing residential housing demands of the day.

Ok, ok, granted some of the designs like the famous #22 are pure fantasy (for an excellent article about the making of this iconic Julius Shulman photo check this out) and there's a reason why california modern hasn't caught on in say, Wisconsin or Saskatchewan or the Yukon for that matter, but they do point to the possibility of a different way.

Elizabeth Smith's survey of the CSH program, at 440 pages complete with blueprints and sumptuous photography, is a lovely reminder of a time in (north) american history when affordable, thoughtful design and family-friendly were not considered mutually exclusive concepts.

For our own impending addition,
I've got my heart set on something along the lines of Charles and Ray's #8 - we made a special trip to the pacific palisades last year to check it out in person.

Now my friend and (hopefully) builder-to-be tells me that as soon as I get a load of the estimates, I'll be singing a different tune, but wouldn't it be great if our local architects and builders would be inspired to aspire to efficient, cost-considerate homes that do our surroundings and ourselves proud?

Is it asking too much not to have to stare at a wall of identical vinyl clad monsters with protruding garages and, hey here's a thought, maybe even leave behind a tree or two?

1 comment:

ExploreNorth said...

I'll never understand why Copper Ridge was clear-cut - was someone at the City homesick for BC? But as far as house designs go, don't you think part of the problem is that architects have just priced themselves out of the mind of "Joe Average"? Why spend 15 grand or so on a custom home for a decidedly non-custom lot? Or is the average Yukoner now as "cookie-cutter" as a Vinyl Village lot? People who buy property that suits them are more likely to hire an architect, I think.