07 July 2008

keeping regional architecture current: the good and the not-so-good

I've always been interested in how indigenous architecture evolves, is reinterpreted and reconsidered for contemporary living.

It is maddeningly frustrating to me how new houses in our area, (not necessarily mcmansions), are constructed – I can't bring myself to say "designed" in this case – to simulate a New England farmhouse, or a "Colonial". Everything about these new houses is wrong: proportions, placement on the land, window size/shape/placement.

Example: The two top photos are of houses almost directly across the street from each other in our town. The house in the top photo replaced a sweet, if terribly dilapidated, 19th century farmhouse. The house in the next photo shows a house of possibly slightly older vintage which was recently very simply renovated. The contrast between the original and the newly-constructed is so obvious. Why is this when there are plenty of examples of the real thing all around us?!

This contemporary Swiss "farmhouse" villa in the Jura region, fits so beautifully into the architectural vernacular as well as the landscape. It is very different in many respects from the old houses of the area (which makes sense, as it no doubt houses only humans and not also their livestock and farm equipment), but in the big ways – materials used, how it looks as if it belongs on the land, etc. – it is a successful and natural extension of the regional design. It's designed by the firm Geninasca Delefortrie, in Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland. – GF

1 comment:

Skip Ploss said...

I agree.
For an interesting take on it see architect David Hotson's "Princeton House" where an older home is joined to modern addition. He is the architect at Lee House II.
www.hotson.net