Another major stereotype of architects that I feel I need to address is the typical question, “So, did you design your own house?” Let me clear up some misperceptions here. Architects dream about designing their own home. They think about how they would rework the layout, building envelope, and everything therein, constantly. Sometimes the topic shows up in our dreams and our disgruntledness at the state of our current, sub par and poorly designed habitat frequently shows up with great vigor in conversations with anyone who is willing to listen or our spouse who has been cornered by an architect who has, “had it for the last time with this piece of crap house!”
Now, that said, architects rarely actually execute on their intention to design the perfect abode. Instead, we stick to tinkering with meaningless and benign projects in our current homes. Minor renovations, some with major consequences, are our specialty. These are usually embarked upon when we have had enough of the status quo that is currently not working for us. The project is taken on with a great deal of pomp and circumstance: visits to the hardware store, supply purchasing and a great deal of ostentatious complaining about the lack of design intention that went into the development we live in. Copious amounts of alcohol may also precede the decision to take down a wall and retile the bathroom. Occasionally we might tackle an addition for which we do the drawings and consistently distrust the contractor we are paying to do our work for us.
Why you ask? Why don’t we ever actually get around to designing our own home? Well, money. As I posted before, we are poor church mice. There is no salary that affords a specialty house and no bonus large enough that motivates us to spend it on another project (read: work) and not on that all-inclusive vacation (read: a week in front of the TV).
Also, we are paralyzed by our own awesomeness. Given the opportunity to design our own place, we are rendered completely helpless by the influx of awesome ideas. We simply cannot deal with that kind of input and after hours and days of brainstorming the best orientations, materials, layouts, natural daylighting opportunities, and spending countless hours late into the night surfing the web for ideas and plagiarizing design possibilities, we go completely numb and crash in front of the TV. It is at this point that we realize that without an owner or client to yell at us, strip us of our design opportunities, and decrease the budget to a point that all design potential diminishes, we have no ability to edit ourselves. This is precisely why, as young students, we stayed up all night in studio and printed our boards at the very last second before they were due…We get lost in idea land, never to return, and nothing gets accomplished.
And so, this is why ‘nary an architect actually lives in a house they designed. The majority of us live tucked away in a chintzy subdivision that was designed and constructed by a developer for whom money was the driving force and not the all glorious and universe encompassing creative design force. In honor of our awesomeness that utterly stops us dead in our tracks, here is a cool house in Japan for you to drool over and add to your idea file…in case you ever get the opportunity to dream about designing your own home.
House in Buzen, Suppose Design Office
Images courtesy of Suppose Design Office