Archive for the ‘ Renovation ’ Category

Why it’s all about space…

I absolutely love this modular home.  Granted, I am a big city type of person so that thought of living in Nowhereville, Connecticut kind of gives me the heeby jeebies but I do like to fantasize that in some other life I would actually enjoy living on a farm with silos amidst a gorgeous field of wildflowers.  But, in this New York Times article a set of designers, who own their own residential firm, Poesis, show what it means to make “place” out of space for their own home.  Its a simple modular/prefab building, with simple materials and geometries.  But with some thought to its presence, orientation and design they turned a modular frame into a fantastic and gorgeous space.  Love it!

Images courtesy of The New York Times and Poesis

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Slowpoke Cafe…

I will admit before I even start this post, that I am a Starbucks kind of person.  Yes, I buy into all the consumerism and I like to have my little paper cup with the sleeve that says “Starbucks” on it with the funny little green mermaid that I am told has something to do with actual literature, Moby Dick.  Maybe it’s because I am a big city person and where I am from in Washington DC, the self-importance quotient of everyone on the metro is unbelievably high and for some reason is fueled by holding brand name coffee products.  I will make a caveat here, however, that I am not rich enough to hold a Dean and Deluca cup of coffee, I am an architect after all, those people take towncars to work and do not ride the metro or sit in traffic.  So I enjoy getting my coffee order and with that tall cup of piping hot crack, my self-importance factor goes up just a little and I take my place in the line of other important coffee drinkers whose identities are defined in their cup of joe.

I will occasionally take in a local cafe, I have a favorite in particular that I frequent when I am not mainlining my drug of choice from Starbucks.  These cafes are always so artsy and trendy, which appeals to my mildly artistic architectural side – making me think I could play in an indie band or paint something also if I just put my mind to it, but I am weary of them because I worry they may not get my drink perfectly on queue.  There is nothing worse than dropping $3.50 on an overpriced and over ingredient-ed drink only to have it taste bad and lack the chutzpah to have them do it over.  I digress.

All of this is to intro a really cool cafe in Melbourne, Australia which was renovated and redesigned using reclaimed and recycled materials and timber from flea markets, furniture makers and flooring manufacturers.  Starbucks it’s not, but Slowpoke Espresso gets my vote any day and since I am a complete sucker for anything designed out of wood I wanted to share this cozy cafe with you all.  It was redesigned and renovated by Sasufi, French-born and Melbourne based graphic designer & visual artist Anne-Sophie Poirier. After graduating as an architect in 2006 and working in one of Australia’s top architectural firm, Anne-Sophie soon realised her passion was also for design and visual art. In 2009, she started freelancing for various clients in Australia, France and the UK. She now offers a wide range of services, from interior design to web design, product packaging and photography and she was the mastermind behind this cool piece of reclamation.  So grab yourself a cup of joe and enjoy browsing these awesome pics.

Images courtesy of Sasufi

Home, Sweet, hmmmm…

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

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