The architectural profession (like all other professions) has been bombarded by slews of whiz-bang technological gizmos. Programs such as Sketch-Up allow the CAD operating architect to fly through, over and under their designs in scenes worthy of a contemporary digitally animated film. These always leave me a bit cold. As amazingly realistic as they are, they always seem to lack the warmth of a human touch. Contrast the rich hand drawn environment of Disney’s Snow White vs. Dreamworks’ pixelated Shrek. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s no comparison in terms of artistic heart.
When we’re presenting a new home design, we often use models to fully explain the vision to our clients. Since our designs are often complex and experiential in nature, drawings can only go so far in conveying what the clients’ dream will actually look and feel like. A picture may say a thousand words, but a model speaks volumes.
Our technique is pretty old school. We create these highly detailed models with cardboard, paper, glue, graphite, balsa wood, plastic, dried shrubbery and the occasional odd bits lying about. Our office McGuyver is a fellow named Charlie Caldwell (he’s the one in the last picture in this post). Charlie is a terrific hands-on designer with a significant and long background in theatrical scenic arts including an MFA from the University of Virginia. He’s also the only one of us with the exact genius-fueled insanity required to immaculately whittle these little gems. When our clients see their home rendered in Lilliputian form, the drawings and plans are usually cast aside and all attention is immediately given to the model. It’s like watching kids at Christmas. We’ve even had a handful of clients break into tears (gratefully, in a good way).
Seeing something in miniature seems to make clear to the client the idea of the reality of the whole. Therefore, the model has always been an invaluable tool in the architectural profession and we’re happy to continue that age-old tradition in our practice.
Besides, everybody loves a toy.
Do you remember when you fell in love?
How your heart leaned generously toward all that you came upon?
The state of grace that love permits?
The cottage stands as lucid testimony to that time when all you had was all you needed.
It is physical evidence of a state of mind that was full and simple and clear and strong.
Before you got everything you ever wanted
there was that time when you simply had what you needed:
One of each, two of none,
and there could be no more eloquent picture than that of the cottage.
Though the houses that follow may also depict your life clearly,
they will always be muddier in their complexity and never so lucid
as those days at the cottage when love was louder.
Thus the importance of the second home.
The revisitation and rediscovery of the cottage.
Bobby McAlpine – “Finding Home” ©
If you’re not familiar with Rosemary Beach, Florida, I wholeheartedly recommend a road trip.
Situated along the beautiful beaches of Walton County on Scenic Highway 30A, this bucolic hamlet is one of the “New Urbanist” developments from renowned town planners Duany Plater Zyberk. I visited last week and was stretching to remember when the now-dense town consisted of one lone carriage house (designed by our friend and future town architect, Richard Gibbs) surrounded by vast acres of native scrub. That was over 15 years and hundreds of houses ago. Today the development is a vibrant, bustling coastal village teeming with resort activity.
We’ve had the privilege of designing 15 homes in the Village, ranging from Gulf front estates to humble carriage houses. Providence even favored us with three commissions in a row along the town’s Eastern Green. Given the small lot configurations and strict design restrictions, each house was an exercise in problem solving. The main design challenge with these type homes is fitting 10 pounds of program efficiently in 5 pound bags. Market in resort areas dictates getting as much into as little as possible. That’s been part of the fun of it, I suppose. Solving the “needs” puzzle all the while coloring within the lines. Oh, and it has to be stunning to boot.
While the guidelines of Rosemary Beach are indeed strict, they do allow the architect to have diverse and creative stylistic interpretations. Therefore, all the homes we’ve designed here intentionally differ in appearance and feel. They’re like characters at a crowded shindig, each with a unique personality and something of value to add to the mix.
So, if you’re looking for a stylish, dynamic and beautiful vacation spot this Summer (or any time of the year), check out this casual beach party. You’ll be glad you came.
As a design opportunity, the entrance door is a particular presentation in itself and requires special attention. It welcomes the visitor and prepares for the story about to unfold. In short, it holds itself out as representative of what’s within. Similar to houses, entry doors come in all styles, shapes and sizes. Tall, wide ones that have grown to oversized proportions can make you feel like a child readying to enter a magical realm where scale is at question. It seems Alice hasn’t quite gotten the correct cocktail of cake and drink down to the exact science. Short, squatty ones, on the other hand, almost make you bow to the host at hand.
Glass doors frame the vista inside while flooding warmth into the foyer. Your journey is made clear. Solid doors present a bit of mystery. What’s the surprise that waits behind door Number 1? They can be staid slabs of formality, presenting an air of dignity, or humble and apologetic in nature. Doors can be full of pomp (and ego) or demure and retiring. Still, both are welcoming in their own style. Often, entrance doors are architectural clues that solidly reflect who lives behind their curtain. What does your front door say about you?
Whatever the style or nature of the house itself, the entrance door will inevitably speak first. It’s the physical overture for the opera unfolding inside.