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Bedo

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Reply with quote  #1 
So I stumbled upon a blog called  -Architecture + morality-

Some quotes that I 'enjoyed'

"In Europe, there is a clean break between everything built before 1930 and everything built after. Buildings built before that date would be what we would consider as "traditional', in that it uses a classical proportioning system that governs the size of all elements which are closely tied to long established practices in masonry construction. Even if the façade did not use masonry and used stucco instead, there is an obvious sense of heaviness and permanence. Buildings built after that date are all about accentuating the thin but long-spanning structural frame made possible with concrete and steel. Cladding becomes a matter of lightly protecting this frame, either with glass, aluminum, or thin terracota, cementitious or phenolic panels. Even if natural materials are used, they are reinterpreted to conform to a machine-like smoothness and accurate dimensions. "

I pressume he's talking about large scale or non residential builds there.


"Europe's mild climate is pleasant enough to make one forget about air conditioning until the occasional heat wave occurs. At that point there is no recourse to such unbearable heat and humidity and one has to put up with it. While in the southern US a house is expected to be completely sealed to retain the cool and de-humidified air, the European house breathes through lots of operable casement windows. The difference in conditions between inside and outside are minimal, as small insects, dirt and dust blow in throughout the day. More food can be stored absent refrigeration, which results in stronger smells coming out of the kitchen. In larger scale construction, the lack of a robust air conditioning system means no furring or dropped ceilings, and thus the chance expose the structure and the underside of the roof deck, which allows the designer more freedom to create beautiful ceilings. The drawback is that there is nothing to collect and filter dust and grime floating in the space over time, which then collects onto the structure and becomes difficult to keep clean. Architecture of the "high-tech" style, with its celebrated steel framing and sophisticated glazing systems suffers in particular, and many of the once gleaming train stations and airports built in this style are looking pretty drab and filthy. Thanks to the almost mandatory use of air conditioning, US construction seems to be significantly driven by the mechanical engineer and, to the frustration of many architects, must design around their needs. This leads to more generic ceilings, simpler detailing and tighter non-operable windows."


this last one is the icing on the cake


"
In the realm of private residential architecture, the US has everyone beat when it comes to function and convenience. Most private houses in Europe follow the timeless formula of fitting all rooms within a masonry box topped by pitched roof (hipped roofs are common warmer regions). From a formalistic standpoint they allow lots of flexibility at the urban scale, forming elegant blocks and streetfronts, and offer a range of housing types, as entire levels can be rented out as flats.  But the twentieth century house has changed a lot, mainly due advances in mechanical systems and appliances. Plumbing has now become standardized to such a degree that bathrooms can be organized as cohesive units. Kitchens are now designed as a system as well, in which the optimal distances between the stove, fridge, oven and sink have become standard. I have yet to stay or live in a European house that incorporate these kinds of improvements I have long taken for granted.  The kitchens in the nicest homes are haphazardly layed out, the cabinets are shabby, there is very little counter space, and the appliances are relatively small to nonexistent. Bathrooms often have the same problems, in which sinks, tubs and toilets are afterthoughts. They are usually shared, meaning that I don't recall any bathroom located adjacently to a bedroom for exclusive use. Storage spaces hardly exist, even as the average European, just like Americans, have continued to accumulate more stuff over the course of their lives. 


The post-War suburban ranch home and subsequent American styles have proved to be eminenty flexible in adapting to a rising standard of living.  Its use of an open, asymmetrical plan ensure that there will be a direct transition between dining, relaxing and sleeping while maintaining a division between public, private and utilitarian areas. Clearances moving through are maintained, so you are not left dodging furniture sticking into hallways.  This is hard to accomplish with a rigid rectangular plan that characterizes most European homes, even those in semi-rural, semi-suburban locales where there is presumably a bit more space. Everything must be crammed in, resulting in tight and steep stairways, small bedrooms, and shared bathrooms."



I just wanted to share these insightful views with you all , after all , saying I've been to europe/america is just like saying i've been to asia...... there's no country/state that's equal


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bigstick

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hmm, there's a distinct smell of something unpleasant about this that is vaguely familiar - oh wait, yes, it's definitely bullshit!

Please post the origin of these pearls of wisdom so I can respond appropriately

In the past I have been critical of lots of US architecture, but I have to say that as a regular reader of Archdaily.com I have seen a lot of evidence that there are lots of exciting modern designers in the US. Some of my favourites are MacKay Lyons SweetappleWendell Burnette, Tod Williams Billy Tsien, Morphosis and Olson Kundig

Okay so Mackay Lyons is a Canadian practice, but still very cool!

There's some great stuff out there - still a lot of crap, but that's the same everywhere I guess.

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Bedo

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http://architectureandmorality.blogspot.com/2011/08/learning-from-jura-musings-on-life-and.html


haha, Hi Jim, It's a long read so be prepared .

I first thought okay...reasonable..but then these....snobbish or lets say boxed views appeared and i kept saying...'really?'

it's right up there with the silliest things i've ever read.  As if Though all europeans live in cramped, dirt driven, ant infested homes with kitchens that are falling apart lol. Baffling

and then to compare this generalisation  to the american ranch home just makes no sense at all... If there's one thing in my view about those houses that there is a lot of wasted space... and the garage coming before the house itself is just awful to me.  Never the less there is a certain charm about them, enhanced by what materials are used and such.

lovely side not is that he teaches in 20th century architecture.... I dont think my former teachers would applaud these statements.

thing is there is just no comparing 'european'  (sub) urban architecture to u.s ... it fails right at the start with assigned space to build on


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DavorP

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Reply with quote  #4 
Holly crap, who wrote that?

That is the most narrow-sited view on the architecture ever. I'm wondering what would that guy think of Japaneese homes? Or god forbid if he had to stay in a capsule hotel.

He's a dinosaur and he's asteroid is on a collision course. Just like the automobile industry changed trends with oil spike so will construction. In the next few decades energy costs are going one way - up.

If he was European then he would say that americans live in mansion sized wooden sheds that get blown away with a first storm.

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bigstick

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Reply with quote  #5 
When I first read the article, I got really annoyed, but then I re-read it again and had to modify my response.

In some respects the guy is saying that he prefers European architecture (from what little I have seen about US architecture in the flesh, I would be inclined to agree) but that he is effectively accustomed to the convenience of 'the American way'.

It's not the first time that I have heard that sentiment expressed. America does seem to kind of cater to every whim, and apparently fairly inexpensively. When you are used to that level of convenience, I'm sure it must make people a bit spoilt and lazy.

I do tend to feel (but without any solid basis to substantiate my view) that a lot of that convenience is at the expense of quality. I'm convinced that the guy's views are just a reflection of his cultural background, which is rather different to that in most of Europe. It's just a shame that he made some clumsy and rather silly generalised observations.

I have responded, and hopefully redressed the balance somewhat

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mitchy

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Reply with quote  #6 
Keep us up to date on his response Jim.

What a read! 
I can understand someone having preference to the style of house that they grew up in, but it's another thing to claim the US has everyone beat in function! If convenience means having two kitchens and a tv in every other room then I will give him that one. 
But what would I know, I've never taken design advice from MTV  
Bedo

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I've read your reply Jim.  great formulation, I'm curious what his resonse would be. I like the parallel davor and you made about the car industry (detroit) It's the Hummer vs Smart car

It's making me think of another discussion in architecture about the ability of creating all sorts of blob like shapes on a computer and have these 'futuristic' iconic architectural designs..Just because we can doesn't mean  we should: like this coughed up design from j.mayer.h http://www.e-architect.co.uk/spain/seville_plaza.htm


Treehugger is cool by the way! didnt know about it


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bigstick

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Reply with quote  #8 
I couldn't agree more with you about blobby architecture. Edson is particularly interesting on this subjects, and he has written lots of interesting articles about the obsession of some architects with making 'cool shapes'.

These have nothing to do with 'proper' design and I have to say that technology is entirely to blame. Well - and maybe Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid

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Bedo

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Reply with quote  #9 
Good ol' Gehry ... I will always admire the guggenheim in Bilbao, think thats a magnificent 'structure'   most if not all of his other works make me cringe. ¿have you seen images of his own residence?  (or junkyard , i can never tell)

and miss hadid >   I'm not a fan, i like the lights for artemide though.   maybe she suffered so much during her short time with OMA that it's all death to squares for her? 

Does Edson have a blog or something where he has posted these articles?


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nilaul

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Reply with quote  #10 
"Europe's mild climate is pleasant enough to make one forget about air conditioning until the occasional heat wave occurs"

Not if you live in Greece where temperatures are extreamly hot in greece, also the air is quite moist. Theres no forgeting about air condintioning. In greek highlands it also gets very freezing in winter, sub zero freezing.


bigstick

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Reply with quote  #11 
Actually, traditional houses in Africa, the Middle East or India don't have aircon.

This is a modern convenience that doesn't attempt to embrace sustainable passive design. I used to live in South Africa, and I think it's perfectly possible to avoid air-conditioning for all types of building with the right design approach.

The question is having the will to do it

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billet323

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Reply with quote  #12 
I used to live in San Diego California, and Like South Africa, I did not have nor need AC or heat in my house.  75 and no humidity all year around
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