A House for Slow Living

By | affordable modern, good ideas, Living in Vermont, Passive House, super insulated, traditional vs modern, Uncategorized, working with an architect | 12 Comments

A House for Slow Living
The original concept came to me in a dream (yes – I dream architecturally) I think the dream may have been generated by this image which has been on my bulletin board fora few years:

The original sketch was called “a house for food”

The core concept was centered around the growing, preparation and consumption of food which lends itself to the idea of gatherings of family and friends and leads to the notion of how to live in a close relationship to the local environment. From my own experience I drew upon the old fashioned ideas of hunkering down by the fire on a cold winter evening, opening the house up to the sounds, smells and breezes of a summer day, “putting food by” and making routine preparations for winter in the Autumn, starting seedlings on a windowsill in the spring, caring for children or elders. Also, how can we appreciate the beauty of the winter landscape and light without feeling overcome by it. This is a common issue in the Northeast. Where do you sit to watch a thunderstorm rolling in or to watch the snow fall? Music! – not just acoustics but around here, everybody is also a musician. How does that fit into our daily lives?
Much inspiration is to be found in images and stories depicting rural life from previous times in Europe and America. I am drawn to the imagery of hard working English country houses where the real life of the house centers between the kitchen and the door stoop leading directly to the working yard and gardens. Think: Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor’s Garden by Beatrix Potter with a potting shed, cold frames and lots of cabbages.
I am fascinated by early New England farms and town dwellings and how lives were played out in them. Not the big events but the little, day to day, season to season routines. Light and fresh air are celebrated and sought after and even, perhaps, taken for granted in an age before television and telephones. Materials are worn but durable, practical and show their age and history and that is where their beauty lies.

The Building Science aspect of design and detailing that we are all so immersed in lately addresses the idea of being able to lock the door and walk away for a month in the winter and not worry about much of anything. The neighbor has the key and will water the plants. Building Science addresses being what we are calling “net zero” so you are not storing and burning fossil fuel on site and paying for it as well. Building Science addresses the notion of simplicity – who needs a heating system that could go on the fritz and bust your pipes and freeze all your house plants so when your neighbor comes over to water the house plants, he finds an awful mess and has to call you in some recently devastated country where you are doing relief work. Building Science allows you to return in March to a house filled with fresh air and no mildew. (building science can’t help with what you left in the fridge) Building Science can free you from many previously taken for granted maintenance issues and expenses such as painting and periodic repair, maintenance and replacement of the mechanical parts of the house because now you have fewer and simpler systems.

How then, to marry my heady and romantic thoughts with the physics of modern building science? How do I pack all of this sensuality and feeling into a house that celebrates the process of living this chosen life rather than reminding one of the potentially inherent drudgery?
Since these ideas are very personal to me, it isn’t very difficult to make a series of design moves and decisions that bring me pretty close. I have been moving in this direction for much of my life. I am often “pretty close” but getting to that higher level is tricky and elusive. I’m not there yet with this design but it’s still early….

In this design, I’m trying to balance small and simple with a richness of space that goes far beyond light and shadow, a good floor plan and simplicity of form and add my own interpretation of what it can mean to live in Vermont and lead a life integrated with the climate and culture of the place. I’m drawing heavily on history and my own sense of aesthetics as well as all my cumulative observations and experience.

Dang! Maybe I should tear down my own house and build something like this!

For those interested in the Slow Living Movement, Brattleboro has a Slow Living Summit coming up in June associated with the Strolling of the Heiffers parade and festival.

Finding space without adding space

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I did something for myself! Soon, we will be faced with fitting two kids in one small bedroom in our small house and I had some ideas spinning around in my head about how to make our limited space work much better. Size isn’t everything – it’s how you use it. These two images are packed with lots of little moves that add a ton of space especially storage and closet space. I put some Ikea bureaus in there from the Sketchup warehouse after removing the closets. Sometimes closets take up too much space for how much storage you gain from them and this is a perfect example. The kids each will get clearly defined space within one bedroom to minimize the inherent fratricide potential.

bob’s bedrooms from robertswinburne on Sketchfab.

And here is the original – current layout

Passive House Training – One year later.

By | business, education, mutterings, Passive House, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Note: this blog entry was published on Green Building Advisor on March 31, 2014

I have been asked about my Passive House consultant training by other architects enough times that I though I’d write up a quick synopsis, one year later.

For me, the Passive House training was very useful for several reasons, not the least of which was the networking aspect. It is a small community with some really great conversation happening and it is fun to be a part of that. There is a lot of controversy as well, especially on GreenBuildingAdvisor.com Such as where does the law of diminishing returns kick in when it comes to insulating and how to handle latent loads (excess moisture). Plus there’s the whole U.S. vs the rest of the world thing which I won’t go into as I find it rather annoying, or at least boring. Secondly, It represents state of the art science on how to build good buildings with an overriding emphasis on simplicity and quality. Passive House is really all about quality and even, as I’m finding out, represents a necessary re-thinking of how to get something built. A much more collaborative approach is necessary than often happens when building even high-end projects. The process gets much less linear. I also like the idea that the Passive House approach is a valid part of the conversation, not just achieving certification and getting the plaque to hang beside the front door. I see projects being showcased that utilized the approach in a value engineering manner to get the most bang for the buck that simply don’t have the budget to go all the way and attain certification and I like the general consensus that that is okay.
Much of my own work had been trending in the PH direction anyway so it was good to undergo the intensive training so that I could make decisions with much more confidence and authority that comes with PH credentials. As an architect who was never very (ahem) enthusiastic about the numbers and physics of things and more into the airy-fairy poetic nature and scholarly aspect of architecture it was also helpful in terms of training my weaknesses. I call myself a Passive House designer rather than a consultant in part because If I were to attempt a full-on certified Passive House, I would want to hire someone more experienced who does this on a daily basis to do the actual numbers part and look over their shoulder through the process – at least for the first few times.
There is also the notion, similar to my approach to structural engineering where I try not to design anything too complicated to engineer myself – I prefer not to design anything that would require a complicated heating/ventilating system. It does get more complicated in renovation/addition work though for sure. My approach to structural engineering has always been very intuitive and very related to my own building experience and knowledge of materials, assemblies and connections My structural engineering professor once told me that the intuition part is vital and more than half the battle. First you intuit the solution then you apply numbers and formulas to check yourself. The Passive House training augmented my intuition and gave me more confidence to apply the numbers as well as a perspective on when, where and why.

Plus it was really good for marketing.

Houzz- Eric Reinholdt’s ideabooks

By | cool stuff, good web sites, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’m becoming a fan of Eric Reinholdt’s Houzz ideabooks. His writing and editing is a cut above plus he has very similar tastes to my own so I look forward to each new ideabook. He also worked for one of my favorite firms in Maine – Elliot and Elliot Architecture.
His Houzz page is HERE

And here area few of his ideabooks:

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Browse through a wide selection of decorators and find the perfect fit for your bedroom remodel.
Highlight your home”s architecture with the expert advice of interior design specialists and top home decorators.

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As you get ready to host an event, be sure you have enough dining chairs and dishes for dinner guests, as well as enough bakeware and kitchen knives for food preparation.

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From Shabby Chic home décor to contemporary furniture and decorative mirrors, browse thousands of decorating ideas to inspire your next home project.
Browse top designers interior portfolios, from high-quality pots and pans and a decorative dinnerware set to ideas for remodeling bath and kitchen.

Recent Design Work

By | projects, Uncategorized, working with an architect | 2 Comments

Then I looked at a larger barn with more “clipped” New England eaves. Need to work on the front windows. Traditional barns often utilized some asymmetry here but more modern barn builders seem to stick rigidly to symmetry. The side windows are not good however. -see last picture. Perhaps two large windows

Further work:

Photos! Stratton Modern is nearly complete

By | projects, super insulated, traditional vs modern, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I visited a recent ski home project near Stratton mountain ski area to get some photos. The house is nearly complete. As usual there are things I would do differently next time and things that didn’t quite follow the drawings but that’s for me to know and no one else to notice. I really like the “presence” of this house. The coloring and materials are first rate. It is very “touchy feely” and very responsive to the changing light as the clouds raced across the sky. I can’t wait to do the local, green hemlock over Solitex Mento again. and better. Click on the photos for big screen enjoyment.


Mass MoCA in Adams Massachusetts

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We visited the Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art – Mass MoCA in North Adams MA today to see Xu Bing’s giant phoenix exhibit in the largest hall We come here several times a year and I usually walk around with my mouth wide open in amazement but this time I remembered to snap some photos. When I was in Architecture School, I would occasionally break into a gigantic old abandoned factory up the street from my apartment. At night, of course. It was relatively terrifying but also very peaceful. I remember lying on a parapet three stories up for half the night once just chilling out. The spaces, lit only by nearby streetlights, were beautiful. Mass MoCA is a large factory turned into a museum in such a way that much of that old factory architecture has not been lost or covered up or gentrified.

Xu Bing: Phoenix

The kids were floored

Sol Lewitt

The celestory – a lovely space where there never seems to be anybody.

note the airstream – it’s part of a Steam punk exhibit “Michael Oatman: all utopias fell” and you can climb up there and go in it

They let you into the old boiler building – unsupervised – I could cut myself on rusty metal! It’s actually an exhibit – “Stephen Vitiello: All Those Vanished Engines” complete with eerie sounds from hidden speakers that use some of the old empty rusting tanks as reverberation chambers.

Excellent detailing with raw steel – one of my favorite materials

A river runs through it.

The old building is not at all lost or buried as so often happens.

One of my favorite spaces at Mass MoCA is this tall narrow in-between space.

And the cafeteria actually has really good food and not too expensive – a toasted bagel was less than 1$

Well worth a day to visit. Also, drive (or ride your bike) to the top of Mt. Greylock nearby and check out the Clark which has some amazing art as well as a Tadeo Ando building.

Vote now for the Fern house (please)

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http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/31831/vote-for-your-favorite-outdoor-project

Please go to the link above and vote for the Fern House.
I’ve gotten myself into a battle on Fine Homebuilding’s website with three other finalists for a $100 gift certificate to the Taunton Store. All 4 will be published but at the moment, I am losing out to a “Cat Ranch”. How embarrassing. This from twitter:

So am pulling out the big guns and putting this on my blog where a few thousand of my followers will vote for the Fern House before Friday at noon.

Thanks,
Bob

Crickets, Firewood and Blackberries

By | mutterings, Uncategorized | No Comments

Is there any more melancholy sound than crickets out in the field? Reminding me of what must become of this pile of wood…very soon.

Being a relatively not well-to-do architect, I live in a poorly insulated house that I heat with wood. I also do not have a tractor to move wood around. I have a little cart. no gas or electric log splitter. It’s good training for cross country skiing.

This time of year for me is a strange combination of nostalgia, worry and melancholia. The summer has been nice – I’ve mostly spent it working out in my barn rather than at the office where I’ll be when the weather really turns cooler. I’ve been eating massive amounts of blackberries.

The weather is wonderful. The sun is intense, the shadows cool and the birds are silent as they fatten up for their migrations. Fall definitely comes on August 1st nowadays. we swim very little in August. the water is getting too cold. I spend a lot of time out in my woods every day always walking the dog and often running trails. I am constantly stunned and amazed by the 49 acres we have here in Vermont. The sense of stewardship is powerful. When we moved here in 2000, one of the first things I did was create a network of trails. I need to be in the woods and on those trails nearly every day. Not just near the woods or looking at the woods or driving by woods but actually out there in the trees. It helps me think. Or not think. This sense of the land really influences my thinking about living and creating a home in the woods of New England. I am far from having a portfolio of work that really reflects my own personal philosophies and sensibilities. As an architect, I do work for other people and it has to reflect them more than me and I realize that few people can feel as passionate about the land as I do.

Real Vermonters don’t have Master Bedroom Suites

By | Living in Vermont, mutterings, Uncategorized, working with an architect | One Comment

(would make a good bumper sticker for me except that nobody would get it.)

In rural northern New England – the only local I can really speak authoritatively about – there is a dichotomy of class. It may not reflect income or race but it is something I grew up with. The local kids worked in the kitchens and grounds of the summer camps where the “rich kids” came to play for the summer. It is interesting to read “Maine Home and Design” as an architect who has some connection to the world of art and leisure depicted in those homes as well as a connection to the “other” Maine to whom the magazine is totally irrelevant.

I find the dichotomy affects my own work as well as the clients I have worked with. The typical client with a more middle or upper class suburban background (most of my friends and clients) was raised in a largish home on a largish lot where each kid had his or her own bedroom, there were multiple bathrooms, a garage, a family room – standard stuff to most people. Growing up in rural Maine, however, I had friends who lived in un-insulated homes with no plumbing, 12′ wide mobile homes etc. For many, the ideal was one of those new 1200 s.f. Modular homes built up in West Paris. Lots of families included multiple generations and semi-temporary guests all under one roof in a big old farmhouse.

After many years of clients coming to Vermont to build a new home and life who find the idea of not having a master bedroom suite, a T/B ratio =/> 1 (toilet to butt ratio) or a garage to house their cars incomprehensible, (Real Vermonters don’t have garages?) I find myself questioning what is important to me and the type of projects I can really get my emotions into. My job requires a fair amount of understanding where someone is coming from and what their frame of reference is. Certainly, most people bring their past with them to the table along with what they see on the internet and in magazines. But when I get a client who with similar (old fashioned?) sensibilities and more of a “slow living” attitude and perspective or at least, a willingness to question their values, it is refreshing.

In designing with a set of priorities to reflect this attitude I think about more seasonal living with the idea of hunkering down close to the woodstove during the colder months, cooking lots of fabulous meals and hosting smaller gatherings of friends and family. In the warmer months, life can expand outward with larger parties in the barn, screened porches become additional living space and sleeping quarters. In my own family’s case, the 900 square feet of wood stove heated living space expands to include a screened in porch where we play and eat meals, the barn where I have a desk set up to work and where we have parties and guests have a comfy bed. Plus there is always the fern house and lots of room for tenting in the meadow. Sometimes it is good to tour old houses or even just spend some time in old Sears catalog home books to see what used to be important to people and think about how we say we want to live with a more critical eye and a different perspective.

Brooks House

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I recently got to tour the Brooks House in Brattleboro which burned a few years ago. A group of local investors is working to re-build and restore the Brooks House and I tagged along on a tour given to some potential contractors. Mostly insulation and roofing folks. Here are a few shots that most local folks wouldn’t otherwise get to see. (Being on the roof was awesome!) Most of the interior spaces will be jsut white sheetrock when all is said and done so it was cool to see the bones of the place. The Mole’s Eye was rather gross. Throughout the tour I got to be the proverbial “fly on the wall” and I was disappointed with the improvisational approach to insulation, air sealing and energy. One contractor said “well, cellulose is a good air seal”. (!) What a contrast to the thoroughness that Coldham and Hartman Architects put into the Union Crossing Project – I went to a presentation on that project earlier this year and came away rather thoroughly impressed.





Reflections on life in the Brattleboro area

By | Living in Vermont, mutterings, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Some friends recently announced that they were going to leave the Brattleboro area in search of a better life.

The list is:

1. A Waldorf school for their kid to be able to go to through high school.
2. Better job prospects
3. An easier place to grow old in – perhaps this means less dirt roads, closer to town…
4. Closer to some long term friends for more regular visits.
5. They are tired of living in an unfinished house.

Then my wife said she would be willing to move for the right reasons too – specifically a great, high paying job (for me). This sent me into a few days of introspection and soul searching. I had to re-evaluate my own values by themselves and in relation to my family. I have always felt an incredibly strong connection to land and place. If I plant a tree, I have a need to watch it grow for the rest of my life. Fine – I can accept that this is unusual. I also have a strong need to be in the woods pretty much every day. I would have a hard time being the sort who goes camping on weekends to get my outside time and even day hikes in the mountains have little allure. I need the outdoors much more integrated in my daily routine. I think if I were living in an urban or suburban area for any length of time I would feel very constrained.

1. School – Brattleboro does have some excellent options for schools. Charlotte got a good start at Neighborhood Schoolhouse and Alden will too in a few years. The big crisis came when it was time for Charlotte to start kindergarten. Our ideal choice would probably be the Grammar School in Putney, http://youtu.be/Yk49lac7EPU an excellent private school whose “philosophies” most closely align with our own. Financially it was not in the cards. With a number of educators in the immediate family we are rather progressive in our education ideals. We also would rather not have our kids attend a school with only like-minded students and parents. Perspective is a very important aspect to social development. She will have a number of excellent teachers to get to know over the years and the advantage of a small school is that she is already getting to know them – she has a great rapport with her future 7th/8th grade teacher. She will get to know a wide variety of classmates and their families – Perspective! Our ideal is that our kids’ elementary experience provides them with the social tools to easily handle the pressures of attending a larger public high school, and life in general, and come out on top. Our local public elementary school has been trash-talked by a number of friends and neighbors so we were a bit leery of sending Charlotte there but realized that all the nay-sayers were speaking from very little or very limited experience. This didn’t sit right with us and we are currently glad we decided to form our own opinion. The school is fairly small – my daughter’s kindergarten has 5 kids – and the size has definite advantages in terms of addressing individual students’ and parents’ needs. The school is also a community in itself and very tied to the local community – a community integrated education is also very important to us. The main issues we have with our local elementary school are the sheer amount of driving time and gasoline used in our cars to get there there every day, (see #2 below) and not enough time spent outdoors (probably the same as at any public school). It is also very important for our kids to take advantage of community opportunities in the arts and Brattleboro is certainly a top notch community with it’s dizzying array of opportunity in this regard. Brattleboro is a very kid-centric community.

New England Center for Circus Arts

Brattleboro Music Center
Vermont Jazz Center
New England Youth Theater
Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center
Brattleboro School of Dance
River Gallery School of Art
Plus the high school has an excellent cross country ski team!

2. Job prospects – It is hard around here to earn a living for sure. The average household income in my town is under 30k. People say “but the quality of life and and fewer expenses and blah blah blah ..” however, automobiles cost the same – and where I live all-wheel or 4 wheel drive is needed part of the year. Which means a more expensive car with worse gas mileage.

And fewer opportunities to accomplish the daily activities on a bicycle. There are fewer cost savings to living in the country than many people seem to think. In terms of my own job prospects, I could possibly work in a larger firm in a more urban environment and perhaps I would even love the job but the likelihood of a paycheck big enough to make it worth it is very unlikely. Working for myself is definitely stressful and most years is quite un-sustainable but I’m an optimist and always seem to think that things will turn around soon. Very soon. (stressful on family) Other Job Prospects:

3. Growing old. – I’m hoping to gradually make our estate into a place we could hole up in for weeks at a time. I do have 30+ years before I really need to think along these lines. A lot could happen in 30 years. The North Atlantic Gyre could cease due to melting polar ice and then all bets are off.

4. Friends. – A very personal one. Kid-less friends always complain that when their friends have kids they have no more time available for visiting. Certainly true, however having kids suddenly opens up a whole new world of potential friends. You get out what you put out for sure. My wife is much more social than I and would love to see dozens of her best friends every day for coffee.

I, however, am an old-codger-in-the-making and am perfectly happy to mutter around the house and grounds for days at a time without seeing anybody. Working on my woodpile.

5. House – I feel this one. – We live in a small house and I realize that our “standard of living” would be unacceptable for most middle-class people in America, at least for the past thirty years or so. I do have great plans for addressing this but…see #2 plus reference this older post

Big Buck Bunny

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Portit mollis vitae

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Ownage In The Mountains

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Ownage In The Mountains

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What would Bob do?

By | affordable modern, cool stuff, mutterings, Uncategorized, working with an architect | 7 Comments

I have been asked before: If I could start from scratch with a decent budget, what sort of a house would I build for myself? I was thinking about that the other day as my eyes wandered up to the huge pine and maple trees that tower over the house (mental note: check homeowners policy) That is a tough question to answer. Part of me would live to live in a big old farmhouse and part of me wants a Tom Kundig sort of house with lots of steel, glass and concrete and a cool device that does something interesting.
The reality may be somewhere in between. Living where I do, energy efficiency and insulation rule out either of these options in their pure form. But there are lessons to be learned from both extremes. My own tastes probably run toward a warm modernism with Scandinavian influences that isn’t afraid of wood and stone as well as glass and steel. I would not impose the limitations of “traditional” architecture on myself. I’ve seen too much for that. I’m spoiled. I like light and dark, open spaces and well defined spaces. Indoor and outdoor. I don’t like to take my shoes off whenever I come in the house. Function rules! I like porches. I like woodstoves.

I like low maintenance. I like simplicity. I want a huge range in the kitchen and a huge island to match. I like old fashioned pantries – with a window. I like when a window goes down to the floor. I want laser cut steel switchplate covers. I like wood ceilings and floors but not wood walls. I love dark slate with dark thin grout lines. I don’t like big bedrooms. I want a soaking tub.
I dislike fancy. I hate frippery and fakery! (fake divided lite windows make me gag) Sometimes I use the term “carpenter modern” to describe my tastes. There is a lot of this in VT. My own barn is a good example. It describes a building or house or detail that does the job without any overt nod to “style” but in its simplicity and function and logic, it becomes beautiful. Did I mention that I love raw steel? It is difficult for me to find examples of what I like in print media. Everything is too big, too fancy, too complicated, too precious. Dwell Magazine does a better job of presenting “real people” type projects. And I love looking at what happens down South at Auburn U’s Rural studio If I were to design my own home, it would probably kill me.

The Home Office

By | Living in Vermont, projects, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I often work at home when I really need to get things done. With a 900 s.f. house there isn’t any place but the kitchen table most of the year but when summer comes, I get to work out at my big oak desk in the barn loft. There is no cell phone signal and no internet but I do have a land line. I am able to focus incredibly well in the barn and I often listen to previously downloaded podcasts of books from Librivox or I simply listen to the wind and the birds. Occasionally my daughter invades the space to play with toys or swing on her swing. I built the barn myself over several years with pine from our woods and hemlock framing from Kerber Lumber, a local mill.

barn loft
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Angles and Curves

By | projects, Uncategorized, working with an architect | 3 Comments

I was recently sent a “suggested” floor plan for a renovation project that gave me a good laugh. It was for an old house where rooms opened to each other gracefully and the back parts of the building (not original) contained hallways and many smaller rooms. There was not a big budget. The plan I was sent took out many walls and added lots more but at 45 degree angles. It was very 80’s (roll out the white carpets and sectional sofas, modern floor lamps (shining up) and, of course, the track lighting with huge cans!) If I were a professor in architecture school, having a bad day and feeling the need to be mean I would have said that the plan was amateurish, complicated, ungraceful and expensive. However, I am not an architecture school professor, I am not mean and I never have bad days (and I never lie?)

So I ignored it.

But it got me thinking, and writing… so here goes.

Angles and Curves.

When I deviate from the orthagonal I need more reason than just to be cool (for the non-architecty sorts out there that means when I use angle and curves). There has to be a functional reason and it has to solve a problem rather than introduce new ones or simply add cost. Ideally it adds a layer of sophistication and elegance to the spatial and emotional feel of a place. Ideally it introduces opportunity. And it’s nice when it can actually save money as well.

This modern project has much more overt angles than I normally go for but site constraints and preexisting conditions suggested the design solution. The overall project was more than usual, an exercise in problem solving. Angling the stair opened up the floor plan in a way that made better use of space and eliminated potential tight spots. It looked cool too. The gentle curve in the wall adjacent to the stair was part of “easing up” of a potential tight spot. It softens the harshness inherent the angle of the stair. (and it looks cool too)

steel stair plan + curved wall

This renovation project has an upper level curve that is not immediately obvious. It eliminates a deep, dust collecting spot over some built-in cabinetry by filling in that space. It creates a nice pattern effect with the morning sun through the large adjacent windows and adds a graceful complexity to the space – the curve is apparent from some perspectives but not so much from others. It softens and relaxes the space. I have no idea if there are any acoustic effects.

In this project I introduced a matching pair of curves in the hallway to ease a tight spot without having to expand the overall footprint of that section of the house. It also provides a unique point of reference for a long hall in a large house. Sometimes in a large house with many straight walls at right angles to one another, a subtle angle or curve can ease up the rigidity of a plan and allow a house to feel more comfortable.

curves in upstairs hallway

Mental note: Something similar can be said for introducing a bit of asymmetry in a strongly symmetrical composition – have I written about this already?

Here, a gentle curve allows the entry hall to reference the door to the garage more comfortably and allows the hallway to end less awkwardly and even with a bit of grace. Sorry about the poor quality of the photo – I need to get back for finished photos. I could see that this curve could have a nice emotional effect and I was glad to see it carried out by the contractor during construction. Sometimes on projects where I have less involvement during the construction phase the builder, not understanding a curve or angle will try to “simplify” the job and convince the owner not not do it. Usually this does not have a ruinous effect but it saddens me to see the loss, knowing what could have been.

One last image – the angled wall at the bedrooms was straightened in construction and the bridge has not been built yet. There are some uncomfortable spots now but it still basically works . The built result is more static and less dynamic than it could have been. Which nobody will notice but me.

Content for Articles?

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I am gathering old blog material to sort through in hopes of coming up with a half dozen topics that would make a good set of articles to pitch to my local newspaper. The overall subject would be “Home Design” or something along those lines. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?
Planning
Styles
Budgeting and Cost control
Building science
additions and master planning
Stewardship
…..

Peter Q. Puppy August 1(ish) 1999 to July 20, 2011

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Peter Q. Puppy  August 1(ish) 1999 to July 20, 2011

Peter Q. (q for cute) Puppy, my constant companion over the last decade passed this summer after a year of decline due to a degenerative spinal condition which, thankfully, was painless but resulted in his becoming gradually paraplegic. I spent the last year helping him go outside to take care of his business, inventing new ways to play ball, carrying him up the stairs to my office and generally staying close to home and never leaving his side. He maintained a good attitude to the last, taking it all in stride. He is now buried in a pine box next to his big brother Mason who we buried three years ago on our property in Halifax, Vermont.

Humble Beginnings

By | cool stuff, projects, Uncategorized | No Comments

Here is where I can really embarrass myself! I grew up in rural Maine in a rambling house and barn that my father built in the 70’s We moved there from coastal Maine when I was 8 years old. The new place had 40 acres of land which was fairly flat and included several fields where the topsoil had been stripped and sold as well as an old gravel pit filled with water, three cars and some trash (great for a little frog work!) and a meandering stream. (excellent for damming!)
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Roof Thoughts

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Here in Vermont we really see it all when it comes to what rains down from the sky and onto our roofs. Rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, frogs, tree limbs. It seems that the severity of what our roofs deal with has increased in recent years. This winter I have observed lots of snow rakes in action. Read More

Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz
Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz

Contact

Robert Swinburne Architect, LLC AIA, NCARB, CPHD, DAD bob@swinburnearchitect.com 802.451.9764
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