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architecture - climate and region; some thoughts on southern mansions

I have been thinking  a lot lately about vernacular architecture and indigenous responses to local climate.  By that I mean how a building and design practice, over time, has found architectural solutions to solve some of the problems posed by heat and cold, sunlight and shadow, aridity and humidity.  Reading through some older posts on my delving into the possibility of trying to define a Colorado vernacular, it strikes me that very few of those examples I identified tackled the issues of heat and solar gain.  That might sound like a recent concern, more one of energy use and sustainability, but a few quick glances at traditional southern architecture reveals design/technological solutions that we have largely forgotten in the age of air-conditioning.

The long house

A number of years ago we worked on a project in Boulder that held a number of challenges, not the least of which was a long narrow lot with severe building restrictions.  My client's property was 50' wide by 188' long, but because of its corner location, both street-facing sides of the lot require a 25' wide setback from the street.  That setback along with additional side and rear yard setbacks made the building envelope 20' wide by 128' long, a 6 1/2 : 1 length to width ratio

the shining castle

I went down to the San Luis Valley to photograph some of the small village chapels that dot that flat, dusty landscape.  So as I was driving around, I was keeping a keen eye out for any structures, like a steeple, that might pop up out of the surrounding buildings or clusters of wind-ravaged trees. As I approached Antonito, one of the larger towns on the west side of the Valley, a shining, luminous vision sparkled in the morning sunlight above the two-story town.  Upon closer inspection I found what I later learned was Cano's Castle.

the architecture of heros - Goodness, Nature and Vengeance

I have written a post about evil lairs a while ago and wanted to follow that up with some thoughts on the special domains of superheros.  Of course we are not talking about real heroes here, but the pop culture protagonists of comic books and movies.  My initial impression was that these places were not as interesting as their counterparts evil lairs, as Dante's Inferno is significantly more interesting than Paradiso.  However, some repeating themes in these places are quite intriguing

Evil Lairs - the architecture of imaginary bad guys

Modernism has a mixed reception in the United States.  Especially in residential design, it is equally despised and beloved.  There are loads of historical reasons for this, filling volumes of treatises and endless hand-wringing by architects. I have always felt that it was corporate America's embrace of the industrial aesthetic of Modernism that most distinctly became the focus of opposition for most folks image of  "home"

The Great Gear Dilemma

Boulder is known as an outdoor enthusiast's kind of town.  Almost everyone I know has a plethora of outdoor gear - multiple bikes, skis, helmets of every configuration, packs and bags, tents, stoves, and the occasional kayak and canoe.  Largely this equipment has usurped the car from its usual haunt in the garage.  It is a rare Boulderite who can actually fit their car in their garage because of the ever-expanding collection of bikes if nothing else.