Monday, February 15, 2010

90 Toylsome Lane

Here’s another example of how to re-interpret a traditional style in a more contemporary language. You can decide on your own whether or not you think it is successful. In my opinion, the goal when designing anything, should be for it to be “good design” at any point in time (two to ten to fifty years from now). Is this house too generic? Will it still intrigue me in the future? It’s pretty simple; it’s a barn with some dormers.

This house is located toward the end of a semi-private road off of the south side of Toylsome Lane, between Little Plains Road and Main Street. My first reaction to this house was positive. Despite my passion for historic preservation, I have also always wished to live in something modern or contemporary. That must be the painter in me, loving my visits to those sleek art galleries and their white wall-concrete floor atmosphere. But to live in, I would want something less “cold;” less “those-slippers-by-the-couch-are-throwing-the-entire-interior-scheme-off.” That’s just me.

This house is gallery like, on the exterior and interior because of its purity of forms and lack of decoration. All of its detailing is extremely restrained leaving only the volumes and minimal fenestration to provide embellishment. There aren’t many different materials, there aren’t moldings, or window boxes, or railings everywhere. But examining it further, it’s also not perfect. I wish the house were symmetrical. I wish the front were softened just a touch, to be more inviting, and not with some big potted plants on either side of the door. It’s like the deMenil gallery in Houston: it’s presented as this perfect diagram, but upon closer examination it’s not. Maybe with a cool re-imagined brise soleil to provide the guest, or delivery man, a bit of refuge from rain or blinding sun. The photo above of the south side was taken on a rainy day, but this elevation is the softest, probably because of the nicely vined trellis feature at the edge of the patio which reduces the rigid tone; appropriately so on the pool side, where lots of casual outdoor summer activities take place. Below is the front, which is not just restrained but severe.

Despite all that criticism I actually do like it, I just think it’s a design more pleasing esthetically and physically in summer than winter. Its cold character just doesn’t mesh with our gloomy Februarys.

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