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Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Ramirez Bari V01

Ramirez Bari V01


Ramirez Bari V01 AL2

Ramirez Bari V01 AL2


Take some time and enjoy architect Jose Andres Vallejo’s stunning Photostream site and website.

Previous blog post about Jose Andres Vallejo’s house designs

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Architecture without Architects -- Bernard Rudofsky

Architecture without Architects -- Bernard Rudofsky


“In this book, Bernard Rudofsky steps outside the narrowly defined discipline that has governed our sense of architectural history and discusses the art of building as a universal phenomenon. He introduces the reader to communal architecture–architecture produced not by specialists but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of a whole people with a common heritage, acting within a community experience. A prehistoric theater district for a hundred thousand spectators on the American continent and underground towns and villages (complete with schools, offices, and factories) inhabited by millions of people are among the unexpected phenomena he brings to light.

The beauty of “primitive” architecture has often been dismissed as accidental, but today we recognize in it an art form that has resulted from human intelligence applied to uniquely human modes of life. Indeed, Rudofsky sees the philosophy and practical knowledge of the untutored builders as untapped sources of inspiration for industrial man trapped in his chaotic cities.”

Source: Amazon
Note the number of related terms and phrases: vernacular building, indigenous building, green building, natural building, built by hand, handbuilt, owner-built, communal architecture, social architecture, grassroots housing, traditional architecture, primitive architecture, buildings without architects, human scale architecture, people-centered architecture…

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The Rural Studio from BluePrint Productions on Vimeo.

One of the earliest Rural Studio projects -- the main house made from straw bales, and a smoker out front made of recycled broken concrete and bottles. (click to enlarge)

One of the earliest Rural Studio projects -- the main house made from straw bales, and a smoker out front made of recycled broken concrete and bottles. (click to enlarge)

“The Rural Studio is a design-build architecture studio run by Auburn University which aims to teach students about the social responsibilities of the profession of architecture while also providing safe, well-constructed and inspirational homes and buildings for poor communities in rural west Alabama, part of the so-called “Black Belt”.

The studio was founded in 1993 by architects Samuel Mockbee and D. K. Ruth. Each year the program builds five or so projects – a house by the second-year students, three thesis projects by groups of 3-5 fifth year students and one or more outreach studio projects. The Rural Studio has built more than 80 houses and civic projects in Hale, Perry and Marengo counties. The Rural Studio is based in Newbern, a small town in Hale County. Many of its best-known projects are in the tiny community of Mason’s Bend, on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

The $20K House is an ongoing research project at the Rural Studio that seeks to address the pressing need for decent and affordable housing in Hale County, Alabama. Nearly 30% of individuals in Hale County live in poverty. Due to the lack of conventional credit for people with this level of income, and insufficient knowledge about alternative sources of funding, mobile homes offer the only chance for home ownership. Unlike a house, which is an asset for its owner, trailers deteriorate very quickly and depreciate in value over time. The $20k house project intends to produce a model home that could be reproduced on a large scale, and thereby become a viable alternative to the mobile home in this area. The challenge is to build a house for $20,000, ten to twelve thousand of which will go towards materials and the remainder on contracted labor. Once a truly successful model has been designed, the aim is to sell the houses in conjunction with the “502 Direct Loan” provided by the Rural Housing Service. The project began in 2005, and there have been 9 iterations of the house so far. The project is typically carried out by four outreach students; international post-graduates with a background in architecture or design.”

Source: Wiki
Image source: Flickr
Video source
The Rural Studio Film
Rural Studio website

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The Barefoot Architect - Johan van Lengen

The Barefoot Architect - Johan van Lengen


“The Barefoot Architect, in its evolution, came out a stunner. Not only in looks, but also in both usefulness and practicality in today’s world. We didn’t anticipate the timing, but the green movement matured as this book was being produced and it’s a perfect intersection. At a glance, the book may appear to be about building a house out of adobe and bamboo or other natural materials. Which it is. But it’s also about design, planning, integration with the natural environment, using the wind, sun, and water to ventilate and produce energy, and a host of other subjects for people interested in providing their own shelter, or setting up a small community.

In the ’60s, I started remodeling my house, and then adding on to it (with some ambitious first-time architect plans), so I had to learn to build as I went along. In those days I had a bunch of books on carpentry and building, but my favorite was Ken Kern’s The Owner-Built Home, which became the underground building bible. Not “architecture,” but building, and doing it yourself. Simple pen and ink drawings, easy to follow.

Johan van Lengen’s book is for builders today what The Owner-Built Home was for builders of the ’60s. 1000 wonderful simple drawings, easy to follow. A different way of looking at shelter. Earth conscious. Local climate. Local materials. Bio-architecture. (And using intuition and the right brain.) Interestingly, Johan has found a keen interest in his methods recently by people who are bailing out of high-stress jobs and seeking simpler lives, creating eco-villages.”

Source: Lloyd’s Blog
Lloyd Kahn is the owner of Shelter Publications and author of such classics as Shelter I and II, Homework: Handbuilt Shelter, Builders of the Pacific Coast and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

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You can learn a lot about design by studying resort architecture.

You can learn a lot about design by studying resort architecture.


Luxury Asian resorts masterfully blend architecture and landscaping in to a harmonious whole.

Luxury Asian resorts masterfully blend architecture and landscaping in to a harmonious whole.


With enough time and effort, you can create a low cost yet luxurious home and garden with local plants, wood and stone.

With enough time and effort, you can create a low cost yet luxurious home and garden with local plants, wood and stone.


Most readers are familiar with the major architectural styles – Modern, Art Deco, Country, Arts and Crafts, Mission, Ranch, Victorian, Colonial, Greek Revival, Gothic and Prairie Style come to mind. One major and very appealing style that’s sometimes overlooked is Pacific Style.

Some of the finest examples of Pacific Style are not on the Internet or in widely published books. The best examples I’ve seen are in exclusive guide books of high end Asian resorts. These places are only marketed to the rich, and so most people are unaware of their existence. The buildings in these top resorts are absolutely stunning. No doubt they were designed by some of the most talented architects around. And no doubt the resort owners can afford to hire the best architects and designers, because rental units go for $500-$1,000 a night or more not including massages, 5-star meals, drinks, and so on.

The main point here is how we can learn from exemplary architecture – buildings that have been designed by the most talented designers with nearly unlimited budgets – and use them as inspirational springboards to create beautiful but modest, affordable dwellings. It’s not as difficult as one might think. Study the photos closely for details. Identify materials and note the patterns, colors, trim, textures, fabrics, furniture, art and other objects. In most cases the main appeal comes from an open layout and close connection with nature. Nature, it turns out, is the main theme. That and striking, bold shapes like tall pyramid roofs. Predominate materials are stone, wood, bamboo, thatch and plants. Lots of plants! For instance, most bathrooms are hardly inspiring. You do your business and get out of there, right? But in these resorts you can find walled, partially open to the sky, outdoor bathrooms filled with plants. Imagine living on a tropical island 1,000 years ago and bathing in a natural pool in the forest. It would be paradise. That’s the basic look they’re trying to capture.

Another example is the dining area, possibly a private patio surrounded by lush plants and exotic flowers, with a careful balance of privacy, integration with the surrounding vegetation and views of the sea and/or mountains. (You wouldn’t want the guests disturbed by groundskeepers, maids or other mere mortals.) Again, the main theme is nature, and one of the most striking features is a water element like a fountain or a plant covered stone wall with water trickling down the side into a pool.

You may be wondering how you can possibly afford this level of luxury. The solution is acquiring local, natural materials that make sense in your area and building it yourself. While you could spend a fortune building one of these resorts, you can scale it down and build something extremely beautiful at extremely low cost. Many natural materials are free for the taking or very inexpensive – rocks, rustic poles, twisted branches, drift wood, logs chiseled out to hold plants, rustic slabs for benches and tables, sea shells, bamboo, saplings, thatch, etc. Plants can be gathered wild in certain places (get permission if necessary), purchased as small starts or started from cuttings and seeds. The main requirement is time to collect the materials and build everything. If you’re reading this blog, you likely have more time than money. You don’t have to pay landscape architects and landscapers. Do it yourself on the cheap. Take things one step at a time, do a little here and there, have fun with the process and gradually turn your home into a paradise. Hint: even a little goes a long way.

Image source 1: Thailand Housing.com
Image source 2, 3: Traveler Inspire.com

Related: Preferred Building Materials for the Rich?

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