Thursday, March 04, 2010

the serendipity of simplicity - combitechture

Oh man, it can't be that simple!! It just can't be! Oh but it is! I watched the movie, "Eddie and the Cruisers 1 and 2". Eddie was a driven rock-n-roll dreamer looking for a pure sound that would sustain itself and resonate forever in your heart and be memorable. I had to laugh when Rick Diesel who flaunting his technical skill and manual dexterity was told to take his ego tainted music and stuff it. The music is not for you, it's for them, Eddie told them all. Many hot shot musicians have been bridled and told to slow down and actually play the music they are playing. Listen, feel the spaces, the silences as well as the sounds. Oh, you like the head banging wall of sound do ya! I can't help you.

You think this doesn't happen in other disciplines? We barely survived the eye candy wars when the best desktop was the one that mimicked Fantasia. Hey you must buy our video card and added memory just to power our user interface desktop effects. Desktop interfaces are quite workable today Gnome and KDE are pleasant, Macs and Windows 7 is nice also. A good looking and responding desktop is of great and lasting value and as an added feature some adjustments to tweak the look and feel for a more edgy and personalized outcome.

One of my latest pre-occupations is thinking about cargo shipping containers converted into homes. I think many of the designs are fine but..........."I am trying to exhaust the square in my work", artist kind of thing is going on. It is like the government regulating corn crops by insisting on a certain strain of corn because it is scientifically the best. Mono-culture thinking says only use this stuff.

The cargo homes today are mostly cubes, stacked cubes. We are still getting over cubical living in the office why do we think living in cubes are fresh and modern? So many designers would take one or two cargo units to make shelter for poor or disaster stricken folks, that is fine. Then they will double those same units, stack them in a different way, add glass and covered walkways and call it a custom luxury house. We are cargo home designers, we just use cargo containers.

I guess I am sort of a idea integrator sort of guy. I was in love with quonset huts, geodesic domes and grain silos as soon as I saw them, and now cargo containers. I see no reason not to mix them for variety and interesting living spaces. My view goes like this. The forms or shapes are simply appealing similar to basic shapes of art (sphere, cube, cone, cylinder). Then the parts are larger, each piece encloses more space. (Try that with a brick.) Fewer pieces means probably more economic per square foot. Then the possibility of round corners without loosing valuable floor space. Yeah, you could do the Frank Gehry thing, (no offense Frank!) but I am talking about homes for the neighborhood not a statement of wild imagination meets architectural accomplishment. Exploding the box is like fishing with dynamite sticks. It's exciting but I can't hear and I'm eating fish chunks. Then the one size sits all, ticky-tack, change the color, reverse the design, development formula doesn't do it either.

If the envelope is restricted (50 x 150ft city lot) and the resources are bordering on not sustainable and not green (wood products, plastic products, steel products) and the finances are limited (wage loss, tight banks), you don't want to flaunt. I get riled to see well heeled folks "buy up" cargo containers to build cheap palaces of stacked cubicles, replacing container doors with floor to ceiling glass, the mark of architectural wealth and adding cantilevered walkway covers.  Two folks and a dog living in a 3000-4000 square foot cargo container palace stack while struggling folk buy cast-off second-hand regular homes of the old standard technology. I keep hearing a guy on TV, "don't waste your money!"

The thoughtful design of balanced choices, homey curb appeal with upgrade possibilities, durable and good value for the buck for both buyer and bank. Perhaps steel quonset structures and grain silos and geodesic domes could add flavor to our quick and easy cubic living. But blend them into each other and change them. Do Boolean addition.

My mantra, you are not advanced until technology is pushed down into the strata of average people. Cellphones and cars are cheap advancement, homes don't change for 50 or more years, they are always behind the times. We practically live in the past. It's ironic, we buy more and more cellphones and cars and now we want to live in the boxes they are shipped in. Then we don't want to change the boxes because it's cool and sheik (rhymes with "geek"), quick and easy. We are too lazy to really be creative in domestic architecture saying the quonsets are for ww2 vets, silos for farmers and geodesics for hippies and now cargo containers for the shipwrecked and the hip. We consume and have discovered the box it all comes in. We aren't a square people, no, we are cubic baby, 3D!

My thought playground will help you see a little differently, take note please:

I want to go inside!

 The rooster roof or mohawk roof.

 The day the earth stood still!

This last house has 1st floor containers, 2nd floor silo.
Yeah, I know, corny but cool.

I'm just giving you enough for you to get in trouble. In 3D, with some landscaping, etc, etc, etc; it will be different for you. 

You can even add a pitched roof if you must, I myself would like to see something different and more useful. You can add the stuff to preserve life and space in the box, Dropped ceilings to hide mechanicals and/or raised floors, spray-on insulation paint and thin thermal blankets/thermo barriers from NASA spin-off products. You can add solar panels, skylights, etc.

It is not the fanciness of form or fineness of materials, just what's a tad short of the cutting edge, the sweet-spot nobody wants to admit to. Now that you have the basics, go get Frank G. and fly.

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