In my perfect world, THE ideal house is very similar to a Monopoly Game House. It’s a simple rectangular shape with a 35 degree pitched roof. This structure would hopefully have a front porch (for neighborhood interaction and to gauge the weather), two to three bedrooms and a simple addition off the side or back. Probably made with hand tools. Wood or brick front stairs. It would follow Corbusier’s rule…”form follows function”.
The houses throughout time that correspond to this description include Romanesque houses, simple Italian or Portuguese rural stone houses, or perhaps Irish pre-famine houses. In the United States, these have translated into slave cabins, tenant houses, depression shacks, migrant labor shanties, or Southern shotgun houses. Sometimes they might be in the form of Scandinavian log cabins. In the 20th century these simple houses could be ordered through Sears and Roebuck’s catalogue for owners to build themselves from kits. These shelters usually make use of indigenous materials and sit well in the environment.
Of course now they are disappearing in the advent of McMansions, bad rooflines, and humungous driveways. The rooflines are always a pretty good indicator of bad design. Usually the many-faceted roofs run into each other at convoluted angles and don’t allow for straightforward drainage and look clunky. I have three neighbors with new houses with complicated rooflines that go nowhere. In all fairness to the Architectural profession, these were most likely designed by contractors. The rain can’t find a way to run off and neither can your eye.
Of course I am always looking for social context to place these houses, but usually the simple design and social constructs go hand in hand. You know just by looking at the humble exteriors
that they are cozy, albeit small, and warm. Sure it’s probably rough and tight living, but the possibilities exist for strong family hierarchy and responsibilities. In the digital age these could be the missing architectural necessities. Probably the only commonality is the ever-popular open floor plans.
This ideal house is the one I am always on the hunt for and searching for. I’ve even lived in and remodeled a couple of them. Somehow these houses keep to my minimalistic needs and conform to Corbusier’s rule. Seems pretty elementary to me, but not so easy to find.
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