Variety, Variation or Just an Illusion?

During my graduation year I was a young enthusiastic and rather timid architect to be. I was not yet sure of my foothold and of how high I was to “raise” my voice. My graduation internship was on new ground: being abroad (cultural and social novelty) and in the largest architectural office environment to that date. I was reluctant to make a strong point unless I was 1000% sure I was right and knew how to back that up.
I remember one of the conversations I had with one of the primary architects of the office. He was giving me the tour of the project I was to further work on. Nothing fancy, just plain old independent houses within a lovely little neighborhood. He was very proud of how they succeeded in maintaining the individuality of each one and underlined several times how highly important is to have the houses different. I was thrilled to hear that, but seriously confused. The plans I was looking at had barely any differences. The facades had the same windows in the very same locations. The one thing that was obviously different was the attic window which presented a variation of circle, square and rectangle shapes. Continue reading

The Hamster Box

Neufert’s magical book for architects has this lovely page about balconies. It exemplifies the various types and their characteristics.
Balconies are exterior structures, typically on the outer limits of the facade with the simple purpose of providing outdoor experience to the residents of an apartment. When these balconies are placed inside the limits of a facade (biting out of the floor plan) they are called loggias. Typically loggias tend to be used in warmer environments when the heat would be turning the balcony into a bit of a desert. They are also good options when the plots are small and close to the public line, which does not allow for overhang.

neufert-page_zps2e1z3ky4 Continue reading

The Door

Though extremely useful and highly loved within an apartment, a door occupies a large surface. The surface that a door uses in the process of opening is a dead space. Can not be occupied with anything else and has to be taken in consideration when calculation circulation routes within the room itself as well as within the house/apartment.

Front doors
• Open outside in public buildings due to safety reasons. Just picture waves of people running out in case of fire. You don’t want any of them to splash on the door in a fit of panic.
• Open outside in blocks of flats due to the same reasons as above.
• In the case of a house which has a much smaller number of people involved the front door opens indoor. The reason is simple. Snow. One Mother’s nature fit and 1 meter (and more in some places) of snow would trap you in the house. This however means that in places where the snow is of no concern the rule might not apply.
• Front door of an apartment opens indoor. Same reason as the first two. In case of fire opening the door in the hallway has the potential of endangering people running for safety.

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“-Re” House no.3: Window Fear (1/2)

The functional style is a strong element in the Dutch residential architecture. A large part of it is indeed practicality. So, from the perspective of the contractor it makes perfect sense to have a limited number of products. It simplifies the task of giving a price estimation, it makes construction faster and eases the life of the building team.

The more the contractors use this approach, the more the clients assume that those are the only available/possible options and decrease their number of demands. However, clients not requesting other options does not exempt architects from the responsibility of providing the best possible architecture.*

One of my architectural “ponderings”** is in regard to the dark, enclosed, rather depressing bathrooms of the modern day apartment. Excepting the situations when there is literally no other option, I never understood why I should give up the pleasure of an aired bathroom, bathed in sun light and fresh air, just for the ease of the contractor and construction team.
Most people today have a windowless bathroom. So the best way to relay this is to take a look at the pictures bellow. The spaces aren’t necessary big, however the presence of a window makes the space feel larger and warmer. Continue reading