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Monday, February 20, 2017

What Were They Thinking--Houses

The Conch Shell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
This home was built with a mixture of recycled, found, and traditional materials.
Whoever said architects don't have a sense of humor? I don't know, maybe nobody. I only know that I would strongly disputed such a blanket criticism. Then again, maybe they're just crazy...or their clients are. In any case, perfect examples of such lunacy, whatever it's source, can literally be found all over the world. It must be a pandemic. Take the strange creation above. At first glance, it appears to be some sea creature washed ashore. Yet, it has a certain alien beauty that is all the more evident in the video at the bottom.
ICD Itke Research Pavilion, Stuttgart, Germany. Though not actually
a house, I couldn't resist using it as an example of the work of a
mad architectural "genius."
The German creation (above) also tends to remind me of a sea creature--a beached whale, having gorged itself on marine ova of some sort. Of course, the most acclaimed architects in the whole world are those commissioned by the gang at Disney. And though virtually everything the create is either retro, whimsical, or otherworldly. Disney's theme park "Toon town" domestic abodes (below), designed for each of their highly-paid "movie star" characters, have a tendency toward all three of these elements. Are the Disney architects required to be crazy? No, but it helps.

The Disney rodent residences (I'm not sure precisely what genus of creature Goofy might be), never had it so good until old Walter Elias made them box office stars.
Perhaps taking his inspiration from Disney, or maybe Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, the owner of what's come to be known by the locals as the "Spaceship House" in rural Tennessee, appears to have been his own architect and builder. Maybe he returned, having been kidnapped by aliens. Let's hope the neighbors don't mind the daily "close encounters."
The Spaceship House. Notice the out-of-context colonial street light in the front yard.
If the examples of architectural humor (above) seem strange, they also seem strangely beautiful in their own contextual element. However, that can't be claimed for what I've labeled the "just too weird" practical jokes below. When architects begin designing ships out of water and beehives with balconies simply to attract attention to themselves (and attract tourists), then what they create is no long architecture but an affront to the aesthetic sensibilities and personal lifestyles of those living nearby. We have a word for such works--eyesores.

It's no longer simply "good, clean fun" ala Disney, but
anti-social impudence.
Of course, architects must share the blame for "over-the-top" neighborhood travesties of good taste with owners--those with more dollars than sense. As artists, architects should offer their clients guidance, not squelching honest creative expression, but also not allowing themselves to become conduits and facilitators of bad taste, seemingly motivated only be their clients' urge to do little more than anger others living nearby. The domestic monsters below are prime examples of prime real estate being turned into communal liabilities.

"Oh, that's right, you live out there by the house with the stupid grin." When does Postmodern cross the line into silliness?
On a street in Sopot, Poland, stand two nearly identical buildings (below) known locally as the Crooked houses or the "cuddling" houses, depending upon how you feel about anthropomorphic architecture. They raise the question most succinctly: Should architects strive to inject an element of humor, even craziness, into their works? Should they try to "warm" them by giving them human traits. Remember, Bartholdi's Liberty Enlightening the World (the Statue of Liberty) standing on Ellis Island in New York Harbor, is actually little more than an (inspirational) sculptural, lighthouse, in effect, a "building" shaped like a woman. Though Bartholdi was no architect, in order to insure his enlightening "lighthouse" was structurally sound, he did employ a famous French engineer--Gustave Eiffel.

The Crooked (or cuddling) House,  designed by architect, Szotynscy Zaleski, Sopot, Poland.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at some of
the outlandish interiors which architects, their clients, and interior designing
co-conspirators have created.

Here's a sneak peak. Does anyone really
need a red carpet to get into bed?

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