From Bauhaus to Wowhouse

Tom Wolfe wrote an interesting little book years ago called from Bauhaus to Our House. Decrying the loss of ornament and “homey-ness” of our ascetic architectural style in modern buildings. (“O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, has there ever been another place on earth where so many people of wealth and power have paid for and put up with so much architecture they detested as within thy blessed borders today?-from Tom Wolfe).¬†Enter the NAHB with their cover story “Homes of the Year”. Multi-gabled, bloated, and proud to call themselves MacMansions. Everyone has to have one. It is the American Dream! Remember:

  1. Stuff expands to fill the space available. Even in the budget busting great rooms of palatial “Homes of the Year”, which first looked like intergalactic space with sparse furnishings, lest you have to get a second mortgage to afford enough furniture; eventually furnishings and ephemera accumulate to fill the void. Nature abhors a vacuum. Empty closets demand more clothes. Full basements and barns can act like black holes attracting all those things too good to throw out, or to be saved for the grandchildren. Believe me, I know, I just went through five families accumulation in an old Maine barn. I could hear the sigh of relief as the barn rose from its gravitational oppression. Remember:
  2. You mean we have to heat and cool this space? Even though we have made strides in envelope insulation, double the R, double the area and you are back to square one.
  3. It takes a lot of paint to paint a jumbo home. And wash all those windows. Maintenance can exceed mortgages five years into a large, badly detailed, complex MacMansion. ‘Nuf said.
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