Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I pulled one of my favorite books off the shelf recently for our next LIGTM book club selection. The book is "Compact Houses" by Cristina del Valle, and it focuses on "over fifty houses, each with no more than 1,300 square feet, that are unique for their versatility and ingenuity, and that offer many clever solutions for designing a compact house" (p7).
The book is very well laid out with excellent pictures, cross sections, floor plans and diagrams. You can't build off these plans, but they certainly would be a good start and a great source of ideas.
For years I have been entranced by modern architecture, particularly modular or pre-fab buildings. I would like to have a custom house that is quick to build, made of modular parts, and yet modern and attractive. This type of architecture is commonly found in magazines like "Dwell" and is all over the web, although I tend to rarely find these types of buildings in reality, since they often are impractical when people just want to build what commonly sells.
Some of the houses are as small as 300 feet; it seems that around 800 feet or so is when they become practical for a couple or a very small family (maybe a couple and a dog). The floor plans often feature a lot of natural light & windows and are well integrated into their lot lines.
The house on the cover is my favorite - a single family home and studio in Falkensee, Germany and built in 2003; this house is 1292 feet. I don't know how practical the "all windows" side is, but it certainly looks cool in the book.
I was saddened that so many of the cool houses were in Europe and Asia; very few were in the United States. I don't know if this is something to do with our building codes or the innate practicality of Americans, but I wish that we had more of these in the USA.
If you have a coffee table this is a fun coffee table book; for $35 it will start enough conversations to make it all worth while.
While we try not to talk too much politics here at LITGM I find it odd that more of those that profess worry about the environment don't move into smaller houses; this is the best way to limit your "footprint" as well as to consume less energy. I just like them because they are cool and eye-catching.