Friday, June 5, 2015

At Least You Can’t See it From the Street

It’s no surprise that I’m a traditionalist at heart. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about Tudor-Revival houses, medieval art, victorian architecture or preservation issues. That said, I don’t mind a thoughtful update for an older home or a new interpretation of a traditional design. Most of better results come when the old and the new are blended harmoniously together; that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them apart, only that the combination feels natural rather than forced.

That’s why I have a hard time with this Tudor in Rye, NY – where the owner tacked this very contemporary addition onto the back of a modestly-sized Tudor Revival home. I suppose I’ve seen worse; the color and materials do complement the existing house to some extent, but the end result just doesn’t work for me. It’s like you took two totally different house and jammed them together.

What’s more, it seems the owner doesn’t really like traditional or revival styles anyway—the interior, even in the older part of the house—is ultra-contemporary, with no hint of the original house left behind. All white, steel and glass…it looks like the windows were the only element preserved from the existing home.

I suppose they liked the neighborhood. It’s unfortunate that they just didn’t decide to build an all-new contemporary house, rather than compromising the overall appearance of this one. Perhaps the only good thing I can say here is (as you can see in the second photo) that the addition was placed at the rear of the house, and is not so visible from the street.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

No Surprise: Charles a Housing, Heritage Advocate

While I have seen and even paged-through Prince Charles’ 1989 book, A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture many times, I have never purchased a copy. I suppose I should.

The Prince’s views on architecture, and his preference for the traditional over the modern are well-known. Ever since his famous “monstrous carbuncles” speech back in 1984, where he lectured the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and lambasted modern design, the Prince has been steadfast in his support for traditional design, refusing to back down.

That’s why the recent release of the Prince’s correspondence regarding health, housing and heritage matters is no surprise. Six letters written by Charles have been published by the Government and show how the heir to the throne raised issues close to his heart with the heads of various government departments.

It’s the second batch of letters released under a freedom of information request. I’m not quite sure what the request had hoped to uncover, since the letters support what most people already know about Charles’ areas of interest and concern.

One letter, from June 2009, detailed his concerns about "major historic sites, many of which are lying derelict''. He also hit out at "unscrupulous owners" for abandoning certain unnamed sites.

In another, he expresses concern about the lack of affordable rural housing:
''I have seen from my visits around the country the real problems finding an affordable home causes for those on low incomes in the countryside - many of whom are carrying out essential jobs, such as farm workers, teachers, shopkeepers and health workers and on whom the future viability of rural life depends.''

All in all, the letter reveal little if anything new, but they do provide additional detail about Prince Charles’ dedication to housing and heritage issues.