ruminations about architecture and design

Thursday, May 8, 2014

covet thy neighbor's life

I think there's an old Russian joke about property ownership. When asked what he wants, a farmer says: "I'm not greedy, I only want the land that borders on my own."

When I look around my neighborhood, I see elements on other people's property that I wish I had--a south facing back yard, trim details, grape arbors, nicer trees and lawns (oh, the curse of the greenest lawn....). Before I get to wrapped up in buyer's remorse or envy, I find myself saying, "but thank goodness I don't live there" and focus on the negative features that I don't have to deal with.

The paradox of residential architecture in the United States is that we've resolved the important stuff in design and there's a great body of knowledge available for implementing it. 400 s.f. of shelter per person, a patch of outdoor space, climate control, access to transportation. The homes shown above have all that, and before I begin a long rant about sprawl and the desolation of the American experience, I have to admit that I under a different set of circumstances I would find happiness there. Wherever it is. Despite the uniformity, I could fixate on advantages that my house had, and criticize the condition of my next door neighbor.

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