Saturday 27 August 2011

Houses I Liked

This photo's not tagged with a location, (the camera I bought before my travels has a gps chip, and about a million settings, it would take a year or three to learn them all. The gps eats battery life, so as the camera doesn't recharge off a car's power socket, I kept turning the feature on and off). However, I'm moderately confident it's in Senoia, Georgia.  I like a lot about this little house, the pastel colours, the wrap-around porch, the combination of curved and straight lines, the fancy detail-work, the white picket-fence, the surrounding greenery, even the brick paving.

I'll bet that tree out front was a fraction of today's size when the house was built.

This one I can be sure about, it's got a sign out front, Senoia Historical Society's H.Q. and museum. Again, like the colours, the busy roof-lines, the porch, the history. I'd guess the original house might well be the one in the middle, the porch house being built on at the front of the first as the original owner became more affluent. Just a guess, we didn't stop.

Love this. A very simple box construction, enlivened by a pillared porch with ornate detailing. Micro-house, but pretty in pink.

This one's not in Senoia, I think it might be Tomball, Texas, more modern, not a patch on the fancy ones above, but...

RDG's sister's place, a house built to look, externally, somewhat like a barn, but internally, an interesting mix of levels, full and half-height spaces. Vertiginous bookshelves. Top marks: I like it.

This one's a modern house, but incorporating a lot of those features I like, porches, decks, changes in roofline, levels, surrounded by greenery (RDG planned the landscaping, it's her professional qualification, Landscape Architect, clever woman!)
The house is built on sloping land, so there's a big basement below, Ha, yours truly looks at it, thinks "pottery, workshop!", the garage has space above. It's for sale, Newnan, Georgia.
And no. I can't afford it.

My aspirations might be better confined to a crumbling trailer-home in the woods.

So. All of the above are houses I like for varying reasons. Many are older houses, with history and stories attached, Porches are a factor. In the various parts of the country that I visited, a major factor for much of the year is heat. More modern houses seem to have very little thought given to passive energy efficiency, they rely on powered air-con totally.
But the earlier builders didn't have access to whole-house refrigeration, and so they designed their houses to take advantage of shade. Simply by building porches, in the sides facing the most of the day's sun, you can keep walls and windows in shadow, and dramatically reduce solar gain.
Energy efficiency matters as much in hot climates as it does in cold ones, and without getting into global warming and renewable resource preaching, it makes sense to build passive energy efficiency in, because both cooling and heating cost you money.  Yes, I appeal not to your sense of not despoiling the planet, because, let's face it, the reality is that most people don't really care, but we all would prefer to keep our money from being given to sheikhs so they can buy Ferraris, because they have the oil and we need it to keep our houses cool. Okay. That argument didn't work, but its 1:30 in the morning and my brain's slowing.
let it just be said, I have an interest in zero-energy-input building, passive houses, and my travels have led me to thinking a lot on the subject.
We humans are capable of building houses which require little or no electricity or fuel to stay warm or cool, at very little difference in cost from less efficient buildings.
Somehow, our current construction methods fall far short of what might be deemed desirable.

A story in the news, just before I left, was about deaths in the Houston area, related to the heat. It was said of at least two victims "They died because their air-conditioning units had been stolen". And the news report went on to say how poorer people couldn't afford the running costs. Which led me to thinking just how recent air-con really is, especially for the less well-off, and yet, Texas, the south, was colonised and thrived, long before refrigeration.
Maybe they died of heat back then too, of course some did, but at least they had the sense to build porches out, to shadow the walls of their homes, and designed their houses to allow passive cooling. Which seems not to be the norm now.
Posted by Picasa

Snappy Dressing, in Newnan, Georgia.

I should maybe mention that Newnan is one of the many locations used in the Zombie series "The Walking Dead" I like to think Newnan has a better dressed class of Zombie. If they dress from this store, it gives a whole new look to zombiedom, the "Zombie Pimp Look".
Posted by Picasa