Monday, October 5, 2009

Dreaming of the Rosenbaum House tonight

A rant with a difference tonight, and I'm treading on dangerous ground because I am not an architect, and have never pretended to be.

I've just been poring through the real estate magazines, looking for somewhere reasonable for our family.  But nothing compares to what I think are the greatest houses ever built, both by Frank Lloyd Wright - Falling Water and, my personal favourite, the Rosenbaum House.  Yes, yes, I know Falling Water leaks and has mould issues, and that the original construction was rushed and the concrete cantilevers sagged, but that's not really so different from my current place.  I absolutely love the design of the building and have never tired of staring at it for hours.  Then I tagged along to an architecture lecture with my first boyfriend, discovered that Falling Water would be the case study for the term, and I was hooked (to the lecture, not the boyfriend, and I didn't become an architect - this is probably a good thing).

I went on a tour of  Falling Water when I worked in the United States and decided that I would love it even if there was no water.  I had always admired this house.  And then, on a whim, I decided to visit the Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama.  I fell in love.  The design is so simple, and yet so appealing with the living areas at one end, the bedrooms at the other end, and a "hub" in the centre with the kitchen - an area where any family instinctively gravitates.

When we looked at building our own place a few years ago, I decided I didn't want a place with as many steps as Falling Water (heavily pregnant with a broken ankle might have influenced this), and I asked an architect if he could create something like The Rosenbaum House, and make it north facing with rammed earth or mud bricks.  He laughed at me.  This is never a wise thing to do.  I paused briefly, puzzled at his mirth but lost interest in pursuing it any further with him when he said he had never heard of it and wasn't interested in looking at it and showed me a prefab thing with a toilet directly facing the front door.  That was the end of our relationship with the architect.  No love lost there.  But that was also the end of our plans to build my dream mock-Rosenbaum House.  Two more children quickly followed and our savings disappeared.

So here's my rant.  The houses in every Property Press I've looked through in the last 3 years - all of them - are rubbish.  They either face the wrong way, or don't have enough windows, or are unimaginative prefab things, or are old and look decrepit, or look like former state houses, or appear to have a toilet directly facing the front door (is this a NZ standard?).  The options in Wellington are dire.  Guess we won't be viewing any houses this week.  Perhaps I need to lower my standards.

So, if you are bored and want to see what proper houses look like, have a nosey http://www.fallingwater.org/explore?to=1  (click on Architectural Tour and begin the tour) and, my personal favourite, http://www.wrightinalabama.com/ and http://www.pbs.org/flw/buildings/usonia/usonia.html (it's my favourite so it gets two links.  It's worth two links.)

2 comments:

PC said...

" The houses in every Property Press I've looked through in the last 3 years - all of them - are rubbish. "

All true.

My favourites are always the couples who appear in the real estate pages to talk about having completed their dream project, about how they "love living in their [box of a] house," at the end of which you're told the house is now on the market.

They love it, but not enough to stay there.

"Perhaps I need to lower my standards."

Nah. You just need to talk to a good architect. :-)

Opinionated Mummy said...

Agree -those articles invariably make me laugh. Never talk about the dodgy piles that make it more cost effective to sell!

I also have a fondness for the houses in Coober Pedy. Not attractive from the outside, but very comfortable on the inside.