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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On 12:00 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in ,
Now, I don't like to get snipe-y about architecture but sometimes its necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, so we can see what works and what doesn't. So we can make better decisions about our future. So we can find joy in the spaces we surround ourselves with.
There have been a rash of ugly buildings popping up around Taos that are not just ugly, they are also reeking of bad design.


This is one. Its taken nearly 2 years to build, probably because its so ugly no-one wanted it finished.
I won't get into why its ugly, that's apparent. No amount of painted stucco can fix the ugly here.
But here's why its a model of bad design:
  • The stone base around the house serves no purpose except to become a haven for rodents and critters, and water and/or snow around the base of the structure which will not melt because it will be down in all the nooks and crannies and not exposed to the sun. This threatens the foundation.
  • You really don't need deep shade devices on the east, and if you have shade devices at all, you make them permeable so they don't hold water and let the good light in (but keep the bad light and glare out). If you do have a solid shade device, you put a slope on it so it won't hold water and snow.
  • The windows are inoperable. WHAT is that about? Does this person live in Taos, where the spring and fall are prime open-air times? Are they afraid of fresh air? Because the Passiv Haus, which this is taken from, DOESN'T WORK WHEN THE POWER OR GAS GOES OUT. Do you remember huddling together in front of the fire last winter when we didn't have gas? Mechanical systems require power, at least, and gas too in certain combinations. So when it gets cold, good luck, because there are not enough south-facing windows on this building to help with solar gain so you can stay warm!
  • The parapet doesn't go all the way around the building, and in fact, has no reason for being at all.
  • The shade device over the door is preventing the snow from melting at the entrance, and you can see clearly in this photo. Yes, I realize its a death trap, or a litigation trap. Think the designer does?
  • Each of those punched holes with a glass block in it probably took an hour to frame and fill. An hour that someone paid good money for, for very little effect.
  • Why are there sidewalls at the front door and not a vestibule? The door faces WEST, primary direction of HOT summer winds, and dust, which we get to enjoy imported from Arizona. This will exacerbate it by funneling it into the structure. 
  • All that water is going where? no where! its a resource! We should treat it as such!
  • Barren lot plus no landscaping? NOOOO! There should be trees on the south and west of the house for summer shading and just general beauty and approachability! Approachability means more business if its a business! Evergreens on the north to shed the winter winds! Come on!
These are just a few things I noticed as I passed by yesterday. I haven't been inside. But as far as good design goes, I have the information I need to say NO WAY, this does NOT work for Taos. We have a responsibility to future generations to not make more bad architecture that uses resources unwisely and puts a burden on the owner to work harder (major maintenance issues, let alone comfort issues) for less (satisfaction).

I'm starting today, by sharing what is bad with my community so we can know what not to do next time. Because good design saves money, time, and effort, and it makes you happy.