Monday, February 8, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Although I am not up-to-date on architectural developments of any sort I have noticed that modern architecture and "cookie cutter" houses have been steadily gaining popularity. Upton’s “An American Icon” mentions several reasons developments (and the homes inside of them that look so much alike) are popular: in today's ever changing society, money is extremely variable and one's income is never stable. Jobs are outsourced, families move at a fast rate (on average, every five years as per and chances are your home will be another person’s home within the next decade and hence it is economically wise to make it appeal to a broad audience.

Although those reasons are perfectly valid, I continue to wonder what homes say about us. Can we examine a stranger’s home today, the way we examined Monticello, and learn something about that person? Since psychology generally refers to the United States as an individualistic society - do “cookie cutter” homes reflect that, or indeed, must they seeing our current situation? What does that say about the makeup of our society? I actually stumbled across this site yesterday - - that pokes fun of the lofty and detached look of some homes (the website specifically pokes fun at modern architecture, but there are different forms of modern architecture).

I remember someone telling me about an organization called Casa Familiar (roughly translated into Spanish, it means either Family House or as I like to think of it, Familiar House). The organization constructs homes for families in San Ysidro, a small border-town near Tijuana, and takes into account the stories and needs of the families they are constructing the homes for. For example, since most families make a living by selling items from home, the organizations creates homes which are easily accessible from the streets, that are open to the neighborhood. I think that is an awesome project and that the homes really say something about residents. “Cookie cutter” houses in my opinion, don't say much about the individuals living inside them, but maybe do say something about our society.

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