Simplicity, Intentionality, and Architecture

The practice of building is one whose roots extend back to the very beginning when man required shelter from the elements. That practice developed over millennia, forming the many traditions we now see and experience the world over. In contemporary practice, buildings have become increasingly complicated—particularly following the advent of air-conditioning (see Dean Hawkes Environmental Tradition for a history on how air-conditioning shaped the design of modern buildings). The beloved villages of Europe and quaint town squares of our American cities and towns stand as a testament to the notion that this need not be the case. These historic places have, and continue to form the background for the childhood and adult memories of countless people. They have been adapted to serve the needs and lifestyles of the present day. Buildings used to be simple, albeit requiring the acquired skills of talented crafts people.

Bruges

 

The simplicity of traditional forms and details often go hand-in-hand with time tested methods designed to weather the elements in an enduring way—be it an eave return elegantly designed to avoid water pooling inside a soffit, or a porch railing whose bottom rail is designed to prevent the spindels from rotting with continual exposure to snow and rain. Often our historic towns are filled with houses and buildings that use simple, informed technologies to address issues of weather and climate. These buildings are often definable shapes (an L, a square, a rectangle, etc). They were well informed by a tradition of knowledge which understands the properties of the materials used and how they weather. They were simple and informed, and consequently enduring.

San Gimignano Gateway
Eave Detail

As considerable investments for those wishing for a new home or business, the process of both design and construction should be well considered. Buildings are lasting cultural artifacts, capable of being handed down through generations. The rooms of our houses are where the memories of our families are formed. In a similar way to how a song can elicit memories of times past, daily memories of a place also speak to the lasting impressions our buildings leave us with. A simple sunset in a bedroom that looks out across a valley as a child can elicit strong memories for a grown adult years later. An afternoon breeze against the curtains of an open window in a kitchen may recall the sweet memories and smells of the rejuvenation of spring. A bakery shop whose wood shelves smell sweetly of the bread and pastries that for years have passed over their rails. Each of these aspects of daily life enrich and form the memories we hold of a place. They are simple elements, that when given deliberate thought, add value and meaning to a place.

Charleston Interior
Villa Farnese Interior
Giorgio Varsari's Loggia, Arrezzo

As designers, these memories shape and inform the work of Holverson Design. They are an inspiration to the work we do. What a great privilege to help provide the setting for other's lives. And what joy to include beauty as part of that vision.