The "shop talk" at the latest B/A/D Talks was full of inspiring, visually engaging ideas shared by talented speakers who are well regarded in our Builders/Architects/Designers Community.
TOPIC: Narrative Architecture, exploring how narrative helps determine the design, experience, and interpretations of the built environment, was the rich topic at this B/A/D Talks event.
SPEAKERS: Our three panelists each offered their perspectives as an architect, a writer, and a photographer in the field of residential architecture:
Mark Hutker, Hutker Architects; Brian Vanden Brink, Architectural Photographer; Bruce Snider, Contributing Editor, Custom Home and Residential Architect magazines
Our moderator, who so brilliantly guided the conversation was Kyle Hoepner, Editor-in-Chief, New England Home.
EXCERPTS: The captured excerpts below give you a glimpse of what the conversation offered as we traveled through four quite different homes that employed elements of narrative architecture, including time, history, light, nature, landscape, craftsmanship, stewardship, community, process, dreams, emotions, and family.
"Tell me about your perfect day in your house. Write a diary. Write a diary about the best summer day in your new home, the best winter day, the best day when it rains. What happens with your kids that day? ...What happens? What goes on? So we started asking for these diaries. It's amazing the information you get.
"So what I'm going to do here is experiment with this. I've never done this; hope it works - but I'm going to read one of these diaries and you're going to witness slide by slide the result of the design process and construction. And we'll see what happens." -Mark, "a diary house" designed by Hutker Architects
"We go out on this site, we collected shells, sand, we took pictures, brought bark from trees back and the driftwood. And we told them [the clients] these are the materials, textures, ambiance of the natural environment, and if you want to relate to a place, don't you really relate to the things that don't change over time? That resonated with them." -Mark, "Duin Huis" designed by Hutker Architects
THE REAL SAUCE
"Often I see the first reaction is to go to Houzz and just start picking all the stuff they want and then they've got the house designed in their mind when they come to you. Well that's all the commodity stuff, but where's the real stuff, the stuff that puts it together - like how you want to live. And that's where the real sauce is: in how you want to live and the interactions that you want to foster in your home." -Mark Hutker
"I think that when you make decisions about building well and use fine craftsmanship and tune the house to the environment it's a part of - in a very careful and stewardship driven way - that there is community value, meaning beyond just that owner, that I think will pay back over time." -Mark Hutker
(note: Just one succinct quote here from Brian's talk. His beautiful architectural photographs of the four homes shown throughout this presentation spoke to us beyond words.)
"I've photographed houses that I hate and they end up shooting like a million bucks and they get published ten times. I don't understand that. But I think that the best work always comes from being respectful of your clients, listening rather than speaking, speaking carefully when it's appropriate, and working together, using your own dynamic creativity to bring to the equation. But it starts with listening and being respectful." -Brian Vanden Brink
IF THERE'S A GREAT HOUSE, THERE'S A GREAT STORY
"When you land on a project that you know is going to be great to publish inevitably there's something great behind it. There's never been a case for me when I got into the project and I found that there was some clunker in it somewhere, like, the builder wasn't completely up to snuff, the architect and the client couldn't quite get along, there was a lawsuit. When it really sings at the end that means everything was right all the way through. It's not like there can't be friction at some point in the process, but when you get this outcome it's not in spite of the process it's because [of it] and the people involved.
"If I present a project to an editor and she or he says, 'Well what's the story behind it?' I don't even care. There's going to be a story behind it; because if there's a great house, there's a great story." -Bruce Snider
"I think function is an issue there but emotion is just as important. If you are demonstrating something with your house that's not genuine then I think that is an enemy of being able to invest emotion in the house. Then it becomes some sort of a billboard for your self image. And that's not the recipe for a great house or a great life in your house." -Bruce Snider
"...when you have the privilege of building a house for yourself, the experience of designing it and building it becomes part of the history and if you're working with great people than that becomes a great experience so the history of the house gets kick-started in that way." -Bruce Snider
"We've been talking a lot about narrative in the history of the house; narrative for the creation of new houses. Another important aspect is - and that's one of the reasons we have a photographer and a magazine editor here - the narrative also continues to function in how that house is presented to the world and how everyone else in the world thinks about that house and about custom building, architecture, and design generally. Because each of these projects done for individual clients becomes part of the world conversation on how should houses be, and what do we want the to do, and what they look like." -Kyle Hoepner
Event Photos by Amanda Novocin Photography