Let me start by acknowledging that architectural style is a matter of personal taste.  That being said, people who disagree with me are horribly mistaken, ill-informed, or boorish…or all of the above.

When it comes to building Green, it’s not just a matter of personal choice – it’s about a responsibility to our health and that of our children and to the planet itself in selecting sustainable materials and reducing energy and water demand.  But once you decide to go Green, how you incorporate those choices into your design is where I diverge from the mainstream.  I choose to diverge from the direction of contemporary design in Green Architecture for three key reasons:

  1. Traditional exterior design blends in well with neighborhoods filled with historic homes
  2. Traditional interior design tends to be warmer and provides a comforting sense of continuum – that the house has a past, present, and future
  3. Traditional materials tend towards wood vs. concrete, glass or steel and thus are softer and more “homey”

But those are not features that seem to appeal to the broad range of Green architects…from Michelle Kaufmann’s BreezeHouse designs,

to Modern Shed’s small office and studio sheds and small homes,

these houses just stand out from the background like colorful (or not so colorful) shipping containers, aching to emulate their apparent hero, Mies Van der Rohe.

As I looked at homes in person and online with these great Green features, I was left empty by what felt like a lack of soul, a lack of connection to either the earth (as in Santa Fe Pueblo-style adobe homes)

or to the neighborhood around them (i.e. like San Francisco’s largely Victorian-style homes).

I’m down with an interpretation of the traditional style vs. a straight duplication – I think there’s room for innovation – but too often these contemporary designs show little deference to their neighbors.

As for how the interiors feel?

I found a great blog today that conveys the emotional quality I think of when I see these large rectangular concrete and glass contemporary spaces…it’s called Unhappy Hipsters and takes a playful swipe at the Dwell style that has seemingly taken over Green design.

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