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The House Without and Within | Birmingham Architecture

“The ‘styles’ –-for he must indeed have something to furnish—come in as the great contribution of the architect. They intervene in the surface decoration of facades and of drawing rooms ; this is the degeneration of ‘style’, the old clothes of a past age ; it is a respectful and servile salute to the past : disquieting modesty!” – Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture “Because we are in the world, we are condemned to meaning, and we cannot do or say anything without its acquiring a name in history.” – Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception There is a history of architects and designers who struggle with the balance between earnest design and the accepted “style” of the times.

How Music Is Like Architecture | Birmingham Architects

Music, in many ways, is like architecture: both are journeys and experiences. Both can start out in an unfamiliar place, only to end up with something profound and, in many cases, beautiful. The idea of a relationship between music and architecture isn’t new; it has been around for hundreds of years. Andrea Palladio, the master Renaissance architect from Italy, wrote a treatise comparing the shapes and sizes of rooms to harmonic ratios in music. Countless architects since have found the same timeless elegance in music as in design, and it’s no wonder that many are also musicians in their spare time. As architects – and occasional musicians – we understand how the creative process in both med

The Makings of a Unique Southern Home: Inspirations in Design and Vernacular

What makes a home? Why do our homes look the way they look and function the way they function? Beyond the families that inhabit them and the memories they create, a home is more than a mere, organized collection of wood, metal, glass and tile. It is a way to express something. The problem is that we aren’t often aware of the why behind what we choose – and that can restrict us from finding a true purpose of design instead of merely copying what others have done, without any real reason other than to have what they have. When designing and building my family’s home, I chose to explore and seek the intent of southern vernacular. In architecture, vernacular is basically the way that someone so

Exploring Order and Chaos in Design and the Creative Process

“The answers you get depend on the questions you ask.” Thomas Kuhn The creative process requires a certain amount of introspection, and general navel-gazing. We are certainly not above that sort of thing here at the studio. Like the quote from Kuhn suggests, how you start a project has certain unavoidable consequences. It becomes important at a certain point to foil your own plans, and indeed question the notion of plan making in general for some more nimble notions like strategic anticipation, or improvisation. Like many designers, when looking for inspiration, nature seems to be as good a starting point as any. So, asking ourselves how we would describe how we organize and attend to de

Introducing the Spare-O: Turning Spare Wood into (Useful) Art

There come a couple of times each year here in the South when summers give up the oppressive heat and the winters thaw. Times when the seasons seem more obliged to us. bDot asked: “Can something spared from the junk heap reconnect us with ‘Nature’, while altering the urban fabric and restoring us to the courtesies of the past?” Sometimes the answer is simpler than we think. To celebrate the changing of the seasons and the opening of our doors in invitation to the public, there’s the Spare-O. As you can see in the above video, the Spare-O is a work of art created from something that formerly had no purpose, no reason for being. After plying our trade with other projects, the refuse – the sp

Exploring the Wilds of Memory: Our Clubhouse | Birmingham Architects Blog

Think back to your childhood, exploring the woods for the first time. The sights, the sounds, the excitement of being in the wilderness – all of these memories invoke in us a special passion for being surrounded by the environment. This excitement is perfectly encapsulated in the experience of building a clubhouse. Whether we clumsily built them ourselves with whatever scrap material we could find, or we enlisted the help of our fathers and older brothers, our clubhouses were retreats, bastions for us to experience the joys of childhood in a world that was what we made it. At first glimpse, the Clubhouse is the counterpoint to the landscape. Its orthogonal form complements the landscape by n

The ADDR3SS | A Community for the Chronically Homeless

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa Addressing homelessness today is more than just giving people a place of their own. It’s providing a space for an individual to be who they are, and a place with which to identify. Everyone has their own story and point of view. “Chronically Homeless” as defined by HUD: An unaccompanied homeless person (a single homeless person who is alone and is not part of a homeless family and not accompanied by children) with a disabling condition (substance abuse disorder

Making Art: Exploring the Tools We Use as Architects and Designers

When we think of tools, a few things probably come to mind. We think of a carpenter and his hammer or a surgeon and his scalpel. We think of computers, screwdrivers, and other physical implements used to achieve tasks. But when we think of architects, what comes to mind? Beyond physical equipment, like pencils and sheets of paper, architects use a variety of intangible tools– to design and create art in the form of architecture. As architects, we use a variety of elements to create associations between the buildings we design and the humans that interact with them. Here is the first in a series of overviews of a few of those tools. Mass and Proportion Mass and proportion can give an object i

How Music Is Like Architecture | Birmingham Architects

Music, in many ways, is like architecture: both are journeys and experiences. Both can start out in an unfamiliar place, only to end up with something profound and, in many cases, beautiful. The idea of a relationship between music and architecture isn’t new; it has been around for hundreds of years. Andrea Palladio, the master Renaissance architect from Italy, wrote a treatise comparing the shapes and sizes of rooms to harmonic ratios in music. Countless architects since have found the same timeless elegance in music as in design, and it’s no wonder that many are also musicians in their spare time. As architects – and occasional musicians – we understand how the creative process in both med

The House Without and Within | Birmingham Architecture

“The ‘styles’ –-for he must indeed have something to furnish—come in as the great contribution of the architect. They intervene in the surface decoration of facades and of drawing rooms ; this is the degeneration of ‘style’, the old clothes of a past age ; it is a respectful and servile salute to the past : disquieting modesty!” – Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture “Because we are in the world, we are condemned to meaning, and we cannot do or say anything without its acquiring a name in history.” – Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception There is a history of architects and designers who struggle with the balance between earnest design and the accepted “style” of the times.

Exploring order and chaos in design and the creative process.

The creative process requires a certain amount of introspection, and general navel-gazing. We are certainly not above that sort of thing here at the studio. Like the quote from Kuhn suggests, how you start a project has certain unavoidable consequences. It becomes important at a certain point to foil your own plans, and indeed question the notion of plan making in general for some more nimble notions like strategic anticipation, or improvisation. Like many designers, when looking for inspiration, nature seems to be as good a starting point as any. So, asking ourselves how we would describe how we organize and attend to design problems here at bDot we amusingly suggest we simply “swarm”. It’s

Introducing Red Mountain Bikes | Birmingham Architects Blog

Have you heard of a business called Red Mountain Bikes? If not, it’s okay – it’s not a real business. One day, we noticed a large group of cyclists congregating in a parking lot across from our bDot 29th Street Studio. Seeing such a large and vibrant gathering – a community, really – inspired us to create a business out of thin air, one that would cater to the needs of Birmingham’s growing bicycling community. We decided that Red Mountain Bikes would be a bicycle repair shop and store. We imagined that the owners previously had a mobile bike repair shop that would travel around town, performing repairs and serving as a place for cyclists to gather. Now it was time for a more permanent locati

The bDot Bus Stop | Birmingham Architects Blog

What is a bus stop? Besides the obvious, of course (a place for people to wait for the bus). As Birmingham architects, we see public transportation all around us. We see people waiting on the side of the road next to blue and white markers, all throughout the year, whether it’s hot, cold, rainy or dry. And as we contemplated this question, and observed how people interact with their bus stops, we started to see that bus stops are a combination of marker, shelter, transportation interchange, and social space. This intriguing combination made us wonder: What would make a better bus stop for Birmingham? Visibility as a Landmark The first angle we took viewed the bus stop as more than just a pla

The Relationship between Designing Furniture and Designing Buildings

As architects, we are primarily tasked with designing buildings. That doesn’t mean we can’t direct our talents elsewhere, as we do with our custom furniture design. One may wonder what designing furniture could possibly have in common with designing a structure. After all, they’re on two completely different scales of human interaction. But there is a link between designing for one and designing for the other, of creating furniture and also creating buildings in which furniture resides. We like to first look at furniture design as a microcosm of architecture in general. Both types of projects are made up of details and connections, just on different scales. Both are also comprised of dealin

How a Law Firm’s Office Bridges the Gap between Traditional and Modern in the South

In architecture, there is a divide of sorts between two styles: the pull of the traditional – a retelling of a storied past, based on preconceptions and rooted in culture – and the alluring progressiveness of modern. Bridging that gap – or chasm, at times – can be difficult, especially if the client itself is divided between the two sides, wanting two different looks and environments for the project. If some involved want traditional, and some want contemporary, how do you find a middle? How do you bring both together and deliver a project that satisfies all while remaining functional and true to the purpose of the structure and the outward message the client wants to transmit? With one comm

The Humanity of Southern Architecture: Our Work with American Family Care

It can be easy to think of architecture as a field obsessed with aesthetics – almost solely with how a building looks and appears inside and out. While aesthetics are important, so is function. Even more important is how the function serves its primary purpose: meeting the user’s needs each day. In other words, we at bDot Architecture focus on the humanity of Southern architecture – of how the design relates to people and what it communicates to them. Our work with American Family Care thankfully allows us to do just that. American Family Care Oxford Exterior American Family Care operates family care/urgent care clinics in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. They provide accessible prim

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