Is it possible to create a vernacular work in today’s overly published and xeroxed architectural culture?
With an interest in the rural architectural landscape of central Alabama, the owner set out to physically build a home for his family while discovering, through observation and exploration, that the vernacular process often produced whimsical and unexpected forms along the less traveled and often elusive back roads of the state. Through this journey, it became evident that vernacular does not accept predetermined ideas, borrowed thought, or mimicking form, but is rooted in process, in construction, in function. This process is directed not by the pursuit of a grand architectural form or the replication of “polite” design, but by local, easily manipulated materials meeting the functional needs of the inhabitants. The architect’s involvement, engaged from the beginning, was to address the proportions of the developing forms, solve the challenge of an extremely difficult topography, explore passive design strategies, conserve as many trees as possible on the site, and to design furniture from discarded construction materials. As new forms developed, focus became not on the social acceptance of the developing idea, but how wood, metal and stone would work together during the construction process, leaving a path of discovery from the large corrugated metal clad entrance, to the exterior railing and stair assemblies, to the onsite fabrication of the front door, to the large plywood “trees” hanging from the ceiling in the living room. More respectful of the journey taken by so many statesmen before, only one word is needed to answer our question.
Honorable Mention, AIA Alabama Chapter
Merit Award, AIA Birmingham Chapter