Part of a Resort Garden, we were asked to design a low hedge in the form of a maze, making it embody the spirit of the outdoors and embracing a family fun atmosphere. With that, SimpleTwig Architecture proposed the following where animals, a bear, raccoon, seal, beaver and gofer all interact in a whimsical composition.
Homes are functional machines, although most people don’t consider this factor when designing a new home, or only as a side note. Lets, for a moment, discuss the functional aspects of what humans have to deal with when functioning in a home solely from their point of view, and assume there is a fitting design to solve their daily and weekly tasks in order to save humans the maximum amount of time, thus providing extended opportunities to enjoy life. It’s a house as machine examination!
For this article, we focus on the habits and routines of Humans, in order to create a more perfect home.
Okay, so we wake up to start the day…
There could be an order to what we do, but lets just jump to the actual tasks and list them in no particular order:
- Prepare and Eat Breakfast
- Take a Shower
- Shave, Brush Teeth and do other Bathroom Duties, that’s right I said ‘duty’. This can include brushing hair, putting on lotion/powder.
- Prepare Clothing and Get Dressed
- Associated activities include putting back the tooth brush/paste, soap, shampoo, towel, pajamas, turning on/off lights/vents, warming up water, cleaning shower/tub, cleaning bathroom floor and fixtures, cleaning mirror.
With early morning duties, all which consume our time, often our commute allowing for very little time to enjoy these activities, results in the fact that most people would like to see these activities done as efficiently as possible, to get them out of the way, to ensure one has a proper breakfast which is often ignored or put off and consumed during travel time, etc. And it’s expected that after this morning transition from our deepest restful sleep that we will look fully awake and put together perfectly. It’s just not a good time to be a human.
Then imagine this: we wake up and push a ‘morning prepare button’. The water is preheated, our tools for bathroom activities are arranged on the sink, the lights/vents prepare themselves for our arrival and our cloths are arranged in a way for easy access for quick dressing. Further as we enter the bathroom there is a place where we put our pajamas that ushers them to the laundry in a special container for bed clothing, the shower starts and we step in. Upon completion there’s a warm towel reaching out to us for our use. During the entire exchange breakfast, based on a menu we pre-prepared is, well, preparing itself in the kitchen and has delivered itself in the time we take to finish our bathroom duties and get dress. Meal, ready for consumption, invites us to sit down, with the news on the tube or perhaps some background music, heck whatever our ideal routine desires.
Admittedly this sounds like a fiction from the future, but there are things we can do in our design of home to incorporate the functionality of every day living, as we already do. Certainly keeping towels near the shower, or providing a laundry chute, perhaps locating a walk-in closet between the bathroom and bedroom in a way that doesn’t allow humidity to enter the closet where it could be absorbed. Certainly we could provide means for individuals to arrange their ‘bathroom tools’ easily on the countertop, and make it easy to put them away, and set programming on lights, coffee pots and other items to help smooth over the somewhat complicated process of making one presentable.
Besides this morning routine, or for that matter the routine we take to make our way to bed, there are other functional elements that could and should be incorporated into every home. Often ignored and forgotten, they can help take the edge off our requirements allowing us to be more efficient and thus save time, but more importantly help us from becoming dysfunctional. When overwhelmed by too many things, one can loose time to be with family, take a walk to the park, to enjoy a quality life. By shaving off the time it takes to make our home functional, by designing the functional machines they should be, we can improve our own lives one component at a time. Lets look at a few things we all have to deal with, unless you’re the type to just hire someone to do it all. If that’s the case, then you clearly can afford to do these things anyway, so why aren’t you?
Using New York City as an example, we can examine the typical urban residential block. Part of a long and narrow grid it provides the basics for laying out residential and commercial districts and buildings. The American grid, with its ascending street numbers or letters, is an organizing approach meant to equalize, to account for expansion and to make navigation easy and efficient.
First we’ll look at a very early Sandborn Map surveyed as housing and other structures were filling in the blocks, analysis this in terms of road to lot ratio, housing disposition and it’s inherent pros/cons, and then explore a few property surveys to see some variations to the individual residential type in NYC.
This project involved the careful restoration of an 1890’s townhouse facade, with repointing, structural reinforcement, new structural lintels, cornice refurbishment, roof scape waterproofing and a new storefront system that retained the character of the building and neighborhood but kept modern conveniences of insulation and materials.
The following, so well written, I had to share (with permission) for the benefit of others. It is a comment in reference to a Crain’s article on scaffolding in NYC and why there is so much of it.
By Edward C. Greenberg; NYC copyright and intellectual property litigator and teacher • 4 days ago
It was a rough renovation of a dilapidated unplanned studio apartment, into a narrow but legal one bedroom rental apartment. This gut renovation had its twists and turns, but perseverance prevailed to complete this makeover, creating a warm and cozy one bedroom, one bath, full kitchen apartment.
We (SimpleTwig Architecture.llc) will show you the character, layout and thinking behind several different rental apartments (this is the second of several articles)
We’re at that point in the year where the sun is starting to make its presence known by giving us extended day light hours. But the effects of the cold acts like winter is an entity cuddled in a slingshot in that the cold of winter is about to hit us, along with snow and ice that makes a daily walk a risk taking adventure. Is there a way of guaranteeing that our walkways will be free of snow and ice year around? I believe there is.
With spring around the corner, lets take a quick look at one of our SimpleTwig garden projects during the renovation of a Carroll Gardens Brooklyn townhouse.
When purchased the garden was overgrown with fallen fencing, and whatever thrown wherever. Our first steps were basic cleanup. The ivy was trimmed back and the trash, fencing and anything not savable removed. We kept the existing gravel cleaning it up so we could use it as a base for a new slab and tile.
This garden is just 30×40 feet square with buildings on 3 sides. Because of this we decided to make more of the planting area by raising it, and at the same time provide additional seating for informal gatherings.
In order to ensure a dry townhouse for years and decades, one has to properly detail roof connections so that there are at least 2 different systems in place directing running water away from the home. Here we examine the often overlooked townhouse gutter system which is typically slapped on the back of the house and glued in place.