good blogs

Blog: Coffee with an Architect + Rural Studio

Coffee with an Architect is a blog that has really gotten rolling. Why is it suddenly everybody does this way better than me? In any case what caught my eye recently was some lovely photos of the rural studio work at Auburn University So I followed the link and found a treasure trove of beautiful images of projects completed in the Rural south.A bit of background on the rural Studio from the website

In 1993, two Auburn University architecture professors, Dennis K. Ruth and the late Samuel Mockbee, established the Auburn University Rural Studio in western Alabama within the university's School of Architecture. The Rural Studio, conceived as a strategy to improve the living conditions in rural Alabama while imparting practical experience to architecture students, completed its first project in 1994. In 2000, Andrew Freear was hired as thesis professor, and upon Mockbee's death, succeeded him as director while continuing to teach thesis. Under his guidance the focus has shifted from the design and construction of small homes to larger community projects.

They have created a huge portfolio of community projects and 20k houses. Here are a very few photos grabbed from the website:

Tiny Houses in Vermont with Peter King

I am a big fan of tiny houses. When I was a teenager I built a 12 x 16 cabin on my parents land and lived in it during the summers for more than a decade. It is still standing thanks to a tree that grew up right next to it. My mother in law is a fan as well and turned me on to the TinyHouseblog website which is fun to poke around in. There I discovered Peter King in Northern Vermont building some lovely little houses and holding workshops. This could have been me had I not gone to architecture school. His website is HERE

Brute Force Collaborative

Brute Force CollaborativeA well done blog with lots of good pictures Public toilets and Passive Houses! "It is our goal to advance the green discussion beyond ‘sustainable’ carpets and bike racks – and moving it towards sensible, intelligent green design. This will manifest itself through the documentation of green architects, projects and building techniques that hopefully some of you may find useful." public toilet

Core-ten Steel Siding or A606

I have been a big fan of Steel for siding for a while now. It is often hard to convince clients to try it. Someday, I hope to use Core-ten Steel on my own house either in flat panel form or 7/8" corrugated sheets. Here is a blog of interest: SIPs House It is a process blog about building a very cool small house in Portland, Oregon. The architects are SEED Architecture Studio. Of particular interest to me is the exterior siding. They Used Core-ten steel panels for part of the exterior. Core-ten is a steel that rusts to form a protective coating. It is very low maintenance and very beautiful. Pricing is unknown - they found a very cheap source. Locally, I have been unable to find it very cheap but I should pursue their link for a potential source. Look around and you may see examples of it in your area. There is a railroad bridge near the exit 3 rotary in Brattleboro made with Core-ten that is beautiful (other than the teenager spray paint thing) Here is a link to the SIPs house blog entry on siding. Also check out how they used old barn boards - beautiful!core-ten siding

build blog

Along the lines of; How I spend my time when surfing the net, I spend some time every week looking for what's out there in the architectural world with focus on residential and small scale projects.Here is a Firm whose website is great, the work they do is inspiring and they have a great blog that fosters thought and conversation. They are located in Seattle. TED:Ideas Worth Spreading is a collection of talks and presentations that help me keep the world in perspective.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

also GoLogic homes in Belfast Maine is worth checking out. They have some great prototype small passive house designs. When I look to the future of my own firm, This is a great model for one possibility. Although if I were to go this route I would worry that it closes me off from being the small town architect for lots of people and doing more non-residential projects.

Gouin Green

I just added a link to Gouin (Go-In) Green a process blog where some folks are building a SIP modular house.  The house is rather vanilla but the blog is full of excellent information and $ #'s which I always appreciate.  It looks like they actually used Alpen Windows which are super good and they talk about how they justified the extra cost.   There is also a long discussion of radiant heat in a super-insulated house in the Features section

ART TEC - Guy Marsden

This is what the web is all about.  Guy Marsden has a sprawling website (over 200 pages)  that I highly recommend only if you can relax for a while.  Guy is everything from an artist - he worked on "Star Wars" - to an inventor/engineer.  Much of the site is related to trying to be realistically self sufficient. I found lots of low-budget-do-it-yourself information as well as things for the more engineery types among us (of which I am not one of) (yet) such as his conversion of his gas lawn mower to solar charged DC batteries. ( my solution is simply to not mow the lawn)  I found lots of good materials and product resources as well.  This is something I'm always looking for as much of my work is very budget oriented and I am faced with questions such as " should I spend twice as much on triple glazed windows or is there a shade or window quilt or storm window or panel that could do the job for 1/4 the cost?"

fivecat's squidoo lens

I give up! I can't compete! Mark Lepage, a friend from college, has created this most useful page for my clients to use which contains, well, everything.  I can only assume that Mark has discovered ancient techniques allowing him to sleep only once per week. or less.  Guides, books, websites, blogs, organizations, magazines, architects,... I think Mark has minions.  I need minions. oh well.  here is the link:  Fivecat Studio's squidoo lens

"Prefab is Not the Answer"

I have been following the growing interest in prefab modern houses with growing interest.  I have been turned off by the very high cost of prefab whenever I have looked into it.  Most seem to finish out at over $200/ s.f.   The standard double wide all vinyl modular homes come in at under $70.  This is what most potential homeowners can afford on an average $50k income.  So I was pleased to see a very thorough critique of the claims made by the prefab mod house industry. This From Jetson Green:

This article was written by Chad Ludeman, President of Philadelphia-based postgreen and developer of the much talked about 100k House.

link to the article here

Entrepreneur Architect

I would like to thank Mark LePage for helping me learn how to spell this word.  Don't quiz me yet though.  Mark the blogger /architect has created a new website - Entrepreneur Architect -for those of you readers who are architects trying to build your own businesses.  He seems to be doing a very good job of it so I'm paying attention to what he has to say.

new blog links

I added a few new blog links tonight. Materialicious is a high traffic site that could suck up way too much time but well worth the visit as evidenced by the find below.

Hubcap creatures by Ptolemy

Longhouse is a single house design and build type blog which are fun to read sometimes to see how other people go about making decisions. The architect works for one of my favorite firms located in Maine. Elliot Elliot and Norelius. I am seduced by the long narrow house form of Longhouse but I need porches! I don't like the inside or outside but nothing in between nature of a lot of houses.