Category Archives: House Styles

The Biloxi Cottage: An American Vernacular House

Architecture tells us about ourselves. Whether it is academic architecture guided by refined aesthetic traditions or vernacular architecture designed and constructed by the layperson, it can reveal aspects of our history, our culture, or a particular place and time.

A study of the Biloxi Cottage, Christine G. H. Franck, 2006.
A study of the Biloxi Cottage, Christine G. H. Franck, 2006.

All architecture reflects its place, but vernacular architecture is inseparable from it because it relies on regional materials, simple forms, and local labor. For example, a building design will respond to the area’s climate: porches, large windows, and high ceiling are common in the hot and humid South, whereas small windows and low ceilings are typical in the cold and windy North. Because vernacular architecture speaks of its place and people, it allows us to experience diversity that, in turn, enriches us.

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Avoiding Fenestration Fiascoes

A beautiful house can only be so when the windows of the house are right.  All too often today houses that would otherwise be beautiful are not because of choices made in the placement and selection of windows.  While there are many issues of good design that affect the cost of a building, placing and selecting well-designed windows do not.  In the past, while directing the ICAA’s Program in Classical Architecture for Design and Construction Professionals, I have seen a wide range of today’s houses and common window products and have thus been able to see many of the most typical errors in fenestration. For a catalog of windows and their details visit my collection of windows.

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American Dutch Colonial Domestic Style

In 1608, Henry Hudson, an English explorer sailing for the Dutch East India Company in search of a shorter route to the Far East, discovered the great North American river that still bears his name. Although the prospect of a western route to the Asian subcontinent soon faded, the enterprising Dutch saw an opportunity to develop a lucrative fur trade in the New World. From 1613–14, Captain Adriaen Block was the first to map the area between Virginia and Massachusetts, which he named New Netherland. By the 1620s, thirty-some families were settled on Manhattan, Long Island, and in Connecticut. Few examples of their earliest homes exist, but their architectural legacy has survived.

Dutch Colonial

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