Architects, designers and other strange people (HLD 327)

12 Feb 2021

I was glancing through a news article and saw a reference to two derelict floors in a city building, describing the sight as one that ‘only an architect would love’. When I realised they were just referring to an empty building, I lost interest.

I thought they might be talking about some fancy architecturey type things that architects admire so intensely, and the rest of us scratch our heads wondering what the heck they were thinking…

There’s a lot of TV shows about renovations, grand building projects, and so forth, and they all seem to have one thing in common for me… I don’t really think they understand that human beings are going to live in those places.

A display home, to me, is like a bit of artwork, designed to demonstrate what something might look like – before humans move in. It’s a representation of that perfect moment in time, before you have unpacked all the detritus that you have accumulated through your years on this planet. That precise moment when the cleaner has just left, the paint is fresh and the appliances shiny.

It’s not real.

The renovation type shows I really do enjoy are the ones that delight in showing the large amount of storage spaces available to the people who will live in that house. Their houses still look like showrooms, but only because there are ample places to hide stuff away. But these shows are few and far between. More frequently you see bathrooms with a freestanding hand basin and nothing at all in the way cupboard spaces for your bandaids and face creams and razors. I don’t know what you’re meant to do with them in those sort of bathrooms. Maybe you’d store then in the linen closet, that is the size equivalent of a small picnic basket. I don’t know where you would store your small picnic baskets, by the way.

Oh – and those ‘display’ type homes never seem to have a toilet roll holder, possibly because they don’t want to weigh into the over or under argument in loo roll placement. (Over, of course!)

If you were to look online for ‘architect fails’ (yes I did), you’d find a bunch of buildings or overpasses that weren’t designed properly and unfortunately collapsed. Those are the biggies. But the little architect/designer issues in everyday houses – tiny bathrooms where you can’t have the door closed and sit on the toilet simultaneously, kitchens where there is no room for a fridge AND an oven, stairways obstructing doorways and so forth. Those make you wonder where the professional designers got their qualifications. If in fact they have got some.

Of course, disagreeing with architects and designers on what constitutes a lovely yet functional building, does not stop me watching those shows. I do set myself the challenge of imagining my family living in one of those architectural masterpieces, particularly when the kids were teenagers…

It’s a scary thought. The most applicable building would be one of those barn conversions.

Before the conversion.

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