Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Architecture Wednesday: Santa Ynez Simplicity

Sometimes it's not the view of the house, but the views in the house, and the views from the house. Like this simple, really not so big house in Santa Ynez, California.
It was designed for a couple who wanted a small, energy-efficient home that engaged the landscape and embraced the rural setting. In addition to the basic requirements of a two bedroom house, they wanted a separate guest house/studio, outdoor rooms, pool and barbecue area. 
I mean, it's California, no?
The house is notched into a steep hillside, becoming connected to the landscape; openings frame views, and blur the distinction between indoors and out. The main volume of the house, an east-west oriented wedge, functions as the dining/living space. The kitchen and master bedroom pierce this wedge and extend out to form protected courtyards on the north and south. The studio/guest house stands free of the main structure and defines and shelters the entry. 
Steel grating shades outdoor rooms, and operable wood screens provide shelter from western wind. Exterior shading combined with the thin building sections and generous openings keep the house cool despite extreme summer temperatures along the Southern California coast.
Combined with site walls and trellis structures, the landscaping—composed of drought tolerant natives—further defines the outdoor rooms and makes a gradual transition into the natural landscape. It was agreed that the 360-degree views and the existing oak trees offered by the site took precedence; a part of the only tree felled on the property--to make room for the driveway--has become a mantel over the fireplace.
During the design process, the architects spent a great many hours on the property at different times of the day in order to create rooms with the perfect views. The location and the placement and selection of windows became a critical element in the completed design.
It  was agreed how important it was to create a structure that blended with the site’s ridgeline, in its profile, use of materials and final color choices; changing light on the surrounding landscape and small rocks found on site were examined for color combinations. 
The influence of one of the client’s background, having grown up on a farm in England, coupled with the rural history of Santa Ynez, was integrated into the design, suggesting a cluster of farm buildings accumulated over time. 
The result is not only a house, but also a work of art. The buildings flow, settling into the site and functioning perfectly. Acting as a retreat, a second home and a family gathering place, the completed project provides a unique environment, surpassing our most ambitious expectations.


Repost: LGBT History Month: This Is Us*

* originally posted October 31, 2009
I remember reading this Letter to The Editor in the Sacramento Bee when I lived in California, and it always stuck with me. The writer was writing in response to another Letter in which homosexuality was called a 'soul-deadening' perversion.

This is that writer's response:

Is homosexuality a ‘soul-deadening’ perversion? Let’s try an experiment:
I’m going to rip out the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling; burn Handel’s Messiah; slash the Mona Lisa; bury Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’; incinerate every Tchaikovsky score; torch every Greta Garbo film; ban every Bessie Smith song; and grind every Marlene Dietrich performance to dust.
Then we can evaluate what kind of ‘soul-deadening’ world we would live in without gay people.

So, here we are, the last day of LGBT History Month and I thought I'd put up a snapshot or two of who we are as a community. And when you hear or read that being gay is an awful thing, that we are all going to hell because of who we love, when we don't deserve the same rights and privileges as every other American, remember where we came from, who we were, who we are, and who will will be.....

This is us:

Larry Kramer, Suze Orman, Jared Polis, George Takei; Ian McKellan, Cole Porter, Alan Turing, Dan Solmonese; Paul Monette, Andy Warhol, Peter Paige, Alice B. Toklas; Tracy Chapman, Matthew Shepard, Esera Tuaolo, Neil Patrick Harris; Marc Shaiman, Wanda Sykes, Rudy Galindo, Dave Koz; Martina Navritilova, Bob Paris, Rosie O'Donnell, Greg Louganis; T.R. Knight, James Whale, Dale Peck, Gregory Maguire; Dan Matthews, Rufus Wainwright, Bishop Gene Robinson, David Hyde Pierce; Margaret Mead, RuPaul, Randy Shilts, David Sedaris; Ethan Morrden, Mark Pocan, Vito Russo, Ned Rorem; Charles Perez, Gertrude Stein, Gore Vidal, Jimmy Somerville; Bill T. Jones, Christopher Isherwood, Andrew Holleran, Rock Hudson; Chaz Bono, Thomas Mann, Barney Frank, Cleve Jones; Kelly McGillia, Stephen McCauley, Bruce Vilanch, Tab Hunter; James Dale, Thom Gunn, David Cicciline, Walt Whitman; Judy Gold, Tom Ford, Frida Kahlo, Ellen DeGeneres; Alberta Hunter, Lily Tomlin, Noel Coward, Sam Harris; Nathan Lane, Janis Joplin, Bessie Smith, George Michael; Alan Cumming, Harvey Fierstein, Sara Gilbert, Ma Rainey; Harry Hay, Anthony Perkins, George Nader, Sheila Kuehl; Dan Choi, Oscar Wilde, David Hockney, Candace Gingrich; Lea DeLaria, Armistead Maupin, Joe Orton, B.D. Wong; William Haines, k.d. lang, Ramon Navarro, Pedro Zamora; Quentin Crisp, Caesar Romero, Felice Picano, Cherry Jones; Tom Ammiano, John Barrowman, Bryan Batt, Kate Clinton; Mario Cantone, Michael Callan, Robert Gant, Willa Cather; Harvey Milk, Tallulah Bankhead, Edward Albee, Angela Davis; Rudolph Nureyev, Cynthia Nixon, Edmund White, Liberace; Montgomery Clift, Ian Roberts, Stephen Fry, Jodie Foster.....

........and the march goes on....

On This Day In LGBT History

October 31, 1968 – Silent film star Ramon Novarro was found murdered. A bathroom mirror had the words “US GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN FAGGITS” smeared with blood. Hustler Paul Ferguson and his brother Tom Ferguson were convicted of the murder and both received life sentences. During the trial, Novarro’s sexual orientation was called into question with more vigor than the guilt or innocence of the defendants.

October 31, 1969 – Time magazine ran a cover story on “The Homosexual in America” that included a report on the Stonewall Riots. It was protested by the Gay Liberation Front because the writer said homosexuals are mentally ill and immoral.

October 31, 1977 – Halloween brings thousands of queer-bashers to Toronto’s Yonge Street looking for the annual drag parade. Gay representatives meet with police beforehand to try to prevent crowd from gathering. Operation Jack-o’-Lantern, a gay street patrol is organized to monitor situation but police do little to control crowd.

October 31, 1980 – For the first time, Toronto police do not allow queer-bashers and spectators to congregate outside St Charles Tavern to wait for drag queens. Traffic and pedestrians are kept moving with help of large numbers of police officers. Not a single egg thrown.

October 31, 1987 – The Associated Press reported that several nursing homes in King County Washington were under investigation for refusing to accept AIDS patients or those suspected of being likely to have been exposed to HIV.

October 31, 1992 – The coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights held a march in London.