Monday, April 14, 2014

Housing for the Stupid Rich

a.k.a. McMansions...

I have a pretty visceral negative response to most McMansions that is neatly summed up near the end of the linked article:
But what I discovered is that the form doesn’t really change. Yes, the houses get bigger every year, gables and gazebos come and go, but what is really striking about the McMansion is its vapid consistency as the decades pass.
What stays the same, and what always gets me when I walk through one of these houses, are the vacuous spaces. The vast stretches of painted sheet-rock. The gaping rooms that are simply too tall to decorate. The billowing industrial roof. The windowless walls. 
There’s something else, too. Stand in the street when the sun hits the McMansion from the right angle and its glare obliterates the fake muntins in the windows and suddenly you grasp the truth about this form: It is staring at you with those blank featureless eyes, those empty holes in that vast, unadorned wall, demanding to be fed. This house doesn’t serve humans, we serve it.
I live in a neighborhood with plenty of large houses (not mine), most of which date to the late 19th, early 20th century.  Houses that were well built, functional and served to house people well.  They are, I still think, too large by half for most families, but they are not the insanity that is the McMansion.  It's the useless space in so many newer large homes that I really don't like.  Space that needs to be heated, cooled, adorned, cleaned, but that doesn't provide any functionality.  In the older houses, even the large ones, you find that most of the space is somehow useful (yes, there are true mansions that have useless space, but at least those are well made and really look great).  The McMansion equivalents around me have relatively small bedrooms, in which a queen sized bed often feels cramped.  The closets range from small to smaller, and bathrooms and kitchens are utility rooms, not designed to be living spaces themselves.  There may be too many rooms, but each room is serviceable.

Other than very large families or frequent hosting of parties there isn't much use to space beyond a certain point.

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