I used subscribe to Dwell magazine. I don’t know why. I hated Dwell magazine. I think they should call it Sprawl magazine. Every issue had some fantasy house out in the country that was described as “green” without mentioning the embodied energy used to create those places, nor the fact that they are only accessible by car, nor the fact that those “green” houses are in some way infringing on a local eco-system.
But today’s screamer is the place shown above, in urban Portland, Oregon.
The magazine profiles this place and headlines it as adding to the “neighborhood’s density and it’s green cred.” I shit you not.
The article begins by rah rahing about how Portland gets it environmentally. But the poor Portlanders are “often stuck in the architectural past, clinging tightly to Douglas fir roots and craftsman moldings.”
Yeah, we don’t need any of that shit anymore. Fuck local traditions and craftspeople, we gotta get green and Modern!
Fortunately, an architect and his realtor wife bought a lot and are gonna show us just how to do it. Their goal was to “show that well-integrated modern design is as much a part of sustainable community building as are the latest, greatest green products.”
Well, look at the monstrosity above and tell me how they can say that with a straight face. Really.
Exactly what about this place is “well-integrated”? First off, there are no front doors on the Borg-like cube, which kinda says “fuck you, neighborhood.” All we see are garage doors – yeah that sends a “green message.” And gotta love the “creativity” the architect displayed on the windows – “Let’s NOT line them up. That will help with my architectural-integration strategy. And then I’ll paint the whole thing black! That will really help this place integrate into the neighborhood.”
The poor old-fashioned house on the side there? Yeah, the one that actually seems integrated into the neighborhood. It has a front porch so that families can sit and watch the street, talk to neighbors. There is a front door that proves that human beings live there, not cars. The windows are actually useful for looking at the neighborhood. You know, corny, non-Modern shit.
I’ll tell you what this place is: a piece of greenwashed bullshit. The architect is using our fetish for “green” to try and disguise his utter disdain for real neighborhoods as well as his lack of talent. This might be the worst building I’ve ever seen in Dwell, and that’s saying something.
Folks, we can never let our desire to protect our environment be held hostage to architects who really hate cities and the people who live in them.
I have nothing against density, or even Modern architecture, but both must have human elements that connect and truly integrate the structure into neighborhoods – either existing or new. Front porches, front doors, useful windows, minimized automobiles. Corny stuff, sure, but vital for the long-term success of any place where people live.
see it here and learn all about how wonderfully green it is.