ADUforMe.com

ADU for Me.com will be the platform for all things ADU. Looking to build one? Rent one? Find architects or builders who specialize in them? Just wondering how and what others are doing? ADU for Me.com will be the AirBnB for ADUs plus the HomeAdvisor of ADUs plus the NEXTDOOR for ADUs. Accessory Dwelling Units – aka ADUs – are swelling across the country and placing regular folks in the position of being a developer and landlord. ADU for Me.com is the resource to help successfully make those transitions. So, interspersed with the Good Design is Like That writing, you will find information about ADUforMe.com until that site gets launched. Pardon the dust.

ADUforMe Boulder – Do you wonder if you can have an ADU on your property and where it can be located and what size it can be? I can help find answers. 

Why Does Housing Need to be Brave?

Why does housing need to be brave?, you might wonder. Do you remember the pressure in high school to fit in? Or the challenge in your profession to do as everyone else does? These days it seems that value has been found in making mistakes and stepping outside the lines, essentially in following an untried path. Yet some things, no matter the unconventional line you might be walking, some things seem to be held in place with much deeper roots. Housing is one of those things. To convince your neighbors or city council or even your spouse that providing a place for a stranger to live in your backyard in a modest small house is a good thing, can be an unexpected uphill battle. Most of us living in desirable cities realize that the oft spoken housing crisis is quite real. Land is valuable beyond what any of us imagined when we bought into our single family houses decades ago. And population growth is not a far off phenomena going on in lands far beyond our reach. This is going on right here, right now with ever expanding consequences. And as I often have pointed out to my city council, you would not know we were in the midst of a climate crisis to walk through our city and see the smashing up of old structures and tipping them into the landfill and the super sizing of new constructions with barely lip service to green building much less renewable energy or regenerative practices.

When will the immediacy of climate change disrupt our patterns?  

rain drops on porch roof

I like to think small. I like to think about the single things any one of us can do in our daily routines. Like recycle that can or bottle. Like walk or take a bike. Like turn off lights and grow native grass to reduce water use. Things we have heard a million times over the past decades, these should all be second nature by now, you think? I met a man at a political event just a day ago. As we got to talking something steered the conversation to recycling and I matter-of-factly acknowledged that we certainly would know that cardboard and wood are recyclable and reusable. His response shook my reality. He said, no, he did not recycle. Yes he lived in Boulder, yes he lived in an apartment building with massive recycle bins. But no, he did not recycle. That was for white people. SILENCE

How does this happen? How is it that the consequences of our actions do not trickle upward to the consequences for our planet? Do I recycle because it rocks my little green world or do I recycle because I know that we live on a planet of finite resources with a population explosion that is severely taxing the ability for this planet to supply our growing needs? I saw that vulnerable little blue marble of a planet in those photos from space. They made my heart swell as I thought of the millions of creatures that make this home. It is nothing short of a miracle, that this much life has arisen in ecological cooperation for billions of years.  And in a couple of hundred years humans have taken the path of dominating every other specie on the planet.

I return to thinking small. Because that is where you and I can still see the wonder of life. I practice architecture. And what I have noticed is that it is increasingly difficult to include the word beauty and even sustainability into the client conversation. I am convinced that the Internet has made us stupid. It provides a means for untrained people to gain limited information about things they truly know nothing about and cannot begin to know from a stroll on the Internet. This may be nice for looking up facts like, what year was Elvis born? But it is such a disservice to use it to educate yourself about how to make a house or a space. It provides false understanding and closes you to the true sources of a great house or a delightful space.

In today’s world we can still find many places to hide our heads in the sand. While you are there, check out that gain of sand for it holds all the connections to everything else.

I see small houses that way. Although backyard houses are just bit players in the housing options, they are a key nexus that can nudge us to use less and to participate more and with good design, small houses can provoke us to feel our interconnection. That is no longer small, that is brave.

Zumthor’s Vals thermal baths, photo Fernando Guerra

Went to the loo in Austin

I had a family reunion in Austin this past weekend. And you know how reunions go, you are so involved with enjoying the get together you push other things to the back of your mind. Like visiting the loo.

I, however, had a loo – front and center in my mind.

Lady Bird Loo, Austin Texas, Mell Lawrence Architects, Austin Buildings need to work amazingly well. Ours do. They reflect a deep sense of place and life pattern. Mell Lawrence Architects, Austin

It was late morning on a hot and humid July day, typical for Austin. The Colorado River looked serene in its placid state of pale green and blue water. A cooling breeze seemed to drop the temperature to bearable as we walked the gravel trail along its bank.  

Two awkward looking rusted steel structures came into view. I instantly recognized them from their published photos.  They looked more shadow than structure as the tall steel sheets rose directly from the ground.

When you are on an architectural pilgrimage, no matter how humble, attention is moreso. I walked around the structures, peeking into the narrow gap between the steel panels and the concrete end wall, noting the carefully detailed clips that held the steel panels to the frame. The panels were already covered in rust, the intended end game of Corten steel that allows the natural salt and humidity to corrode its surface to a point of patina before further corrosion is inherently stopped. This rust felt almost dangerous as I carefully inspected the corrosion flakes.

I ran my hand along the board formed concrete end walls, feeling the wood grain and the concrete bits that leaked through, forming thin rough rows across the wall.  

As I continued to walk around the buildings, sensing the tall and folding walls, I eventually realized that they were locked for maintenance. Actually, that had not in the least diminished my experience. The buildings were quite available as simple structures along a trail. Belonging to the site regardless of their use. Good design is like that.