Friday, November 07, 2008

The Florida Homebuyer Home Design Challenge

Here is a link to a recently held design competition for Florida home designers. Its very developer oriented, and the house designs reflect that, but what is remarkable is that many of the designs shown as the "best of the rest" are overtly modern. The Florida Homebuyer Home Design Challenge On one level I'm very gratified to see modern shouldering its way into this mainstream platform. At the same time I'm discouraged because the homes, while modern, seem to have the same issues as typical developer homes. They are dressed modern, and some I think look nice, but they are bloated and pseudo luxurious in a way that makes my skin crawl. Its not just look and feel, its statistical as well - there is an alarming bedroom count to square footage ratio in most of these homes. 3 bedrooms in 3,500 sqft? The discussion of "modern" on LiveModern all the way back to the Dwell messageboards always involved doing more with less, as a lifestyle, as a design dictum, not even driven by sustainability, but as a personal value and as an aesthetic. This stuff is really stepping on that for me. What do you think? Please check out the link and comment.

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  1. scary

    exterior elevations you can choose like Garanimals...


  2. I have not looked at the specific program but it appears that the design was site specific and the designers utilized the land to a maximum. From my experience this is what I've seen as land prices continue to rise or are in-fill projects on small lots and are located in established locations. I can understand the SF bloat as many of us are used to homes that are chopped up and spaces do not flow well. Functions are completely separated and can not blend into each other. Design can play an important role here. My current home is 1400 SF open floor plan and when I compare it to 2000-2500 SF homes I don't feel or appreciate the extra square footage which can almost double my 1400 SF home. This is definitely an interesting topic.

  3. I'm with you Jake. This is where design increases value in a really clear way. A well designed small house can live bigger with an open floor plan, and still provide settings for privacy and alone time.

    What I take out of this demo is that the developer driven market is pondering the thought of testing modern. Really its being driven by the designers here, but being served to developers as a peak at coming trends. Its not too daring though - nobody is willing to show an efficient and compact design.

    The financial crisis may rewrite the rules of extracting the most value from a parcel of land although I'm not sure how that could play out. The old assumptions that bigger is better, and more valuable are going to have to accommodate other points of view even if they don't go away completely.

  4. I'm with you, Greg. Here's the part that I don't get, and maybe you can help me to understand this. People think that bigger is better- ok, but doesn't that mean the price is bigger as well? Why don't people understand that, although a bigger home may appear more attractive on a developer's website, it still costs more?

    Especially now you would think that size would be driven down by neccesity considering the economy. But I suppose those without the means to purchase a house of that size aren't purchasing (or building) any houses these days. Maybe as the economy persists in this manner, as it is projected to, neccesity will drive the market to build smaller homes.

  5. Matt - bigger does mean more expensive, but the developer is the player that is deciding the size of the house, and from where they stand bigger is more expensive equals more profit. So they always have incentive to fit the biggest house that will fit on the lot. That won't change until they can actually be more profitable with smaller houses. This would take a combination of the bottom falling out of the big house market, and smaller houses being up-sold on energy efficiency, sustainability, alternative energy, better quality finishes, etc. Otherwise the pattern of development must change - smaller lots for smaller houses, or setbacks or area limits on house sizes. The problem is a big one and needs attention from many sides. Unfortunately designers are really only equipped to act from one planners, municipalities, developers, all need to change there game, and the incentive has not been there.