Why are so many houses exactly the same? When I first moved to Australia from the USA where I grew up, I was surprised to find vernacular architecture (the everyday houses and buildings around us) to be so uniform and uninventive. It seems that the face brick home with a tiled roof has multiplied and spread at a faster rate than the cane toad! An area can be defined by its architecture. What image comes to mind when you think of San Francisco (charming row houses), American New England (quaint colonial timber houses) or Tuscany (stone cottage hill towns). Do we want the Southern Highlands to become as bland as the sprawl of Campbelltown, or to retain its special qualities already established by over a century of settlement?
It need not cost an arm and a leg to show a little individuality. I can hear you all now, saying, “Who can afford an architect-designed house?” You don’t have to be a millionaire to tailor a home to your own personality and needs. In fact, with clever design and a little imagination, a personalised design can actually save you money. By properly orienting your house on your block, and incorporating some basic energy efficiency principles, your home can be a comfortable one all year round – without it costing you a fortune in electric and gas bills. Cutting down on unusable space (the inevitable by-product of a generic design), hallways, rooms and spaces that aren’t needed in your particular lifestyle, and capitalising on clever storage space and the special qualities that your site has, can result in a home that is not only a concise response to how you live, but a design that is unique.
There is a good feeling in knowing that your house is the only one of its kind. The sense of pride you will have in a house that is completely unique in the world is very satisfying. You don’t have to be an architect to appreciate it.
An architect can help you create that unique home. An architect can tailor his or her service to your project. It is a common misconception that architects force their ideas on you. In fact I consider the most successful project the one in which the clients move in happy and content with the whole experience of a building project. They feel at home immediately, because the house has been designed especially for them – and is completely unique in the world.