We are always looking for inspiration on new projects and sometimes it comes from building types that may not have anything to do with the actual project we are working on. The two books below, which both happen to be about 'Shacks', have very different content but the feelings behind both had such a similarity that it felt right to include them in the same review.
By Nina Freudenberger, $35.00
Publisher: Clarkson Potter Publishers
Publication Date: April 11th, 2017
This book got us thinking a lot about the vibe of a home, and what the recipe was to make a home feel comfortable, lived in, accessible, and a place you could see yourself in. The book covers surfers from all over the world of varying dedication. Some are just getting started, others have had generations of surfers in their families and lived/breathed surfing their entire lives. Regardless of how long they have been surfing, their homes show their enthusiasm for the lifestyle and how it creates a home that is unique to a passion to be in and on the water.
The highlights for me in this book were a Nordic A-Frame in Montauk, NY whose interior palette is muted with whites and blacks yet has so much warmth with natural floors and organic elements throughout. The simplicity of the structure makes me yearn to own an A-Frame in the mountains outside of Denver, and spend winters and most of my summers there with the wood burning stove, some incredible coffee, and friends / family to enjoy meals and conversion with. The second highlight was a Hilltop Hacienda in Sayulita, Mexico. The white stucco structure with the red clay tile roof transport you to the location on the Pacific. The home has an entirely white washed interior that has to be refreshed yearly. While that may sound stark and cold, the materials, furniture, and artwork of the homeowner are anything but. Locally woven rugs, decorated animal skulls done in ancient (and sacred) technique, and handmade furniture made from locally sourced materials add vibrancy and warmth to the blank interior canvas. The final highlight is just a drop dead Modern Beach House in Amagansett, NY designed by Bates Masi Architects. The project is called 'Elizabeth II' in their portfolio. The home is an incredible mix of concrete and wood with other raw materials that are all allowed to patina and change with the seasons. Even the wood siding on the house is left entirely untreated and not screwed or nailed to the structure. There are simple fasteners that allow the wood to contract and expand based on the season. Like any true beach home the outdoor shower is a necessity, and the shower in this home is just a step away from the master bathroom.
The book is very well written. The writer traveled her way around the world to spend time with these very different souls and did a standout job of bringing their individual personalities and eccentricities through in the words and images. The universal theme throughout being the love for the 'sense of place', a passion to be outdoors, connections with family and friends, and enjoying the simple pleasures in our lives. Themes that can be appreciated and applied to any home, anywhere in the world.
By S. Ehmann and S. Borges (Both Editors), $60.00
Publication Date: February 28th, 2013
Where Surf Shack documented each homes connection to the water, Rock The Shack looks to explore the connection with the land. The thought being that true luxury is a made up of very simple elements like fresh air, unobstructed views, and the beauty of silence. As we've seen in the rise in popularity of Marie Kondo's manifesto on 'Tidying Up' and America's fascination with the Danish traditions of 'Hygge' we are moving away from the mass consumerism that lead to the last round of worldwide hardship and looking for deeper meaning in our possessions and connections. Rock The Shack gives brief yet pointed overviews of projects spanning the world and in 3 generalized categories of Cabins, Cocoons, and Hideouts. The chapters are based on the surroundings whether they be the forest, mountains, or the water (mainly streams and rivers).
The highlights of this book include a Dovecote Studio in East of England, UK by Haworth Tompkins where the campus of Aldeburgh Music took a ruin of an old brick home structure and literally craned in a prefabricated Corten steel structure to sit within the existing ruin and express the form of a Victorian home. The space houses artists in residence providing diffused Northern light through large skylights, a rehearsal and performance space for musicians, and area for staff/exhibitions. The ruins of the previous structure have been left virtually unchanged, while the modern steel structure has been injected inside. The second standout is House Morgan in Gothenburg Archipelago, Sweden by Johannesburg Norlander Arkitektur AB . The firms work is strickingly minimal. The House Morgan is renovated 1950's worn down cottage, located on an island that is only accessible by sea fairway. While the form of the original building was kept in tack, the exterior was transformed by wrapping it in simple plywood that's been coated in black tar to preserve the wood. This is traditionally done on wooden boats. The interior is wrapped in pine that was left natural and fills the space with warmth and beauty. Built-ins wrap the interior and are made out of the same pine as the walls, ceilings, and floors. The restraint in the palette of materials used is enviable and calming. Finally, the Four-Cornered Villa in Pirkanmaa, Finland by Avanto Architects . The mountain top structure is on a 'x' axis with the end of each point on the 'x' framing out a curated view of either the forest or the lake. The all black structure photographed against the snowy landscape is stunning. The all white interior mirrors the outside environment and draws your eyes in. This cabin is completely off the grid, has no running water, only heat from a wood burning stove for comfort, and all electricity provided by the sun.
This book covers so many projects around the world, but because of the shear volume, the depth of content is lacking. So many of these projects leave you wishing there were additional photos or more information on the materials, structure, or furnishings. Reducing the project quantity in half and expanding the content for each could have been a happy medium. Its only through the research of the credited design firms that you can satisfy the itch.
Support your local booksellers. Here in Denver we are lucky enough to have a really great local one called Tattered Cover.