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Architecture Alternate ways to say "your building is ugly"

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
14,643
Points
51
I need a nice way to say your building is ugly. It's a mutli-family place with duplexes and triplexes. The front is nice, but the side and rear are basically a stucco wall with a window or two. I want them to add something. Maybe wrap the fake brick a little more than just the bottom corner. I'm trying to say something like tie side and rear elevations with front elevations through materials and details. I'm just looking for something better.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,263
Points
71
Moderator note:

split from RTDNTOTO

"we request the addition of the following architectural features [X,Y,Z]"

or

Welcome to [fill in community]. Here we don't like fugly buildings. If you want to construct cheap-arse fugly buildings, we suggest you look into [fill in town next door]
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
545
Points
23
"Your building is so ugly, I'd support an annexation request to put it in the city next door."

Realistically, you either have design standards or not, right? I have zones where we regulate materials and glazing and relationship to the street and all that kind of stuff, and I have districts where you can have a concrete cube (not that there's anything wrong with that) as long as it meets the setbacks.

Where I do have design standards, we have some language about "no inferior materials on the side or rear of the building." It also helps if you can say that all elevations of the building should have an understandable bottom, middle, and top- hence wrap the stone around the bottom, keep the roof trim the same dimension all the way around, etc.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
25,582
Points
59
Your architectural material and style is either (completely out of place) or (not compatible) with the existing surrounding buildings.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,203
Points
28
The proposed structure is in line with the design vernacular of our community, however, please know that we would consider additional innovations.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,538
Points
69
Shadow lines. Basically, add honest architectural treatment that enhances the pattern of light and shade on a building. Window without trim, set flush to the wall plane, makes a wall seem flat, or even thin. Recess the window into the wall plane, and add a 4" (10 cm) surround that projects 1" (2.5 cm), and you'll get shadows that help add to the visual interest of an elevation. Shadow lines also make a wall seem thicker and more substantial, imparting permanence, solidity, and architectural integrity.

Here's my shadow line toolkit:
  • Recessing windows and doors into a wall.
  • Projections, recesses, and visual bays.
  • Cornices and belt courses.
  • Window and door surrounds.
  • Honest use of multiple materials (transition between materials at an inside corner or belt course).
  • Variation of massing, height, and setback.
AVOID:
  • J-channel
  • Dishonest architectural treatment (decorative shutters tacked onto a wall, fake dormers, nested dormers on the same wall plane, etc.).
  • Randomness under the guise of "postmodern design" (wall panels with different clashing colors, random window placement and orientation, etc.).
Your architectural material and style is either (completely out of place) or (not compatible) with the existing surrounding buildings.
What if the surrounding buildings are mostly crap? A typical prefab bunker-style Dollar General isn't out of place on a strip filled with other pre-engineered metal buildings.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
14,643
Points
51
My best line to date is telling them they were required to borrow architectural features from surrounding buildings, but looking at those buildings I wouldn't. They owned the surrounding buildings and were not pleased.

This case is just a bunch of duplexes and I'm sitting my super vague design codes, but it still just looks like a double wide with a fancy porch.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,538
Points
69
This case is just a bunch of duplexes and I'm sitting my super vague design codes, but it still just looks like a double wide with a fancy porch.
Here's something from an earlier draft of the FBC I'm working on. Unfortunately, it didn't make the final cut from the powers that be. Maybe you can do something with it.

Dwelling unit individuality for side-by-side duplexes, side-by-side paired houses, and townhouses

Applicable to: duplex (side by side), paired house (side by side), townhouse

Architectural design should include one of or more of these elements.

  • Bays or offsets that give each unit their own visual identity.
  • Different massing, fenestration pattern, or cladding material use for each unit.
  • Prominent wing or bay projecting from each unit.
  • Different gable orientation or roof profile for each unit.
  • Gable, hip, or shed dormers.
  • For a duplex, outward appearance that implies the building is a detached house with one unit.
  • Individual porches (instead of stoop frontage or a shared porch) for each unit.
Graphics of examples. The building on the bottom right is the "avoid this" example. Unfortunately, it's the norm for duplexes around here.

4 lots and buildings - architecture - duplexes 02.png

4 lots and buildings - architecture - duplexes 01.png
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,188
Points
22
As I’m not a planner by profession, I would not presume to suggest how a developer should be approached in a way consistent with you keeping your job 😊.

However, I’ve spent (wasted?) a lot of time reading, researching and thinking about the objective aspects of aesthetics, especially as they apply to the built environment. These are my humble thoughts about some considerations that could be adduced in your (or any) case.
  • Scale
  • Relief of mass (Dan’s shadow lines, IMO< fall within this category)
  • Legibility
  • Regularity
  • Fenestration
  • Exterior material
  • Civility
I don’t want to burden the forum with a massive post, though I’d be happy to comment as to each of these characteristics.
Instead, I’ll run through two examples of buildings I would categorise as UGLY and BEAUTIFUL.

UGLY (courtesy of “Eyesore of the Month”

Eyesore-May (1).jpg

The scale of this building is moderate and domestic, overall (5/5). The flattish, undistinguished surface of the street aspect offers no relief of mass, the only effect being achieved through the steepish stairs with lumpy ‘balustrade’ (1/5). The front door is legible only from rather near, thanks to devices like the number, post-box, etc. (all reduced by the apparent desire to camouflage them all in beige). The weird bunker-slit band window and equally odd mini-window(on the first floor) with accompanying, inexplicable panelling, plus those thin channels that do not mark the bottom of the raised first floor as well as the very high concrete basement make this building look like it was designed by someone on LSD trying to draw a normal house (1/5). The aforementioned elements negate regularity and the amount of fenestration appears to minimise natural light (1/5). The exterior material appears quite cheap but one can’t be sure (2/5). This house presents to the street an aspect that would be shameful in a hidden, rear court, a gas meter waiting to be driven into, etc. 0/5).

BEAUTIFUL

DSC_0179-001.JPG

Though smaller than adjacent buildings, this edifice is not dwarfed by them and as such introduces graceful variation. Further, the proportions are close to golden ratios (5/5). Despite being essentially a box with no grand articulation, the relief of mass is exemplary including a clear ground vs. 1st floor difference in cladding, arched and framed windows, a very demure cornice, etc. (5/5). The asymmetric entrance (often programmatically useful in such small buildings) is clearly eligible. However, if you were approaching from the East) left of the picture) it might not be immediately evident that this is a separate building as opposed to the gothic courts one next door (4/5). There is great regularity in the vertical module albeit with the graceful but not distracting variation of the treble window in the middle of the North aspect (5/5). Fenestration is plentiful, suitable for this site and location (5/5). The exterior materials are London stock brick and Portland stone, which are pleasant, durable, matching the vernacular, etc. (5/5). What a pretty building, with an open, frank face to the outside, nice planting and an old gaslight. Domestic in scale despite its institutional purpose (5/5).
 
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DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
14,643
Points
51
I will have to come back here when I need fancy architectural words. My last one I just told the architect to add something, anything, because it reminds me of a double wide with a corner wrap to hide the fact it's a double wide. He laughed about it because it was the owner/developer who made him take away most of the trim and "visual interest".

The hard part of being the design reviewer by code is trying to not let things like that monstrosity above through even if it does meet the technical requirements of the code. At the same time I've seen really nice, typically modern style, things that we had to reject because it didn't have appropriate window trim. So I try to balance to cheap to add trim or something nice with I don't want this all to look like tract housing.
 
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