The Frankenstein-House

One of the worst nightmares an architect can have (although honestly the lack of work usually supplants this kind of trouble) occurs when a customer asks for a Frankenstein-house.

This situation is characterized by the wish that the house we are about to think incorporates several images, taken from magazines, situations the customer lived, places he visited, but above all taken out of context.

There would be nothing wrong with all this if the said images were understood as inspirations, worries that otherwise the client could not transmit. The real problem arises when we try to incorporate these desires in the project we're doing, in an integrated and coherent way and we are told - But I want the fireplace to be exactly the same as I showed you, and the BBQ, the ladder and the pool too. Maybe you didn’t pay due attention to the images I gave you?

What could be a perfectly legitimate set of concerns, to make us think and guide our efforts to maximize the response that we give to the expectations of those who hire us, becomes an imposition of using, in an ad hoc basis, add-on images, which were designed for a specific and necessarily different context and in most cases it's not possible to articulate them in an interesting way, without falling into the grotesque. As in the story of Mary Shelley, we will produce a monster made ​​from pieces or parts taken from other objects and sites.

I think this problem lies often in the preconceived idea that some people have of what their home should be, built by accumulation. When they see an image they like, they just think that one day they will replicate it in their house. What they sometimes don't understand is that more important than reproducing the image is to realize its essence, the concept behind it, which is valid and potentially rewarding. The uncritical reproduction of an image can result in a cartoonish reality. Most of the times results so, because scale, landscaping, climate and the sequence of spaces are usually not reproducible.

The funny thing is that when the said customer sees houses in which the architect had more freedom, manages to enjoy them. Without possibly being aware, makes sense to him the coherence, balance and harmony. The quality of space.

This question of how some people think that their house should be has been extensively studied and is often compared with the relationship that the same people have with their cars: While waiting for a car to be as modern as possible and to look like the latest model, they rather want  their house to be equal to that of their grandparents, to don’t look too weird or different and above all that doesn't resemble anything but a home.

I would like to realize how is a house supposed to look like. Does anyone have a clue?


2011, November