Feng shui and architecture

A great part of Feng Shui lies in having good design, but interesting architecture will sometimes get in the way of this since Feng Shui depends upon how Chi moves in and around a building and the effect that this has upon people. There are seven principles that this will affect and thus it is important to consider each of these principles individually.

1. There are many floor plans in which architects will intentionally place doorways or windows directly opposite of one another. Some architects may line an entire wall with windows.

Full Post

What is…

These are just a few definitions of environmental Architecture that are becoming reality, hopefully, leading the human race into a way of life that could be sustained for many more centuries to come.

What Is “Adaptive Reuse”?
Old buildings often outlive their original purposes. Adaptive reuse, or re-use, is a process that adapts buildings for new uses while retaining their historic features. An old factory may become an apartment building. A rundown church may find new life as a restaurant… And

Full Post

Trends In Home Design

Tomorrow’s homes are on the drawing board. New materials and new technologies are reshaping the way we build. Floor plans are changing to accommodate the changing patterns of our lives.

1. Earth-Friendly Home Design

The most exciting and most important trend in home design is the increased sensitivity to the environment. Architects and engineers taking a new look at ancient building techniques that used simple, bio-degradable materials. Today’s “earth houses” are proving comfortable,

Full Post

Michael Graves (1934 – Present)

Architect and Product Designer – Princeton, New Jersey

Borrowing heavily from the past, architect Michael Graves combines whimsy and sophistication. His buildings often incorporate columns, pediments, arches, and other historic details.

Michael Graves is often credited with moving American architectural thought from abstract modernism to post-modernism. Graves founded his practice in Princeton, New Jersey in 1964 and taught at Princeton University in New Jersey for almost 40 years. His works range from grand projects such

Full Post

Frank Gehry (1929 – Present)

“Deconstructivist” Architect, Santa Monica, CA

Inventive and irreverent, Frank Gehry has been surrounded by controversy for most of his career. Using unorthodox materials like corrugated metal and chain link, Gehry creates unexpected, twisted forms that break conventions of building design. His work has been called radical, playful, organic, and sensual.

Early in his career, Frank Gehry designed houses inspired by modern architects such as Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright. As Gehry’s career expanded, he

Full Post

Antoni Gaudí (1852 – 1926)

Spanish Modernist Architect, Catalonia, Spain

Leading the Spanish Modernist movement, Antoni Gaudí has been classified with Gothicism (sometimes called warped Gothicism), Art Nouveau, and Surrealism. He was also influenced by Oriental styles, nature, sculpture, and a desire to go beyond anything that had ever been done before. Defying labels, Antoni Gaudí’s work might be simple called, Gaudí-ism.

While seeking his degree in architecture in Barcelona, Gaudí also studied philosophy, history, and economics. He believed

Full Post

Sir Norman Foster (1935 – Present)

High Tech Architect – Manchester, England

Born in a working class family, Norman Foster did not seem likely to become a famous architect. Although he was a good student in high school and showed an early interest in architecture, he did not enroll in college until he was 21 years old. Foster won numerous scholarships during his years at Manchester University, including one to attend Yale University in the United States.

At the beginning of his career, Foster worked as a member of the successful “Team 4″ firm

Full Post

Luis Barragan House (1947)

Location: Tacubaya, Mexico City, Mexico
Architect: Luis Barragan

On a sleepy Mexican street, the former home of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán is quiet and unassuming. However, beyond its stark facade, the Barragán House is a showplace for his use of color, form, texture, light, and shadow.

Barragán’s style was based on the use of flat planes (walls) and light (windows). The high-ceilinged main room of the house is partitioned by low walls. The skylight and windows were designed to

Full Post

The Magney House (1982)

Location: New South Wales, Australia.
Architect: Glenn Murcutt, architect.

Pritzker Prize winning architect Glenn Murcutt is known for his earth-friendly, energy-efficient designs. The Magney House stretches across a a barren, wind-swept site overlooking the ocean in New South Wales, Australia. The long low roof and large windows capitalize on natural sunlight.

Forming an asymmetrical V-shape, the roof also collects rainwater which is recycled for drinking and heating. Corrugated metal sheathing and interior

Full Post

The Vanna Venturi House (1961)

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Architect: Robert Venturi, a Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate.

When architect Robert Venturi built this home for his mother, he shocked the world. Postmodern in style, the Vanna Venturi house flew in the face of Modernism and changed the way we think about architecture.

The design of Vanna Venturi House appears deceptively simple. A light wood frame is divided by a rising chimney. The house has a sense of symmetry, yet the symmetry is often distorted. For

Full Post

The White House (1792)

Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
Architect: James Hoban (Original Architect)

The presidential home has seen conflict, controversy and surprising transformations. Originally, plans for a “President’s Palace” were developed by artist and engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant. Working with George Washington to design a capital city for the new nation, L’Enfant envisioned a majestic home approximately four times the size of the present White House.

At George Washington’s

Full Post

Did you know…

Architects have their own annual award ceremony like the “Oscars”. The Pritzker Architecture prize is an international recognition, which is awarded each year to a living architect for significant achievement. It was established by the Pritzker family of Chicago through their Hyatt Foundation in 1979. Often referred to as “architecture’s Nobel” and “the profession’s highest honor,” it is granted annually. The award consists of $100,000 (US) and a bronze medallion. The award is conferred on the laureate at a ceremony held at

Full Post

Green Architecture

What exactly is green architecture?
Green architecture, also known as sustainable design, is simply a method of design that minimizes the impact of building on the environment. It can be organized into several areas of application, as follow:

Green buildings are not only be designed for a present use, but consideration is also be given to future uses as well. An adaptable structure can be “recycled” many times over the course of its useful life. The materials

Full Post

Earth Architecture

Buildings made with earth are economical, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable. Earth architecture includes adobe, cob, straw, and compressed earth blocks.

Compressed Earth Block
Compressed Earth Blocks, or CEBs, are construction blocks made with clay, sand, and a stabilizing ingredient such as lime or Portland cement. The earth mixture is poured into a hydraulic press machine. Since they are machine-made, compressed earth blocks are uniform in size and shape.


Full Post

Energy Saving Architecture

Earth-Friendly, Energy-Efficient Design helps slow Global Warming

The most exciting houses being built today are energy-efficient, sustainable, and thoroughly green. From solar-powered dwellings to homes underground, some of these new houses are entirely “off the grid,” generating more power than they actually use. But even if we aren’t ready for a radical new house, we can lower utility bills through energy-efficient remodeling.

Solar Homes
Using only power from the sun, these

Full Post

Glass House (1949)

Location: New Canaan, Connecticut
Architect: Philip Johnson

The glass house designed by Philip Johnson has been called one of the world’s most beautiful and yet least functional homes. Johnson did not envision it as a place to live so much as a stage and a statement. The house is often cited as a model example of the International Style.

Johnson’s glass house is symmetrical and sits solidly on the ground. The quarter-inch thick glass walls are supported by black steel pillars. The interior

Full Post

Mark Twain House (1874)

Location: Hartford, Connecticut
architect: Edward Tuckerman Potter

Before he became famous for his novels, Samuel Clemens (“Mark Twain”) married into a wealthy family. Samuel Clemens and his wife Olivia Langdon asked the noted architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design a lavish “poet’s house” on Nook Farm, a pastoral neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut.

Edward Tuckerman Potter’s design for the Clemens home was bright and whimsical. With brilliantly colored bricks,

Full Post

Fallingwater (1935)

Location: 1413 Mill Run Road, Mill Run, Pennsylvania, USA
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater may look like a loose pile of concrete slabs about to topple into the stream, but there is no danger of that! The slabs are actually anchored through the stonework of the hillside. Also, the largest and heaviest portion of the house is at the rear, not over the water. And, finally, each floor has its own support system.

When you enter the recessed front door of Fallingwater, your eye is first drawn to a

Full Post

Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965)

Leader of the International Style

Le Corbusier pioneered modernism in architecture and laid the foundation for what became the Bauhaus Movement, or the International Style.

During his long life, Le Corbusier designed buildings in Europe, India, and Russia. Le Corbusier also designed one building in the United States and one in South America.

The earlier buildings by Le Corbusier were smooth, white concrete and glass structures elevated above the ground. He called these works “pure prisms.” In the

Full Post

Santiago Calatrava (1951)

Architect, engineer and sculptor

Famous for his bridges and train stations, Spanish modernist Santiago Calatrava combines artistry with engineering. His graceful, organic structures have been compared to the works of Antonio Gaudí.

Santiago Calatrava is currently working on a new train and subway station at the World Trade Center site in New York City. Calling Calatrava’s work “open and organic,” the New York Times said that the new terminal will evoke the kind of uplifting spirituality that is

Full Post

Alvar Aalto (1898 – 1976)

Father of Modern Scandinavian Architecture

Born at the cusp of Modernism, Finnish architect Alvar Aalto became famous for both his buildings and his furniture designs. Aalto’s unique style grew out of a passion for painting and a fascination for the works of cubist artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

Alvar Aalto’s passion for painting led to the development of his unique architectural style. Cubism and Colage, explored by the painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, became important elements in

Full Post


A design for a parapet that has alternating solid parts and openings, originally used for defense, but later used as a decorative motif.

Full Post


The division of a column on which the shaft is placed, or the lower part of a pillar or wall. The torus and scotia form the elements of the base.

Full Post

Barrel Vault

Originally found in Roman architecture, an extended arch shape covering a walkway, gallery or entrance.

Full Post


A style of architecture that is characterized by sculptural, undulating surfaces, ovals instead of circles, and exaggerated classically based forms.

Full Post


Bargeboard was used in early English wood construction. Now it is term for the decorative wooden edging on Gothic Revival and Victorian houses.

Full Post


Different materials, colours or textures used in horizontal bands along a wall.

Full Post


A continuous horizontal molding or fascia around a building or on a wall that makes a division in the wall.

Full Post


A railing system, generally around a balcony or on a second level, consisting of balusters and a top rail.

Full Post


A vertical member used to support a stair railing or a railing in a continuous banister.

Full Post


A platform projecting from a wall directly outside a door on an upper level of a building. Balconies can be continuous (wraparound), that is, having several doors open onto them, or discrete, that is, accessible through, and adjacent to, one door alone.

Full Post

Art Deco-Art Nouveau

An early twentieth-century decorative style characterized by ornate craftsmanship and colourful ornament.

Full Post


The lowest division of the entablature in classical architecture. The main lintel or beam spanning from column to column. Concentric arch moldings which make an archivolt are also considered architraves.

Full Post


A basic architectural structure composed of bricks or stones so arranged as by mutual pressure to support one another.

Full Post


A series of arches, either open or closed with masonry, supported by columns or piers.

Full Post


Used by the Arabs and Saracens (or Moors) in Spain, this ornament is a painted, inlaid or mosaic low relief of geometric or botanical patterns.

Full Post


An ornamental or decorative material applied to the finish of a structure, not of the structure’s original material.

Full Post


The highest point of a structure. The apex can be plain or decorated with an acroterion, an acropodium, a symbol, or a finial.

Full Post


Having animals, fish or figures placed back to back in decorative bas relief, sculpture, or tapestries. These are generally Renaissance or Baroque.

Full Post


An elevated plinth or pedestal bearing a statue, generally raised above the substructure.

Full Post


Two ogee curves meeting in the middle to form a decorative treatment, used over an arch, door, or window.

Full Post


The uppermost portion of a capital directly below the entablature or the arch spring. Usually these are just plain square slabs, but sometimes they are molded or decorated.

Full Post

Katrina Cottages (2006 – Present)

Inspired by the need for emergency housing after Hurricane Katrina, this cozy cottage took America by storm.

In 2005, many homes and communities along America’s Gulf Coast were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and the floods that followed. Architects responded to the crisis by designing low-cost emergency shelters. The Katrina Cottage was a highly popular solution because its simple, traditional design suggested the architecture of a cozy turn-of-the-century house.

The original

Full Post

Monolithic Dome (1975 – Present)

Also known as EcoShells, Monolithic Domes can survive tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, and insects.

A Monolithic Dome is a one-peice structure made with concrete and rebar (ridged steel rods). The Monolithic Dome Institute uses the term EcoShells (Economical, Eco-Friendly and Thin-Shell) to describe the monolithic dome structures they developed.

The idea of constructing dome-shaped structures dates back to prehistoric times, but the development of modern concrete and steel

Full Post

Postmodern (1965 – Present)

Unique, whimsical, and surprising, Postmodern houses give the impression that anything goes. The impossible is not only possible, but exaggerated.

Postmodern (or post-modern) architecture evolved from Modernism, yet it rebels against that style. Modernism is viewed as excessively minimalist, anonymous, monotonous, and boring. Postmodernism has a sense of humor. The style often combines two or more very different elements. A Postmodern house may combine traditional with invented forms or use

Full Post

Contemporary (1965 – Present)

Contemporary homes are designed for today’s lifestyles with huge windows and large, open spaces. Some homes have flat roofs. Others have gabled roofs with cathedral ceilings and exposed beams

“Contemporary” describes a catch-all style that can take on many different shapes. A Contemporary home can have the quirkiness of Postmodernism, but it will not express the same kind of irony or humor you find in a Postmodern house. Some Neoeclectic homes are called

Full Post

Neo-mediterranean (1965 – Present)

Details from Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries combined with North American ideas to create contemporary Mediterranean or Neo-mediterranean homes.

Neo-mediterranean is a Neoeclectic house style that incoporates a fanciful mix of details suggested by the architecture of Spain, Italy, and Greece, Morocco, and the Spanish Colonies. Realtors often call Neo-mediterrean houses Mediterranean or Spanish.

Neo-mediterranean homes may resemble the much earlier Spanish Revival style.

Full Post

Neoeclectic (1965 – Present)

Recent homes incorporate many styles. Architects and designers call this new stylistic mix Neoeclectic, or Neo-eclectic.

During the late 1960s, a rebellion against modernism and a longing for more traditional styles influenced the design of modest tract housing in North America. Builders began to borrow freely from a variety of historic traditions, offering Neoeclectic (or, Neo-eclectic) houses that were “customized” using a mixture of features selected from construction catalogs.

Full Post

Swiss Miss (1958 – 1960s)

“Swiss Miss” houses combine the charm of a Swiss chalet with the tropical flavor of a Polynesian hut.

Swiss Miss is an informal name given to a variation of the A-Frame house style. Created by draftsman Charles Dubois, a Swiss Miss house resembles a Swiss chalet with tropical, Tiki details.

The Alexander Construction company built fifteen Swiss Miss houses in Palm Springs, California. Other firms built similar homes elsewhere in the United States, but Swiss Miss remained a

Full Post

A-frame (1957 – Present)

With a dramatic, sloping roof and cozy living quarters, an A-frame style house is ideal for wintery regions with lots of snow.

Triangular and tee-pee shaped homes date back to the dawn of time, but architect Andrew Geller turned an old idea into a revolutionary concept in 1957 when he built an “A-frame” house in Long Island, New York. Named for the distinctive shape of its roofline, Geller’s design won international attention when it was featured in the New York Times. Soon,

Full Post

Alexander Houses (1955 – 1965)

Real estate developers Robert and George Alexander captured the spirit of mid-century modernism, building more than 2,500 tract homes in southern California.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the George Alexander Construction Company partnered with several architects to develop a unique approach to tract housing. Although the company worked in and near Palm Springs, California, the houses they built were imitated across the United States.

The Alexander Construction Company gave

Full Post

Geodesic Dome (1954 – Present)

Fuller’s invention promised to provide affordable, energy-efficient housing for a troubled planet.

Developed by Buckminster Fuller in 1954, the Geodesic Dome was promoted as the world’s strongest, most economical, lightweight structure. The ingenious engineering of the geodesic dome allows it to cover a wide stretch of space without using internal supports. The geodesic dome design was patented in 1965.

Geodesic Domes are ideal for emergency housing and mobile shelters such

Full Post

Eichler Houses (1949 – 1974)

An Eichler House is essentially a one-story Ranch, but Eichler’s company reinvented the style, creating a revolutionary new approach to suburban tract housing.

Real estate developer Joseph Eichler brought a fresh, new modernist approach to affordable tract housing. Eichler Homes, constructed about 11,000 houses in California. Many other builders across the United States imitated the design ideas.

In Palm Springs, California, the Alexander Construction Company also pioneered

Full Post

Lustron Homes (1948 – 1950s)

Made of steel coated with porcelain enamel, Lustron Homes were manufactured like cars and transported across the USA.

At the end of World War II, the United States didn’t have enough housing for the 12-million soldiers returning home. President Harry Truman pressured builders and suppliers to construct affordable housing. One of the most promising ventures was the Lustron Home by businessman and inventor Carl Strandlund. Vowing to mass-produce steel houses at the rate of 100 a day,

Full Post

Split-Level Ranch (1945 – 1980s)

In this popular variation of the Ranch house style, a Split-Level Ranch has three or more levels.

A Split-Level Ranch is a Ranch Style house that is divided into several parts. One section is lowered and one section is raised.

Split-level design reflects an approach popularized by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright believed that houses with “half floors” would blend naturally with the landscape. Living areas could be separated from private areas by just a few

Full Post

Raised Ranch (1945 – 1980s)

A traditional Ranch Style house is only one story, but a Raised Ranch raises the roof to provide extra living space.

In this variation, the home has two stories. The lower story is at ground level or partially submerged below grade. From the main entrance, a full flight of stairs leads to the main living areas on the upper level.

The Raised Ranch style has been adapted to take on a variety of forms. Neo-Mediterranean, Neo-Colonial, and other contemporary styles are often applied to the

Full Post

Ranch Style (1945 – 1980s)

One-story Ranch Style homes are so simple some critics say they have no style. Known as American Ranch, Western Ranch, or California Rambler, Ranch Style houses can be found in nearly every part of the United States.

The earth-hugging Prairie Style houses pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright and the informal Bungalow styles of the early 20th century paved the way for the popular Ranch Style.

After World War II, real estate developers turned to the simple, economical Ranch Style to meet the

Full Post

Art Moderne (1930s – 1950s)

With the sleek appearance of a modern machine, Art Moderne – or, Streamline Moderne – houses expressed the spirit of a technological age.

The sleek Art Moderne style originated in the Bauhaus movement, which began in Germany. Bauhaus architects wanted to use the principles of classical architecture in their purest form, designing simple, useful structures without ornamentation or excess. Building shapes were based on curves, triangles, and cones. Bauhaus ideas spread worldwide and

Full Post

French Eclectic (1915 – 1945)

French Eclectic homes combine a variety of influences from the architecture of France.

After World War I, soldiers returning to the United States and Canada brought a keen interest in French housing styles. Building plan books and home magazines began to feature modest homes inspired by French building traditions. Grand homes were constructed with a fanciful mix of French details.

French Normandy House Style: Borrows ideas from Normandy, where barns were attached to the living quarters.

Full Post

Pueblo Revival (1912 – Present)

Because they are built with adobe, Pueblo homes are sometimes called Adobes. Modern Pueblos are inspired by homes used by Native Americans since ancient times.

Since ancient times, Pueblo Indians built large, multi-family houses, which the Spanish called pueblos (villages). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish made their own Pueblo homes, but they adapted the style. They formed the adobe into sun-dried building blocks. After stacking the blocks, the Spaniards covered them with protective

Full Post

Bungalow (1905 – 1930s)

California Bungalows, Craftsman Bungalows, and Chicago Bungalows were variations of an affordable housing type that swept across America.

The Bungalow is an all American housing type, but it has its roots in India. In the province of Bengal, single-family homes were called bangla or bangala. British colonists adapted these one-story thatch-roofed huts to use as summer homes. The space-efficient floor plan of bungalow houses may have also been inspired by army tents and rural

Full Post

Arts and Crafts (1905 – 1930s)

From cozy bungalows to sprawling Prairie houses, many American homes were shaped by Craftsman ideas.

During the 1880s, John Ruskin, William Morris, Philip Webb, and other English designers and thinkers launched the Arts and Crafts Movement, which celebrated handicrafts and encouraged the use of simple forms and natural materials. In the United States, two California brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Green, began to design houses that combined Arts and Crafts ideas with a

Full Post

American Foursquare (1895 – 1930s)

The Foursquare style, sometimes called the Prairie Box, can be found in nearly every part of the United States.

The American Foursquare, or the Prairie Box, was a post-Victorian style that shared many features with the Prairie architecture pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright. The boxy foursquare shape provided roomy interiors for homes on small city lots. The simple, square shape also made the Foursquare style especially practical for mail order house kits from Sears and other catalog

Full Post