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Monday, March 12, 2012

Architectural Geek

I do not know if it was the set of building blocks or the Fisher Price castle play set that I had when I was a kid that did it. But I have loved buildings since I can remember... ya know, it might have been the Gothic styled church I attended too. Exterior details that look like icing on an elaborate wedding cake are practically non-existent in modern architecture. While I live in the northern part of Michigan where one would think we are about as progressive as Jed Klampett, progress seems to be the main drive of the ruling establishment. It has since I was a little kid. We tend to tear down everything that is too expensive to fix and throw some bland expensive building up with no personality.

Our old Gothic revival styled church was replaced with a sprawling monstrosity of modernity and innovation. Stylistically I have hated the new church since its erection. Granted, on a dark Sunday after watching a horror movie, I was not terribly interested in being inside the church. I expected every daintily crenellated niche shelf to throw it statuary to the ground right on top of the first row. Or worse, bleed on Father Officiating at the Time from on high while he is blessing the sacraments. But on a sunny day with all those colors dancing in the nave and the gold gilt glinting... it really was very much like magic.

Other churches in town, smaller denominations, were able to sell their buildings to be renovated for single family use so there are some great old bones with new paint on them. But we razed our church. Logistically it was not possible to sell. It sat on the corner of a block where the school was. Renovating for the churches continued use was out of the question. So I am sure turning it into apartments was a huge "Hell NO". But it would have been a marvelous place to live.

Of course all the gingerbread that adorned these old buildings is gone. Some people might have decided to replace it all with the modern equivalent. But it is expensive. And it is a great place for roosting pigeons and seagulls who get lost. That is why mom took all the gingerbread off of our Queen Anne. Why she made it into a monster of an eye-sore is another question. And i guess that is also part of what makes me such a sucker for architecture.

They are beautiful to look at. And when you think of the time it takes to learn those skills. And the great skill that develops to be able to carve the ornaments for pediments and mouldings... so many people would have jobs and a place to live if we didn't keep reducing everything to its most bland and basic. There is no market for those skills. So the people who have that hands and eye for creativity have fewer outlets. And we have a growing population of homogeneous buildings that lack character and distinction. And thus, my eye is ever drawn to Europe. The past sits alongside the present and rushes into the future. In some places it is not working so well. But in others it shows a glorious pastiche of a city's heritage. And it is inspirational...

I guess that is the extent of my romanticism: To be surrounded by beauty that sits upon firm foundations. I'm not a unicorns and gummybears romantic that thinks every pumpkin is the coach to my prince's castle. I am a romantic that believes there should be beauty in every life no matter what social status or income level. I hold that a beautiful place to live would inspire someone to rise above their limitations. So that means that I lean toward the altruistic. Because I know that those who thought a beautiful tenement in NYC would inspire the poor to live cleanly if cheaply were horribly disappointed when the wrong element came in. Poverty is not the indicator of that element though it is often misconstrued as such. Anyone, no matter the net worth can be a slob. But that is a rant for another time.

I am an architecture geek. And I think that is one of the reasons that I love my game so much. The security measures that were up are down. And I spent some time in world taking more pictures... just in case. I will go back today and do more. The things that are possible with a few props and some good photos to lay over them for texture really is only limited by imagination & a little knowledge.

Take the photo at right. Those "portholes" would never hold water in the real world. But I clipped them out of a Victorian styled building anyway, applied them to a prop and voila! A window. Behind that prop is another with the "scenery" behind it. In this case my avatar gets to live the undersea adventures of a refined yet deranged sea captain's guest.

This is a place where you can really mix and match eras in true steampunk fashion. I forgot to take a pic of the lighting arrangements that I have going on. They are craftsman styled and very much belong to the craftsman and mission aesthetic. But put them here and they are very "nautical"  & scream function over form.

You can see that the walls are a corrugated metal. I was inspired by the Mackinaw Brewing Company's maritime wall. One would think that this could be rather limiting. But if you treat the walls uniformly then you can do anything that you want to with the decor and still have something that is cohesive without being boring. I try to keep things from being jarringly noticeable. In the Wintergarten the aesthetic has gotten a little loose. I'll have to tighten things up a bit and take down the Christmas decorations. And while the maritime feel can seem limiting, if I keep to a palette I can do above and below surface for decore and it will still make sense.

I am trying to find compass roses that I like. Being the finicky kind, I will most likely have to bite the bullet and paint one myself. I decided if I want a leaded glass dome like many historical european gazaebos in the public parks that I will have to paint that myself to use as a texture. That is gonna be a lot of painting! Sheesh!

But ahhhh...... the joys of design!

There are sorrows aplenty too. And if it were not for the great masters of art & architecture that have come before, then none of this would be possible either: Gaudi, Barma & Postnik, de Chelles, Guimard, Ramsey, Schumacher, Baehr, Grosvenor, Ohlmstead, and countless others who have yet to be discovered.

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