The Challenge of the Ordinary: The Design of Virtual Histories

By Laurence Keith Loftin III.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This presentation illustrates an alternative design strategy to that of contemporary abstract formal manipulation, and provides a means for approaching contextual design in general. A design for a house in Creede Colorado will be presented. Creede is a lost silver mining town in Southwest Colorado, not on the road to anywhere. It is in a spectacular natural location (the caldera of an ancient volcano) with a built vernacular remarkable for its collection of shacks, sheds and shanties, with idiosyncratic combinations of details and materials. The problem was to design a new house that did not “stand out” but rather “stood in” the context of the place. The strategy was to produce a “timeful” design using local materials and forms rather than a “timeless” modern abstract object. In order to avoid problems of Disneyesque mimicry, a “virtual history” was developed for the house from simple cabin thru a series of additons to the final form. A distinction between the psychological and the nostalgic will be drawn as a conclusion.

Keywords: Regional, Vernacular, Design Narrative, Virtual History, Temporal Recession

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.307-320. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.950MB).

Mr. Laurence Keith Loftin III

Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, College of Architecture and Planning, The University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA

I grew up in Tidewater, Virginia, was educated at Princeton and The University of Virgina, and have spent the last 18 years in the Wild West. I am fascinated by small towns and their unique character. As a result, I have been practicing and doing design research projects in small towns in Front Range Colorado, trying to understand the local vernacular and scale. I am a practicing architect with 30 years of teaching experience at the university level. I am deeply concerned with posibilities and potentials of regional design in opposition to the vanilla -izing effects of globalization.


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