The Face of Home

Jeremiah Eck, Author . Taunton $40 (224p) ISBN 978-1-56158-771-1

Why is it that Americans build so many ugly houses each year?" asks architect Eck (The Distinctive Home ). Building more beautiful homes would solve much of the "sprawl problem we denounce so often," he says, and then lays out his "five simple hallmarks of good design": "site and house are one," "mass and scale are balanced," "the plan is a guide," "parts are in harmony" and "details spring from the whole." As Eck proceeds to analyze the exterior designs of 22 architect-designed houses (in one case, a housing development) and how they relate to their interiors, sites and the needs of their occupants, he addresses the skill, ingenuity and imagination necessary to make these principles work. Eck affectionately anthropomorphizes houses (windows are eyes; doors and chimneys are noses; a poorly designed garage is a gaping mouth), showing how "a house exterior can be just as expressive as the human face, revealing character, creating a first impression, and telling us something about the inner workings and organization of the building." While the book's discussions of what make certain designs work are subtle and sometimes hard to grasp, dedicated builders, home buyers and designers will come away with a basis for understanding house exteriors and seeing beyond superficial labels like "Colonial" and "Contemporary." (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/30/2006
Release date: 00/00/0000
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