In my haphazard stumble through the world of architects and architecture, I came across Robert Venturi. Whilst not perhaps directly appreciating his work when seen on the page in print (his emergency service building for Disney World in Florida is a Fire Department HQ straight out of a Mickey Mouse cartoon), I do appreciate and agree with his concept of “vernacular” architecture. In simplistic terms it entails taking the building and design trends of a country or locality and using them as an architectural guide.
In his 1972 work “Learning from Las Vegas” he highlighted the common architectural features of neon lights, advertising hoardings and false shop fronts found in LA and advocated them as an alternative to sometimes stilted architectural rationalism.
As can be seen from Mickeys fire-station there is a degree of irony, humour and a powerful sense of appropriateness in his work – all of which appeal to me.
The tying of architecture to the reality of a place, rather than some idealised or fictional notion is what appeals to me. There is a view of how agricultural buildings should be converted to dwellings that is sometimes at odds with my own sensibilities. Rendered walls with stone dressing, gravel drives and varnished window frames present a disneyfied view of the countryside and don’t represent the true beauty and sense of place that I seek. Venturi’s vernacular architecture recognises this and presents an alternative approach.