Quote of the Day: Lisa Rochon on Architect Barbie's Dream House


My favourite entry in the Architect Barbie Dream House competition didn't win, but hey, it is a people's choice award, so it is hard to criticize the jurors. That didn't stop Globe and Mail architectural critic Lisa Rochon, who asks "Oh, Barbie. You knuckle brain! What were you thinking!?

Lisa complains in the Globe and Mail, appalled that anyone could call this house green. She is in seriously high dudgeon over this travesty of architectural excess.

What [designers] Li and Paklar imagined was a series of glass cubes stacked on top of each other with enough space underneath the beach mansion for a car or motorbike to park. Very chic, very elevated, very Le Corbusier. The interiors (pink, of course) look airy, clutter-free and, with 4,881 square feet of living space, lonely for a single person. There are bamboo floors and a roof garden with natural irrigation. But even those tiny eco-design gestures cannot offset the fact that Barbie gets to hog a massive house on three acres of pristine West Coast beach. Sorry, girlfriend!

America has been damned by the tyranny of the excessively large house. Check the explosion of square footage over the last half century of the private home, from the modest two-storey of Leave it to Beaver to the sprawling residential heaps featured on The O.C. Barbie once cavorted through her own shopping-mall playset. It was just something she had to have, like a purse.

The problem with the McMansion scenario? It's unaffordable and unsustainable. But, like Barbie's impossibly small waist, it's a dream that everybody is conditioned to want.

Lisa sets out what might have been a better alternative.

Barbie's new home might have been urban, intimate and affordable - something along the lines of the studios that Li and Paklar occupy in Manhattan. But conventional wisdom in the nearly bankrupt United States says human-scaled, affordable spaces are unacceptable. Small may suit hard-core urbanists, but to many others, it's anti-American and old world. Where do you put the double ovens, the colossal flat screen and the meditation room?

Lisa asked what Architect Barbie was thinking, and I have to ask the same of the American Institute of Architects. What were they thinking in condoning such wretched excess in these times? More in the Globe and Mail
More on Architect Barbie:
Help Choose The Winning Architect Barbie Dream House
Does Architect Barbie Do Green Design? Is She LEED Accredited?

Tags: Architects | Design Competitions | Green Building | Housing Industry

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