Tag Archives: mountains

Happy Birthday ModernAsheville.com | No.9

On this date in 2009 modernasheville.com began capturing modern art, design and real estate in our region. The first post was on the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center. That year it was exciting to receive an average of 60 views per day having assumed no more than 3. Nine years later it is 5 times that and growing. Thank you {always} for your patronage, loyalty and appreciation. And some love, too. Cheers!

Sunday Morning Modern

mid-century-by-henry-hoover_660x330-660x330A Mid-Century in the Woods | What do we love more than a cool mid-century home? One in the woods that sends us into day dreaming of our own sweet retro pad here in the mountains. As with most of our clients they long for a modernism that uses natural materials and has a strong indoor/outdoor relationship. For inspiration read this article on one of architect Henry Hoover’s most remarkable houses. Built for Kenneth and Polly Germeshausen in 1958, it is representative of the late period in Hoover’s work. Enjoy your Sunday. Cheers!

Welcome Home | Maria and Jakub

1798054_10204954293710401_1624038221909042793_nKelly and I are happy to have Maria and Jakub back in town and ready to start practicing architecture here again. Maria, Jakub and family have been traveling the globe for two years and recently landed back. We wanted to take the opportunity to re-introduce them to our growing Modern Asheville audience so I’m going to republish a past article I wrote with Maria a few years back. Enjoy it and cheers to them!

Defining a Modern Asheville Aesthetic – published 1/2/2014

I recently sat down with architect Maria Rusafova at her home in West Asheville. She is the first architect to respond to my formal request to define the qualities of a Western North Carolina modern design. However, the original idea and inspiration came from lengthy discussions with my friend and architect Brandon Pass. No doubt I will be discussing this with him soon.

Maria Comp

Maria and her husband have been in Asheville since 2000 following her graduating from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Her brother lived here and – well — who can resist? Asheville worked given that Maria states she is drawn to modern, site sensitive and environmentally conscious designs. She, also, loves the creative challenge of designing aroundbeka1 tight budgets. How often do we hear that? Given the rich results of her own home and the client project she just finished in 5 Points neighborhood she definitely knows how to wrangle a lot – from minimal means. As you know, that always speaks to us at Modern Asheville.

Before I delve further into my discussion with Maria, let me remind you that my goal is not to define what modern is to WNC in black and white, but to note some common influences. Most of us, without being able to describe it, can intuitively feel when a modern building works within its context and doesn’t. The natural and organic design integrity creates a harmony that is almost timeless. In opposition, I’ve seen some out-of-state builders propose stucco and aluminum homes that capture a trendy modern aesthetic that is neither contextual nor timeless.

Back to Maria.

Big6Geographically, Maria, as most architects, has rarely seen a flat site here. Most are sloped and challenging. However, the challenges can offer useful layering of functions and separations from public to private or living to utilitarian.

Materials – there are many natural materials readily available here from stone, wood and metal that reflect our local geography and help to create a continuum with the natural world.

Maria Vernac Comp

When it comes to vernacular influences Maria is infatuated with both barn structures of our rural landscape and some of the simple, narrow and upright homes of our historic neighborhoods. There is calmness in breaking down a residential structure to a simple polygon, as opposed to, a myriad of roof lines. Big3Again, less is more. There is richness and freedom in something that is easy to identify.

Culturally, people are moving here for sense of community. A home no longer defines ones life, but something that steps back to offer the freedom to live other aspects of your life in a broader sense. So, freedom from financial constraints and maintenance are important to living the life we all want here — perhaps aBig12n extra dinner at the Admiral or time to hike the Blue Ridge with friends?

For me, Maria blends her understanding of context with her European sense of simplicity and efficiency. It is an appropriate blend that allows her to capture the nuances of locality while bringing a lightness to living appropriate for today. One can see this in the plans for her own home.

B14Maria was recently chosen by one of our real estate clients to help sensibly steward the updating needed to their original Bert King home. We will explore more on that and one of her other upcoming projects soon.

In the meantime explore more of their work here. Cheers!

How to Live without Air Conditioning

Ideas from the Boston Globe

Yesterday, Kelly and I returned from Atlanta’s Modern Home Tour to find my pad rather stuffy. Having been in and out of air conditioned places all day I had become conditioned to air conditioning and decided to get my unit out of the closet and secure it to its seasonal position in the window a month earlier than previous years. Given my 600sqft plB.Globe_No ACace it requires very little. Still I found myself feeling a bit of shame for not being able to stomach a bit of mild discomfort. Having grown up in humid summers I was able to survive and adjust my behavior to live without air conditioning. And living in the mountains we are graced with cooler summers. Until the past decade most homes did not have air conditioning here. I’m not proposing a direction here, but questioning our mindfulness in making choices. Given the mechanics of the last 50 years our designs and lifestyles have evolved to forget how we built in the past and how we adjusted our behavior. Is there a way to incorporate both — a conscious balance that minimizes our usage? Here is a great article from the Boston Globe that digs a bit deeper. Enjoy! Troy

Architect Brandon Pass on Asheville Modern Architecture

Brandon-Pass-Architect-Office-folkMy good friends, architect Brandon Pass and his wife Libby, are two of my favorite people to sit and discuss regional craft and design with over beer and wine. Not only are they both talented – they are just good people who are both passionate about their individual craft. I wanted to take a moment and share Brandon’s words on modern architecture here in the mountains. Enjoy!

An Asheville Modern Architecture that merges Modern Sensibilities and Design with the Vernacular Influences of Materiality, Geography & Culture specific to the Western North Carolina Mountains

Throughout my career I’ve maintained a focus to reconcile the ideals and simplicity of Modern Architecture with the vernacular influences of place, materiality and culture to now establish a clear and true Asheville modern architecture. I believe it is not the primary mission of architecture to change the course of culture nor to produce stylistic replicas of times past, but rather to synthesize the social realities and cultural expressions with the physical experiences of site, geography, materials and local skill.06-bar-3

It was emphasized early in my education in at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia that architecture is an expressive art with the capacity to move us emotionally, spiritually and must enhance the context in which it is sited establishing an identity independent of fashionable styles. Utilitarian structures took the place of iconic traditional or modern buildings as objects for contemplation and influence. The result became an effort to synthesize vernacular tradition with a modern language to create architecture firmly rooted in place and time. In contrast, the techno-rationally biased and economy-obsessed buildings that have become familiar everywhere impair our sense of locality and identity and hastens the urgency for an elevated level of quality and craftsmanship through design. The standard of building today has accelerated estrangement and alienation through homogenatiy instead of integrating our worldview and sense of self through expressive regional character and craft.

Strapped with boundless idealism and a sense of purpose I headed to Chicago and then to New York City to hone my skills and development as a designer. Over 16 years, as the scope and budget of projects increased to exponentially when compared with my modest existence, I began to question the absolute dogma of a Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 7.10.51 PMuniversal utopian modernism versus a simplified contextual hand-crafted modern. What were the so-called fruits of my labor? Specifying  rare exotic stone from the depths of China, endangered timbers from South America or synthetic forms devoid of the hand seemed best suited for the glossy pages of popular magazines and less to do with our current collective reality rife with environmental depletion, economic uncertainty, exportation of traditional skill and cultural identity. I asked myself, why must progressive architectural innovation of the highest order remain the privilege of so few? Was I practicing what I had preached? I began to realize that the true challenge of a skilled architect is to do more with less, not excess with more.

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One-to-one in architectural terms typically means to work at full-scale; one inch equals one inch. The underlying philosophy for my practice, this relation has also come to mean having empathy for and relating to my clients. Returning to Appalachia, the region that has continuously influenced my work and core philosophy over the years, seems to complete the circle and fulfill a desire to define a new architectural language specific to our shared time and place. While remaining independent of stylistic replication, commercial influence and remaining true to the ideals of modern architecture I am proud to call Asheville my home and hope to create thoughts, works of art and architecture that encourage the community to think about style, function, and the true purpose of our shared creative and architectural identity; an Asheville modern architecture that celebrates as opposed to replicates and stands firmly and independent.

For more on Brandon’s work visit his website.

Cheers!

Troy

Under Construction – Ciel’s the “Bower House”

Incredible views and modern living combine to create a sexy, new escape in the mountains.  The community of Ciel which offers mountain and city views of Asheville is breaking ground on a dramatic new contemporary spec home.  Designed by Hunter Paul Coffey of Boone, NC, this 3500 sq/ft, 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home will combine both earthy and modern materials to fully dramatize Ciel’s tagline “Feel the earth.  Touch the sky”

As you enter the front door you cross an interior bridge that focuses your view directly on Mt. Pisgah.  The main level splits to feature all your open living spaces on one side and a grand master suite on the other.  For those who want one level living this floor has everything you need to accomodate.  For those who need more you can descend to the lower level to find another family room with fireplace and 3 bedrooms/offices that all have views.

The exterior will be finished off with cedar siding in both 1 x4 and 1 x 10 sections along with areas of dry stacked stone.  The roof will be wide standing seam.  The transitional glazing from inside to outside will be made with Lincoln “Touch” windows.  The foyer will will have a retractable glass wall to the outide deck with fireplace.

The interior will feature oak flooring throughout and custom walnut cabinets.  Lux is doing the lighting design and fixture specifications.

As with all Ciel homes this contemporary will be NC HealthyBuilt.  It will include features such as Low E glass, passive solar considerations, rain water retention and a gravel drive.  The house will sell for 1.6 million when completed.  Stay posted as I will be posting updates on the construction of this home.

A Mid-Century Neighborhood Soars to Great Heights

IMG_0812Mid-Century homes have never looked so good set within the dramatic landscape of Asheville’s mountains overlooking its urban fabric.  Juxtaposing the natural with the cityscape is just the environment to inspire contemporary design.  Above downtown Asheville is Town Mountain Road. IMG_0821 It’s a dramatic road that begins on the edge of downtown and snakes its way through the neighboring mountains.  A some point in the 1960’s many builders and architects began constructing neighborhoods in those hills.  Here you will find a great collection of mid-century ranch and contemporary homes.  Many hug the hills while others cantilever into the sky.  Some have rustic styling while several maintain asian inspired designs.   So the next time you are in town be sure to spend a couple of hours touring the hills above Asheville along Town Mountain Road.  You’ll find a museum to modern mid-century residential design and a place I hope to call my home someday.

Town Mountain Comp