a House to be Home
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Architecture exists in context. Buildings are designed for, and exist in, a place and time. The vast majority must adhere to a relative strict set of construction, regulatory, and cultural considerations; all of them are designed according to some notion of occupation or utilization by people. Our architecture educations make it easy to envision building as a function of the vision of an architect and that architecture follows a linear and orderly process from design intent to building. The reality is that the construction of a building, regardless of its scale, is an immensely complex undertaking, and while an architect designs the material reality of a building architecture happens in concert with, and in relationship to, the will and expertise of a great array of personalities including bureaucrats, contractors, tradespeople, and, always, a client. Interestingly, the education of an architect invests significantly in developing a “vision”, and is remarkably quiet on the relationships intrinsic to the realization of an architectural project. This is a thesis about the addition and renovation of a house into a home for myself and my family. It begins with the selection of an appropriate existing building and continues through the design, construction and occupation of what, by the end, is a new home for my wife Sarah, my two children, Eli (4) and Petra (2), and myself. I endeavored to learn by doing. The thesis takes the form of a narrative about a project that was executed as much as it was designed, subject to all the requirements of any project: schedule, budget, regulation and the limitations and talents of everyone involved in its selection, design, construction, and occupation. Implicit in this narrative are the relationships that helped shape the final building, expounded through emails, text messages, and my own reflections in the moment. This thesis is located outside of the confines of the institution and is instead located in the place where buildings are built.