Originally Posted by Hannerhan
Unbelievable collection of pictures...very nice and thanks for posting.
This is almost depressing to me because we are about to embark on building a home and I feel like it's very difficult to build a new dwelling in our desired style (Spanish Revival) that has the character of some of these spaces while staying at a reasonable price point (ie under $200/ft for the structure).
This is sort of the great tragedy of architecture. For any building to accumulate the type of character and expression of aging that would be typical of these photos, it requires an almost stubborn embrace of "outdated" and less cost-efficient natural materials and handwork-ascribing construction types, which must be simply combined with time. The great mystique one can achieve happens when these buildings can reach a maturity and then be refashioned into slightly weird or unorthodox ways that are only possible when people adapt themselves to their context, i.e. when a barn gets turned into a house, or when a church gets turned into an aquarium. There is a huge societal benefit for the cultural reinforcement that arises from enduring homes and buildings, which sort of parallels with the housing demand trends in gentrified neighborhoods.
For your part, every investment you make in your new home will be rewarded to future generations to a greater extent than your own, unless the knowledge of this process is endearing to you. So you have a clear decision to make. You can either build more affordably with materials that will only last a couple decades, which displaces the financial burden of a functional household to the next owner, or you can invest in a sacrificial way that may allow a future generation a better opportunity to fashion a new pattern of living out of a timeless architectural setting. Clearly, the side I would choose is not the side that has generally won among the population. Your best bet at mediation between cost and quality is to merely build smaller, and I encourage you do so if that's what you want, but I think we all understand where people are coming from and that's not always possible.