Volume XXX, Number 2 (May 1916)
Gill, Irving J.
The home of the future: the new architecture of the West: small homes for a great country: number four, pp. 140-151 PDF (3.8 MB)
THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF THE WEST unornamented save for the vines that soften a line or creepers that wreathe a pillar or flowers that inlay color more sentiently than any tile could do. I like the bare honesty of these houses, the childlike frankness and chaste simplicity of them. It seemed too peculiar an innovation at first to make a house without a large overhang roof, for we have been so accustomed in California to think them a necessity, but now that the first shock is over people welcome the simplicity of the houses built without these heavy overhangs and see that they really have distinction. N the West, home building has followed, in the main, two dis- tinct lines-the Spanish Mission and the India bungalow. True, we find many small Swiss chilets clinging perilously to canyon walls, imposing Italian villas facing the sea and myriad nameless creations whose chief distinction lies in the obvious fact that they are original, different from any known type of architecture. It were much better for California if there were less complicated, meaningless originality and more frank following of established good types. Because of the intense blue of sky and sea that continues for such long, unbroken periods, the amethyst distant mountains that form an almost universal background for houses or cities, the golden brown of summer fields, the varied green of pepper, eucalyptus and poplar trees that cut across it in such decorative forms and the profusion of gay flowers that grow so quickly and easily, houses of a bright roman- tic picturesqueness are perfectly suitable that would seem too dra- matic in other parts of the country. They seem a pleasing part of the orange-belted flower fields and belong to the semi-tropical land. These same houses would certainly look artificial and amusingly un- comfortable and out of place in the East; but they essentially belong to the land of sunshine. The contour, coloring and history of a country naturally influence its architecture. The old wooden Colonial houses of the East, shaded by noble elms, with their attendant lanes and roads outlined by stone walls, perfect pictures of home beauty; the stone houses of Pennsyl- vania, charming of color, stately, eloquent of substantial affluence and generous hospitality; and the adobe houses of the Arizona In- dians formed of the earth into structures so like the surrounding ledges and buttes in shape that they can scarcely be told from them, triumphs of protective, harmonious building, are familiar types of buildings characteristic of their locality. California is influenced, and rightly so, by the Spanish Missions as well as by the rich coloring and the form of the low hills and wide valleys. The Missions are a part of its history that should be pre- z48