If you know Architect and urbanist Stephen A. Mouzon, you probably know what I mean. He’s a guy who has a lot of great ideas and observations to share and it seems like his mind is always running three paragraphs ahead of his mouth. It can be real work to talk shop with Steve. But I find that more often than not, it is completely worth the effort required.
In 2007 Steve published A Living Tradition – Architecture of the Bahamas. I think this book was a real breakthrough for it’s introduction of a framework for thinking about the pieces of a building. On all the common building elements from the wall base, to door and windows, to porch columns and eaves, Steve starts out by stating WE DO THIS BECAUSE and then give the reason why those piece of the building need to be arranged and ordered in a certain way. Then he illustrates a spectrum from the basic to the fancy, his vernacular to classical spectrum with line drawings showing three levels of treatment; Organic, Median, and Refined for each element. Below each example he lists what matters and what doesn’t matter in the delivery of each example. Then you get 12 very nice color photos showing how that element shows up in real life in buildings in the Bahamas.
This approach to picking a consistent level of grammar for your building, deciding how plain or how fancy you want to build and staying within that zone is excellent. I hope that Steve will post a comment letting folks know where they can get ahold of this book in hardcopy or in an e-book version. (Powell’s and Amazon show the book as out of stock, etc.)
A Living Tradition is a very ambitious book covering a lot of territory. It covers some topics in much greater detail than others. Steve continues to make me crazy with his habit of inventing proper nouns for pretty much everything he is trying to explain. I mean the guy cannot help but Capitalize Stuff, which I find more than a little distracting. It would bother me more if what he had to say was not so thought provoking.