Monday, July 13, 2009
Eclectic movement focuses on being true to earlier architectural styles
By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer
In our continuing discussion of residential architectural styles, today we will look at the Eclectic movement.
Spanning from the late 19th century through about 1940, this was the phase that followed the Victorian period.
While the Victorians took inspiration from former classical architectural styles, they did so with great exuberance and light regard for historical accuracy.
The Eclectic movement was much more concerned with faithful representation of earlier styles, such as classical Greek, Roman and European architecture.
Greek and Roman architecture were strong influences in commercial and institutional architecture, examples of which you can readily see in banks and university buildings. While this influence can be seen in residential architecture, today we will look briefly at how European styles affected homes in America.
The French Eclectic period ranged from 1885-1930. These homes have steeply pitched roofs with eaves that may flare upward where they meet the walls.
Common building materials are brick, stone and classic stucco. The facades can be symmetrical or asymmetrical and may include towers. Dormers are common on these steep roofs that enclose the second story of the home.
The Italian Renaissance influenced American residential architecture from 1920-1940. These homes have low-pitched roofs with broad overhanging eaves, with decorative brackets at the top of the exterior walls.
These roofs are typically covered with ceramic tiles. Windows in the upper story are smaller and plainer than those of the ground floor. Arches above doors and windows are common.
The entrance may be accented with small classical columns or pilasters (half columns attached to the wall). These facades are often symmetrical in design.
Spanish Eclecticism and a close relative known as Mission Style were prevalent from 1915-1940. Homes influenced by Spanish architecture have low-pitched roofs with little or no overhang. Red tile roofs are typical.
A prominent arch will be placed over the entry door and/or a prominent window. The typical finish material is stucco, and the massing is usually asymmetrical. Mission homes have similar elements, though these homes have wide eaves overhangs.
This type of architecture is prevalent in California and Arizona, as well as in southern Utah. These areas lend themselves particularly to this type of design because their climates closely resemble that of the countries of origin — Spain and Mexico.
Even in northern Utah we see this type of architecture, though roof styles and pitches should be carefully considered when designing for snow country.
Currently, one of the most popular designs is influenced by Tuscan and Andalusian architecture. Tuscany is one of the regions of central Italy. Anciently, it was called Etruria and became part of the Roman Empire in the third century B.C.
The Etruscans provided the arch, and the Romans took the concept to create many ancient architectural wonders.
The vernacular structures from which this style is taken were compact and practical. Often they were actually farmhouses, with barns on the ground level and living quarters above.
Gabled roofs, tall narrow windows and small towers are typical.
Andalusian design is a mixture of Spanish and Arabic styles. This influence is basically cube-like structures with whitewashed finishes and interior courtyards.
Elegant touches softened the harsh geometry of these structures, such as courtyard fountains, sloping tile roofs, domed cupolas, and short turrets. Interior features include exposed beams, vaulted ceilings, arches and rounded corners on plaster walls.
It is easy to see these influences in new homes in our area. Care must be taken to have a carefully thought-out design to make sure the home is appropriate for our northern Utah climate, and that each interior and exterior element is well integrated into the design.
The goal is to have a home that is well designed, not well decorated a la Disneyland. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.