“Beat-to-Hell Modernism”

by Maggie Flickinger

We’ve had a lot of media coverage over the years, and you never quite know what a writer will glean from an interview.  So, we had to chuckle when we saw the David Barrett quote Yellowscene Magazine pulled for their feature on Contemporary Colorado, “It’s beat-to-hell sophistication that balances, warms and brings a handmade quality to these splendid, dynamic homes.”

Chatting with Andrea, the article’s author, we discussed some unique conditions that occur in Colorado, as well as proclivities of the Colorado families we’ve worked with, that we believe should affect the “look” of a modern Colorado home.

  • We’re active! Generally, we Coloradans like to play and work outside – in our glorious climate, it’s a given!  Our homes can express this through flowing connections between indoor and outdoor, as well as dedicated “outdoor rooms” – courtyards, sleeping porches, decks, and hardscaped patios.  As an extension of this, modernism in terms of “white on white on white” interiors doesn’t often work well when we get home from running the dog, biking to Estes, or hiking Red Rocks Canyon.
  • We’re informal. This is an area where “traditional” modernism fits well with Colorado lifestyles.  Open floor plans with blurred room boundaries and flexible spaces are a hallmark of modernism.  Smaller “master suites” and a banishing of the formal sitting room allow for more social connections in spacious (and gracious) combined kitchen / dining / living  areas.  Bonus points for designing to allow this socializing to spill outside!
  • We’re introspective. When we’re not hanging out with friends or family, we like to have a “me” space.  A private reading room, yoga studio, or even a finely detailed bathroom can serve to allow for retreat.  Detailing windows to open to targeted views or  focused outdoor vignettes is a good design technique for these spaces.  Combining “informal” with “introspective” allows for the creative manifestation of expansion and compression, another characteristic of modernism.
  • Colorado = sunshine! The statistics don’t lie – this is a great state for sunny days.  Harvesting the sun is a natural fit – both passively and actively.  Passive solar design can meld with modern design with careful consideration of window placement & detailing, as well as dramatic roof eaves or cantilevers that control solar gain.  Active solar meets modernism with custom integrated solar awnings and architecturally integrated arrays.  Solar can compliment beautiful Colorado homes – it’s not just for hippies anymore!
  • Colorado = History. From Native American culture and influence, to ranching & agriculture, Colorado has a rich regional history.  While modernism typically disavows historical context, we feel that projects flourish through a marriage of this history to contemporary ideals.  This is not a facsimile of historic archetypes, but rather a reinterpretation of building forms such as barns and silos, or material palettes of stone, earth, and straw.  The result?  Homes that honor their past, while embracing the future – a timeless living architecture.

Clearly, Coloradans are also so much more!  We’ll be further exploring this and some of the other unique places we’ve designed in through future postings.  In the meantime, check out the Yellowscene article for ours and other architects’ views of modern design in Colorado.

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