This Sunday, we will celebrate my youngest child’s birthday, and he has requested that we recreate the meal we learned to cook in Venice with Anna, a very talented chef. (http://bit.ly/2wb1nBF) The experience, of course, will be impossible to replicate entirely. Certainly the ingredients will come from a supermarket rather than the fruttivendolo and markets of the Rialto, but the other primary difference will be the kitchen we will prepare the meal in. To be clear, we cooked a multi-course meal and dessert with Anna: octopus, pasta, braised artichokes, and tiramisu. We made pesto by hand, without a Cuisinart or even a mortar and pestle. Eggs and sugar were whisked without a mixer, and we used a sturdy dining room table to prep potatoes and peaches. The kitchen in this apartment was not large, although there was room for a gas range with a clever fold out hood, a water heater, sink, dishwasher, washing machine, and refrigerator. No space was underutilized, and the efficiency was a little magical. I watched as four people stood and cleaned the octopus, chopped parsley and washed beans in that kitchen and wondered at the prevailing assumption that more kitchen equals better food.
While walking in Rome one evening, I asked my kids about what they noticed was different about life in Italy and their life here. Aside from “I can’t get stracciatella gelato every night,” they actually picked up on some of the principles that had been part of my architectural history and urban design classes, although in a less jargon filled way. We talked about the street life in Rome and how the squares are kind of like theaters, dining rooms, and playgrounds all rolled into one. They noticed that people come outside to walk at night, to get ice cream for sure, but also just to stroll and be a part of whatever was happening in the square or the street below. We talked about where you live affects how you live – how big family rooms feel right in a suburban house, but tiny apartments are geared more towards being part of the square and street outside.
So excited to see this great collaboration in Birmingham Home and Garden July/August edition. Working together with a talented friend made this project such a pleasure!
We recently returned from a long planned family vacation to Italy, specifically Rome and Venice. I spent a semester in Venice in graduate school and traveled fairly extensively in Italy during that time, and my husband and I had also spent our honeymoon there 18 years ago. Those long ago trips were recorded not only in photographs but also in leisurely sketches, quick diagrams and journal entries capturing the youthful musings of a twenty-something architecture student.
One of the downsides of my early morning boot camp is that the music will be on repeat in my head the rest of the day. Sometimes that is good. Sometimes, it is not. The other day, the Colbie Caillat song, “This Is How it Starts” got stuck.
The Birmingham Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently presented an exhibit at the Center for Architecture in Birmingham entitled “Living Small,” which explored the multiple ways that “tiny living” has been realized all over the world, including here in Birmingham. As an addition to the exhibit, Birmingham Home and Garden magazine collaborated with local architects to design a series of tiny houses for their Second Homes issue.
My first years in a firm consisted of working on master plans for large scale institutions, commercial buildings, historic preservation and boutique retail. I loved working on these types of projects: I found them challenging and fulfilling. I started doing residential design after my first child was born, and, at that point, considered the shift something of a professional demotion. Houses could not possibly be as difficult as a nineteen-story building. This was going to be easy.
A little bit of history first. I did not attend an undergraduate architecture program. I made my decision to go to architecture school during my junior year, after I had already committed to an art history major (although I ended up concentrating in architectural history in that department.) I spent a good deal of my education writing papers, culminating in a 125 page thesis on Harvey Wiley Corbett, a little known architect working in New York in the early part of the twentieth century. My writing was about conveying information and ideas in a clear, concise manner.
I am fairly certain that these are the questions I am asked most frequently in casual conversation. “We’ve been talking about this for a while . . .” “We’ve been looking at houses but haven’t found what we wanted . . .” “We love our street and don’t want to leave it.” Honestly, as an architect, I have the same questions and discussions with my husband. “Should we buy that house? We need to work on the master bath. What about a second story?”