Tuesday, January 22, 2002
little pink houses
The old Levittowns are now interesting to look at; people have made additions to their houses and planted their grounds with variety and imagination. Unlike these older subdivisions, Irvine has deed restrictions that forbid people from customizing their places with so much as a skylight…. Owners of expensive homes in Irvine commonly volunteer stories of not realizing they had pulled into the driveway of the wrong house until their garage-door opener failed to work.
–Joel Garreau, Edge City
The cultural historian Paul Groth says the critics were dead wrong about the Levittowns: “They've survived beautifully. People are proud about adapting them. The original cheap materials wore out, as predicted, and people were happy to put in new materials.”
The garage-door experience has been turned into a tool. You drive down your street of identical houses with the garage door opener pressed on. The house with its garage door opening is yours.
–Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn, commenting on the quote by Joel Garreau above.
There are quite a few of those Irvinette communities here in South Florida and everytime I see them, I think—Camazotz. It's the sameness of all the dwellings that scare me the most and yes, it can be quite difficult to tell them apart they're so cookie cutter in look.
And then I think back to my paternal grandparent's house (in Royal Oak, MI, just north of Detroit). They had a plain white Cape Cod style home but the other homes on their block: the firehouse red one a few doors down, or the green one on the corner. The two huge multistory homes across the street. The white house with deep red trim. All of them different. All of them with character. All of them with basements (but I digress—you really can't have basements here in South Florida).
My next house there will be no association of any kind. I want to paint my house pink if I wish to.