Lisa Lamkin
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Lisa Lamkin

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Critique - BIG Little House: Small Houses Designed by Architects

Donna Kacmar’s carefully constructed volume—BIG Little House—is richly packed with 20 universes where “ideas of dwelling and sense of shelter … are focused and intensified.” In his forward, for instance, Carlos Jimenez describes his visit to Corbusier’s Le Lac: “The house and grounds exerted the spell of its carefully constructed universe.”

The introduction sets the stage with historic perspective, personal insights, and philosophical discussion establishing solid groundwork for the BIG idea of little houses. As we are reminded, “small focused investigations, due to their scale, allow us time to slow down and absorb a quiet architecture ... yet each have very big ideas about how materials and light work together to accommodate and enclose the inhabitants.”

These ideas are beautifully tangible through photography, scaled floor plans, and descriptive text based on interviews with the architects. The houses are poetically organized into three families of variant: porous—used for a limited time or limited activities; focused—often on a particular view; and protected—often full-time dwellings.

A journey through this volume (published by Routledge) will inspire, challenge, and inform your pursuit of dwelling well.

Review in Haiku:

BIG idea dwell
Porous Focused Protected
little house complete


Reviewed by Lisa Lamkin, AIA, a principal with BRW Architects.